Saturday, 30 March 2013

Eiruvin 21a, b

I will only note the topics covered in this entry.  It was Shabbat when I finished reading and so I didn't record my thoughts; however, this was a juicier daf...

Daf 21a begins with continued discussions about boards surrounding wells and how people can carry water for animals to drink on Shabbat.  Huts used for watchmen can be used to determine the edge of a town. Laws clearly are based upon sociological realities, as the rabbis tell us about differences in Babylonia, "outside of Eretz Yisrael", and in Israel.  Finally,   we read commentary on meanings of verses from Psalms and Job.  All interpretations look at nature and G-d's creative majesty.

Daf 21b begins with explaining a continuation of that interpretation.  One verse, "and at our doors are all manner of choice fruits" is interpreted so that women's vaginas are thought of as 'passageways'.  One option suggests that women are the fruit, and we tell our husbands about the passageways.  Another suggests that women bind our passageways to save them for only our husbands. All of these interpretations are based on word play.  Further along,  Consequences are compared regarding reading books, following the halacha as decreed by sages (or potentially facing death), and attempting to follow all of the words in the Oral Torah.  Mocking the Torah may be punishable by being sentenced to boiling excrement.  Or perhaps mediating on the Torah is comparable to the experience of eating meat.  In prison, Rabbi Akiva complains about the lack of water for drinking, but uses water for hand washing.  He prefers to die rather than to ignore the teaching of his colleagues.  How much more so should we follow their teachings?!  Verses from the Song of Songs are interpreted.  As we know so well, each verse, so beautifully and articulately crafted about lovers, is interpreted as referring to G-d's love for the Jewish people.  In fact, one famous verse,"Let us go out into the fields" actually refers to G-d showing us the loving, intensive work of Torah scholars as they live in poverty and distress.  Finally, some of King Solomon's word are interpreted as well, this time proving that every the letters, words, and phrases of Torah are beyond counting and beyond our true understanding.  

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