Monday, 31 December 2012

shabbat 89

only the ones who know the fearful place at the top of the mountain are able to defend the people against forces of destruction.

(on this page Moses is challenged by the angels and defends the giving of Torah to humans, Moses also defends the people against Satan. Later in the page only Isaac out of the three patriarchs defends the people against God, using the merit of his role in the Akedah. for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

Sunday, 30 December 2012

shabbat 88

the precarious happenings at Horeb (mt. Sinai)

on the mountain-top the fiery angels threatened and tried to prevent the giving of the torah to humans.

but at the base of the mountain 600,000 angels crowned all the humans who accepted the torah the way angels do.

for english translation of this page of talmud, see here

Saturday, 29 December 2012

shabbat 87

calculating what day of the week that has 10 crowns

can shatter your mind

or heal your heart

(for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

Friday, 28 December 2012

shabbat 86

calculating 3 days of impurity of sperm leaving leaving a woman's body

is linked to the preparations at the base of the mountain, before receiving the torah.

for english translation of this talmud page, see here

Thursday, 27 December 2012

shabbat 85

smelling the earth to discern where to plant what in the ground

for english translation of this talmud page, see here

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

shabbat 84

all things that are made from things growing in the ground are one category.

but it is possible to plant 5 different types of seed in one small garden.

for english translation of this talmud page, see here

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

shabbat 83

trying to untangle the threads of connection between idolatry and different sources of impurity can lead one to despair.

that's ok. Reish Lakish says that engaging in Torah should be something that you could kill yourself over.

(multi-stranded lines of discussion about what type of impurity is idolatry, comparing it to a niddah, a corpse, a zav, a gentile man or woman, a creeping insect, animal carcass.... trying to follow the arguments got confusing but thankfully Reish Lakish thinks that the Torah that endures is the type of learning that really pushes the limits. for full english translation of this page of talmud, see here)

Monday, 24 December 2012

shabbat 82

the status and significance of broken things

the shards of earthenware pots, the fallen wall, the broken idol and the severed limbs of a niddah.

(for english translation of this page of talmud, see here)

Sunday, 23 December 2012

shabbat 81

what they used to use for toilet paper

but it is dangerous to just take anything that comes to hand.

(when determining what size stone one is liable if carry on shabbat, there is a discussion about carrying stones used to clean after defecation. shards of earthenware were prohibited. one opinion is that they were forbidden due to witchcraft.. for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

Saturday, 22 December 2012

shabbat 80

fathers and daughters...

amongst the clarification of the amount of lime one carries to be liable for carrying on shabbat is a tale of two fathers (R. Beivai and a non-jewish man). They both wanted to make their daughters hair-free so cover them limb by limb in lime. R. Beivai's daughter becomes so beautiful her dowry increases beyond her worth. The non-jewish man copies him, but his daughter dies.... apparently R. Beivai's family were beer drinkers, so beer really does put hairs on your chest....

Friday, 21 December 2012

shabbat 79

animal hide can become either parchment or dokhsostos (writing surface on the hairy side of the animal hide)
tefillin or mezuzah.

but either way,
"shema yisrael" is written onto the skin.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

shabbat 78

the amount that cannot be carried in the hand
depends on its usefulness.

how much is needed for that substance to be handy.

shabbat 77

small things can bother big things.

so they need to be in a good mood before asking lots, and lots, of pesty questions.

(while discussing how much honey is needed to cover a wound, and thus giving the measure about carrying on shabbat. the talmud has a tangent about various creatures that were created as a remedies. which then goes into how some large animals dread and fear tiny animals. what then follows is an odd exchange between R. Zeira who, when seeing that R. Yehudah was very cheerful and therefore will answer anything, proceeds to ask him all sorts of questions about the natural world and the different names of objects... it's more than a little absurd. if you could ask anything to a wise man, would you ask: why are camel's tails so short? for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

shabbat 76

the amount of food that can't be carried in the hand
is measured in units of how much that can be carried in the mouth that it feeds.

but whose mouth?

Monday, 17 December 2012

shabbat 75

the importance of studying and teaching the wisdom and science of the stars in the heavens above.

and knowing how to expertly remove blood from what is found in the seas and sand below.

- just be careful who you study with.

(amongst the list of main categories of prohibited work on shabbat is a criticism of not speaking if one knows about the stars. an interesting perspective on the importance of scientific knowledge. wisdom and understanding that is recognised by all. but also is a warning not to learn anything from a magosh, persian priest. for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

shabbat 74

legislating for unskilled hands and skilled hands

the act of selecting, taking something away, done by hand (although not a skilled hand) and for immediate use.

and the rare craft of hand-spinning wool while it is still attached to the animal.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

shabbat 73

the need for stating the exact sum of main categories of prohibited work on shabbat

and listing them

all the process involved in turning seed to bread
wool to fabric
animals to leather
building, fires, carrying

(...wouldn't this make a good starting point, shouldn't this have been on the first page? - but there is no p1. mesechet shabbat begins with shabbat 2....)

shabbat 72

comparing the intention and awareness of shabbat prohibitions
to idolatry
to sleeping with a 'designated maid'

Thursday, 13 December 2012

shabbat 71

when it comes to making amends
can two forbidden acts of the same prohibited action of combine?

depends when awareness occurs.
in-between actions?
or when preparing to atone for the first action?

and size matters.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

shabbat 70

how many fires that you need to burn
on what it is you forgot

(defining shogeg - 1) unaware it is shabbat, or 2) unaware that the action is one of the 39 prohibited acts. If 1) then bring one sacrifice, if 2) then one for each of the actions. for english translation of this talmud page, see here

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

shabbat 69

circle or square

when wandering and lost, should we have the perspective of God or human?

