Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Halakha and Aggadah in the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Law v. Lore. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ competing strands of legal wrangling and storytelling in the ancient compendium of Jewish thought.
Perhaps the ideal, however, is to value both strands of the Talmud equally. If aggadah exercises the right brain, home of intuition and imagination, halakha makes heavy demands on the left brain, home of calculation and reasoning; and just as the brain requires both hemispheres to function, so the Talmud requires aggadah and halakha to communicate its truths. This was the message of a striking story in this week’s Daf Yomi reading, which comprised Chapter Six of Tractate Bava Kamma. It once happened that Rav Ami and Rav Asi sat before Rabbi Yitzhak Nappacha: “One Sage said, Let the Master say words of halakha, and the other Sage said, Let the Master say words of aggada.” Whichever Yitzhak tried to say, one of his pupils would protest.

Finally he said: “I will relate a parable. ...

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links. Some past PaleoJudaica posts dealing with halakhah and aggadah are here, here, and here. And there's more on warriors as scholars in the Talmud here.