Thursday, March 2

What Rava Wore

"There is a well-known jibe attributed to the yeshiva world and directed against those involved in the academic study of Talmud. 'We (Yeshivahleit) wish to know what Abbaye and Rava said, but they (the academics) want to know what they wore.' Now it is clear that anyone who devotes himself exclusively to the externals of talmudic literature, such as historical background, philology and linguistic characteristics of Babylonian Aramaic, and so forth, will be missing the main point of learning. But, on the other hand, those who believe they are involved in real learning, but lack certain systematic disciplines, often miss the point of the sugya, and may even err when attempting to derive from it a psak halakha. In terms of the jibe, at times it is indeed important to know also what Abbaye and Rava wore."

Prof. Daniel Sperber's expanded (and illustrated) analysis of the place and purpose of academic Talmud study: click here...


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