On the Essential Talmud


Read [The Essential Talmud]( https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ADO767S/) over the break. Not sure I have anything particularly astute to say about it. It was a fascinating window into a different thought process and a different time. A story from it which sticks in my head....

In the context of the book where this portion is quoted from, Steinsaltz is talking about the ancient attitudes regarding honor & respect.

The rabbi, whose wisdom is self accomplished (or, similarly, the father) is entitled to renounce honor and ceremony. Therefore, although it was said that the son was forbidden to sit on his father's chair, to contradict him, or do anything in his presence without his permission, particularly if it entailed disrespect, these injunctions were not observed strictly and were generally applied only when the sons reached adulthood and were themselves eager to honor their parents. An amusing illustration of this attitude is found in the talmudic sources. A father's will stipulated that he was leaving his property to his son on condition that the son become a fool. The sages could find no logical explanation for the strange document and appealed to R Joshua Ben Hananiah, who was renowned as a great scholar and a very shrewd man. When they arrived at his home they found him crawling on all fours, his small son riding on his back. The sages waited respectfully lest they disturb their rabbi at play. When they eventually asked his opinion of the will, he replied: "You yourselves have seen the meaning. The father meant to say that his son should come into the inheritance when he himself had children."