Hours in the park and swimming with the kids…a perfect bank holiday. Now it is time to turn to today’s daf.
Much of today’s daf deals with the halachot relating to saying Shema in the presence of a foul smell. The Koren Talmud has a fascinating biographical sketch of Geniva which I quote below. Geniva states an opinion that we must not pronounce any holy words in the presence of urine not only when the smell of urine is still evident but also “as long as its mark is apparent [on the ground]. (We do not Pasken according to Geniva).
A member of the first and second generations of amora’im* in Babylonia, Geniva was one of the most colourful characters of the era. A sage of great stature, he was often visited in his home by the amora, Rav, in whose name he cited many of his Torah statements. The second generation of amora’im treated his teachings with respect. While Geniva was a wealthy and powerful man, at the same time he was quarrelsome and contentious. Though the details of the incident are unclear, it is known that he had a serious dispute with the Exilarch at the time, Mar Ukva, and it was only by virtue of Mar Ukva’s moderation and judiciousness that the affair did not come before the Persian authorities. Ultimately, Geniva was charged with another offence, perhaps plotting against the crown, and was sentenced to death by the authorities. The Sages of the following (third) generation cite his teachings, always appreciating his Torah while disapproving of his conduct.
A quick search of the Bar Ilan database reveals that Geniva is mentioned 6 times in the Babylonian Talmud. One mention is made of Geniva’s father in Masechet Bava Batra.
* Amoraim (Aramaic:; plural אמוראים, sig. Amora אמורא; “those who say” or “those who speak over the people”, or “spokesmen”), were renowned Jewish scholars who “said” or “told over” the teachings of the Orallaw, from about 200 to 500 CE in Babylonia and the LandofIsrael. Their legal discussions and debates were eventually codified in the Gemara. The Amoraim followed the Tannaim in the sequence of ancient Jewish scholars. The Tannaim were direct transmitters of uncodified oral tradition; the Amoraim expounded upon and clarified the oral law after its initial codification.