Equally challenging is the way halakhah refuses to signify anything beyond itself, to become metaphorical. When the rabbis debate whether it is allowed to wave the lulav on Shabbat, they want to know whether it is allowed to wave the lulav on Shabbat, period. That is because, to them, every Jewish action has enormous significance, since it is a way of understanding and carrying out God’s will. Once you begin to doubt that immediate relationship between God and the law, the Talmud can easily seem arid and overly intellectual—just as it did to Christianity and the Enlightenment. One reason I am committed to reading Daf Yomi is that I want to try to rediscover that older Jewish way of thinking about the spirit as something not opposed to the law but deeply connected to it.Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.
Friday, March 28, 2014
The spirit of halakhah
THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: Why Read Daf Yomi? To Rediscover an Older Way of Imagining the Jewish Spirit. To the Talmudic rabbis, religion was not opposed to the law but deeply connected to its study, even if dialogue wins over decree. Excerpt: