11/30/11

Is that love song kosher?

Is that love song kosher?

Kipa, an Israeli Orthodox Hebrew web site, reports that Rabbi Eliyahu of Safed has declared pop love songs off limits - not kosher -- see the article, חדשות - הרב אליהו: לזמרים של היום אין מושג מה זאת אהבה.

Now, we have a suspicion that the rabbi is preparing to launch a kosher business for certifying those love songs that he deems to be rabbinically approved.

Well we are out there ahead of him.

Attention music publishers and performing artists! We are launching a new service that will review, inspect and certify your romantic music as kosher.

Contact us. Our rates are reasonable. You don't want your music to be declared non-kosher, do you?

The Kipa article reports as follows:
Rabbi Eliyahu: singers of today have no idea what love is

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu rules against hearing songs dealing with romance. "We must not drift through their songs after these low feelings. They sing songs of praise to the basest of our senses," he states.
The Rav of Safed, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, rules against listening to songs or music are about romance. In a responsum to be published this weekend in 'Small World', Rabbi Eliyahu claims that this kind of popular songs, does not deal with love, but with passions and obscenities.

In a personal attack on the singers and poets of today, Rabbi Eliyahu claims that "Those who read the biography of these singers are seeing that most of them have never experienced true love, but mostly lust. They can not sustain a relationship with a woman for more than three days, weeks or months. They never heard of mutual trust. "

Rabbi Eliyahu says that, "You should not be confused. They call it love - because they just do not know any better." In practice, Rabbi Eliyahu explained that those singers, "Really sing songs of praise to our coarsest senses," and so he rules that, "It is forbidden to drift through their songs after these low feelings."

"There is true love in the world - it is a shame to lose it. It is worth everything," concludes the Rabbi
.
By the way rabbi, can you sing us a true kosher love song?

11/29/11

Is David Mamet Jewish?

Yes, David Mamet is a Jew. A Jew with lots of opinions about things.

The JJ tells us that, "David Mamet is a Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony- and Oscar-nominated playwright, essayist, screenwriter and film director." Mamet was born, says Wikipedia, "in 1947 in Chicago to Jewish parents, Lenore June (Silver), a teacher, and Bernard Morris Mamet, an attorney."

In his recent article in the Jewish Journal, Conflict, choice and surrender, Mamet railed against "Reform Judaism" against "Jobs bills" and for "common sense."

But have no fear. The JJ replied to Mamet with an essay by anonymous that vigorously defends Reform Judaism,  Dear David Mamet: Reform Judaism doesn’t surrender.

Wikipedia explains about Mamet, "Mamet's style of writing dialogue, marked by a cynical, street-smart edge, precisely crafted for effect, is so distinctive that it has come to be called Mamet speak."

Unfortunately, we think that this artistry does not transfer to Mamet's op-ed writing which seems to us to be mainly words used as punctuation.

11/26/11

Is Mitch Albom Jewish?

Yes, best selling author Mitch Albom is a Jew from New Jersey.

His book "Have a Little Faith" will be aired in a TV version on ABC on Sunday, 11/27/2011.

The LA Times' Mary McNamara did not give it a sterling review, saying in part, "At least a half-hour too long, it is slow, repetitive and predictable — a self-indulgent exercise on Albom's part (he wrote the script). And it's the actors who pay time and again in scenes that have no sense of pacing, often no point, and in Fishburne's case, require a ludicrous wig-hat, the likes of which has not been seen on network TV since Howard Cosell. Watching, you can only hope that each of these fine performers finds a home on some perfectly splendid series and becomes permanently unavailable for projects like this one.'

We liked the book and said back on 11/19/2009:

We heard Albom speak tonight at the Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC. He reprised many vignettes from his book in what we have to say was more of an artistic performance by an outstanding talent than a lecture.

11/25/11

Hanukkah Sale: 4 copies of God's Favorite Prayers for the Price of 3

Sale at Amazon "God's Favorite Prayers" by Tzvee Zahavy -- Great Hanukkah gift offer.

