Category Archives: Talmud

On That Day

“Living with halacha is risky—living without halacha is impossible,” said David Hartman. On that day, in the bet midrash our teacher was probing a core Talmud text of the Hartman canon, “The Oven of Achnai,” a story that underscores Rabbi Hartman’s style, … Continue reading

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Wholly Complete And Holy Incomplete

The Torah’s first creation story concludes: Va-yechulu…And the heaven and the earth and all of their ranks were finished. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done and rested on the seventh day from all … Continue reading

Posted in Parshat HaShavuah, Poetry, Prayer, Shabbat, Talmud | Leave a comment

Jerusalem And The Held Back Scream

The Jerusalem Talmud recounts:  When David came to dig the foundations of the Temple he dug fifteen thousand cubits but had not reached the Deep.  Finally, he uncovered a cluster of stones and was about to lift it when one rock … Continue reading

Posted in Jerusalem, Poetry, Talmud | 4 Comments

Each Person’s Stamp and Seal

The end of the matter, all things being heard:  Revere God and observe his commandments, for this is the sum of human life. With this verse, the liturgical reading of Ecclesiastes comes to an end; the penultimate verse is repeated … Continue reading

Posted in Midrash, Poetry, Talmud | 3 Comments

Blossoms of Seder Night, Fruits of New Year’s Day

Rabbi Eliezer was sure that the world was created in the fall month of Tishrei, the season of the New Year. His rival, Rabbi Joshua, was equally positive that the world was created at Passover time, in the spring month … Continue reading

Posted in Holidays, Passover, Poetry, Talmud | 1 Comment

Where The House Once Was

It’s hard to imagine Torah scholars having such a furious argument that they ripped a Torah scroll. But… It happened, did it not, in the synagogue of Tiberias over the issue of a doorstop that had a knob on the … Continue reading

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Before and Within

A strange Yom Kippur story was told by Rabbi Ishmael, a High Priest of the 2nd Temple: Once, I entered before and within (the Holy of Holies) to offer the incense and I saw Akatriel Yah, the Lord of Hosts, sitting on … Continue reading

Posted in Blessing, Days of Awe, Holidays, Poetry, Talmud | Leave a comment

Beginnings Ripe And Ripening

Rabbi Eliezer asks:  From where do we learn that the world was created in Tishrei? From the verse: God said, let the earth sprout grasses, seed bearing plants, fruit trees of every kind on earth bearing fruit with the seed … Continue reading

Posted in Days of Awe, Holidays, Passover, Poetry, Talmud | 2 Comments

Amen: The Final Word

On my table sits a stone amen written upon it, a grave stone fragment, a remnant of a Jewish graveyard destroyed more than a thousand years ago, in the city where I was born. One word, amen, cut deep in … Continue reading

Posted in Poetry, Talmud | 1 Comment

You Open For Him

Rabbi Eleazar HaKappar said:  Do not be like a lintel overhead that no one can reach; neither, be like a door beam that injures faces, nor like a raised threshold that bruises feet. Rather, be like a low threshold that … Continue reading

Posted in Holidays, Passover, Poetry, Talmud | 1 Comment