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May 26, 2016 / 18 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Talmud’

16th-Century Talmud Sells for $9.3 Million at Sotheby’s

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

(JNi.media) Sotheby’s set a new world auction record for any piece of Judaica on Tuesday in New York, when one of the finest copies of Daniel Bomberg’s Babylonian Talmud sold for $9.3 million According to Tablet Magazine, the buyer is Leon Black, a New York businessman, founder of private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

The extraordinary volume was purchased by Stephan Loewentheil for the 19th Century Rare Book & Photograph Shop. The Bomberg Talmud led the sale of a selection of extraordinary items from The Valmadonna Trust, which totaled $14.9 million and became the most valuable auction of Judaica ever held. Together with the auctions of Important Judaica and Israeli & International Art, Sotheby’s annual December sales of Judaica and Israeli Art totaled $22.6 million.

The Talmud, or “Oral Law,” is a compendium of hundreds of years of rabbinical discussion and debate which expound upon the laws of the Bible. Daniel Bomberg is responsible for the first complete edition of the Babylonian Talmud (1519-1523), universally recognized not simply as one of the most significant books in the history of Hebrew printing, but as one of the great books of the Western world. The record setting Talmud sold Tuesday is one of the finest copies of Bomberg’s edition – of which only 14 complete 16th century sets survive.

The Valmadonna Library’s copy of the Bomberg Talmud was kept for centuries in the library of Westminster Abbey. In 1956, collector Jack Lunzer attended an exhibition at The Victoria and Albert Museum celebrating 300 years of Jewish resettlement in England. It was there that he first became aware of the Abbey’s magnificent and complete copy, and vowed somehow to acquire it. He spent the next 25 years determined to fulfill this virtually impossible ambition. Eventually, he purchased a 900-year-old copy of the Abbey’s original Charter, and presented it, along with supporting endowments, to the Abbey in exchange for its copy of the Bomberg Talmud.

A further highlight of Tuesday’s auction of 12 items from the Valmadonna Trust Library is a Hebrew Bible printed in England in 1189, which sold for $3.6 million. Known as the Codex Valmadonna I, this extraordinary book is the only dated Hebrew text that survives from Medieval England, before King Edward I’s 1290 edict expelling the Jews. Also leading the sale was a Illuminated Hebrew Bible: Psalms, with commentary by David Kimhi (the RaDaK), which was sold for $670,000.

JNi.Media

Netanyahu Views Original Balfour Declaration

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara visited the British Library in London Thursday night and viewed the original Balfour Declaration, in which UK Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour declared that Britain would support the establishment of a national home for the Jewish People in the Land of Israel.

They also saw a book edited by the Prime Minister’s father, the late Prof. Ben-Zion Netanyahu, who in 1937 edited a volume.

The Prime Minister said that Herzl was a visionary and great leader and noted the link between him and the Balfour Declaration.

The Netanyahus also viewed a Passover Haggadah, Bible, an edition of the Talmudic Tractate Bava Kama and other volumes.

Jewish Press News Briefs

The Fall of Tadmor (to ISIS)

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Yesterday, ISIS forces captured the Syrian city of Tadmor (as it’s known in Arabic)/Palmyra (as it’s known in English).

What I found interesting is that Tadmor is mentioned in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud) in Tractate Ta’anit 4;5 (at the end):

Said Rabbi Yochanan: Happy are those who see the fall of Tadmor, for she was a partner in the destruction of the First Temple and the destruction of the Second Temple; In the first destruction she sent 80,000 archers [to help destroy the Temple] and in the second destruction, 8000 archers. א”ר יוחנן אשרי מי שהוא רואה במפלתה של תדמור שהיא היתה שותפת בחרבן הבית ראשון ובחרבן הבית השני בחרבן ראשון העמידה שמונים אלף קשטים ובחרבן השני העמידה שמונת אלפים קשטים

Different versions of the text have some of the letters reversed [Tarmod instead of Tadmor], yet other sources which quote the Talmud use Tadmor. (see above photo).

In any event….Tadmor Fell Yesterday… I know it fell to ISIS, but Have a Happy Tadmor Day?

Jameel@Muqata

Peres Bids Farewell to US and Threatens to Continue to Praise Abbas

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Vice President Joe Biden awarded outgoing President Shimon Peres with the Congressional Gold Medal Thursday for his decades of dedication to saying the word “peace,” especially with Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas but not so much with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Peres again took the opportunity to heap admiration on Abbas, only weeks after the head of the Palestinian Authority regime in Ramallah embraced the Hamas terrorist organization with a unity pact.

