Tuesday, November 08, 2016

The timeless Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Need a Reason to Hope This Campaign Season? Try the Timeless Talmud. Can it get any worse? Yes, yes, it can, a lot worse, but the continuity of learning in the ‘Daf Yomi’ cycle has remained unbroken for 2,000 years.
But then, perhaps this bad time is exactly the right time for Talmud. The Talmud cannot teach us how to resist our enemies—that requires a different kind of knowledge and skill. But there is something reassuring about the very remoteness of the rabbis from contemporary politics, and from politics in general. It has been nearly 2,000 years since Yehuda HaNasi compiled the Mishna, and in that time the Jewish people have been through much worse ordeals than the ones we are facing in America today. Yet the links in the chain of study have never been entirely broken. Judaism has passed through many places and forms, and there is no reason to think that the American phase of the Jewish story will last forever. But the Talmud does last, and by reading it I have the sense of participating in something, if not timeless, then as close to it as human beings can get.
The column is actually on chapter three of Tractate Bava Metzia, for which follow the link.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.