Monday, October 6, 2008

Creativity Under Persecution

Mishna: When someone has been thrown into a pit, and only his voice can be heard saying "Give my wife a divorce", whoever hears him may write a get (divorce letter) and give it to the wife.

The Gemara then goes into what I insist is a humorous discussion: What if the man's voice is being impersonated by a demon? When the observers saw a human form. Maybe the demon impersonated the human form, also? When they saw the form's shadow. Maybe the demon impersonated the shadow, also? Rabbi Hanina countered with by telling that his son Yonatan told him demons don't have shadows.

At which point one of the rabbis from the school of Rabbi Yishmael put an end to the fooling around, and reminded everyone that it's a serious subject: at a time of widespread persecution, it's necessary to stretch the rules in order not to have women stuck in uncertainty and legal limbo.

You can literally hear the jokers with the black humor - after all, they also know how bad things are, but refuse to be cowed by it; the last fellow is too serious for such things.

The next page adds another dimension to the dire situation and the rabbi's insitence on defining the law no matter how bad things are: in a discussion about how many men need to hear the wish of the husband in order to allow them to write a get, Rabbi Meir has an opinion which is then reinforced by the opinion of rabbi Hanina of Ono, even though he has to send it from his cell in a Roman jail, where he was awaiting execution for his part in the insurgency.

Gitim 65a,b

This thread began here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Religion has a creative way of giving people mental pictures. So you have some who think they can "see" outside the scope of reality.

In a marriage, the couple is either happy. Or they are not. Tolstoy would write that all unhappy marriages are different.

Just as a wonderful math teacher told me, no two students make the same mistakes. Given a problem where you don't get the right answer; and you think your teacher is a genius for "finding the error," the truth is YES, the teacher has learned that everyone goes about making mistakes, differently.

But you can recognize something being "way off." So that your mistake shows up to someone who is knowledgeable about math. Just as someone who can read maps, knows when you've made the wrong turn. Others? Well, people just throw their hands up. And, then they blame the map.

IF someone is happily married, and one of the couple passes on; I remember a very smart rabbi pointing out, at a funeral, that the wife (after 50 years of marriage), had her heart inside the box where her husband lay.

Gett's too, offer little solace. And, they offer no solace to the children; conceived when the couple, having sex, had the female offering up an egg. While the husband shot in 300,000,000 million sperm. And, the "egg chose one of them."

You know what amazes me? In this business of religion, there's money involved. Generation in. And, generation out. It finds things to sell in the marketplace. But instead of stock market symbols, we get this stuff.

Sure. It pays, if you're being divorced, and you're Jewish, to also get a Get. Paper to paper, whe you "lease a relationship" you want to make sure you get your deposit back, at the end of the lease.

Lawyers, too, have found lots of ways to keep on making money. Sometimes? It's just amazing the goods that get sold.

Ah, if a woman is so unhappy with her husband, that he's been thrown into a pit, what stops her feet from dancing? Get this?