Friday, April 28, 2006

WITT? -- Thinking and Living

In keeping with the Internet world's love of acronyms -- I have decided to create one "WITT?," which stands for "What is the Talmud?" :-)

In a recent comment, Rabbi Gluskin, stated that the “Talmud then is ultimately about helping people to think in order to figure out how to behave.”

The key to me in this sentence is the idea that Talmud is something (the Oral Torah, a conversation, a scripture, etc.) that helps us and teaches us how to think in order to help us understand how to “live.” I would use “live” instead of “behave,” because I think it is a more open and flexible word than “behave,” which to my ear, at least, has a lot of baggage.

What is essential is the connection between thinking and living. Obviously from a traditional Jewish perspective this “living” has to do with keeping the mitzvot, the halachah of the Torah. Yet, if we open ourselves to the overall perspective of dialogue, debate, preservation of differing opinions and love of Hashem within the Talmud, then I would argue one can find within the Talmud universal hints and methods for living a more vibrant and open life. A life that embraces the differences that exist and continually strives to find the best, the most holy way to act in a specific moment, within a specific situation.

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