Sunday, 31 March 2013

Saturday, 30 March 2013

eruvin 22

the big skulled ones, with faces like ravens, discuss the paths that are too difficult for the public.
demanding and arduous travel has to be private.

Friday, 29 March 2013

eruvin 21

setting limits & boundaries in the physical world for shabbat
the expanses of the world of Torah

(this page contains interpretations of various verses of Song of Songs to apply to the relationship to Torah learning. seems timely as it is Pesach, the festival where we read the Song of Songs. chag samech and shabbat shalom)

eruvin 20

discussion about how much of a cow drinking needs to be in the same domain (whole body or just head and majority of body) as the water gets uncannily repetitive.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

eruvin 19

hell & heaven
entrances to Gehenna & Gan Eden
partitions that form an entrance and an exit to water. 

eruvin 18

like partitions enclosing a spring, Adam surrounded himself with a belt of fig-leaves. but it didn't stop demons springing from his sperm. perhaps he shouldn't have separated from Eve, and should have followed her instead.

(on this page the type and number of partitions to enclose a well and spring is discussed and quotes R. Yirmeya b. Elazar. The talmud continues to quote various statements from R. Yirmeya. He discuss the the creation of Adam & Eve. and describes that after exile from Eden, out of shame Adam wore a belt of fig-leaves and separated from Eve for 130 years. during that time he 'fathered' demons from his semen. this page also discusses that men should not walk behind their wives...)

Monday, 25 March 2013

eruvin 17

soldiers don't need to: wash hands before eating, pay for kindling or tithe from demai. or make an eruv,

they are within their own domain.

wish you a chag samech. because of the 2 day festivities, will be posting eruvin 18 & 19 together on wed evening. for those who want to count the omer. I will also be doing a drawing a day project to count the omer. see

Sunday, 24 March 2013

eruvin 16

when space forms something solid.
lavud - gap of less than 3-4 handbreaths is as if it was solid.
and the space of three individuals' needs combine to calculate space for a travelling caravan.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

eruvin 15

Abaye & Rava argued over a balcony their entire lives.
and nothing, not something written on parchment or beast could sever their relationship.

(ongoing dispute between Abaye and Rava, about a paticular balcony, is described as going on their entire lives. hence the two old men & a balcony. Statler & Waldorf... they are permanently connected to each other with this to-ing and fro-ing. Unlike a married couple who are seeking a divorce. later in the page discuss that divorce has to be a written statement, and debated if it has to be on parchment or could it be written on a living creature)

Friday, 22 March 2013

eruvin 14

calculating in the perfect v. seeing what happens in the real world

(the formula circumference = 3 x diameter of a circle is used to calculate the equivalent of a round beam to a square beam. and is derived from the measurements of a large round water tank in the Temple. later in the page when the sideposts dimensions are debated, Abaye teaches to just go out and look at what people are actually doing. the theoretical occasionally gives way to the actual)

Thursday, 21 March 2013

eruvin 13

some disputes need a daughter's voice to settle them.
but when a daughter is suspected and there is a dispute,
even the brilliant gaze of the sofer who can see pure in the impure, makes the letters permanent. and the shaming of the sotah, the suspected adulteress, remains written on the page.

(Rabbi Meir was a sofer, ritual scribe, and would add copper sulphate to the ink to make it permanent. This is questioned as the temple ritual of the sotah is to dissolve letters, although this may just be when the ritual is practised and not to erase the passage about the sotah from the Torah scroll. The other dispute on this page is between the rival academies - Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. eventually a bat kol ruled who the law follows)

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

eruvin 12

when a breach is not a breach

when water penetrates a courtyard wall it doesn't always mean it is breached

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

eruvin 11

some doorways allow carrying & freedom of movement.
and some don't.
& locking out opinions that don't fit your definitions

(R. Sheshet instructed R. Gadda to destroy a doorway in the Exilarch's house that was allowed by R. Nachman. R. Gadda ended up in prison and R. Sheshet stood at the prison gates, calling him to free him. R Sheshet did not want a particular discussion about mezuzah on an arched doorway to be taught to the Exilarch's household, as it disagreed with his opinion)

Monday, 18 March 2013

eruvin 10

can still function with some things missing but not when the gaps are larger than what is standing

R. Yosef forgot the laws he once taught about side-posts and entrances to alleyways.
and a discussion about the ratio of the breach in the wall and the standing parts, if they make a complete partition or not.

forgetting and structures.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

eruvin 9

the gaps. the spaces between the structures have no place of there own.
need the surrounds to define them

(discussing the space between the side-post or under the crossbeam)

Saturday, 16 March 2013

eruvin 8

all different types of alleyways. but basically they come done to this
are they open or closed?

Friday, 15 March 2013

eruvin 7

when something is missing, the status changes

if a corpse is missing a vertebra or two, then it is just a pile of old bones.
if the back wall of an alley is breached to open space where people have not come together to make an eruv, can no longer carry.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

eruvin 6

the mere suggestion of a wall, a door and a lock
the darkness that one walks through if one is too strict and not open to suggestion

(when making an alleyway a place to carry by use of an eruv, do you need an actual doorway or a symbollic doorway using a post. if there is a breach in the wall, can the remains of the wall be enough to suggest the actual wall. and if you do require a lockable door, does it actually need to be locked or just that it could be locked. what is suggested and abstract. later in the page is discussed accepting the strict opinions of rival schools of thought, because if you do that, it is compared to walking through darkness. and in the dark you can't see what is merely suggested.)