Buy 4 copies of God's Favorite Prayers for the Price of 3

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11/20/11

Times' Joseph Berger Profiles the Actors’ Temple in NYC



The Actor's Temple is one of the many colorful synagogues in NYC. Joseph Berger wrote a wonderful story about that shul in the Times.

It seems these actors need money. Hmm. On the West Coast, actors are giving generously to their temple in LA. The Los Angeles Times reports on what may be the most expensive renovation for a Temple or Synagogue -- a $175-million renovation and redevelopment project as we blogged in October. Indeed.
Once a Realm of Stars, a Temple Is Now Bereft of Them, and Their Money
By JOSEPH BERGER

Here is how the Actors’ Temple went from being an Orthodox synagogue to a Conservative one — at least for a time.

Sophie Tucker, the self-proclaimed “Last of the Red Hot Mamas” who was famous for her vaudeville renditions of “Some of These Days,” and “My Yiddishe Momme,” was sitting in the women’s balcony during the High Holy Days and spotted a wealthy woman she was acquainted with enter the men’s section below to pray with her husband, causing something of a stir. The formidable Tucker rose, marched downstairs and joined her, making an emphatic statement that the rabbi was loath to challenge. This was Sophie Tucker, after all. From then on, more women and men sat together in the Conservative custom, or so goes the story as told by the congregation’s current rabbi, who happens to be a woman, Jill Hausman.

The Actors’ Temple, sandwiched among the low-rise buildings of West 47th Street in Manhattan’s theater district, is rich with such tales about its celebrated worshipers, entertainers like Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Red Buttons, Eddie Cantor, Eddie Fisher, Al Jolson, Shelley Winters and two of the Three Stooges. They had started from the bottom of the industry, after growing up in observant Jewish homes, and, even if they had changed their names and outer shells, they wanted to reconnect once or twice a year, maybe even accepting the honor of a call to bless the Torah. Edward G. Robinson, who played the mobster “Little Caesar,” donned a prayer shawl to lead a service... more...

11/19/11

Rabbi Sacks Mocks Steve Jobs - but he is dead and cannot answer

Oy, oy, oy. The rabbi maybe should have retired last year, not next year. He's got it wrong, oy, oy, oy.

"The late Steve Jobs helped create a selfish 'i, i, i' consumer culture that has only brought unhappiness, the Chief Rabbi has claimed."

There is nothing at all about Apple products that is any more selfish or materialist than any other consumer market product. iPad has Torah apps! What is the man talking about?

[The rabbi sort-of apologized for his dumb remarks according to the EJP, to wit, "Rabbi Sacks, the clarification statement added, "uses an iPhone and an iPad on a daily basis" and "was simply pointing out the potential dangers of consumerism when taken too far.""]

iPad has brought this writer more happiness than any previous technological invention, and that includes the remote garage door opener and the cell phone, two previous inventions that changed our lives completely.

The iPad and iPod machines are not sources of unhappiness or selfishness or materialism. That blast from the chief is way out of line.

Now if we were chief rabbi (like the if we were a horse anthropologist) and we wanted to chastise Steve Jobs, there is ample room for criticizing the man. We wouldn't do it as a criticism though because that is contrary to the Torah. You are not permitted to mock the dead. They cannot answer. The rabbis remind us that one who mocks the dead is like one who insults his creator. It's based on a verse in the bible about the poor and weak, only it is applied to the dead. Proverbs 17:5 is the verse that is invoked in this regard, לועג לרש חרף עושהו "One who mocks the poor affronts his Maker."

The rabbi ought politely to have raised issues about Jobs' actions as a person during his life. We complimented last week the president of a respected company because he brought representatives of an NGO to his corporate office and recommended that all employees support their charitable efforts. We applauded him for following the model of Bill Gates in seeking to bolster philanthropy. And we mentioned to him by contrast Steve Jobs, who was not known as a philanthropist during his lifetime.

Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote about this known issue (a bug in the program?) in August 2011 ("The Mystery of Steve Jobs’s Public Giving") saying among other things, "...the lack of public philanthropy by Mr. Jobs — long whispered about, but rarely said aloud — raises some important questions about the way the public views business and business people at a time when some 'millionaires and billionaires' are criticized for not giving back enough while others like Mr. Jobs are lionized."

