Here is a lovely bit of Talmud to study. When we need a break from a painful present, Jewish study can provide both rest and refreshment.
This particular story offers some of the arcana of sukkah construction – or does it? What are the rabbis up to in this passage?
Since the 1990’s (and Daniel Boyarin’s Carnal Israel), there has been a fair amount of discussion about the Talmud, the carnivalesque, and the absurd. Put simply, the Talmud contains a fair number of passages, even halakhic ones, that we might say operate on a plain other than the normal sphere of human existence. Amazingly, these passages interact in strange and unexpected ways with the more regular talmudic fare. Much of this research has been driven by criticism developed in the study of literature that probes the meaning of “bizarre” texts and their relationship to the normative work. This is, for example, one of Socrates and the Fat Rabbi‘s primary concerns, and it also powers a fascinating discussion about courtroom etiquette in Barry Wimpfheimer‘s Narrating the Law.
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