Thursday, September 25, 2014

Someone unknown doing we're not sure what …

… The Talmud's Mystical Revelations Are So Strong, the Rabbis Warn, That They Can Cause Death – Tablet Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Reading these pages, I couldn’t help wondering what the effect of reading Chagiga must have been on generations of Talmud students. Almost all of the Talmud, at least all that I’ve read so far, is extremely rational, lucid, and mundane. It approaches law with the tools of logic and strrives relentlessly for clear, full explanations of problems. No one could read, say, Tractate Eruvin and get carried away by spiritual raptures: You’re too busy trying to visualize right angles and calculate distances. Imagine spending years of your youth learning to think in this way and then coming upon Chagiga: It would be like entering a different world, in which logic flies out the window and all is allegory, vision, and dream. The accounts of the Creation and the Chariot feed a religious appetite that most of the Talmud seems designed to starve. What excitement these pages must have offered, what stimulus to imagination!

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