The chief rabbi had an ample opportunity to raise the p-question, without insult to Jobs' memory, to probe why he never set a public example as a big philanthropist or even as a simple charitable person.

But for the rabbi to attack the iPad and insinuate that it is a source of the world's unhappiness -- that is silly talk. The Telegraph reported the story of the rabbi's rants in front of the queen:
Chief Rabbi blames Apple for helping create selfish society
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, and Martin Beckford

Lord Sacks said that advertising only made shoppers aware of what they did not own, rather than feeling grateful for what they have.

Talmudic Video Clips: Yossi Cedar and Footnote at Lincoln Center and Our Non-video Comments about Daniel Boyarin

video

Yossi Cedar came out on stage to introduce his film at the screening at the New York Film Festival on 10-10-11. He was funny. That is the first clip above. (The clips are from our Samsung smart phone Epic 4G.) He then came out on stage to answer questions after the film was shown. In our second clip (below), Cedar explained where he got the idea for the core concept of the film (the father-son prize mix-up).

video

In our third clip (below), he explains where he got the notion for one of the funniest scenes in the film (the meeting at the ministry office).

video


In the beginning of the film itself, Cedar creates a scene at a cocktail party in Jerusalem where in the background conversation you can hear professors discussing the merits of the scholarship of "Boyarin". This is a reference to Daniel Boyarin's work going back twenty plus years that ostensibly tried to combine trendy literary and gender critical methods with the study of Talmud and Midrash. That is the antithesis of the kind of work that Talmudic philologists at the Hebrew University considered to be proper scholarship.

We reviewed a book by Boyarin many years ago and had some strong sentiments of criticism at the time. Our negative judgements did not stem from a premise that Hebrew University style criticism was the proper model for Talmudic scholarship. We did not see Boyarin's work as an intelligible advance in knowledge in the field. Others do. We still don't.

Here is what we said back then. This assessment applies as well to the new Hebrew edition that is now being published 20 years after the original book appeared.

11/15/11

Talmudic Puzzlement over the Kindle Fire

"God's Favorite Prayers" Kindle edition looks great on the Kindle Fire.

Our new Kindle Fire tablet arrived today. We like it. It's a compromise between an android phone and an iPad. We have a Samsung Epic 4G android phone that can do most of what the Kindle Fire can do. But it is smaller and it is a phone. We have an iPad that is an iPad. It is 10 inches and it is amazing. We use both devices daily. We depend on both.

The Kindle Fire is 7 inches. It is plenty big enough for reading. In fact it is the same size as the standard Kindle. But yes, it is much heavier. And it is color and touch screen and quite slick. We like the navigation that Amazon put on top of the Android operating system, and the browser (called "silk" by Amazon). In short, this is an impressive device.

Questions abound, subject to answer over the next few weeks. Will we use this device? Since we already have an actual Kindle (much lighter) and an actual Android phone (3G most of the time from Sprint) and an actual iPad (we take it everywhere and use it for everything) -- where will the Fire fit in to our lifestyle?

What is the essence of this new creature? Now that is a big Talmudic question.

"God's Favorite Prayers" Kindle edition looks great on the Kindle Fire.

On completing the study once again of Talmud Tractate Hullin

Today marks the completion of daf yomi study of Tractate Hullin.  We are reposting our previous post of our recollections and of Rav Soloveitchik's remarks in 1974 at a siyyum for Hullin, previously published in a well-known compilation .

My translation of Talmud tractate Hullin, as described below, was re-issued recently by Hendrickson in print and on CD.

On April 1, 1973 in Rabbi Soloveitchik's Talmud shiur at Yeshiva University we completed learning the first chapter of Talmud Bavli Tractate Hullin. The Rav gave a dvar Torah at the Siyyum. He explained the meaning of the recitation of the hadran alakh, the prayer that promised upon the completion of learning a Talmud chapter or Tractate that we would return to study you - speaking to the text - again.

I kept the promise. Between 1992 and 1994 as a professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Minnesota I directed my research to the study of this chapter and the remaining eleven chapters of the tractate.

