Next week this column will begin 10 weeks of studying Pirke Avot, a very important and, yes, fun tractate of the Talmud.
It is part of what we do at camp and since I am in camp mode, I ask you to join in the learning. Pirke Avot is for all ages — we learn with our preschoolers through our senior adults. At every age, there is more to learn and more to share with others. Meanings change because we change.
However, this week I will share a new study of Talmud by Maggie Anton. Anton has written numerous historical fiction books about the sages. Yes, they are fiction but they give us a look at the times of our Talmudic scholars — what was going on and who is who. Through her fascinating storyline, we get to know the characters, warts and all, as they say. And now, she has a new book — a mini volume that I recommend FOR ADULTS ONLY! (Stop reading this column aloud to your family immediately!
The title: Fifty Shades of Talmud — What the First Rabbis had to Say about You-Know-What.
Jewish texts definitely talk about sex! Rabbi Elliot Dorff, well-known professor and author, has this to say about this book:
“Jewish culture … embraces the joys of sex as a God-given gift and even a commanded act for procreation and the mutual bonding of the couple. In this absolutely delightful collection of rabbinic sources, together with some funny and apt comparisons to the insights of others in words and cartoons, Maggie Anton demonstrates just how sex-positive Judaism is.”
For those of you who have never studied Talmud, this is a great introduction and then proceed quickly to Pirke Avot (you can get translations and commentaries galore — choose a few and start now). Studying text is the Jewish way for centuries — do it with a friend!
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.