Shavua tov. This is an exciting and somewhat daunting week. I have begun to enter into the cycle called Daf Yomi – a cycle where “we” learn a page of Talmud a day. It takes 7 ½ years to complete reading each page in Talmud. I decided to jump into the sea before too many more years went by! For those of you who might be interested, see My Jewish Learning: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/9-things-to-know-about-the-daf-yomi-daily-page-of-talmud/ . You can also have access to a free online site called Sefaria, which has all manner of our traditional texts available. See: https://www.sefaria.org/ My FB page is now flooded with commentaries and questions by people from all over the world who have started learning too. Here is a wonderful interactive site from Eliezer Segal at the University of Calgary: https://people.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/TalmudPage.html
Preferring reading paper to screens, I have also ordered a full set of Talmud, which will eventually become our gift to Kolot Mayim – think of this as planned giving! All we need now is a bookshelf for the set, and, of course, then space for the bookshelf. All will be worked out in due time.
Talmud is a bit like wandering through rooms of a museum like being in the Frick Museum in New York – where various collections and paintings of different eras are telling you their story whilst you also admire the curtains and furniture!! In Talmud about three centuries of Rabbis in Babylon are discussing the minutiae of what is noted in Mishnah (edited by Rabbi Yehuda, Mishnah is the first written recording of oral laws, completed about 200 C.E.), and then engaging in further hair-splitting to ascertain what is meant by the very taut and tight Mishnaic notations. The wander and the wanderers are endlessly fascinating.
In this morning’s discussion, for example, we entered a continuing discussion about how to ascertain correct timing (for the proper recitation of the Sh’ma). Before the existence of clocks and watches, how does one know what time it is, especially in the dark of night. Perhaps by listening to what time the donkey brays, or when the dog barks, or as the baby awakens to be fed amidst the quiet murmurings of husband and wife in bed. The discussion continues: what constitutes the three – or is it four – watches of the night – pausing momentarily with a discussion about entering ruins – or not – and what form of discussion was appropriate to have in the presence of the dead. Threads wind around and back and then we move on. Musing and learning over my morning cup of tea.
Wishing you a week of wanderings and a week of focus,