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HORMIN MUNSTER AND THE LEGENDS OF THE TALMUD

by Rabbi David Zauderer   
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

The Talmud, which is the source for the oral interpretations of the written Torah, also has within its' 3000 pages some very strange and esoteric passages, to rival the best that J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter tales has to offer.

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The Talmud, which is the source for the oral interpretations of the written Torah, also has within its' 3000 pages some very strange and esoteric passages, to rival the best that J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter tales has to offer. Here's one example: Said Rabba bar Bar-Chanah: I saw Hormin the son of Lilith running along the battlements of the city wall of Mechuza. A cavalryman below, riding on an animal, could not keep up with him. Once, two mules were saddled for [Hormin] and stood on the two sides of the Donag River. He jumped from one mule to the other while holding two cups of wine in his hands, pouring from one to the other without a drop falling to the earth. That was the day when things "rise to the heavens and descend to the depths" (Psalms 107:26). Finally the King's men heard of [Hormin's doings] and put him to death (Talmud Tractate Baba Batra 73a-b).

It would be easy to say that the sages obviously had a little too much time on their hands, and a very fanciful imaginations as well. But, the fact is that the most brilliant minds in the history of our people - Torah scholars like Maimonides, Sadia Gaon, and Rabbi Elijah of Vilna to name a few - have spent the better part of their lives poring over the Talmudic texts, and writing great commentaries on every page, including the section mentioned above. So there is obviously something deeper to these strange legends in the Talmud.

If you are interested in exploring what these and other Talmudic "legends" really mean, may I humbly recommend a wonderful book called "The Juggler and the King" by Rabbi Aharon Feldman, available for purchase by clicking here. The insights into life that are encoded in the "stories" of the Talmud are fascinating and enlightening. You won't be disappointed! - RDZ

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Rabbi David Zauderer is a card-carrying member of the Atlanta Scholars Kollel.

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