“The Talmud of Relationships” by Rabbi Amy Scheinerman— A Two-Volumr Set

Scheinerman, Rabbi Amy. “The Talmud of Relationships”, Jewish Publication Society, 2018.

A Two-Volume Set

Amos Lassen

Rabbi Amy Scheinerman continues the conversations that the rabbis of yore shared and in doing so makes the Talmud relevant today and accessible to all.

Volume 1: God, Self, and Family

Some of the questions dealt with in volume I include

“How can I tame my ego? How might I control my anger? How might I experience the spirituality of sexual intimacy? How can I bestow appropriate honor on a difficult parent? How might I accept my own suffering and the suffering of those whom I love?”

Scheinerman shares how these ancient texts can be used for modern relationship building—with parents, children, spouses, family members, friends, and us. Each chapter (as you will see in the table of contexts below) is about a different text that explores relationships. What is surprising is that many of the texts are fresh, largely unknown passages. We explore the logic of each passage in today’s English, weigh multiple perspectives and draw our own conclusions. Scheinerman gives us the grounding in why the selected passage matters, its historical background, a narrative of rabbinic commentary, anecdotes and questions for thought and discussion, as well as a cogent synopsis.

Jews and non-Jews, newcomers and veterans, students and teachers, individuals and group study partners and families alike discover the oral Torah and the treasures within.

Scheinerman takes the most obscure Talmudic texts and makes them come alive and it seems so simple. We learn to navigate engrossing texts and also reflect on our own relationships including who we are and who we would like to be.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Why Talmud?

Part 1. The Core: Relationships with God and Self

  1. Finding Our Place: Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Menachot 29b
  2. Controlling Our Anger: Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berakhot 7a
  3. Understanding Our Suffering: Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berakhot 5a–b
  4. Approaching Prayer: Mishnah Berakhot 4:2 and the Accompanying Gemara from the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds

Part 2. First Sphere: Family Relationships

  1. Honoring Our Parents: Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Pe’ah 1a, 5b–6b
  2. Affirming Our Sexuality: Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Nedarim 20a–b
  3. Balancing Family and Study: Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Ketubot 61b, 62b–63a

Appendix: Theodicy, the Problem of God’s Justice

Glossary

Notes

Bibliography

Volume 2: The Jewish Community and Beyond deal with issues such as “How can I lead others with authority and kindness? How can I strengthen my self-control? How can I balance work and family? How can I get along with difficult coworkers? How can I best relate to people in need?

 

Volume 2 shows how the ancient Jewish texts of Talmud can facilitate modern relationship building especially with family members, colleagues, strangers, the broader Jewish community, and us. Using the same pattern as volume 1,

Scheinerman devotes each chapter to a different Talmud text exploring relationships expanding on these richly complex conversations so that we can weigh multiple perspectives and draw our own conclusions.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Why Talmud?

Part 1. Second Sphere: Relationships within the Jewish Community

  1. Maintaining Self-Control: Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Menachot 44a
  2. Respecting Human Dignity: Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Berakhot 27b–28a
  3. Creating Consensus in Community: Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 2:8–9 and Babylonian Talmud, Gemara Rosh Hashanah 25a–b
  4. Clashing Titans: Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Horayot 13b–14a

Part 2. Third Sphere: Relationships in the Larger World

  1. Moving to the Land of Israel: Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Ketubot 110b–111a
  2. Straddling Two Worlds: Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbat 33b–34a
  3. Caring for Poor People: Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Bava Batra 10a

Glossary

Notes

Bibliography

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