Friday, August 26, 2005

Shabbos: A Snake of the Rabbis

When Rav encounters Shmuel and Karna, even though they clearly know that he is ill, they pester him with questions (because they are hungry for knowledge) and they deny him the use of the latrine (though this is clearly because they believe that it will contribute to his cure). (108a). Rav curses them both and it is fatal for them because, as ArtScroll attests in footnote 48, "The curse of a Sage, even if it was uttered in error, inevitably comes to be."

And the misplaced curse of the Sage inevitably leads to a discussion of folk remedies for various ailments, including snake bites (109b). After all, even if the curse of a rabbi is the one ailment that cannot be cured in this world, those who are powerful enough to fling such bad medicine must have some powerful good mojo, too!

Amidst the cures offered for snake bite, there is the odd story of Rav Shimi bar Ashi, who in fact is reported to have swallowed a snake! This is a literal enactment of what is referred to on 110a as "a snake of the Rabbis." And it mirrors the curse of a Sage, as well. The snake of the Rabbis is the Rabbi who can bite a snake. And Rabbis can cure snake bite, but not snake-of-the-Rabbi bites.

Oh, yes! We have entered the Freudian Talmud! Clearly, a snake is not simply a snake. And we are soon asked to ponder how a woman should deal with a snake who's mind gets "centered" on the woman: "She should cohabit with her husband in front of it." Which brings us back to the ostensible focus of Tractate Shabbos: what we are permitted to do on Shabbos. First and foremost, we are permitted to cohabit with our partners, and no snake, even if it is a Rabbi, should deter us from this mitzvah!

On 112a we consider knots, including the knot on the opening of a woman's chemise, which may be tied and untied all day long (on Shabbos). Then, on 114, we are told that "Any Torah scholar upon whose garment a grease stain is found is liable to death at the hand of Heaven" according to R'Chiya bar Abba, who taught it in the name of R'Yochanan. However, Ravina says "It . . . was stated about a stain of semen." Keep your hands on the text at all times; wandering fingers could lead to deadly transgressions! And keep your eyes off those knots . . . and don't even think of the treasures that are concealed just beyond the chemise. Except on Shabbas! Then you should take that tunic off and put the semen where it belongs!

But the snake of the Rabbi takes many forms. On 115a, Rabbah fabricates a ruling in the name of R'Yochanan to build a higher fence around the Torah. It does not surprise me that he does it, but it astonishes me that it is recorded in the text. Is the Oral Torah so "maculate" that a Rabbi can freely make it more stringent through fabricating a teaching that was never taught?

The Mishnah next takes up the question of which books may be rescued from a burning library on Shabbos. The Sages attitude toward translations would be worthy of a treatise all by itself (and I am in fact in the middle of writing an extended paper on how translation contributes and/or detracts from our relationship to the text). Here I will simply note that the Rabbis clearly were more afraid of Jews like me than idolaters. They had to ultimately concede defeat on translation, for which the mere existence of the ArtScroll translation is sufficient evidence, but which the ArtScroll also explicitly acknowledges in fn2 on 115b: "due to a general decline in the level of scholarship . . . the Rabbis subsequently permitted writing Scriptures in other languages." But despite this concession, the threat of the Am Haaretz was so great that the Rabbi says that "Even if a person was pursuing him to kill him, or a snake was running after him to bite him"-- again with the snakes!!!-- "he would enter a gentile house of idolatry to save himself, but he would not enter the house of these Jewish sectarians, because these Jewish sectarians are aware of God yet deny him."

17 Comments:

Anonymous Reed Chopper said...

Am Haaretz wrote: Rav curses them both and it is fatal for them because, as ArtScroll attests in footnote 48, "The curse of a Sage, even if it was uttered in error, inevitably comes to be."

Rabbi ArtScroll didn't make that principle up -- it's found in Berachoth 56a and other places. The idea is to make Rabbis careful about spewing curses on a whim.

