Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Arches of Rabbinic Literature

Think evocative here. This photo, taken by my brother, is actually from Fort Point, an old fort that I had never heard of, practically right under the Golden Gate bridge.

But the arches could be Roman and the reflections in the water suggest lost worlds outside of our view.  Ancient worlds but still our worlds nonetheless.

My Rabbinical Literature class has ramped up since even 10 days ago.  We've gotten into the actual talmuds, both the Palestinian Talmud (called Yerushalmi) and the better known and better developed Babylonian Talmud (called Bavli) which are so huge and complicated.  Even looking at very small parts has overwhelmed me.  As usual, the passages don't mean what they say but the exact words they do say are important.  How to interpret them?  Hidden references.  Names of tannaim rabbis are quoted but one article I read meantioned that's not really what that rabbi said, maybe he could have said it, but it must be different and distinct than the other named opinions in any one section.  Then there's plenty of back and forth questions and unnamed opinions which can be attributed to the generations of later Stammaim rabbis.  And we didn't even go over the format of the talmud page except to know that it is commentary on the mishnah for first 14 lines or so and then the commentary starts.  Rashi (from the 11th century) is on the inside.

People (mostly men) studied this in HUGE detail for years of their lives.

Then Aggadic Midrashim, stories based on biblical text.  So, if I wasn't confused before, I certainly am now.  So much to know about all this.  Just one more week in the quarter, can you believe it?

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