Temple Isaiah classes for adults exploring Jewish life, history, and practice.

The first page of the tractate

The headline above is a summary of what we covered in class this week.  We began looking at rabbinic literature, and at the process of  living Torah. As the fellow who wrote The Year of Living Biblically found out, Torah without interpretation is a pretty unworkable guide to daily life.  Torah is a living process, leading us towards holiness; it is not just a set of rules.

We also talked about the fact that there’s a pattern in Jewish texts:  texts were not set down in writing until the historical situation demanded it.  The Mishnah was set down in writing in 200 CE because Rabbi Judah the Prince, the leader of the community, saw that this knowledge might be lost if it were not written down, because the political situation in Eretz Yisrael was so unsettled.  The same thing happened with the Gemara, in about 400 in Israel and somewhat later in Mesopotamia.

Next week we’re going to look at the Middle Ages, up until Emancipation.  What’s that?  Come to class and find out!

— Rabbi Adar


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