Thursday, 31 October 2013

shekalim 11

what the mother gives to her son, the priest, actually belongs to all.
but, the leftover incense is gathered together and is given as payment to one particularly special family.
not to all....

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

shekalim 10

the money-changers role in paying the workers before the work was done, keeps the money circulating and no misuse of temple property.

(the stonecutters for the temple were paid from the temple treasury. the wages would be paid by the money changers. once the work was done, the money from the treasury were piled on the stone, transferring sanctity from coin to stone. these coins then went to repay the money-changers)

Monday, 28 October 2013

shekalim 9

having a head of bread leads to lack of clarity about the measures of wine and blood.
and lack of clarity leads to frustration and kicking out
and lack of clarity about the mitzvot ultimately stops the dead being resurrected and prevents Eliyahu coming.

(in discussion about how much blood in a mule's carcass needs to be there for it to be impure, R. Beivai kicks R. Yitzchak b. Kahana in frustration. he explains this lashing out that he was frustrated, lacked clarity and peace of mind, anxious like someone who relies on buying bread for immediate food rather than buying wheat for a year. the discussion compares the measure with the minimum amount of wine carried on shabbat before being liable for carrying on shabbat. Later in the page there is a chain of events that begins with clarity of mind about the mitzvot leads to cleanliness, purity, holiness, and ultimately, resurrection of the dead, and Eliyahu announcing the Messiah)

Sunday, 27 October 2013

shekalim 8

the responsibility is on the money collectors to appear to be trustworthy, so no pockets or places to hide coins.

but curses on the Matronita who pointed out R. Yona's shinning face, and his seven week hangover.

(bit of a double standard on this page. begins by discussing that the people who collect the communal money cannot wear anything within which coins could be hidden, so they cannot be accused of stealing. the responsibility is with them not on the viewer. Later in the page a Matronita remarks on R. Yona's shinning face and speculates that he is drunk. This is R. Yona who has a hangover til Shavuot after drinking 4 cups of wine on Pesach. R. Yona does not take responsibility for his misleading appearance, says his face shines dues to his wisdom, and curses her.)

Saturday, 26 October 2013

shekalim 7

when one quotes the dead
you mark their grave
and give them wine to drink beyond the grave

(following the previous discussion about what to do with money leftover from setting it aside for various offerings, the talmud now discusses using money leftover from other mitzvot - freeing captives, burials, etc. there is a comment that one does not need to erect a monument on a scholar's grave as their words are the mark, and how they will be remembered. Later it is described that when one quotes a dead scholar, it is as if the dead are drinking wine in the grave)

Thursday, 24 October 2013

shekalim 6

when spare change becomes money to burn.

the spare change that is leftover after you've given to the temple, depending on how you count your money and what you are buying, that change isn't spare but belongs to the temple.

this page discusses the situations when one has set aside money for offerings of one type or another to the temple, it hasn't cost as much as the money set aside - what to do with this money? is this money consecrated to the temple and can only be used for offerings, or it yours to spend....  depending on how you count the coins, or on what offering, it's consecrated and should go to the temple.

shekalim 5

when does something become Temple property?
when it is given, or when it is received?
- what if it never made it?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

shekalim 4

because coins come in different measures and sizes, certain people need to add a little extra to make it equivalent to the fiery coin found under God's throne.

(discussion about the premium added to the half-shekel, to compensate for the variants in the size of coins. as for the half-shekel, description of God showing Moshe a coin of fire from beneath God's Throne. Even God finds loose change at the back of the sofa....)

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

shekalim 3

the 15th of Adar was a busy day..
setting up the money-changers' tables, marking out graves, piercing ears, civic repairs, making the Sotah drink...
it's a lot to do with a Purim hangover.

(this page lists various activities that happened on the 15th of Adar - repairs to public structures - roads, wells, graves etc; hard to see how piercing slaves' ears and making the Sotah drink the bitter water is for the public good. but that's hangovers for you. - and yes this is a little bit anachronistic. Sotah was done in the 1st temple, and Purim happened after the temple was destroyed... but Sotah is a little bit anachronistic)

Monday, 21 October 2013

shekalim 2

on the first of Adar:
announce the annual collection of money from different lands
& announce the prohibition of mixed planting

(Shekalim deals with the communal fund that pays for the communal offerings in the temple. all men had to give half a shekel on the 1st of Adar so that the funds would be there for Nisan. Discussed on this page is the notion that money from those living far away from Jerusalem, eg the Jews in Bavel, would take a while to get to the temple. Hence the different currencies in the collage, in a fruit/grape like arrangement echoing the other announcement on 1st Adar about mixed planting - mixed currencies)

I decided to do mesechet shekalim as a collage because... well... for no good reason other than when I have explained this project to others and mentioned that I will be tackling each section with different drawing materials eg, pencil, ink, biro, watercolour, sepia, I always say: except for collage... and so I thought: why not collage?
dadaaa - collage. Shekalim is short, only 21 pages. how tedious can it get?

