Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Great Regulars: Focused on this detailed discussion,

I found myself all the more shocked when, in Shabbat 138b, the Gemara relates a terrible prophecy: "Rav said: The Torah is destined to be forgotten from the Jewish people." In the context of the Talmud, this has an apocalyptic sound. Torah, here, means not just the Pentateuch but the whole oral and written law, and all the interpretations of it, and the whole way of life it inspires. Did the rabbis really think all this could simply disappear? According to Rav, scripture predicts that it must. "And the Lord will make your plagues astonishing," reads Deuteronomy, and the same word, "astonishment" (haflaah), appears in Isaiah in connection with "the wisdom of the wise and the understanding of the men of understanding." Using a standard hermeneutic technique, Rav connects the two instances of the word: The astonishing plague will be a plague on wisdom and understanding, that is, on knowledge of Torah.

from Adam Kirsch: Tablet: Ancient Laws for Modern Times


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