Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mountains Hanging by a Thread

I continue with my Rabbinical Literature class. Very challenging and I still don't quite get the relationships between the texts.
Halakha was the system the rabbis strove to develop using Midrash and Talmud. Then summarized in the Mishnah (supplemented by the Tosefta)  This is then presented as Oral Torah.
That's what my young professor said the other day.  I'm still confused by where the talmud fits in but it's a lot of the final product.  I added the phrase "(supplemented by the Tosefta)"  This sounds straightforward but every time I turn around, I get confused again.

And the weekly excerpts?  I'm often tentative where they came from and what they mean.  I know more about them after we go over them in student groups and all together in class.

This week we are reading about  Midrash Halachah which strives to provide biblical support for the rules in the Mishnah.  During Amoraic period (250-500 CE), the sages worried that future generations would not respect the Halakha unless all could be substantially supported by scripture.

'Mountains hanging by a thread' was their concern as if all of the generations of hard work would collapse if the scholars could not provide solid references.  And these rabbis, they went over things in excruciating detail.  Thinking of every possibility.

Mishnah and Tosefta are organized topically into tractates.  Midrash followed the order of the bible. But even this week's selections; to me it's not clear where they come from.

But I felt the rabbis concern about completing their work and ensuring that future generations had a solid foundation.

I loved that image so I went looking for a picture to use.  I found a hanging rock and I am using it WITH permission (likely a first).  This part of the mountain looks like it is hanging by a thread, just like the third century rabbis worried.

This photo courtesy of Bella Romy Photography   Many thanks.

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