Peres has made a career of telling Western leaders what they want to hear, mainly that he is willing to sell out all of Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem in return for praise. Peres backed the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif in 2005 and then showed his remarkable ability for being out of touch with reality by expressing out loud his amazement that Hamas responded by attacking Israel with missiles.

Equally amazing is that Western leaders and media still headline Peres every time he says, as he did on Thursday, “President Abbas is clearly a partner for peace.

“There were people who thought otherwise, I feel they are now closer to my judgment than their own.”

It is not clear what  people he meant because Peres has been preaching to a dwindling chorus for decades.

There is Talmudic passage in Baba Metzia (page 66) that illustrates the meaningless of Peres’s declarations.

“Reuven” sold land to “Shimon” but without any responsibility to compensate Shimon if a creditor were to step in and take the land. Seeing that Shimon  was so sad over the possibility, Reuven promises, “If it is taken from you, I will return any improvements of crops that you grew on it by giving you my best property.”

The Gemorrah concludes that the promise consists of “empty words’ and were said only to make Shimon feel better.

That has been Peres. Everyone makes him feel so good that he has no idea of what is going on in the world outside of his presidential residence and room of trophies, award, certifications, medals and honors, the least of which is the Nobel Peace Prize that he won along with arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat.

With peace partners like that, Israel indeed had no enemies.

By insisting that Abbas is “peace partner” despite his his regime’s maps  showing that all of Israel is “Palestine” and despite his glorification of ”martyrs,” Peres is uttering empty words that the Netanyahu government does not honor.

In return, he is showered with empty words that bring Israel lots of faint praise that means, “We love you, Israel, and now please be good Jews and do as we say and stop being Jewish and Israeli.”

Speaking of empty promises, President Barack Obama said farewell to Peres with a promise that he would not let Iran obtain a nuclear weapon.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Peres said, “I am leaving the office, but I am not leaving the battle for peace,” which he threatens to take to the corporate world.

“We can combine the Israeli companies with other global companies. Companies go without nationality; you don’t have to raise your national flag. Governments are suspicious; companies are not.”

Companies are not suspicious?

Peres really said that?

Probably so because he is good at “empty words.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Political Midrash Reveals what Kerry and Netanyahu Really Said

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu: It’s good to have you again, Secretary of State John Kerry. John, you’re a welcome friend, and it’s good to welcome you back in Jerusalem.

 OMG, you again, Kerry! With friends like you, who needs enemies? Did you know that “Shalom” also means “good-bye”? So, shalom and get lost.

Secretary Kerry: Thank you, my friend. Well, Mr. Prime Minister, my friend, Bibi, I am very, very happy to be back in Israel. It’s always a pleasure for me to visit. And I have visited here so many times, as a United States Senator, and now as a Secretary of State.

Same to you, Jew boy. Believe me, I have better things to do than let you waste my time. I have visited Israel so much I almost feel like a Jew. Enough already. And I sick of falafel. So just shut up and sign the peace pact so I can visit Dubai. The hotels are fancier there.

Netanyahu:. We believe that in a final deal, unlike the interim deal, it’s crucial to bring about a final agreement about determination of Iran’s military and nuclear capability. I have expressed my concern since Geneva that the sanctions would begin to unravel, and I think steps must be taken to prevent further erosions of sanctions.

 We trust the United States will sell us down the river in a final deal with Iran like it did in the interim deal.

Kerry: With respect to the sanctions, we will obviously be vigilant. We say to any country that contemplates moving ahead of sanctions, don’t, because those sanctions will continue to be enforced. The fundamental sanctions regime of oil and banking remains absolutely in place. It is not changed, and we will be stepping up our efforts of enforcement through the Treasury Department and through the appropriate agencies of the United States.

 The United States is easing up sanctions on Iran because that is one of the reasons Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Netanyahu: Now, on the Palestinian issue, I want to say that Israel is ready for historic peace, and it’s a peace based on two states for two peoples.  Now, if this process is going to continue, we’re going to have to have a continual negotiation. And I hope the Palestinians are committed to this goal as well.

 Israel is ready for peace based on one state of Israel for two peoples – Ashkenazim and Sephardim. You want us to have peace with the Palestinian Authority? Move it  to Jordan.

Kerry: When I first came here – I think in 1986 – I spent a week and traveled to every part of the country, climbed Masada, bathed in the Dead Sea, went to Galilee, the north, visited Kiryat Shmona, where kids were having to hide from rockets, Katyusha rockets, then indiscriminately attacking them from Lebanon. And I have seen the rockets in Sderot from people who were taking cover from Gaza.

So I understand the challenge of security that Israel faces. I understand it very well. And I join with President Obama in expressing to the people of Israel our deep, deep commitment to the security of Israel and to the need to find a peace that recognizes Israel as a Jewish state and recognizes Israel as a country that can defend itself by itself.

