Thursday, 21 November 2013

yoma 12

(drawing to follow)

once you have crossed the border and worn the High Priest's belt, even if it was for just a day - there is no going back to the ordinary.

(this page begins with discussing if the city of Jerusalem belongs to all, and no one specifically. Or just the Temple Mount. Another opinion is that the Temple crosses the border between the tribe of Yehudah and the tribe of Binyamin. Binyamin is resentful and jealous that even though they have the sanctuary and the Holy of Holies in their land, the altar is in the part of land that is Yehudah. Jealousy and resentment come up later in the page when discussing the what happens to the priest who is temporarily standing in for the High Priest who has become disqualified on Yom Kippur. The substitute priest does not go back to being an ordinary priest. But neither he can remain a second High Priest. Jealousy and rivalry flare up so easily. In between these two cases of jealousy is trying to decipher the distingushing garment of the High Priest to the ordinary priest - all about the belt.)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

yoma 11

some buildings are too disgusting and disrespectful to have a mezuzah

and some are too holy.

so. the women's house, the place where women bathe and adorn themselves, where does that fit?

(trying to decide the principle behind the list of buildings which require a mezuzah and which don't. The out-house, the bath-house, tannery etc don't. Storehouses, storehouse used by women to adorn themselves also don't... the discussion revolves around ideas of residency and also dignity. The argument that some places are too disgusting to have mezuzah falls a bit flat when taking into consideration that the Temple did not have a mezuzah. The argument going that it was already a holy structure and the mezuzah is for mundane, but not too earthy, buildings. And it is interesting to note that it is specifically women's bathing and adorning venues that are discussed. From other parts of the Talmud it is clear that there were male bath-houses as well...)

yoma 10

the temple has no mezuzah because it was not a permanent residence.
the temple was destroyed by Rome.
it's not a permanent anything....

(but as for Rome, it's not permanent either, the sun will set on the destroyers...)

(this page identifies various nations from biblical characters. and the origin of Persia. who were involved in building the second temple, that was then destroyed by Rome. Also discussed is the Parhedrin Chamber, where the High Priest was sequestered for a week prior to Yom Kippur, whether or not it needed a mezuzah. One opinion is that it didn't, as it was not a permanent residency. This drawing shows the Arch of Titus, built in Rome after the destruction of the temple, looming over it is a giant, another character from this page who was so tall he wore the sun as a necklace. it is a little anachronistic as the giant mentioned in this page is a giant living in the land of Israel before it was conquered.... but every nation rises and falls. No one, even the giants, greatness lasts forever, the sun sets on all)

Sunday, 17 November 2013

yoma 9

those haughty women, in whose scented footsteps, lust and destruction followed.

(this page discusses the destruction of the two temples, comparing the two generations. the first temple was destroyed for idolatry, immorality and bloodshed. the second for senseless hatred. The immorality is described as haughty women, who would wear a lot of make-up and walk with scent in the feet, that drove the young men wild with lust. Interesting to note though is that this generation were seen by some as greater than the later, of second temple time. Resh Lakish is bathing again in the river, although this time he approached not by R. Yochanan but by Rabbah bar bar Chanina, who was from Bavel and therefore Resh Lakish would not speak to. the Jews of Bavel chose to stay there and not return with generation of Ezra and rebuild the second temple...)

yoma 8

immersing & sprinkling with ash
but can't erase God's name written on the skin
or the bribery and corruption in appointment of the High Priest

(this page discusses purification processes of immersion in water, and for the priests' preparations, sprinkling with ash. A side detail is that if someone has God's name written on their skin, they should be careful if immersing not to erase God's name. Later in the page is discussed the name that the chamber the High Priest was sequestered to makes a subtle reference that the appointment of High Priest was corrupted by money, and was just like the other regal appointments. The High Priest wouldn't survive the year. All that immersion and sprinkling can't purify and erase the sin of corruption in the leadership.)

yoma 7

you can hide and be silent about what is in the hand.
but cannot ignore what is broken on the mind.

