Friday, November 29, 2013

Mezuzot and persecution in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: The Talmud Says God Can’t Protect Jews From Persecution; They Must Take Precautions. A ‘mezuzah,’ like Judaism, is designed for life in this world, not for a messianic future, or for martyrdom.
This week’s Daf Yomi reading gave striking examples of such Talmudic difficulties. Say, for instance, that you wanted to know whether a certain building or doorway required a mezuzah. We know that the door of every residence is supposed to have one. But what about a public building, like a synagogue? What about a building that gets filthy, like a barn or a bathhouse, or a temporary structure, like a sukkah? What if two people own a house in partnership—do they both have to put up a mezuzah? And what about unusual entryways, like a tall arch—do they qualify? These are the kinds of minutely detailed questions you would expect the Talmud to ask, since it is always concerned with anticipating the full range of possible questions, no matter how unlikely. What you would not expect is that the answers to those mezuzah-related questions would be found in Tractate Yoma, which is supposed to be about Yom Kippur.
Previous Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.