Saturday, August 17, 2013

I was watching Law and Order, the original, season 1; such a good show. 

In an episode where Logan picks up garbage with a pair of tongs, I thought, "'tongs' is a weird word," so I googled it.  Wiki notes that tongs are "gripping and lifting tools, of which there are many forms adapted to their specific use..." 

That was sort of interesting, but the real intriguing bit came at the end:


"According to Pirkei Avot, a classical Jewish text of the third century of the common era, the first pair of tongs were created by God right before God rested in the Seventh Day. The reasoning is that a blacksmith must use a pair of tongs in order to fashion a brand new pair of tongs. Accordingly, God must have provided humankind with the first pair of tongs."


Pirkei Avot (a 3rd c. CE portion of the Talmud) deals mostly with issues of morality rather than the Jewish legal tradition. However, it does, surprisingly, discuss the aetiology of tongs:


"Ten things were created at twilight of Shabbat eve. These are: the mouth of the earth [that swallowed Korach]; the mouth of [Miriam's] well; the mouth of [Balaam's] ass; the rainbow; the manna; [Moses'] staff; the shamir; the writing, the inscription and the tablets [of the Ten Commandments]. Some say also the burial place of Moses and the ram of our father Abraham. And some say also the spirits of destruction as well as the original tongs, for tongs are made with tongs."

Very interesting to think of God on the sixth day, processing a mental checklist: "Let's see, a couple kinds of openings, maybe some legal docs and deeds for real estate. Come to think of it, utensils are handy..."


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