Amidst the cures offered for snake bite, there is the odd story of Rav Shimi bar Ashi, who in fact is reported to have swallowed a snake! This is a literal enactment of what is referred to on 110a as "a snake of the Rabbis." And it mirrors the curse of a Sage, as well. The snake of the Rabbis is the Rabbi who can bite a snake. And Rabbis can cure snake bite, but not snake-of-the-Rabbi bites.

I thought a "Snake of the Rabbis" was a snake that bit you as punishment for dissing the Rabbis.

Clearly, a snake is not simply a snake. And we are soon asked to ponder how a woman should deal with a snake who's mind gets "centered" on the woman: "She should cohabit with her husband in front of it."

In the Gemara a snake is a frequent stand-in for the yetzer ha-ra, the Evil Inclination (Id, drives). For example, a snake bites Chanina ben Dosa and drops dead (Chanina was immune from the Evil Inclination) see Berachoth 33a.

But the snake of the Rabbi takes many forms. On 115a, Rabbah fabricates a ruling in the name of R'Yochanan to build a higher fence around the Torah. It does not surprise me that he does it, but it astonishes me that it is recorded in the text. Is the Oral Torah so "maculate" that a Rabbi can freely make it more stringent through fabricating a teaching that was never taught?

Very interesting, but didn't see this on 115a

The Mishnah next takes up the question of which books may be rescued from a burning library on Shabbos. The Sages attitude toward translations would be worthy of a treatise all by itself (and I am in fact in the middle of writing an extended paper on how translation contributes and/or detracts from our relationship to the text). Here I will simply note that the Rabbis clearly were more afraid of Jews like me than idolaters.

You're not a sectarian, just an Am Haaretz. I'm sure they would be willing to run into your house if they were being pursued by a venomous snake (but only if).

I agree that the entire section on translations is cool, but I thought the various medical remedies were even cooler, so that's what my book would be about. It's also amazing how focused old Jewish guys have been on constipation for two millenia and counting.

8:11 PM  
Blogger NeilLitt said...

I wrote, “On 115a, Rabbah fabricates a ruling in the name of R'Yochanan to build a higher fence around the Torah . . .” And you responded, “Very interesting, but didn't see this on 115a.”

The text in question precedes the beginning of Chapter Sixteen: "The members of the household of Rabbah would scrape pumpkins [on Yom Kippur for consumption after Yom Kippur]. When Rabbah saw that they were doing this too early, i.e., before the time of Minchah, when the dispensation does not apply, he said to them: A letter has arrived from the West, i.e. Eretz Yisrael, in R'Yochanan's name stating that he prohibits food preparation on Yom Kippur."

According to Rashi (according to ArtScroll), "R'Yochanan did not actually issue such a ruling. Indeed, R'Yochanan previously ruled that the trimming of vegetables is permitted even if Yom Kippur falls on the Sabbath. Rather, Rabbah fabricated the existence of such a letter in order that his household members should accept this stringent ruling . . . Had he prohibited this practice in his own name, he feared that his household would not heed his word."

Incredibly, ArtScroll continues: “The permissibility—and even the advisability [emphasis added]—of attributing a ruling to an authority who never actually issued such a ruling, where such an attribution will effect increased compliance with the ruling is mentioned numerous times in numerous places. See Eruvin 51a; Rashi to Pesachim 112a; Rashi to Kiddushin 45b; Magen Avraham to Orach Chaim 156 and other Acharonim ad loc.”

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Reed Chopper said...

The plot really thickens.

The principle that us scholars can mislead the common people or even tell them outright lies in order to get them to comply (for their own good, of course), is of a piece with the two-tier system which is the basis of Orthodoxy (with capital O). The rabbis (small r) give the people simple homilies and pious tales -- the nuances are just too much for them, the poor dears.

