Today’s Offerings (50a-50b and 51a-51b)


These are not really today’s offerings as today is Saturday and I write about dapim from Thursday and Friday. Even as I “catch up” I will immediately be behind.

What have we here?

A Talmudic Riddle: How do you tell the difference between a Torah scholar and an ignoramus? The one who blesses after the meal by saying “u’vetuvo” [Blessed is the One of Whose we have eaten and through whose goodness we live”] is a Torah scholar, while the one who says “u’mituvo” [and from whose goodness we live] is not, because he “minimizes God’s conferral of His goodness”. In other words, the word “from” points to the idea that there is more, implying that God is somehow not providing all that God can.

Elsewhere we read: “A person may use bread for all his needs” but does this include throwing it? Check out the food fight at the Rabbi’s table! (50b3 in Art Scroll)

And we continue to learn about Talmudic logic. When two phenomena appear to be the same but mandate exactly opposite actions, we are reminded that they are not really the same after all. Here’s the example from 51a: Does one spit or not after drinking ispargus? So one Baraisa says if you spit you will be harmed while another Baraisa says that if you don’t spit you will be harmed. Which one is right? And we read Lah Kashya! (No difficulty!) because the Barisa that states it is harmful to spit after drinking ispargus is referring to ispargus made from wine, and the one stating that it is not harmful is referring to ispargus made with beer.  Go figure!

In any case, whatever you do you must return the ispargus cup to the one who gave it to you, which leads to a spooky section about demons and angels of affliction. This section deserves more in depth consideration than I can provide for the moment. Suffice it to say we are in merkavah territory. (Ha’meyvin yavin!)

And why does a brief discussion referencing some mystical text lead to another text which seems to suggest that disrespecting a woman returning from a funeral is well advised? Or is turning  your face away from the women  while reciting a “magical verse” meant to be a sign of respect? In the Talmud things are not always what they appear to be, but it’s hard to see that this one has anything positive to say.

And by the way please wash both sides of the dishes! My proof text is right here in 51a: check out washing (meaning the inside) and rinsing (meaning the outside). Just saying …

Now we move on to the cup of blessing and one is well advised to send it to one’s wife. (Where is she?) But Ulla refuses! His wife Yalta is not be amused! Ulla tries to make up for it. Too late buddy!

Ah and then this: “From where do we derive that the fruits of the women’s belly are blessed only through the fruits of the husband’s belly?”

For sure they’ve got it all wrong these Rabbis, as they understand God only through the lens of their limitations and their explicit lack of generosity to their women.

By me – the fruits of every woman’s hand, heart, and mind and every man’s hand, heart, and mind are blessed as long as they align with all that is good and true.

Do I need to read this text to remind me of that? I don’t think so.

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One Response to Today’s Offerings (50a-50b and 51a-51b)

  1. neillitt says:

    I, too, puzzled over the admonition against gazing on a woman returning from a funeral: All men, in this text, are assumed to be incapable of gazing upon a woman without his thoughts turning in an improper direction. This assumption is certainly true of many, if not most, men to this day. The woman is a mourner, unaccompanied, vulnerable, and (the man assumes– and fears–) intuitive. Should she accidentally meet the gaze of such a man she will discern that his thoughts are not appropriate and her heart will harden, alerting demons to descend upon him (or at least this is what he fears, not realizing that he is already under their spell). It is from fear of his own inner demons that he averts his gaze and quietly intones a magical verse to protect himself from his own evil inclination.

    The story of Yalta’s rage is a fitting companion piece to this. Here is a second warning of avoidable consequences. These men fear women, or at least they fear what they don’t understand about the women in their lives, but they haven’t got a clue how to frame a conversation with them. They have trained as disputants not as courtiers. There are no love stories here.

    As to the dishes . . . washing on the inside and rinsing on the outside is no prooftext for cleaning both sides. When the dishes are stacked, one cannot simply rinse the outside after washing the inside as the rabbis (and I) have been caught doing.

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