Siyyum -- Talmud Bavli Hullin 142a-b - translation by Tzvee


B.            Why do this? If it is in order to acquire them, let him acquire them [by the customary symbolic transfer] with a fabric. If it is a festival day [142a] [when foods that one wishes to use must be prepared in advance, let us presume that] it suffices if he stands and says [before the festival], “This one and that one I am taking [to designate them for use].”

C.            [We may say that] these were newly laid eggs and Levi Bar Simon himself had not yet had a chance to acquire them.

D.            And here is what he said to him, “Go and disturb the nest so they will fly up and Levi bar Simon will acquire them and after that you will acquire them from him [by the customary symbolic transfer] with a fabric.

11/14/11

Talmud Bavli Hullin 141a-b - translation by Tzvee


K.            It is necessary to state the instance where she is hovering [above the nest]. For [we learn from this that] even where its wings were touching the nest, one is exempt from letting the dam go.

L.            But lo we know it was taught on Tannaite authority: When its wings touched the nest, one is liable to send forth the dam [M. 12:3 B-C]. Said R. Judah, “Concerning what case did the Mishnah teach us the rule? Where she touched [the nest] on the side.”

11/13/11

Talmud Bavli Hullin 140a-b - translation by Tzvee


F.             Come and take note: [140a]The birds of the air nested in its branches, and from it all living beings were fed” (Dan. 4:12) — [the verse indicates that the term spr refers to all birds, even unclean ones]. [No. This indicates that unclean birds] are called, “The birds of the air.” They are not called just plain “birds” [spr].

G.            Come and take note: “You may eat all clean birds” (Deut. 14:11) — may we derive from this the conclusion that there are unclean birds [called spr]? No. We may derive from this the conclusion that there are prohibited birds [called spr]. What case is that? If that is the case of terefah, that is stated explicitly [elsewhere that it is prohibited]. If it is the case of the slaughtered bird of the leper, we may derive that rule from the continuation of the verse, “But these are the ones of which you shall not eat: [the eagle, the vulture, the osprey]” (Deut. 14:9) — [the words “of which”] include the slaughtered bird of the leper. [This is not an acceptable line of reasoning.] Invariably [the first verse includes the case of] the slaughtered bird of the leper. [And the verse informs us that one who eats this bird] violates thereby [both] a [positive] commandment [“you may eat”] and a [negative] prohibition [“of which you shall not eat”].

11/12/11

Logic and the Voyeur Rabbi

In the development of a paper a long time back, "It is Not in Heaven: Judaic Systems, Laws and Discordant Discourses" we referred to a spicy Talmudic rabbinic anecdote.
...Discourse and the law
The fundamental rabbinic religious system of discourse rested on law, legal training and social associations of legal experts. Rabbinism placed strong value for instance on the relation between the master of the Torah and his disciple and on legal training, based on defined paradigms of logic and argumentation, techniques for the manipulation of texts, and training in rituals of study. The system emphasized obeisance to the master and mimicry of his official rituals and personal mannerisms.
The relationship of master to disciple virtually dominated the official articulations of the system. Accordingly rabbinic anecdotes themselves at times exaggerate the intensity of the bond in the system, but in doing so illustrate one of its salient facets. A caricature of the rabbi-disciple link appears in the following talmudic pericope:
R. Kahana [a disciple] went and hid under Rab's [his master's] bed. Hearing Rab "discoursing" and joking with his wife ..., [Kahana] said [out loud], "You would think that Abba's [Rab's] mouth had never before tasted the dish." [Rab] said [upon discovering his voyeur-disciple], "Kahana, are you here? Get out! This is disgraceful!" [Kahana] replied, "My lord, it is a matter of Torah, and I have the need to learn" (B. Ber. 62a).
This pointed rabbinic self-satire claims that even by learning the proper methods for love-making a disciple fulfills his obligations to study diligently the discursive practices of Torah of his master....
For more of this paper ....go here...

JPost: Jonathan Rosenblum Confuses Talmud Study and the Liberal Arts

In the JPost article, "Think Again: Talmud Study and the Liberal Arts" Jonathan Rosenblum mixes up the study of the Talmud and the Liberal Arts.

