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)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Pesachim 36 – Trust Me, I’m a Professional

The making of matzah or of unleavened bread is complicated. Fermentation can happy quickly if not carefully supervised. So a general principle is that the dough cannot be kneaded with hot or even lukewarm water.

However, meal-offerings – which were also unleavened bread – were made specifically with lukewarm water. If it is good enough for the sacrifices, why not for regular matzah? The Mishnah related to this meal offering is:


The “watcher” is an official, a priest, who insure that the dough does not rise.

If this was said of [very] careful men [priests], shall it [also] be said of those who are not careful?

In other words, the priest could be trusted to insure that the process is followed correctly, but the ordinary Israelite, baking matzah in his or her own home, could not.

Very interesting to see this kind of professionalization. This would be expected surrounding the sacrifices, which could only be done by a priest. But extending it to restrictions of Passover baking is unusual!

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