גם זו לטובה
December 7, 2015 6:54 PM   Subscribe

Judaism's core texts grew out of millennia-long conversations and arguments across generations, with interconnected dialogues, source citing and (re)interpretation. Now, it's all going digital: Sefaria is creating a massive public domain, interactive "living library of Jewish texts and their interconnections, in Hebrew and translations." Their goal is to build a reference resource and community that "gives a better learning experience than anything that comes before it," from ancient to modern texts and "all the volumes of commentary in between." Read texts, browse submitted public source sheets on dozens of topics or visualize associations between texts.
posted by zarq (22 comments total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also, their entire database is on GitHub.
posted by zarq at 6:56 PM on December 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


This is really neat! I've been reading about some of the way that the Jewish texts came together, and it's great to see them visualized like this. I can't claim to be a scholar in any sense, but it makes things a lot clearer for me. Thanks for sharing!
posted by teponaztli at 7:35 PM on December 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, this is just the coolest thing! Thanks for the unexpected Chanukkah gift, zarq!
posted by Dreadnought at 7:35 PM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


well shoot I've been meaning to learn git and the Talmud. might as well kill two birds with one stone.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:36 PM on December 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Just having all these texts in one place-- !דַּיֵּנוּ But the UI is top notch. Wow!
posted by gwint at 7:50 PM on December 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is great. I just clicked around to a random Talmud page and found a grab-bag of tidbits about mustard, peeing, beer-breath, and where to sleep in relation to your cumin hoard and incidentally learned the awesomely metal word Exilarch.
posted by theodolite at 8:03 PM on December 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why we have a butthole. I love my people.
posted by redbeard at 8:34 PM on December 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


> Also, their entire database is on GitHub.

Oh dear, and there are already 52 forks. This is going to get ugly:

"But did not Rashi say, in commit df73a, that the flounder should not really be considered a fish, as it travels on the sea floor, not by swimming through the water?"
"Rav Shmuel, that was merged with HEAD~3 a long time ago!"
"I didn't get that pull request for my repo!"
"G-d created the universe in six days, but you can't resolve a merge conflict from a year ago?"
posted by benito.strauss at 8:42 PM on December 7, 2015 [44 favorites]


Alright! The bronze age right in my lap.
posted by telstar at 8:45 PM on December 7, 2015


Talmudic scholarly arguments were the original fandom wars. Prove me wrong.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:30 AM on December 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


But did not Rabbi Eliezar say that it is impossible to prove a negative? And Hillel agreed with him, saying it is easier to prove the contents of a buried man's pockets that to give evidence of an untrue thing. But Rabbi Nefarim disagreed, saying ...
posted by maxsparber at 6:02 AM on December 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I am going down the rabbit hole. Wish me luck.

Of course, being a woman, it hardly matters.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:23 AM on December 8, 2015


This is absolutely fantastic—many thanks for sharing it! I started down the rabbit hole but thought I'd better come back out before I got lost and forgot to have lunch. To show my appreciation, here's a Talmud joke (which I'm sure zarq already knows):
A young man comes to visit a noted rabbi, and expresses his desire to study Talmud. “Do you know Aramaic?” the rabbi asks. “No,” the young man answers. “Hebrew?” “No.” “Have you studied the Torah?” “No, Rabbi, but don’t worry. I graduated Columbia summa cum laude in philosophy and just finished my doctoral dissertation at Harvard on Socratic logic. So now I would just like to round out my education with a little study of the Talmud.”

The rabbi tells the young man that he doesn’t think he’s ready to study Talmud. “If you wish, however, I am willing to examine you in logic. If you pass the test, I will teach you Talmud.” The young man readily agrees.

The rabbi holds up two fingers. “Two burglars break into a house through the chimney. One lands inside with a clean face, the other with a dirty face. Which one washes his face?”

“The one with the dirty face,” the young man answers.