Sunday, 20 October 2013

goodbye pesachim

goodbye mesechet pesachim....

from searching for chammetz during the Or, light, which is night, to ruling that hands might become impure at midnight. Mesechet Brachot has basically covered, with quite a lot of diversion into demon territory, the 24 hour cycle starting with the eve of Pesach, 14th Nisan, til midnight on first night seder night, the 15th Nisan. 

it has been a packed 24 hours over the 120 pages, and there has been slightly strange feeling time throughout. Outside of daf yomi it has been summer going into autumn, with the festivals of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succot and yet been learning and thinking about seder night. But there was one day during succot where the daf mentioned lulav and etrog.

and this mesechet I have been very pushed for time. with my work at JW3 that opened to the public a few weeks ago, with travel to New Zealand, Israel - hey, on a bad day the North Circular in London can turn a long journey into something truly tedious. Regular readers may have spotted some gaps. apologies to those who have been following this blog. Whilst I largely kept up with the drawing-a-day routine, uploading those drawings to this blog was sometimes just that one task too many on my to-do list.... 

Goodbye mesechet pesachim, with your insights into Temple life, demonology, and learning that in every generation on seder night, somebody dozed off or fell asleep.

onwards - to mesechet shekalim....

pesachim 121

the priests' hands

that pour and sprinkle,
receive money & redeem the firstborn

but hands can become impure at midnight as cannot tell which hands belongs to the priests who are lazy or suspect.

pesachim 120

falling asleep and dozing during the seder...

letting the moment for the matzah slip from the hands

(the mishna rules that if one falls asleep during the seder it isn't considered an interruption to the meal and can continue eating the Pesach, as long as others around the table stay awake. and dozing is ok... and that it needs to be eaten by midnight, after which the Pesach is considered as something that makes the hands impure)

pesachim 119

two chains - one of wealth, the gold & silver that the nations grab and go to war over.
the other, the cup of blessing that is passed along the line of those who feel unworthy to praise God. Until it comes to David who just praises God anyway.

(2 different chain stories on this page. the first describes how Joseph collected all the world's gold and silver in Egypt, that the children of Israel took with them when they left, that when back to Egypt when the Pharaoh attacked the tribe of Judah under Rehoboam, the wealth then went to Cush, to Aram, back to Israel, to Assyria, back to Judah with King Hezekiyah, then to Babylon, to Persia, to Greece, and eventually ending up in Rome.
contrast with the chain at the end of the page. A cup of wine is passed around, Abraham feels unworthy to bless because his son was Yismael. Isaac won't bless as he fathered Esau, Jacob refuses to bless as he married two sisters, Moses won't bless as he wasn't worthy to enter Israel, Joshua doesn't feel up to it as he didn't have sons. So David takes the cup and praises God... except David wasn't exactly perfect either...)

pesachim 118

the most miraculous, praiseworthy thing God does is provide food for the whole world.

but Rome hoards enough food to feed the whole world - on every one of the 365 floors, that make up every one of the 365 towers, that are in each one of the the 365 markets in Rome.

pesachim 117

one word, or more than one word?
said in the singular by the individual as personal praise to God
or said in the plural, by the many as a communal praise to God 

pesachim 116

shamed by past disgrace - be it slavery or idolatry

either way, those who cannot look will still end up praising God

pesachim 115

children wonder and ask questions

that will be answered over matzah - the lechem oni - the bread of answers

pesachim 114

one lettuce, two dips - you know - for kids!

pesachim 113

the Rav who taught his student many things

but could only teach his son how to do business as he walks away.

Friday, 11 October 2013

pesachim 112

rabbinic sons and demonic daughters

one generation tries to protect the next and warn of threats and dangers.
like the demon daughter and her destructive angels who punctually rampage every Tuesday and Friday night.