(discussing if impurity is overridden or permitted when the priest is performing a rite on behalf of the community. if something is impure in the hand, and there is no substitute, the priest is to be silent and continue with the ritual. at the end of the page is discussed the tzitz, the piece of metal worn on the forehead of the High Priest. There is a debate if it always needs to be worn for offerings to be accepted. But all agree that on the forehead, or hanging on a peg, if the tzitz is broken the offerings are not accepted)

Thursday, 14 November 2013

yoma 6

comparing contact with a corpse and sex with a niddah...

but for the woman herself, it's as different as night & day

(comparing the impurity of a man who has sex with a niddah, and the impurity of contact with a corpse... yes, well.... they have the same length of time of impurity, can immerse during the day. but for a niddah, or a woman who has just given birth, they have to wait until night before immersing.

it's a bit of a tricky and problematic comparison....)

yoma 5

not everything is essential in the ritual

- except for the blood

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

yoma 4

R.Yohanan v. Resh Lakish
temple or mountain

arguing about the derivation the 7 day preparation time for forming a cloud of incense on Yom Kippur.

derived from the descent of another cloud.

but was it on the newly made temple, or on Moshe at Sinai?

(R. Yohanan argues that the derivation of the 7 day sequestering/prep time for the High Priest on Yom Kippur is derived from the requirements of the inauguration service. Resh Lakish derives it from Moshe being in a cloud at Sinai before God called to him. One of the unique features of the Yom Kippur temple service is that the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies and perform a ritual with incense that would cause a cloud of smoke to rise. cloud rising to echo the cloud descending. but which cloud and where?)

yoma 3

how hands-on is making as opposed to taking?

whose hand pays when something is taken?

(this page continues to debate the connection between Yom Kippur temple service and the inauguration service of the Temple, both having a 7 day sequestering of the High Priest. other festivals than Yom Kippur are suggested but Yom Kippur the High Priest has to "take for yourself" implying that some of the offerings are paid for by him, not from the communal funds. but this is compared to "make for yourself"with other obligations and cannot be concluded that taking is the same as making when it comes to payment. It stuck me that when something is taken it is held tightly. but when it is made, obviously depending on the technique but in general the hand needs to slightly looser, allowing for the object to become it's own thing.)

yoma 2

lining up the replacement brides.

but how many can drop dead in a week? if it goes on for ever, that's a lot of dead women.

(both Yom Kippur and the ritual of the red heifer, require a preparation time of 7 days. part of which is to appoint a successor should the High Priest die suddenly. also planned is the High Priest's wife's replacement, should anything happen to the High Priest's wife. and then the replacement for the replacement etc....)

Monday, 11 November 2013

goodbye shekalim

from the message going out on the 1st of adar announcing the collection of the half-shekel, to the bitter reality that in a post-destruction world where the half-shekel is no longer used. The practicalities of collecting money from people who live scattered apart, from jerusalem and beyond, including Bavel, the place of exile - which is discussed on the first page, and the last page which faces up to a world without the Temple. But there is not cause for despair as there is on the last page some hope that the Temple will be rebuilt. This section of the Talmud is focused on the temple, it's donations and process of making things holy. But it concludes acknowledging that all that discussion is now over. It is practically irrelevant.

I decided to do this section of the Talmud in collage. it was a bit of a whim but has greatly affected how I reply to the text. Do I just make a pile of objects and images that are referring to in the learning? or to think differently about each page. some days I have felt that if only I was tackling this section in another way - pen & ink - then the drawings would have been much much quicker.... each section of the Talmud brings its own character. and this bit is quite strange. It is the Yerusalmi not the Bavli Talmud. a whole different style. and just as i got used to it, it was over.

oh well. onwards to Mesechet Yoma...

shekalim 22

inside or outside

the destruction makes the half shekel redundant for now
but keep it around, might be useful in the future.

(after discussing how and where to dispose of meat that has become impure, and where to place various offerings on the ramp in the Temple, this page discusses what happens to various obligations once the Temple is no longer present. Debated are the half-shekel and the first-fruits, and if they can become consecrated and kept waiting until the Temple is rebuilt.)

shekalim 21

pure blood and spittle on the streets of Jerusalem

and the hungry lions who are beautiful embroidered.

