Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Eiruvin 12a, b

Today the rabbis continue their discussion about crossbeams and side posts.  They debate about which might be a partition and which might be a 'conspicuous marker'.  They look to understand exactly what Rabbi Yehuda meant in his statements, and who agrees with Beit Shammai and who agrees with Beit Hillel regarding these definitions.

Sometimes I want to pull my hair out as I force myself to concentrate.

Why am I giving dedicated time to this practice when I could be raising money for a woman who needs cancer treatment, or speaking with a friend on the phone, or researching something that has immediate and direct application??

I don't have a good answer.  For some reason, I continue to be driven to learn every day.  I know that I am not following the arguments fully.  My ignorance frustrates me, but not enough to inspire more intensive study.  What I am looking for is not the halacha - how many handbreadths are required by width, or whether an alley needs to be 'closed' on both ends.  I am interested in the process of rabbinical thought.  I love looking at how the rabbis spoke with each other rather than what they said (well, when the topic is as numbing to me as this is, I am not particularly interested in what they said).  But every once in a while, there is a detail that pulls me from my frustration.  I am again reminded to take notice, to reevaluate, to put together a puzzle.

And that, again, is exactly what the rabbis were doing in their century-spanning debates.  They were looking to understand what their elders had said and what their elders had meant.  They were looking for 'proof' of some truth.  

Coming from a place of post-relativism (in this context, anyhow), there is no great 'truth' that I will find in my reading.  I continue to encounter many truths, many realities, many patterns and ideas.  Why that keeps me going, I don't know.  And perhaps I won't last the seven and a half years it will take to complete the daf yomi cycle.  Regardless, I am drawn to learn, and so I'll continue to learn, for now, even when the topic at hand makes me wish that I enjoyed a more productive hobby, like knitting or cleaning the house.

1 comment:

  1. That is a perfect picture! You can see the thoughts churning!

    I think the rabbis were also trying to make sense of what they were already doing. As opposed to deciding what to do from scratch, which constrains their possible answers and makes their threshold for "proof" kind of low.