We think Rosenblum believes that because the Talmud has some logical structure and, at times, some rigorous argumentation, that makes it useful as a part of a liberal arts curriculum.

But no, no, no the Talmud is not "Liberal". It is a set of books whose aim is to propagate one special form of religious life and thought. True, it is full of argumentation and analysis as a means of achieving its aims. But overall there is nothing "Liberal" about the Talmud. The big answer and indeed the purpose of the Talmud is known and never open to question. That is, God gave the Torah to Israel and through the Talmud one can spend his time and effort studying the content of that revelation and expanding upon it. That study is a mitzvah, a religious act of merit, and not a thought exercise of the "Liberal Arts".

It seems to us that Rosenblum says that from the standpoint of the "Liberal Arts" it is not a complete waste of time to engage in this study, because in the process one increases one's "ability to learn new skills." That to us is an apologetic opinion that is directly reductionistic. It is a viewpoint that diminishes the essence of the Talmud as a religious corpus and nullifies its study as a momentous religious act.

Here is how Rosenblum unfortunately reduces Talmud to something that is a palatable part of the "Liberal Arts" at the end of his JPost essay:
IF ONE key test of a liberal education is the ability to learn new skills, then talmudic learning could be an important component. True, talmudic learning will not teach one math, unless one studies the rabbis’ complex calculations of the lunar cycle; nor will it provide grounding in a specific science. But it is not irrelevant to any of these pursuits. And the combination of intellectual rigor, discipline and concentration required is unsurpassed.

The great Harvard medievalist Harry Austryn Wolfson described talmudic study as “the application of the scientific method to the study of texts.” Hypotheses are continually being formulated and either successfully defended or rejected. The Talmud says that one who studies alone grows stupid, and the battles between study partners are nothing less than the “wars of Torah.” Even when one studies alone, he must act as his own study partner, constantly asking: Does my theory fit all the facts? Is there another way to explain all the relevant data? Students must learn to follow complex arguments that proceed over pages of text, and to hold firm at each step as to whether the argument is being advanced or questioned. Ten-year-olds learn to apply, without being aware of it, the tables taught in mathematical logic to actual cases.

At every level, the student is exposed to conflict and competing views. The Tannaim of the Talmud argue with one another; the Amoraim argue with one another and over the proper understanding of the Tannaim. The Rishonim (early commentators on the Talmud) differ from one another over the principles that emerge from the debates of the Talmud, and sometimes over the text itself. Each Rishon must be understood on his own terms, and in terms of why he argues with another Rishon.

But while a single right answer can never be given in talmudic debate, it is often possible to demonstrate that a particular solution is wrong. Thus Talmud study is the antithesis of much of contemporary academia, which, in Mead’s words, “encourages mushy thinking about mushy disciplines.” One cannot just offer opinions; one must argue propositions. That itself is a healthy antidote for the young for whom the height of wisdom is: Everything, including morality, is a matter of opinion, and all opinions are equally valid – a view, incidentally, held by no great thinker of the past, no matter how greatly they differed with one another.

Though the study will not teach elegant prose style, it demands clarity of expression and the ability to structure a logical argument. Rabbi Chaim Soloveitchik, the great 19th- and early 20th-century talmudic genius, whose style of analysis dominates much of contemporary talmudic study, emphasized that there is no such thing as a concept that cannot be expressed.

Finally, the study of Talmud places one in a dialogue with many of the greatest minds in Jewish history, and grounds a Jewish student in his own culture – one in which the legal and moral realms are seamlessly intertwined.

11/11/11

The Cantor Was a Crook, by Michael Wex in Tablet Magazine

In Tablet magazine, Michael Wex published a funny tragic true tale set in a Toronto synagogue subtitled, "First I learned that a wanted criminal from New York had fled to my Canadian shul; then I remembered that, as cantor, he'd begged God to forgive me." The vignettes that Wex describes about how people act in his synagogue are a complete riot.

Talmud Bavli Hullin 139a-b - translation by Tzvee


C.            What is the situation [regarding the bird]? If they passed judgment on it — [139a] it is put to death [and would not have escaped]. Rather it must be the case that they had not yet passed judgment on it. And they needed to bring it to the court and to fulfill by [killing it the requirement of the verse], “So you shall purge the evil from your midst” (Deut. 13:5).

