Thursday, August 24, 2017

Kirsch takes stock after 5 years of Daf Yomi columns

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Surprise, Discovery, Ritual, Meaning, and Wonder. Five years into the seven-year ‘Daf Yomi’ cycle of Talmud study, our columnist pauses to reflect on what the ancient text has taught him about being Jewish today.
I believe, however, that for the purposes of these columns, my unfamiliarity with the Talmud might actually be an advantage. I think I approach the text with the kind of assumptions and questions that the majority of American Jews (and non-Jewish readers, too) would bring to it. What, on the most basic level, does the Talmud say? What sorts of subjects is it concerned with? How is it written? What is the famous “Talmudic” quality that, in English, is merely a synonym for needless complication? One reason I wanted to write about the Talmud is that I could never find a book that answered these questions in what felt like a concrete and comprehensive way. I hope to serve as a kind of scout of the territory for readers interested in the Talmud—hopefully, a good, encouraging scout like Joshua and Caleb, not an intimidated or despairing one like the other 10 spies.
I think he has done a good job. I am not a Talmudist. Even though I'm an expert on other aspects of ancient Judaism, I have learned a lot from his columns. I look forward to more.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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