(continuing the discussion about forgetting/not knowing shabbat the talmud discusses what one should do if one is lost and does not know what day of the week it is. Rav Huna says: count 6 days, and designate the 7th as shabbat, following the pattern of creation. R. Hiyya bar Rav says: designate shabbat and then count 6 days, because although Adam was created on day 6, to this primal human's perspective, it's day 1 was shabbat. for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

Monday, 10 December 2012

shabbat 68

is forgetting the same as never knowing?

(the mishna discusses the consequences of breaking shabbat when one has forgotten that it is shabbat, or what shabbat is. leads to a discussion of what does it mean to forget. Rav and Shmuel argue that it is the same as a kidnapped child who has never been taught about Shabbat. Reish Lakish and R. Yochnan argue that forgetting implies prior knowledge, that the kidnapped child never had. for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

Sunday, 9 December 2012

shabbat 67

for healing one might resort to all sorts of strange, weird and wonderful remedies
evoking the burning bush, appealing to angels, send away demons

but only effective cures are permitted.
not crazy ones like those superstitious idolatrous Ammorites. (who have some very strange cooking methods)

(list of various cures and remedies include carving and reciting verses about the burning bush to treat a fever, calling to various angels and demons, and what is permitted to be carried on shabbat as they have effective healing - locust egg, splinter from a crucified/hanging post, fox's tooth.... for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Friday, 7 December 2012

shabbat 65

concern about the colourful and precious items women may remove from their ear, their mouth, and share in the public space.

& the concern about the intimacy of women in the private space.

(debate if women wearing gold teeth or coloured strings in pierced ears in public is if these items are things that are beautiful, and they may be tempted to remove and show each other. later on the page is ruling about girls not sharing a bed, as "women who rub" might be considered 'zona' and not eligible to marry into the priesthood. there is another opinion that girls should not share a bed, is just so they shouldn't get used to sleeping with another person present.  for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

Thursday, 6 December 2012

shabbat 64

the gaze

the sin done with the eyes
the appearance of sin in someone else's eyes

(the list of jewellery confiscated in battle and needing purification includes items worn privately - early version of vajazzling? -  with those on public display. prompting R. Sheshet to rule that looking a woman's little finger, public, is equivalent to looking at her genitals - see Brachot 24. Later in the page, there is a discussion that an action that appears to be like a prohibited action is also prohibited. even if one is in private. for english translation of the full talmud page, see here)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

shabbat 63

the importance of chains, links and connections....
but the page can be a battleground.
when two minds meet the space in-between can be as fragrant as a garden of spices or as deadly as a snake....

(debate if weapons are to be considered ornamental. leads to linking biblical verses that describe Torah learning in combative terms. Reish Lakish describes the perfect chavrutah, and R.Yirmeya wakes up and confirms R.Yohanan's ruling about ankle-chains. According to R.Yohanan - slightly strange theory - women can break their hymen by taking too large strides, so ankle-chains have a purpose and aren't just decorative. Strong chains prevent bloodshed... for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

shabbat 62

beauty, jewellery and perfume

becomes haughty
and makes a stench that cannot be masked by herbs.

(discussion on the types of ornaments and perfume that women can and can't wear in public as they are considered carrying, leads to a description of the decedent behaviour of the northern kingdom and the first temple period that led to exile and was punished by marking and disfiguring the body. for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

Monday, 3 December 2012

shabbat 61

it's the three times successful hand that makes the amulet something that can be carried on shabbat.

(only an effective amulet can be carried on shabbat. effective amulet = one made by an expert that has healed 3 times. debate if 3 different people, or 3 times for same person. for english translation for this full talmud page, see here)

Sunday, 2 December 2012

shabbat 60

needles, pins, spikes & nails

and the bloodshed caused by wearing spiked sandals.

(after finishing off discussing women's ornaments - hairpins etc. new mishna opens the discussion about what men can and cannot wear in public on shabbat. story of spiked sandals, hiding in cave from the enemy and in the confusion of hearing/seeing spiked sandals, many people were killed....)

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Shabbat 59

talmudic bling

it's ok to wear your jewellery in public.
just be classy.
don't be common and take it off to pass around

flaunt it

(discussion about women wearing different types of jewellery publicly observes that only important women wear certain types of jewellery and they would never be so crass to take it off publicly to show it off. for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

shabbat 58

the bells that are worn by slaves
young children
and the Torah

to bring attention & to mark ownership

(discussion about what can be worn in public space on shabbat leads to if various bells can become ritually impure)