D.            What is the circumstance regarding these consecrated ones? If we say the case was that he had a nest in his house and he consecrated it, would he be liable [to let the dam go]? [The verse stipulates], “If you chance to come upon a bird's nest, [in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting upon the young or upon the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young]” (Deut. 22:6) — this excludes from the obligation that which is captive [in a house].

Talmud Bavli Hullin 138a-b - translation by Tzvee


I.             [138A] And is there a Tannaite authority who taught that a maneh is forty sela? Yes. For lo it was taught on Tannaite authority: A new waterskin [not yet fully sealed], even though it can hold pomegranates, it is clean. [It is only susceptible to uncleanness when it holds water.] If he sewed it completely and it tore, the measure [of the opening needed to render it no longer susceptible to uncleanness] is the size a pomegranate will fit through.

J.             R. Eliezer b. Jacob says, “[An opening to disqualify it must be the size of] a warp clue, one fourth of a maneh of forty sela [T. Kel. B.M. 6:5 C-D, cf. M. Kel. 17:2].” [This shows that a Tanna knew of such a measure.]

11/10/11

Is either Jerry Sandusky or Joe Paterno Jewish?

No, neither Jerry Sandusky nor Joe Paterno is a Jew. We won't report any other details of their religion.

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld wrote an excellent essay with a Jewish view on the obligations of an individual to act when they see wrongdoing, such as the crimes that are reported in connection with the awful scandal at Penn State.
...In the Jewish tradition it is an absolute sin to stand by while another person is being hurt. The Torah states, “Do not stand by the blood of your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:16). The great medieval commentator, Rashi (d. 1105), explains that this means: “To see his death while you were capable of saving him, like, for example, if he was drowning in the sea or bandits were coming upon him.”...
See the rabbi's whole article in the Washington Post, "Joe Paterno had to go: a religious argument".

Talmud Bavli Hullin 137a-b - translation by Tzvee


V.            For [the rules of first shearings are similar to the laws for the firstling in eight ways, but not to the rules of tithes. With regard to tithes:] (1) An orphan [animal, whose mother died when it was born is not liable to the rules of tithes]; (2) [An animal that was] purchased [is not liable to tithes]; (3) [An animal that was] owned by partners [is not liable to tithes]; (4) [An animal that was] given [to someone as a gift is not liable to tithes]; (5) [The laws of tithes apply only] in the presence [of the Temple, i.e. while it stands in Jerusalem]; (6) The priest [receives the first born and the first shearings but not the animal tithes]; [137A] (7) [Animals designated as tithes must be] consecrated [by designation at the time they are separated. First born animals attain sanctity without special designation and first shearings have no inherent sanctity]; (8) [Firstlings and first shearings may be] sold [by the priest. Animal tithes may not be sold].

11/9/11

Talmud Bavli Hullin 136a-b - translation by Tzvee


I.11
A.            [And in the case of the obligation to separate from one's crops] tithes though scripture states, “Tithes of your grain” (Deut. 14:23), [implying what is] yours alone is [liable to these rules] and not [grain] held by partners,

B.            the Torah stated [additionally], “Of your [plural] tithes” (Deut. 12:6), [including in the rule grain owned by partners.]

C.            Why then do we have [the language], “Tithes of your grain?”

D.            It comes to exclude [from liability to tithes produce] held in partnership with a gentile.

11/8/11

Talmud Bavli Hullin 135a-b - translation by Tzvee


Bavli Hullin Chapter Eleven

                                                                        11:1
A.            [The laws concerning the obligation to donate to the priest] the first shearings [of wool from the sheep of one's flock (Deut. 18:4)] apply both inside the Land of Israel and outside the Land of Israel,

B.            in the time the Temple [in Jerusalem stands] and in the time the Temple does not [stand].

C.            [And the laws apply] to [the fleece of] unconsecrated [animals] but not to [the fleece of animals that were] consecrated [to the Temple].

D.            A stricter rule applies to [the obligation to give to the priest] the shoulder, the two cheeks and the maw [of one's animals] than to [the obligation to give to the priest] the first shearings [of wool from the sheep of one's flock].

