Saturday, November 24, 2007

The gift(s) of the Talmud

Not being able to sleep last night, I thought much about my interests and direction. Recently, I have been reading much from the Benedictine tradition, in particular commentaries on the Rule of Benedict -- a still vibrant document from around 600 CEcontaining rules about living in a monastery and elsewhere. It is a beautiful work that holds many messages for today.

I have also been exploring the poetry of Kenneth Koch, who I mentioned earlier -- his optimistic, creative and playful texts are also quite inspiring and freeing.

But in thinking about this blog and a viewpoint that that I can provide that perhaps others cannot, I returned to the Talmud as a source of meaning and understanding for me to continue to explore. While the Rule of Benedict has been and is being interpreted by a wide range of folks within and outside the monastery, even inside and outside Christianity, and the poetry of Kenneth Koch certainly can inspire, it is meant to be enjoyed and not analysed, the Talmud seems to thrive on analysis, to grow and grow and become richer from every question asked of it, every angle explored.

Therefore, since I do believe I provide a rather unusual perspective on this ancient and current text, I decided that I needed to renew my reading of, listening to and writing about this text that is certainly a gift from Hashem given us through Chazal and all following commentators. But it itself offers us the gift of providing infinite meaning to each action of our lives that often times can seem to lack much significance, much importance.

The Talmud breathes life into each moment by giving us the task of study and learning "day and night" and by focusing on every aspect of our lives it challenges us to see the importance, the beauty, the depth in each of those moments as well.

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