(this page discuss if spittle is found on the streets on Jerusalem it is presumed to be from a pure person. this page also repeats the case about discussing the amount of blood from a carcass of a donkey - or is any amount of blood considered pure. the donkey's blood comes from the gentile part of jerusalem where donkeys were fed to lions. Lions also crop up at the end of the page in the description of the beauty and craft of the curtain covering the Holy of Holies.)

shekalim 20

throwing it all away

discarding meat, money and meal-offerings that have lost their identity and origins

shekalim 19

lost & found

finding money and meat in the street

Thursday, 7 November 2013

shekalim 18

refining and reducing

refining gold down to it's essential pure weight


the amounts for the min. donations of stuff for the temple

(this page describes the menorah made of pure gold, when gold was refined down to it's essential weight. also on this page is the minimum amount of frankincense to be donated - a fistful. although there is a discussion as to whose fist this is referring to)

shekalim 17

the temple had only one key, but thirteen gates...

what trickled, then gushed out after the key was thrown to heaven?

(this page continues the list of the 13 temple gates, including the water gate. there is a brief description that in the future a thin trickle of water will flow out from the Holy of Holies, expanding to eventually forming a strong unstoppable current. there is another story that when Jehochian, one of the last kings of Judah, realised that the Babylonians were coming and the temple will be destroyed, he took the temple key and threw it up to heaven. a hand came out and caught it. After the destruction of the temple, the tribe of Judah - the Jews - went to Babylon... and thus began diaspora.
The 13 gates in this collage are 13 frontispieces from various editions of the Talmud. which often depict a gate. and on whose pages a single verse can expand into a wide ocean of interpretation and discussion....)

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

shekalim 16

fire & water

the king's reign and dynasty begins with oil, anointed next to water.
to lead a people whose defining book began with white and black fire amongst the waves of the great sea.

(discussed on this page is the ark and it's contents. a horn of anointing oil was kept in the ark. this oil was used to anoint kings at the beginning of their dynasty, establishing their monarchy, the ceremony to be done next to a river. Also in the ark are the tablets, both the broken first set and the whole second set. The tablets are described as being engraved with letters and details in-between like the small and large waves of the great sea. I am struck that the kings, and priests, were anointed with oil. making them highly flammable... to be leaders of a people whose Torah is described as white fire engraved on black fire.)

Monday, 4 November 2013

shekalim 15

need for discretion & secret places:
the place to give and receive charity
the hiding place of the ark.

(two places of secrecy. the chamber of secrets where people give charity anonymously and others come and take when in need. the other place is where the ark was hidden. but there are two deaths on this page. one is a man who was covered in boils and appealed to Nahum of Gam Zo who was taking a gift to his father in law's house. Nahum didn't stop and the man died. Nahum cursed himself and felt responsible for this death. appealing directly to others for charity can be fatal if the vital needs are not met. The other death is a priest who, when working in the temple, noticed one of the flagstones was uneven, realised this is where the ark is hidden, went to tell someone and a fire came out and burnt him. if only things were kept within the hidden secret chamber)

Saturday, 2 November 2013

shekalim 14

some things are family secrets & unknown stories - like what really happened to the bride..

but when it comes to money matters, information needs to be shared and checked.

(this page details the list in the mishna of who does what in the Temple. Nehuya dug wells for the pilgrims, as he knew where the water was. but his son dies of thirst... a story is told of another well-digger whose daughter was swept away by a river she was crossing on her way to getting married. the man refused to be consoled and there was a rumour that she had survived the river, either by clinging onto a branch or by an angel in the form of R. Pinchas b. Yair.. later in the page we hear of two families, the ones who make the shewbread and the ones who prepare the incense, refusing to teach others their techniques. In contrast to this is the principle that when it comes to communal funds there should be at least 2 officials to check the accounts.)

shekalim 13

counting & classifying, listing & structuring
- this is what counts as learning and wisdom

but sometime information is only known by those who can understand what is said through the hands

(this page describes scribes as those who count ie they numerically order, list and catergorise Torah. the ability to abstract and structure Jewish law and learning. but there are 2 very similiar stories of a drought and mute communicating through hands and gestures where barley is growing.)

Friday, 1 November 2013

shekalim 12

waiting for the blemishes to appear
deconsecrating the sacred.

(both the priest and the animal offering have to be without blemish. this page discusses the different situations and solutions of property consecrated to the temple, but not used as sacrifices - turned out to graze til blemishes appear? used to pay the artisans?)