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 14 January 2020.
Day 10 of Daf Yomi. The thing that most struck me today was something in the modern commentary in my edition. There’s a long discussion about whether or not you are supposed to actually lie down when you say the shema, or whether you can say it however you are. It ends, as one does, with a rabbi declaring that anyone who fails to say the shema however they were when the time came (instead of making sure to lie down) DESERVES TO DIE.
Things apparently got heated.
The modern commentary says that of course they don’t literally mean the death penalty, but that there was such a long debate that it’s disrespectful not to accept the final ruling. That brings to mind the irony of the Talmud being a once-open but now-closed document of a conversation. What does this say for all those generations without the opportunity to participate in that conversation? It seems that we should have the opportunity to re-open the conversation without disrespect.
I mean, I think I’ve thought as much as I want about whether or not I need to lie down during the shema. But in principle.
Also, the incisive commentary from me pictured.