11/7/11

Talmud Bavli Hullin 134a-b - translation by Tzvee


V.1
A.            And if [the priest or gentile who sold the beast to an Israelite] said, “[The beast is sold] except for the priestly gifts,” he [the one who slaughters (D)] is free of the priestly gifts [M. 10:3 G]. [134a] And they raised by way of contradiction [to M.]: [If a priest who sells the beast to an Israelite said that he sells it] on the condition that the gifts are mine, [the Israelite] may give them to any priest that he chooses.

B.            Do you raise a contradiction from [a case where he stated] “on the condition” to [a case where he stated] “except for”? [They are different conditional modalities.] [The stipulation,] “Except for” leaves out a portion [from the transaction]. [The stipulation,] “On the condition” does not leave out [any portion from the transaction].

11/6/11

Rave review in the TBR by Claire Messud of Amos Oz’s, A Tale of Love and Darkness.

There is a rave review in the TBR of Amos Oz’s Tales of Love and Darkness.


Talmud Bavli Hullin 133a-b - translation by Tzvee


 D.           It comes to teach, “Among the sons of Aaron.” [This implies that he is excluded from] any rite that is performed by the sons of Aaron [T. Demai 2:6-7].

E.            And [it states] any priest who does not accept [the rites], does not have a share with the priests. The implication is that [this applies only to a priest] who does not accept [a rite]. Lo, if he accepted it, even if he was not knowledgeable in it, [he has a share with the priests, contrary to Hisda at B].

11/4/11

Talmud Bavli Hullin 132a-b - translation by Tzvee


B.            He said to him, “Rabbi, [132a] let me turn it back on you. Aaron and his sons are specified in the passage [excluding thereby the daughter of a priest: “And the rest of it Aaron and his sons shall eat; it shall be eaten unleavened in a holy place; in the court of the tent of meeting they shall eat it” (Lev. 6:16). “This is the offering which Aaron and his sons shall offer to the Lord on the day when he is anointed: a tenth of an ephah of fine flour as a regular cereal offering, half of it in the morning and half in the evening” (Lev. 6:20). In other instances, mention of a priest subsumes the daughter of a priest.]

Talmud Bavli Hullin 131a-b - translation by Tzvee


C.            Here too [131a] [it must be that] they came into his possession unseparated [from the unconsecrated produce]. And this Tanna reasoned in accord with the view that, Gifts that were not [physically] separated are treated [as pertains to legal claims] as if they were separated [cf. I.4 E].

I.7
A.            Come and take note: Lo, if the royal administration seized a person’s grain in the granary, if it was on account of a debt that he owed, he has to tithe the grain [this is then a kind of sale], but if it was on the count of a missed installment payment, he is exempt from having to tithe [cf. b. Git. 44a].

11/3/11

Jpost: Michael Freund is Worried that Talmud Teaching in Israel is Terrible

In jpost, "Fundamentally Freund: Teaching kids to hate Talmud" by MICHAEL FREUND claims, "The centrality of the Talmud in Jewish life now faces an alarming threat from a most unexpected source: Israel’s religious educational system."

The "alarming threat" to Talmudic centrality turns out to be that students find Talmud class to be boring and they say they hate it.

Alarmist Michael maybe needs to wake up to the fact that Talmud in fact is not central to Jewish life and that children are always quick to report that they are bored by school and hate most subjects.

Yes, it may be true that Talmud is taught poorly. But don't worry. That has been the case for 1500 years. With G-d's will, May it continue for another 1500.

And you can read our article about teaching Talmud the right way at the university here.

Talmud Bavli Hullin 130a-b - translation by Tzvee


Bavli Hullin Chapter Ten

                                                                                10:1
                A.            [The requirement to give to the priests] the shoulder, the two cheeks, and the maw (Deut. 18:3) applies (1) in the Land and outside of the Land, (2) in the time of the Temple and not in the time of the Temple, (3) to unconsecrated beasts, but not to consecrated beasts.
                B.            For it [the contrary to A3] might have appeared logical: Now, if unconsecrated animals, which are not liable for the breast and thigh [which are taken from peace offerings for the priests, (Lev. 7:31)], are liable for the [priestly] gifts [of the shoulder, cheeks, and maw], Holy Things, which are liable for the breast and thigh, logically should be liable to the priestly gifts.
                C.            Scripture therefore states, “And I have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons as a due for ever” (Lev. 7:34) —
                D.            he has a right [in consecrated beasts] only to that which is explicitly stated [namely, the breast and thigh].

