Monday, March 17, 2008

The Talmudic Metaphor of the Splinter vs. the Beam in the Eye

ANDREW SILOW-CARROLL on "The right answer on Farrakhan," in the Jerusalem Post.

In the middle of the article he writes:
"Both the Talmud and the Christian Bible contain the metaphor of the man who points out the splinter in his brother's eye but ignores the wooden beam in his own. It is a homely and powerful statement of moral consistency."
But of course, in Matthew, it is a positive metaphor, and used to blast people who would judge while having their own faults. Meanwhile, the Talmud consistently blasts those who would employ such a metaphor. Thus, in Bava Batra 15b:

מאי דכתיב (רות א) ויהי בימי שפוט השופטים דור ששופט את שופטיו אומר לו טול קיסם מבין {עיניך} [שיניך] אומר לו טול קורה מבין עיניך אמר לו (ישעיהו א) כספך היה לסיגים אמר לו סבאך מהול במים

and in Arachin daf 16
תניא א"ר טרפון {תמיהני} [תמה] אני אם יש בדור הזה שמקבל תוכחה אם אמר לו טול קיסם מבין עיניך

I've posted about this metaphor in the past, here, and how different versions differ in message (e.g. is it in the eye or between the teeth), but I did not note that in Matthew itself there is a dispute on whether to translate it mote, or as splinter. The latter would match the Talmudic metaphor more closely.

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