Talmudic Arguments: The Use of Insults, Reprimands, Rebukes and Curses as Part of the Disputation Process
66 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2016 Last revised: 17 Apr 2018
Date Written: June 28, 2016
In the Talmud, the colleague one argued with most in legal matters in the Talmud was known as “bar plugta”; this individual was typically one’s best friend. This was seen as the ideal study partnership since it involved constructive arguing; one might see it as form of adversarial collaboration. Unfortunately, arguing often results in insults being hurled and there is always the risk that an insult can be seen as harsh rather than playful or part of the disputation process. One example of an insult used fairly frequently is the term terada which either means scatterbrain or lunatic. “Vinegar son of wine” is an expression used to indicate that someone was inferior to his father. The following insult was said about Rabbah bar bar Chanah [bar means son]: “Every Abba is as stupid as a donkey; and every bar bar Chanah is a fool.” This paper examines and discusses many different insults, reprimand, rebukes and even curses used by the sages.
Keywords: Constructive arguing, Talmud, logic, adversarial collaboration, banter, creative thinking
JEL Classification: A22, A23, B30, B31, I2, J50, M12, M14, M54, Z00, Z10, Z12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation