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    Eccentricities in the Talmud – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. I have stopped attending G’mara shiurim because I dislike the Talmud’s eccentricities. Do you think I am right?

    talmud gemara shasA. Your mention of eccentricities recalls what Moses Mendelssohn said, that outsiders “made fun of the inanities and eccentricities” which they found in the Talmud.

    Mendelssohn said, “On no account can I persuade myself that the best minds of a nation should have occupied themselves throughout so many centuries exclusively with a work consisting of insipid rubbish”.

    I used to tell a critic who came to my shiurim that our task is not to judge the Talmud but to listen to it. The sages allowed their conversation to stray into side paths while never losing sight of the main road. Their two tenets were respect for the revealed teaching that came from God, and wise and careful use of words.

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