Home > English Translation > Updates to some notes on Tosefta Berachot 4:8:7 and 5:5:9

Updates to some notes on Tosefta Berachot 4:8:7 and 5:5:9

Berachot Tosefta 4:8, note 7:

Professor Daniel Sperber (Daniel Sperber, A Commentary on Derech Eretz Zuta, Bar-Ilan University Press, 1990, 6:3, p.67-68.) points out that the reason the Tosefta uses the expression “have gotten up” is because the couches on which they reclined during the meal were always elevated above the level of the tables on which the food was placed. (See W. Smith et al., Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London 1890, 1, p.393-395, s.v. cena; 2, p.886, s.v. triclinium.) For a picture of how this appeared in reality see below chapter 5, Tosefta 5, note 9.

Berachot Tosefta 5:5, note 9:

Professor Daniel Sperber (Daniel Sperber, A Commentary on Derech Eretz Zuta, Bar-Ilan University Press, 1990, 6:3, p.67.) points out that this formation of sitting at meals prescribed by the Rabbis is the same as of the Greeks and the Romans. Even the terminology used here in the Tosefta is a direct translation of the Latin words that describe the classical symposium. The beds for reclining are a translation of the Latin word “lectus” which means a couch. The terms “above” and “below” correspond to the Latin “supra” and “infra”, which describe the relative position of two persons reclining next to one another. The three beds, or couches, correspond to the lectus medius (middle couch), lectus summus (uppermost couch) and the lectus imus (lowest couch). The couches were arranged as follows:

Lectus Medius

1

Lectus Imus

3

Lectus Summus

2

For more information about the classical symposium see William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, London 1890, p.1082-1084, s.v. symposium.

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Symposium

Fresco from the Tomb of the Diver. 475 BC. Paestum National Museum, Italy.

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