What is Talmud Tweets?

What is Talmud Tweets? A short, personal take on a page of Talmud - every day!

For several years now, I have been following the tradition of "Daf Yomi" - reading a set page of Talmud daily. With the start of a new 7 1/2 year cycle, I thought I would share a taste of what the Talmud offers, with a bit of personal commentary included. The idea is not to give a scholarly explanation. Rather, it is for those new to Talmud to give a little taste - a tweet, as it were - of the richness of this text and dialogue it contains. The Talmud is a window into a style of thinking as well as the world as it changed over the centuries of its compilation.

These are not literal "tweets" - I don't limit myself to 140 characters. Rather, these are intended to be short, quick takes - focusing in on one part of a much richer discussion. Hopefully, I will pique your interest. As Hillel says: "Go and study it!" (Shabbat 31a)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pesachim 33 – Outside and In

Food items are subject to ritual impurity – for example if they are handled by someone who has come into contact with corpse. Especially a problem with trumah which is set aside for the priests. Ok. But what about when the foods are on the inside – say a grape or an egg. Are liquid insides also defiled?

R. Ala b. R. ‘Awia sat before R. Joshua and he sat and said in R. Johanan's name: If grapes are defiled, one may tread them out less than an egg in quantity at a time, and their wine is fit for libations (on the alter). This proves that he holds that the juice is indeed stored up;

The juice of the grape is contained by its skin, according to this view, and not part of the whole.

 [consequently] when is it [the juice] defiled? When he expresses it; [but] when he expresses it, its standard quantity [for defiling] is absent. If so, [he can tread] as much as an egg too, for we learned: If a man unclean through a corpse squeezes out olives or grapes exactly as much as an egg in quantity, they are clean? . . .
Said R. Hisda to him, Who needs you and R. Johanan your teacher: whither then has their uncleanness gone? This proves that he holds that the juice is indeed absorbed, and since the [solid] eatable is defiled, the juice too is defiled. And do you not hold that the juice is stored up? he replied. Surely we learned: If he who is unclean through a corpse squeezes out olives and grapes exactly as much as an egg in quantity, they are clean.

More than this amount – an egg’s worth of liquid – is subject to being defiled.

To what is this like? To terumah of mulberries and grapes which were defiled, which is not permitted to him either for eating or for burning.’ — but surely it may be eaten too, for if he wishes, he can tread them out less than an egg at a time? — Said Raba: It is (not allowed as) a preventive measure, lest he come to a stumbling-block through them.

While one may find a technical way around a problem, it is still not permitted because of the possibility of coming to error accidently; i.e. eating the defiled grapes absentmindedly. They become like a stumbling block before the blind. (Lev. 19:14)

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