The list of references given by ArtScroll concerning this particular form of the practice raises some questions. First, the sources are all post-Talmudic except for one: the Eruvin 51a reference. It's interesting because once again, it's Rabbah who attributes his own ruling to another authority (in this case, to R. Jose) in order to convince someone that he's right. Shockingly, the person he's trying to convince was not an ordinary shmoe, but a younger colleague, R. Joseph. At least that's what the Talmud says he did. The Talmud, however, may have been wrong, because in the Tosefta, we have R. Jose in fact issuing the ruling cited (correctly) by Rabbah. Rashi then offers the same explanation for Rabbah's ruling re food prep on shabbat, although there's no real evidence that he did. Rashi may have been influenced by Eruvin 51a, which attributes to Rabbah this kind of deceitful behavior.

Whether Rabbah did it or not, it's clear that the current Orthodox system is two-tiered, and it's viewed as acceptable to smooth over the rough spots for the ordinary shmoes. Unfortunately, ArtScroll engages in this practice itself, as recently evidenced, for example, by their omission of the section dealing with Jesus.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Me said...

great informative post....

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Penis said...

Your Blog. It's nice . If you ever need semen production related stuff, I'm sure you'd be interested in semen production

3:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi all! .List of most popular hot girls in your area. Adult only.
[url=http://www.blogigo.com/asoma/]soma[/url] [url=http://www.blogigo.com/anambien/]ambien[/url][[url=http://sexyhotgirls.bravehost.com]hotgirls[/url] [url=http://xanaxsale.bravehost.com]xanax[/url] [url=http://sexforadult.bravehost.com]sex[/url] [url=http://sexcam-.blogspot.com]sexcam[/url] [url=http://phentermineee.blogspot.com]phentermine[/url] [url=http://xanax-top.blogspot.com]xanax[/url] [url=http://phenterminesale.bravehost.com]phentermine[/url] [url=http://sexfinder-.blogspot.com]sex[/url] [url=http://hotbabeonline.blogspot.com]hotbabe[/url] [url=http://sexforadult.blogspot.com]sexforadult[/url] [url=http://hotbabys.blogspot.com]sex[/url] [url=http://sexygirlsfree.blogspot.com]sexygirlsfree[/url] [url=http://sexygirlsbest.blogspot.com]sexygirls[/url] [url=http://sexfreenet.blogspot.com]sexfree[/url] [url=http://adultsexsearch.blogspot.com]adult[/url] [url=http://hotgirlsonline.blogspot.com]hotgirlsonline[/url] [url=http://freeadultsearch.blogspot.com]freeadult[/url]
[url =http:/ /sexvideo--.blogspot.com]sexvideo[/url] [url=http://www.mjblog.pl/viagra/]viagra[/url] [url=http://viagrabuy.bravehost.com/]viagra[/url] [url=http://valiumsale.bravehost.com]valium[/url] [url=http://meridia-sale.blogspot.com]meridia[/url] [url=http://hometown.aol.co.uk/westlandus/adultsexsearch.html/]adultsexsearch[/url] [url=http://ativan--buy.blogspot.com]ativan[/url] [url=http://xanax-sale.blogspot.com]xanax[/url] [url=http://buy--drug.com]drugs[/url] [url=http://valium--buy.blogspot.com]valium[/url] [url=http://tramadol-top.blogspot.com]tramadol[/url] [url=http://buy777viagra-.blogspot.com]viagra[/url] [url=http://drugstore.bravehost.com]drug store[/url] [url=http://withorderviagra-.blogspot.com]viagra[/url] [url=http://levitracheapest.bravehost.com]levitra[/url] [url=http://cialischeap.bravehost.com]cialis[/url] [url=http://hometown.aol.co.uk/westlandus/freesexxxx.html/]sex[/url] [url=http://hometown.aol.co.uk/westlandus/pornanallivefree/]porn anal[/url]
Check prices of these useful pills:[url=http://tramadolonline-.blogspot.com]tramadol[/url] [url=http://total-finder-online.com]pharmacy search[/url] [url=http://hometown.aol.com/cheapdrugstore/cialis.html]cialis[/url] [url=http://hometown.aol.com/cheapdrugstore/soma.html]soma[/url] [url=http://hometown.aol.com/cheapdrugstore/ambien.html]ambien[/url] [url=http://hometown.aol.com/cheapdrugstore/meridia]meridia[/url] [url=http://hometown.aol.com/cheapdrugstore/ultram.html]ultram[/url] [url=http://hometown.aol.com/cheapdrugstore/tramadol.html]tramadol[/url] [url=http://hometown.aol.com/cheapdrugstore/carisoprodol.html]carisoprodol[/url] [url=http://hometown.aol.com/cheapdrugstore/viagra.html]viagra[/url]
Enjoy

1:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello List of hot girls in your area. ENTER
big tit hotgirls xanax sex sexcam phentermine+cheap xanax+online phentermine sex hotbabe sexforadult sex sexygirlsfree sexygirls sexfree adult hotgirlsonline
freeadult soma sexvideo valium meridia ativan xanax drugs valium xanax+cheap viagra drug store viagra levitra cialis
Check prices of these useful pills:tramadol pharmacy search cialis soma ambien meridia ultram tramadol carisoprodol viagra
Enjoy

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where did you find it? Interesting read united investor insurance dule slideing gate opener 4gb ipod mp3 nano player mcse courses interracial porno casino Acer laptop uk Projector usa lcd dlp lcos video projectors

8:56 PM  
Blogger Ayisha said...

nice site for more books I have some more gifts..



Reference books

Books

Kitaben

books

Reference Books

tutorials

rapidshare tutorials

rapidshare books

MZWorld

Upload Books

MZWorld Library

Books Forum

4:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a lot! Lexapro link medicationxxlfindbiz Outed gay stars Mercedes benz s-class Fuji film finepix f440 digital camera klonopin Asian pornstar 05 http://www.webmaster-affiliate-program-4.info Christies toy box Kevin haley interior designer http://www.compare-pilates-reformer-and-performer.info airline jobs Sleeper sofas com Heart ivy bonsai Northend subaru small business web site design bdsm

6:35 PM  
Anonymous Viagra info site said...

The disease called erectile dysfunction has strengthened its roots among the human breed mainly because of the reason that people are not very willing to share it willingly. These people can get all the information in the ED info sites. Through this information you can do away with their ED.

5:14 AM  
Blogger mollyabraham said...

Generic Viagra is a prescription drug that takes care of the physical dilemma of erectile dysfunction in men. Sildenafil citrate is the major component of generic viagra pills that dilates the arteries in the penis and allows filling of blood in small spaces of penis that hardens and gets erect.

1:40 AM  
Blogger reggiewhite said...

Generic Cialis is a prescription drug, commonly used to help treat men having erectile dysfunction (ED) problems, also known as impotence.

1:14 AM  
Blogger johnnysmith said...

Generic Cialis is slightly different from the other erectile drugs available in the market as it may work up to 36 hrs after dosing. Generic Levitra orks along with sexual stimulation to help achieve an erection when taken 30 to 60 minutes before sexual activity.

4:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Generic Viagra is the world renowned medicine for erectile dysfunction and most men have forgotten they ever had a problem with erections after its use. Take it on empty stomach and it will work in 30 minutes. Erections can be achieved on stimulation.

1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

generic viagra
generic viagra
online pharmacy
buy viagra
buy viagra online
generic viagra
generic cialis
generic viagra
buy cialis

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Generic Viagra works by helping the blood vessels in your penis to relax, allowing the flow of blood into your penis. The result of this is improved erectile function. Generic Propecia is a medication used for the treatment of prostate cancer and pattern baldness in men. It is the main ingredient in two drugs – Proscar for prostate cancer and Propecia for pattern baldness. Viagra has been clinically shown to improve erectile function even in men who had diabetes or prostate surgery. The pill contains this component that helps increase blood flow to the penis and may help men with ED get and keep an erection satisfactory for sexual activity.

11:48 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home