Reading Talmud

Daf yomi is a world wide systematic reading of the Talmud, a page a day, which can be completed in a seven year cycle.  The end of the reading cycle is celebrated public ceremonies called Siyum HaShas. Unfortunately the Daf yomi program looks pretty formidable, like one would need a lot of prior knowledge to navigate the readings. Not for me, at least not yet.

I would love to study another language; Hebrew would help me with my Arabic, and might provide me with interesting insights about the Old Testament portion of my own religious tradition as well.  On my latest summer vacation trip, I couldn’t resist a copy of Learn to Write the Hebrew Script–it looks like such fun, but when will I have time to read it?

I’m currently back to reading Joyce’s Ulysses; after a rocky start and some diversions–the writing style initially appeared incoherent and requires a whole different system of reading–it suddenly started to unfold like a film with a voiceover narrative, and I’m well into the second chapter.

After that maybe Markham’s West with the Night,  a copy having been bequeathed to me by an old friend on my summer peregrinations. Said Ernest Hemingway (according to the back of the cover),

I knew her fairly well in Africa and never would have suspected that she could and would put pen to paper except to write in her flyer’s log book.  As it is, she has written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer.  I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen.  But [she ] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers. The only parts of it that I know about personally, on account of having been there at the time and heard the other people’s stories, are absolutely true…. I wish you would get it and read it because it is really a bloody wonderful book.

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