Follow-up Email (10/27)

Dear SVARA’niks,

Wow, y’all! What a really full night of learning! That was a lot, right?! Please don’t worry if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed–everything that I’m throwing out there is going to come back around, again and again, each time we learn together. It’ll get easier, I promise! So breathe…and let it all “rise up and pass away”! All you need to hold onto is what sticks. Let the rest go. Trust that more and more will stick each week. And thank you all for bringing your open hearts and minds to our learning space and for sharing your laughter, wisdom, courage, and brilliance! I love you all!


Here are recordings of the text we covered last night. We’ll send these to you after each session. One recording will be Hebrew only. The other will be the phrase-by-phrase reading-and-translating (“read, inside, outside; read, inside, outside”) done just like we do in shiur. There’s no homework in this program! Listening to recordings is optional. But if you’re excited to and have time, they will help you make the most of  your time in chevruta in the coming week. In addition, you can find the video recording of last night’s session here (password: talmud2020!). All of these recordings are also available in the Queer Talmud for Beginner’s Mind Portal (password: talmud2020)

From the Chat

There are 37 tractates of the Babylonian Talmud. However, there are 63 tractates of the Mishnah.

  • Thanks, Noah! I can never keep these numbers straight!! OK, so, Torah 2.0–otherwise known as “the mishnah,” compiled in the year 220 c.e in the Land of Israel–is divided into 63 masechet’s (masechtot, to be grammatically correct), i.e., 63 tractates. 37 of these 63 tractates have gemara (further conversations, explications, fleshings-out, etc., done by Rabbis over the following 400 or so years, in Babylonia) on them. These 37 tractates of mishnah material PLUS the gemara material on them is called…The Talmud!  

If you let it happen, it does something to you. It definitely changes and uplifts you, the act of looking up a word.

  • Yup! That’s what I’m talkin’ about! I’ve never been able to actually put this into words. Let’s keep sharing what we feel like is going on there! 

We found differences between Jastrow online on Sefaria (which I’m using) and the book (which my chevruta is using)

This is an online version that looks exactly like the Jastrow Dictionary.

  • Yup! For those of you who prefer working in an online dictionary, I’d recommend using this one. 

,Who’s Who in the Talmudby Shulamit Frieman

  • Great reference book that tells you all about the characters/Rabbis/queer-freaky-radical-folk who turn up in the Talmud. Expensive. Try to find a used copy.

Would be even more radical if it were just a minor scratchy throat..

  • You know, you’re right! And now that I think about it, the text itself only says: “one who suffers from a pain in his throat”–maybe we should just take it at face value! Maybe the later commentators were freaking out a bit at the degree of leniency and were trying to close it down by saying “this refers to a serious illness”! Ooh, I gotta think more about this!

From the After-Party

During the after-party, Benay made some recommendations for reference books for learning Hebrew and Aramaic grammar. Please note that these are not required at all, but might be helpful for those of you who want to work on your Hebrew even more! 

Recommendations for Hebrew grammar:

Recommendations for Aramaic grammar:

Need Some Extra Support? Help With A Possible Chevruta Swap?

Did you see something in the text that made you go ‘huh?!’ Did you leave shiur last night and think, “WHAT?!” or “Wow, I would love to have a session with my very own bet midrash fairy about this whole thing!”?  Not feelin’ it with your chevruta? [Chevruta matching is an art, not a science; we totally expect chevruta swaps, so don’t hesitate to check in with a fairy about your chevruta situation.] They’re here for you! I encourage you to grab time with a fairy (they’re just waiting by the phone waiting for you to call!), during scheduled Open Hours to dig in deeper about our text, the whole process of learning, chevruta dynamics, or anything else!


We will not be meeting next week, November 3rd, 2020. Our next session will be on November 10th.

Before Our Next Session

  1. If you haven’t already done so, we’d love it if you would go to the Queer Talmud for Beginner’s Mind “About Y’all” page and introduce yourself to other SVARA-niks in our shiur! (portal password: talmud2020).
  2. Zoom link for our next meeting on November 10th at 8 PM Eastern | 7 PM Central | 6 PM Mountain | 5 PM Pacific

If you have any questions in the meantime, please reach out to your fairy!

Sending so much SVARA love,

Benay, James, Julie, Noah & The Whole SVARA Team