Daf shvu’i: Give me forty minutes or so and I’ll give you a daf or so / Baba bathra 10b-11b

Another week, another story of the Queen Mother. (Not that Queen Mother, Ifra Hormiz the mother of Shapur II of course.) More charity, then the perennial question: how do we divide up this courtyard? It’s almost unbelievable that no one has written a folk song about it. Please stop watching the impeachment trial for a beat (spoiler: he’s guilty, he’ll be find not guilty) and join us in the Sea of Talmud. No experience necessary.

As always, my deepest gratitude to Eli Ungar-Sargon for sound editing.

Daf shvu’i: Give me forty minutes or so and I’ll give you a daf or so / Baba bathra 10a-10b

WE’RE BACK! And so is daf shvu’i. I hope you had a restful rejuvenating break over the various holidays. Now its time to forget all that and dive into the sea of Talmud. This week we continue the discussion of poverty relief beginning with a confrontation between Rabbi Aqiva and Turnus Rufus, the guy who is at times “credited” with destroying the Temple. Their theological debate leads into a longish disquisition on the merits of giving charity.

This weeks daf is longer than usual, so forty minutes is more like fifty minutes. So, get your beverage of choice, your talmud edition of choice and come on in!

Thanks, as always, to Eli Ungar Sargon for the sound editing.

Daf shvu’i: Give me forty minutes or so and I’ll give you a daf or so

This week we dive into Baba Bathra 8b-9b. We discuss the integrity of the poverty relief system, the textual grounding of unions, the need or not to verify the claims of impoverished people seeking help. And, how could we not, a story of a Rabbi who drove his mother crazy.

As always, deepest thanks to Eli Ungar-Sargon for sound editing.

Daf Shvu’i: Give me 40 minutes or so and I’ll give you a daf or so

This week we get into the longest extended discussion of poverty relief in the Babylonian Talmud. Along with the serious business of assessing, collecting, and distributing taxes for infrastructure and poverty relief, there is the serious business of meeting Elijah the Prophet, and watching Rabbi Judah the Prince deal with famine. Also, should Sages pay taxes?

As always, deepest gratitude to Eli Ungar-Sargon for sound editing.

Daf Shvu’i: Give me 40 minutes or so and I’ll teach you a daf or so…

After a hiatus as a result of the sukkot holidays and a sojourn to DC to attend the JStreet conference (which will make some of you think I’m a leftie, and some think I’ve gone over to the right), Daf Shvu’i returns. The simple premise is that we learn a page of talmud every week. We started at the beginning of Tractate Baba Bathra and this week finish page 5b and study 6a and most of 6b. If you want to follow along, the daf is here or here.

As always, deepest thanks go to Eli Ungar-Sargon for sound editing.

Choose Life: Thoughts on Yom Kippur

The framing of the Yom Kippur ritual in Torah is fascinating and disturbing. In the Torah the Yom Kippur ritual, which is actually the one off desert ritual of cleansing the Tabernacle of sin, which was then converted by the Holiness code, and then the Rabbis, into the annual Yom Kippur Temple ritual, is introduced with the following verses: 

וַיְדַבֵּר ה׳ אֶל מֹשֶׁה אַחֲרֵי מוֹת שְׁנֵי בְּנֵי אַהֲרֹן בְּקָרְבָתָם לִפְנֵי ה׳ וַיָּמֻתוּ

וַיֹּאמֶר ה׳ אֶל מֹשֶׁה דַּבֵּר אֶל אַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ וְאַל יָבֹא בְכָל עֵת אֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ מִבֵּית לַפָּרֹכֶת אֶל פְּנֵי 

הַכַּפֹּרֶת אֲשֶׁר עַל הָאָרֹן וְלֹא יָמוּת כִּי בֶּעָנָן אֵרָאֶה עַל הַכַּפֹּרֶת

And God spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons when they came forward before God and died. And God said to Moses: “Speak to Aaron your brother, that he not come at all times into the sacred zone within the curtain in front of the cover that is on the Ark, lest he die. For in the cloud I shall appear over the cover.”

As one of the great Hassidic masters says: והספיקות רבו/and the questions are many. In these two verses, God speaks to Moses twice, וידבר ה׳ and then ויאמר ה׳, but only after the second introduction “and God said to Moses” do we hear what God said. Aaron only had two sons, so would it not have been enough to say Aaron’s sons rather than Aaron’s two sons? The verse says that God spoke to Moses after the death of Aaron’s two sons. This might imply that it was immediately after the death of Nadav and Avihu—but that happened a while ago, and God has said many things between then and now. Also, speaking of Nadav and Avihu, why did the Torah not mention them by name rather than just saying Aaron’s two sons? Why is the incident of Nadav and Avihu’s deaths described as בקרבתם לפני ה׳ וימותו/when they came forward before God and died, rather than offering an explanation for why they died as in Leviticus 10, where it says that they brought foreign or strange fire before God? The verse here seems to be saying that they merely came “close to” God, or “came before” God and they died. 

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Why do something rather than nothing?

This is a class that I gave at and for Bend the Arc: Jewish Action last night (9.12). It is the beginning of thinking toward a theory of political action from out of Jewish sources. The class itself is about 45 minutes. (There are introductory comments for the first 10 or 15 minutes.) The source sheet for the class is here.

At the end of the class Rebecca Green, the SoCal organizer suggested a number of ways to get involved and do something. Here they are:

  1. Sign the defund hate petition.
  2. Come out to the “Not One More Dollar” demonstration against GeoGroup, the largest private prison company in the country, and the operator of Adelanto Detention Center.
  3. Come to the Bend the Arc SoCal monthly community meeting