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Daf Yomi: Strings Attached

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Literary critic Adam Kirsch is reading a page of Talmud a day, along with Jews around the world.

Over the last weeks of fall holidays, Daf Yomi readers continued to explore Tractate Menachot, which is devoted to the meal offerings sacrificed in the Temple. But as usually happens in the Talmud, long digressions carried us far from the nominal subject. Much of chapters three and four is devoted to the preparation of ritual objects, such as Torah scrolls, mezuzot, and tefillin. These enter the discussion by way of a formal principle: They involve mitzvot with several interdependent parts, which must all be present if the commandment is to be followed. Thus, for instance, every letter of the inscription in a mezuzah scroll must be correct if the mezuzah is to be valid.

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