Cover image for If all the seas were ink : a memoir
If all the seas were ink : a memoir
Kurshan, Ilana, author.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2017.

Physical Description:
x, 299 pages ; 22 cm
At the age of 27, alone in Jerusalem in the wake of a painful divorce, Ilana Kurshan joined the world's largest book club, learning daf yomi, Hebrew for "daily page" of the Talmud, a book of rabbinic teachings spanning about 600 years and the basis for all codes of Jewish law. A runner, a reader and a romantic, Kurshan adapted to its pace, attuned her ear to its poetry, and discovered her passions in its pages. She brought the Talmud with her wherever she went, studying in airplanes, supermarket lines, and over a plate of pasta at home, careful not to drip tomato sauce upon discussions about the sprinkling of blood on the Temple altar. By the time she completed the Talmud after seven and a half years, Kurshan was remarried with three young children. With each pregnancy, her Talmud sat perched atop her growing belly. This memoir is a tale of heartache and humor, of love and loss, of marriage and motherhood, and of learning to put one foot in front of the other by turning page after page. Kurshan takes us on a deeply accessible and personal guided tour of the Talmud, shedding new light on its stories and offering insights into its arguments both for those already familiar with the text and for those who have never encountered it. For people of the book both Jewish and non-Jewish If All the Seas Were Ink is a celebration of learning through literature how to fall in love once again.
Introduction: One day wiser -- A note on the Talmud -- I. The order of festivals -- Yoma: Alone in Jerusalem -- Sukkah/Beitzah: Temporary homes -- Rosh Hashanah: The book of life -- Taanit: Two by two -- Megillah: Who knows? -- Moed Katan: Trapdoor days -- Hagigah: Torah from the heavens -- II. The order of women -- Yevamot: Lentils in my pot -- Ketubot: I am a Jewish man -- Nedarim/Nazir: Ascetic Aesthetics -- Sotah: A still unravished bride -- Gittin: Writing divorce -- Kidushin: Toward a theory of romantic love -- III. The order of damages -- Bava Kama/Bava Metzia/Bava Batra: Suspended in a miracle -- Sanhedrin: Another lifetime -- Makkot/Shevuot: Sarah Ivreinu -- Avodah Zarah/Horayot: Frost at midnight -- IV. The order of holiness -- Zevahim/Menahot/Hullin: Holy eating -- Bechorot/Erchin/Temurah/Keritot/Meilah/Tamid/Middot/Kinnim: Poets & gatekeepers -- V. the order of purity -- Niddah: A folded notebook -- VI. The order of seeds -- Berachot: Writing about prayer is easier than praying -- VII. The order of festivals (again) -- Shabbat/Eruvin: A pregnant pause -- Pesachim: Take two -- Shekalim: Weaving the Talmudic tapestry -- Yoma: Encore.
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