“He is dealing with matters crucial to human life, and you say that he is dealing with mundane matters?”
Today’s Daf Yomi continues the discussion from the previous day of bathroom habits. A learned Rav asks his son why he is not at the study hall and the young boy answers that his teacher spent too much time discussing bathroom habits rather than the great learnings of the Torah. The Rav uses this as a teachable moment and tells his young son that what he considers mundane are matters central to human life. He orders his son to return to the study hall immediately and appears to be teaching him an important lesson in the mind-body connection and achieving balance in one’s life.
From there we are provided with insight into what it was like to live 2,000 years ago without access to fiber supplements or laxatives. I wonder what a proctologist would make of this discussion, and if there are any reading the Daf Yomi each day, please contact me with your thoughts. Suffice it to say, I am not recommending that today’s reading be used as guidance for relieving constipation. I would recommend eating extra fiber and drinking prune juice.
We travel from matters of the mundane to idol worship. There are strange juxtapositions made in today’s text. The introduction to the new chapter in the Koren Talmud says that this is because the text was originally memorized and the pairings of seemingly unrelated concepts, along with mnemonics, was designed to assist with what was an oral tradition of learning. I have an indication that this new chapter will be rife with such pairings and will prove to be perplexing at times.
Today’s paring includes a discussion by Rabbi Akiva of how menstruating women transmit impurity through various ways like idolatry. Rabbi Akiva, who usually expresses the liberal view, let me down in today’s text with his discussion of impure women. I keep reminding myself to be tolerant of the Rabbi’s view of women (which is difficult at times) because they lived in a different world. I am so grateful that we have evolved since then and women and anyone else who wants to are able to enter into this Talmudic dialog with the Rabbis of 2,000 years ago.
So, there you have it – a whole collection of things I find unpleasant in life discussed in one day’s portion of the Daf Yomi: women deemed to be impure for being women, bathroom habits, constipation and a reminder of a recent unpleasant colonoscopy. I can’t wait to discover what tomorrow’s reading will bring. Is there any chance Yalta will return to save the day?