Vulnerability to Impurity

Back at the beginning of January, I started Daf Yomi, a 7.5-year process of reading the Talmud. I’ve been posting about it on my private Facebook page, but decided to also add things here.

This post was originally written on 7 January 2020.

Daf yomi, day 3. Still going strongish! Only several thousand pages to go!

I found today’s section harder to get a “feel” for amidst the rambling (and fewer demons).

I was reading about the ContraPoints controversy this AM, and it was an interesting juxtaposition to the notion of a “fence” in this section. I wonder if “cancel culture” is a kind of attempt at fence-building. Like, maybe what person A did wasn’t really that bad in itself. But maybe it’s *close* to something really bad. So we condemn them as if they had done something much worse in order to reaffirm the commitment to the badness of the worse thing.

It was also interesting to me that in 4a/b this is juxtaposed with a description of David’s piety that is *all about* making yourself vulnerable to impurity. David’s piety is exemplified by his willingness to have contact with menstrual blood (which, OK, it’s problematic that this is considered “unclean” or “impure,” but that’s how it’s considered). In the same section where we’re told that we need to treat the rules as if they’re more stringent than they are in order to avoid accidental transgression, we get doing things that may appear impure or risk impurity as the acme of piety. I’m not sure what to do with that juxtaposition, but it struck me.

Image: “Dirty Hands” by Zeke Sikelianos on Flickr (CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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