Friday, February 15, 2019

The Talmud on weasels and wombs

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Womb Raider. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis imagine a situation involving a weasel, a cow’s womb, a fetus, vomit, and a firstborn calf. Naturally.
One of the things that can make Talmudic reasoning feel so foreign is that the rabbis take exactly the opposite approach [from “hard cases make bad law”]. They love hard cases; in fact, they will frequently invent hypothetical situations that are improbable and convoluted, precisely in order to test the outer limits of legal concepts. When people use the word “Talmudic” to describe reasoning that is overly complicated and detached from the real world, it is this kind of hypothetical argument that they have in mind.

Over the course of my Talmud study, a few such examples have stuck with me because of their sheer weirdness. ...
You really want to keep reading for this one.

I have discussed another weasel-themed Talmudic (Mishnaic) passage here.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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