I climbed Masada and almost had a heart attack. I bathed in the Dead Sea, visited the Galilee and Negev where I saw with my very own eyes children. Therefore, I am an expert on Israel’s security. Obama and I are committed to Israel’s security based on Israel’s Jewish majority. Therefore, we will help defend Tel Aviv, at least until the Bedouin take that over, too.

Netanyahu: I want to thank you, John, for your tireless effort. I use that word carefully, “tireless” and indefatigable. You continue to pursue this quest for peace. I appreciate it, and I welcome it. And I also welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions this evening and tomorrow and beyond. So welcome to Jerusalem, again.

Kerry, get lost. I am sick and tired of your tireless effort to screw us, and I welcome the opportunity for you to leave – forever.

Kerry: I believe we are making some progress, and the parties remain committed to this task. Once again, Israel’s security is fundamental to these negotiations. General John Allen – President Obama has designated him to play a very special role in assessing the potential threats to Israel., General Allen and I provided Prime Minister Netanyahu and his military leadership with some thoughts about that particular security challenge.

The peace talks are dead because Israel insists on its remaining in existence. I am here with General Allen, Obama’s pawn who left Afghanistan in the hands of terrorists and who came here to teach Netanyahu a thing or two about war, which America almost never has had to fight on its own ground.

I look forward to visiting the Palmachim Airbase because I want to see firsthand the remarkable ballistic missile defense technologies in place that our nation has spent over 20 years building with our friends here in Israel in order to protect Israel. And the advancement of these programs in recent years I think is a reflection of President Obama’s and his Administration’s strong commitment, unwavering commitment, to Israel’s security.

I will visit the base of missile defense systems that the United States has helped build to make sure you guys think you can’t do without America. Our aid shows our commitment to keeping the U.S. military-industrial complex alive and healthy.

The bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable. And while occasionally we might have a difference of a tactical measure, we do not have a difference about the fundamental strategy that we both seek with respect to the security of Israel and the long-term peace of this region.

Thank you, Prime Minister.

Our eternal ties with Israel will last so long as Bibi does what we tell him to do. Sure, we have a few differences. When Obama says, “Bibi, jump in the lake, there is a question of whether he does it foot first or head first. I think Israeli can decide for itself how to drown.

Thank you, Prime Minister, for this lovely photo-up. You really are better looking than Catherine Aston, but that doesn’t say very much.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

R’ Eliezer Knew More Science than R’ Yehoshua

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

This is an interesting interpretation by the Torah Temimah where he uses scientific knowledge to explain a dispute in the Talmud.

The verse in Parshas Breishis states “There went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.” The Torah Temimah quotes the Babylonian Talmud in Mesechta Taanis 9B that records a dispute between R’ Eliezer and R’ Yehoshua regarding the source of rain.

[Copied from Soncino] “R. Eliezer said: The whole world draws its water supply from the waters of the ocean, as it is said, but there went up a mist from the earth and watered the whole of the ground. Thereupon R. Joshua said to him: But are not the waters of the ocean salty? He replied: They are sweetened by the clouds. R. Joshua said: The whole world drinks from the upper waters, as it is said, And drinketh water as the rain of heaven cometh down. If so, what is the force of the verse, ‘But there went up a mist from the earth’? This teaches that the clouds grow in strength as they rise towards the firmament and then open their mouth as a flask and catch the rain water, as it is said, Which distill rain from His vapor, they are perforated like a sieve and they slowly distill waters on the ground.”

The Torah Temimah explains what R’ Eliezer means using (then) modern science. R’ Yehoshua is correct. The waters of the oceans are salty and unfit for drinking. Therefore R’ Yeshoshua concludes that rain water cannot come from the oceans. R’ Eliezer understood that the reason the waters of the ocean must rise to the clouds and then return to the earth is to desalinize the ocean water. Only the water evaporates while the impurities like salt are left behind.

This can be demonstrated by boiling dirty water says the Torah Temimah. The droplets that form on the lip of the boiling pot are pure water no matter what the water in the pot looks like. Similarly, the salt and minerals in water on earth are removed when the water evaporates and are returned to earth via the clouds in the sky. That’s why R’ Eliezer says the whole world draws water from the oceans. R’ Yehoshua is confused because the ocean waters are salty. To which R’ Eliezer replies that the waters are sweetened during the evaporation and cloud process just like the droplets on the lid of the pot boiling dirty water.