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

eruvin 5

what happens at the entrances determines what can happen in the alleyway

(gaps in the wall, partitioning, demarcations, and side-posts - how to make an entrance. without feather boas or trumpets)

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

eruvin 4

divine weights and measures.
that hook into the text and find their reflection.

(discussion if the various measurement units are derived from the written torah or are part of the oral tradition, given to Moses at Sinai "Moshe M'Sinai")

Monday, 11 March 2013

eruvin 3

look up and think BIG
some numbers are not exact , they are rough, like the edges of a bird's nest.

and measurements depend on having an open hand.
or a clenched fist.

(in the discussion about the maximum height of a doorway, the cornice in the temple is described as having an eye-catching bird's nest design. and height is 100 cubits. except the number 100 is not exact, it is an exaggeration and just means something big. this lack of exact definition is also found in the discussion of what is a cubit. 5 or 6 hand-breaths? or always 6 hand-breaths. and sometimes the hand is open with fingers spread out, and sometimes it is closed. there is no one singular definition of a cubit. depends on context)

Sunday, 10 March 2013

eruvin 2

what makes a doorway THE doorway?

(debate about the maximum width of the entrance to an alleyway is a debate about which entrance to the temple/tabernacle is definitive. the one to the hechel, the inner sanctum, to the alum, the main hallway, or the extra special king's entrance. what do you have to pass through to be on the inside?)

au revoir shabbat

so long shabbat. one of the longest tractates of the talmud.

we've gone from the definitions of carrying to defining what is an object, a vessel, clothing, domains, weights and measures, utility and the untouchable that has no use on shabbat.

we've met angels and demons. learnt of healings and cures that seem strange and a little crazy. heard stories of revelation and destruction. and snakes. there have been a lot of snakes.

it has been less about a day of rest and more about how to define different types of work. to make distinctions and categories within the world and how to be mindful of those differences.

it has been fascinating. and at times a little tiresome. there has been A LOT about carrying. which no doubt will continue with eruvin.

but for now, we bid mesechat shabbat farewell. until we meet again

Saturday, 9 March 2013

shabbat 157

taking measures to seal windows

and cancel the words of the wives and daughters

(can a husband or father can annul a wife or daughter's vow on shabbat. and can use a reed to measure and seal a window on shabbat. closing and silencing. for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

Friday, 8 March 2013

shabbat 156

just because you are born under a bad sign, doesn't mean you can't rise above the stars.

(being born on certain days of the week, hours of the days, or months of the year can determine one's character. but also has stories of people overcoming their fate. in the drawing the female figure is standing on a floor mosaic of the zodiac found in the ancient Beit Alfa Synagogue. for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

shabbat 155

feeding isn't always a kindness. it can be a form of cruelty

overfeeding, force-feeding, and punching a dog so it won't get attached to the hand that feeds it.

(difference between feeding animals that are dependent on humans to feed them, or can fend for themselves. for full talmud page, see here)

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

shabbat 154

animal welfare is not black and white

R. Shimon b. Gamliel fatally overburdened his exhausted donkey. for the sake of carrying honey that will heal wounded camels.

(for english translation of this page, see here)

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

shabbat 153

when night falls, who can carry the money? who is less connected to the obligation of shabbat rest?

gentile, donkey, imbecile, child & deaf-mute, all make for useful travelling companions

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

Monday, 4 March 2013

shabbat 152

the process of ageing, dying and decomposing.

transition from a rose, to thorn, to dust.
the body closes and becomes frail and crumbles and the soul is at rest.
but the wicked have no rest and are thrown from one end of the world to the other.

(for english translation of this strange page of Talmud that details the many ways the body decays, see here)

Sunday, 3 March 2013

shabbat 151

smouldering eyes

no rush to close the eyes that keep watch.
hold in the blinding tears, don't let them out even over a dead daughter. old age will come and the lamp will be extinguished.

(the eye, crying and watching, is mentioned throughout this page. permitted to wait at the boundary to keep watch over produce. not permitted to close the eye, which will hasten death, like extinguishing a lamp. and when over 40, crying causes blindness. there is a story of R. Hanina who didn't cry when his daughter died, and replied to his wife who rebuked him, he didn't want to lose both his daughter and his sight. for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

Saturday, 2 March 2013

shabbat 150


waiting at the boundary for the things that one can speak about.

and to attend to the bride and the dead

(not allowed to be involved in work activities on shabbat, also involves waiting at the city boundary for shabbat to go out. for english translation of this talmud page, see here)

Friday, 1 March 2013

shabbat 149

writing on the wall isn't a business document.
but that doesn't mean it doesn't have something serious to say.

(the prohibition of using written lists as reminders for guest and food, as may come to erase details. debated if this applies to writing on the wall. the discussion about meals leads to prohibition of using lots to divide portions when eating with non-family members. which leads to a story of Nebuchanezzer, who would use lots to determine which exiled royal leader he would sodomise next. the drawing is from a photo of some graffiti that appeared in Jerusalem around the time of Pride 2008. for english translation of this page, see here)

shabbat shalom from NYC