Weekly Jewish Wisdom
October 20, 2016
What Are We?
We all have moments when we resonate with Ecclesiastes' maudlin opening: "Everything is meaningless." Bible scholar Robert Alter translates "hevel" not as meaningless or vanity but as breath. All is vaporous and disappears as quickly as a human breath. Yet, over Sukkot, when we read Ecclesiastes in the synagogue, this is usually not the sentiment we feel. It's a harvest holiday. It's referred to in Hebrew as our time of joy, not our time of existential angst. And, as Ecclesiastes continues, it does not get better. There is no happy ending: "All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them (Ecclesiastes 1:8-11)
Tweets on the Today's Page of Talmud (Daf Yomi)
Bava Metzia 26a: "The markets of Jerusalem tend to be cleaned every day" so lost money would be found.The owner would despair of recovery.
Bava Metzia 27b: "People do not loan a pouch, a purse or a ring," since these all have worth, and a signet ring is used to sign documents.
I"n Beverly Hills... they don't throw their garbage away. They make it into television shows," Woody Allen.
Bava Metzia 26b: If you find a lost item near a garbage dump, it's yours because "it is routine for a garbage dump to be cleared."
“When all is lost, ask the I.R.S. - they'll find something," Douglas Horton.
Bava Metzia 25b: "Shmuel's father found donkeys in the desert and returned them to their owner after 12 months. He acted beyond the law."