I read this and thought this was a pretty good explanation of R’ Eliezer’s position. Unfortunately it leaves R’ Yehoshua in a very vulnerable position. What are we to think happened after R’ Eliezer explained evaporation to R’ Yehoshua? Perhaps when presented with the scientific explanation he acquiesced to R’ Eliezer. The Talmud assumes he did not because the subsequent discussion deals with R’ Yehoshua’s position as equally viable to R’ Eliezer’s.

More importantly, could R’ Eliezer have known this scientific information? According to my brief Internet research, it seems that the basic principles of natural desalination were known to the Greeks. It’s possible that R’ Eliezer adopted something he heard from them. Although I am unsure if they understood that evaporated seawater turned into clouds in the manner the Torah Temimah understands it. Of course, it is possible that R’ Eliezer received this scientific information from God or some Divine Tradition. Personally, I do not subscribe to this view, but many others do.

Perhaps this is the correct explanation R’ Eliezer’s position. It is elegant in its explanation and pretty clever but it leaves us with other unanswered questions. Either way, kudos to the Torah Temimah for using his secular knowledge in his commentary on the Torah.

Read the Torah Temimah here: PDF

Visit Fink or Swim.

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink

Is the Lab-Created Burger Kosher?

Friday, August 9th, 2013

By Yehuda Shurpin

Question:

Scientists have recently demonstrated that they can now take stem cells from a cow and build them into hamburgers that look, feel and (almost) taste like the real thing. What does Jewish law have to say? Is this considered real meat? Is it kosher?

Response:

This is a fascinating question that needs to be studied carefully by expert rabbis when the issue becomes more practical and Petri-dish burgers become an affordable option. But here are some preliminary thoughts on the subject to give you some perspective.

Meat from Heaven

What makes this question so intriguing is that this is an example of how those seemingly fantastic Aggadic tales in the Talmud are nowadays becoming a starting point for new halachik questions.

There is actually a discussion in the Talmud about whether meat that does not come from an animal is considered kosher, although the origin of the meat in this case was even more miraculous:

A story of Rabbi Shimeon ben Chalafta, who was walking on the road, when lions met him and roared at him. Thereupon he quoted from Psalms: “The young lions roar for prey and to beg their food from G‑d,”1 and two lumps of flesh descended [from heaven]. They ate one and left the other. This he brought to the study hall and propounded: Is this fit [for food] or not? The scholar answered: “Nothing unfit descends from heaven.” Rabbi Zera asked Rabbi Abbahu: “What if something in the shape of a donkey were to descend?” He replied: “You ‘howling yorod,2’ did they not answer him that no unfit thing descends from heaven?”3

Miraculous meat appears again in the Talmud, although this time it was man-made:

Rabbi Chanina and Rabbi Oshaia would spend every Sabbath eve studying the “Book of Creation”4 by means of which they created a calf and ate it.5

In discussing this story, later commentators debate whether such an animal would require shechitah (kosher slaughter) in order to be eaten.

Rabbi Yeshayah Halevi Horowitz, known as the Shelah, writes that it is not considered a real animal and does not need shechitah.6

Others write that while a technical interpretation of Biblical law may not require such an animal to be slaughtered, the rabbinical prohibition of “marit ayin” (not engaging in acts that look misleadingly similar to forbidden activity) would necessitate slaughter–lest an onlooker think that ordinary meat is being consumed without shechitah.7

Test-Tube Beef

So far we have discussed “miracle meat” that came from heaven or was created by spiritual means. Some commentators defined this meat as miraculous because it did not come from a naturally-born animal. But do we consider any meat that does not come from a naturally-born animal to be “miracle meat”? Or does it need to come through an actual miracle? How about test-tube meat, which does come from actual animal cells? In this case the dictum that “no unfit thing descends from heaven” obviously would not apply. Here are some of the issues that will need to be explored:

The Cells The scientist extracted the cells of a real animal and used them to grow the tissues in a Petri dish. If, and that is not a small if, the mere cells are considered substantial enough to be called meat, this may present a problem. In addition to the prohibition of eating a limb from a living animal,8 there is an additional injunction not to eat any meat that was severed from a live animal.9

This is an issue for non-Jews as well as Jews, since Noahide law dictates that non-Jews may not eat even a minute amount of meat that was separated from a living animal.10

For Jews, if the cells are considered real meat, then presumably they would need to be extracted from a kosher animal that was slaughtered according to Jewish law.

Another consideration is that there is a halachik concept, “the product of non-kosher is itself not kosher, and the product of that which is kosher is itself kosher.”11 While at first glance this would seem to imply that the cells need to come from a kosher source, it is not clear whether the above rule would apply to microscopic cells that were extracted from an animal.

Chabad.org

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/is-the-lab-created-burger-kosher/2013/08/09/

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