11/2/11

Are Jews the People of the Talmud?

A broad romantic version of a slice of Jewish religious history from an author who thinks that Jews are the people of the Talmud, "Becoming the People of the Talmud: Oral Torah as Written Tradition in Medieval Jewish Cultures," by Talya Fishman, reviewed by Lawrence Grossman, "How Jews Became the People of the Talmud: Thinkers Have Long Puzzled Over Oral and Written Traditions." We don't know what Fishman means. Even great Talmudists do not deem themselves people of the Talmud. Grossman reviews:
...As the medium transforms the message, two key substantive changes in Judaism wrought by textualization are discussed in “Becoming the People of the Talmud.” Clearly, the newly constituted “text” is more rigid than oral tradition, reducing the flexibility of the religious authority to reinterpret past wisdom in light of new reality in a way that does not disrupt the consciousness of a seamless tradition. Thus, Fishman notes, the Tosafists were often perplexed when they saw that customary religious practices that had evolved naturally differed from those prescribed in the talmudic texts, and so they exerted remarkable casuistic energy in attempts to reconcile them. But at the same time, the very availability of an authoritative book — especially with Rashi’s commentary appended — could make the presence of a live teacher unnecessary, and hence served to democratize Jewish scholarship.

What Fishman chronicles is, of course, just one example of how shifts in the way that Jewish knowledge is transmitted affect the nature of Judaism itself. Having superseded customary practice and challenged rabbinic authority, the textualized Talmud today faces competition from new modes of communication. Increasingly, Jews get their Jewish knowledge (whether accurate or not) with minimal effort via email, blogs and Twitter, and anyone who insists on a book can download a virtual one. The oral Torah’s transfer to cyberspace is, like its textualization 1,000 years ago, likely to transform Jewish life in unpredictable ways.

AP: Israel Education Ministry shuts Yeshiva in Yitzhar

AP reports:
Israel has shut down a religious school in an ultranationalist settlement in the West Bank, saying students and staff "have been involved in violence against Palestinians and the Israeli military," The Associated Press reports.

The education department has also cut off funding to an adult seminary at the school in Yitzhar for teachings "inconsistent with Jewish, democratic and educational values" — including that the killing of Palestinians is justified under certain circumstances.

Talmud Bavli Hullin 129a-b - translation by Tzvee


C.            He [Zira] said to him, “This problem also bothered me. And I asked R. Abba bar Mamal about it. And he said to me, `In accord with whose view is this? It is in accord with the view of R. Meir who said that uncleanness that is concealed from view does render unclean.”

D.            He [Assi] said to him, “And did he not many times state this before me? And I said to him that R. Meir differentiated uncleanness that requires preparation [i.e., our case here] from uncleanness that does not require preparation.” [The principle is stated earlier in the tractate at 72b, Zahavy, Hullin, vol. II, p. 181, to explain why the foetus in the case there is rendered unclean by the protruding limb.]

11/1/11

Talmud Bavli Hullin 128a-b - translation by Tzvee


D.            It was cited in contradiction to this: Produce which was severed but which is attached in part — [128a] R. Meir says, “If one holds the larger part and the smaller part is pulled up with it, lo, this is deemed equivalent to it.” R. Judah [b. here: Meir] says, “If one holds the smaller part and the larger is pulled up with it, lo, it is deemed equivalent to it” [M. Tebul Yom 3:1 B-D]. [And the implication is] if not, it is not deemed equivalent to it.

E.            And said R. Yohanan, “Reverse the opinions [of Meir and Judah so there is no contradiction].”

F.             But what is the problem [if you do not reverse the opinions]? Perhaps R. Meir differentiated [the uncleanness of a] tebul yom from other forms of uncleanness.