(various Rabbis instruct their sons & students, of many things that could be harmful. a lot of them could be basic health & safety eg don't drink water from a river at night. yup, might slip and fall in. but it is explained in terms of demons. apparently tues or fri night is dangerous to drink any water because that's when the demons are out. And why tues & fri? Agrat, the daughter of the demon Mahalat, leading 180,000 destructive angels, are out to destroy on those nights. story of an encounter with her and R. Hanina b. Dosa, where he could have eliminated her completely but instead limited her wanderings to two nights of the week. can't get rid of the demons completely, need to make some time for them)

pesachim 111

beware the beginning of the month
beware of women at the beginning of their time of the month,
beware of the dangerous shadows, and the demons who lurk in multi-branched trees,

most importantly: get to know the demons and then you can write the correct amulets

(this page of Talmud reads like a strange encyclopedia of demons and dangers. sleeping in shadows, walking between trees, women. a woman walking between men, especially during the beginning of her period.... demons are everywhere, in trees, in breadcrumbs, in food under the bed)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

pesachim 110


is the king of the demons dangerous?
Yosef the Demon taught how men (not ordinary women) should be careful about drinking in pairs. even numbers can be fatal.
but not things that are man-made, just things from heaven. like wine, and beer, and women....

(more demons! strange tales from Yosef the Demon who says that Ashmedai, king of the demons, is only a king not harmful... but others disagree. kings are a capricious moody bunch. Other stories on this page about witches, and ex-wives who use the dangerous double drinking to cause harm.
some interesting 'facts' about the dangerous pairs - only pairs of heavenly made things are fatal, not man-made items. And women aren't affected. Apparently demons aren't interested in how much women drink. and demons only bother you if you are bothered about them.... so be like a woman and turn your back to the demons and drink as evenly as you like)

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

pesachim 109

roasted grains and nuts for children
new clothes for women
wine for men

but the demons like things in pairs...

(this page begins to discuss the seder and ends in demons. Children were given nuts and grains to keep them awake. There is an aspect of festivals to be happy, this is expressed in eating meat. or, for women - new clothes. and for men, wine. There is a concern however not to drink an even number of glasses of wine, because that makes you vulnerable to demons... apparently. But it's going to be ok! on seder night, it is a night of watching and extra protection, so our 4 glasses of wine at seder are safe...)

Sunday, 6 October 2013

pesachim 108

the strict rules about how to recline and demonstrate one's freedom.
but when does the freedom begin

(on seder night eating matzah and drinking wine should be done when reclining. important women too.... but when drinking wine only 2 of the 4 cups should be drunk while reclining. the first two or the last two? is freedom re-expereinced - slavery to freedom. or a past memory?)

Saturday, 5 October 2013

pesachim 107

what to eat & drink in-between days

the king who won't eat before the pesach
the Rabbi who spends that day drinking wine

(can havdalah be made on drink other than wine - the local brew? also discussed is the preparation for building up an appetite for the pesach offering and matzah - King Agrippa would not eat and Rava would spend eruv pesach drinking wine)

Friday, 4 October 2013

pesachim 106

the discerning eye that notices blemishes, seeks perfection and understands what is happening in front of it.

pesachim 105

the unimportant man raises the glass at the first opportunity and then allows the day to linger.

pesachim 104

how many distinctions and separations can you declare when you notice that you have god on your currency?

pesachim 103

as the queen is leaving the all male groups that sit and eat and discuss making distinctions
light & dark
holy & profane

male & female...?

pesachim 102

shuffling the order of the blessings using only one cup of wine between days

pesachim 101

the wandering kiddush supper club

when the lights go out, find a place to eat and drink

pesachim 100

still eating? just cover over the food and it is a new day

pesachim 99

no speaking and no eating

wiser to build up an appetite

pesachim 98

lost and mixed up pesach offerings between the groups
with much confusion as to how to resolve

pesachim 97

defining lost in terms of time
if it isn't time to slaughter then all is not lost

pesachim 96

the blood sprinkled on the doorpost that only happened in the hasty first Pesach in Egypt

and the sheep dotted in the landscape, left to graze when they were not found in time in later Pesachs.

(I don't know if it was the 3 day chaggim, being ridiculously busy my work at the launch of the new JW3, preparing artwork for the Urban Dialogues group exhibition at Red Gallery London, my scanner being it's usual moody self - or just a happy combination of all of the above - but updating this website has just not happened for quite a while. I did keep more or less up to date with the learning and drawing, but the uploading was just one task too many on an already full to-do list. Gosh this is sounding a bit like "...and I left it on the bus, and my non-existent dog ate it...."
many apologies if you were trying to use this site to keep up with daf yomi. hopefully things have settled down and normal service will resume)