“Wrong,” the rabbi says. “The one with the clean face washes his face. Examine the simple logic: the one with the dirty face looks at the one with the clean face and thinks his own face is clean. The one with the clean face looks at the one with the dirty face and thinks his own face is dirty. So, the one with the clean face washes.”

“Very clever,” the young man says. “Give me another test.”

The rabbi asks the same question, to which the eager would-be pupil responds, “We’ve already established that the one with the clean face washes his face.”

“Wrong again,” the rabbi says. “Each one washes his face. Examine the simple logic. The one with the dirty face looks at the one with the clean face and thinks his own is clean. The one with the clean face looks at the one with the dirty face and thinks his own is dirty. So the one with the clean face washes his face. When the man with the dirty face sees the clean-faced man washing, he also washes his face.”

“I didn’t think of that,” the young man says. “Test me again.”

The rabbi again repeats the question of the two men and the chimney, to which the young man replies, “Each one washes his face.”

“Wrong again,” the rabbi says. “Neither washes his face. Look at it logically. The one with the dirty face looks at the one with the clean face and thinks his own face is clean. The one with the clean face sees the dirty face of his companion and thinks his own face is dirty. But when the one with the clean face sees the one with the dirty face doesn’t wash, he also doesn’t wash his face. So neither one washes.”

The young man is desperate. “I am qualified to study Talmud,” he says. “Please give me one more test.” Again, the rabbi asks the same question. And the young man gives the obvious answer. “Neither one washes his face.”

“Wrong,” says the rabbi. “Do you see now why Socratic logic is an insufficient basis for studying Talmud? Tell me how it is possible for two men to come down the same chimney, and for one to come out with a clean face and the other with a dirty face.”

The young many is totally exasperated and challenges the rabbi. “Now, wait a minute. Haven’t you just given me four mutually contradictory answers to the same question? That’s impossible!”

“No, my son,” the rabbi says. “That’s Talmud.”
posted by languagehat at 6:50 AM on December 8, 2015 [24 favorites]


LOL languagehat Kinda sums up religious interpretation pretty much universally, at least the rabbies can laugh at themselves in a talmudic sort of way.
posted by sammyo at 8:17 AM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, and the post title (גם זו לטובה, gam zu le-tovah) is from Nachum Ish Gamzu:
Nachum Ish Gamzu's name is described in the Talmud as having grown colloquially from Nachum's tendency to react to misfortune with unyielding optimism, in each case uttering a phrase that became famously attached to him: "gam zu le-tovah," meaning, "this, too, is for the best." The two words "gam zu" ("גמ זו", meaning "this too") were combined into the single-word nickname "Gamzu" ("גמזו"), with "Ish Gamzu" then meaning "The Gamzu Man".
posted by languagehat at 8:30 AM on December 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Talmud as hypertext
posted by bukvich at 8:34 AM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Of course, being a woman, it hardly matters.

Ok, I know you're being sardonic, but I just want to point out that this is totally not true for any but the most knuckle-dragging conservatives. And while those conservatives will tell you that they are normal, and the liberals are weird, they are actually in a pretty small minority. I'd say three quarters of the rabbis, cantors and professional Jewish educators I know are women.
posted by Dreadnought at 9:42 AM on December 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is super super cool. I'm going to use this a lot, I think.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:14 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wonder if Voltaire knew about Rabbi Gamzu when he invented Dr Pangloss? I suppose the better question is whether Leibniz did, since it's his Optimism that Candide satirizes.
posted by gingerest at 1:09 PM on December 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I assert that languagehat's joke still works if you replace "rabbi" with "hacker" and "Talmud" with "git."
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 4:32 PM on December 8, 2015


I am going down the rabbit hole. Wish me luck.

Rabbi hole, surely?
posted by atrazine at 4:19 AM on December 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've had a Sefaria sticker on my car for a few months now. Love!
posted by inconsequentialist at 5:10 PM on December 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


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