A Bride for One Night: Talmud Tales by Ruth Calderon

Our member Dianne Portnoy writes:

This book is literature lifted from the Talmud. As a doctorate in Talmud from Hebrew University and in January 2013, elected to the Israeli Knesset, Ruth Calderon has taken her vast knowledge of Talmud and has created and presented this provocative read.

She explains, “the orders and tractates into which the the Talmud is divided touch upon every aspect of life.” A single Talmudic page is likely to include a plethora of life from Halacha (law) to Aggadah (stories – telling) such as informal anecdotes, folk sayings, legends, disagreements, compromises, political critique, and amazing reasoning.

“Bride” does not present these 17 stories with the intention of an educational, religious, or academic study. Ms Calderon rather, presents these ‘lifted’ from the pages of Talmud but rather as texts that have the power to move the readers.

Each story in the book is composed of three sections:

  • The Talmudic story in translation
  • The creative re telling (midrash) of the translation.
  • Then, (for me, this is what makes this an enjoyable & unique ‘Aesop fable’ type of read) Ms. Calderon “gives her reflections with the primary goal of conveying the story with the clarity to the contemporary reader”.

As a modern woman, there are stories that are irritating or that provoke such as those around children, women, non-Jews, and slaves that are now considered immoral. In her stories, rather than be angry or frustrated she looks for evidence of that there were also challenges to the mainstream and glimpses of rebebelliousness and famine empowerment.

I recommend “Bride”, both as an enjoyable read and as a minute taste of the breadth of Talmud.

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