Talmud FAIL: Yalta vs. Ulla

Most of my favorite Talmud stories center around Yalta. She’s a Talmud-era commentator who’s sometimes thought to be Rav Nachman’s wife (the Talmudic sage, not the Hasidic rebbe) and is also sometimes thought to be the daughter of the Rosh Galuta, the head of the world Jewish community at the time. And she was an arbiter of Jewish law and philosophy in her own right.

We also named our daughter after her. There are two famous stories in the Talmud — seven in total, but two that are really famous — that center around her. One involves Rav Nachman coming to her and asking what to do if you hunger for non-kosher food (she schools him). The other goes as follows (courtesy of halakhah.com):

Ulla was once at the house of R. Nahman. They had a meal and he said grace, and he handed the cup of benediction to R. Nahman. R. Nahman said to him: Please send the cup of benediction to Yaltha.

(OK — now Ulla’s gonna get really crabby. Especially considering he’s a guest in the home of an honored rabbi…not to mention, of course, Yalta.)

He said to him: Thus said R. Johanan: “The fruit of a woman’s body is blessed only from the fruit of a man’s body, since it says, He will also bless the fruit of thy body.” It does not say the fruit of her body, but the fruit of thy body. It has been taught similarly: Whence do we know that the fruit of a woman’s body is only blessed from the fruit of a man’s body? Because it says: He will also bless the fruit of thy body. It does not say the fruit of her body, but the fruit of thy body.

(That was Ulla showing off and being a smart@$$ — and, basically, saying that women suck. Now comes the good part.)

Meanwhile Yaltha heard, and she got up in a passion and went to the wine store and broke four hundred jars of wine. R. Nahman said to him: Let the Master send her another cup. He sent it to her with a message: All that wine can be counted as a benediction. She returned answer: Gossip comes from pedlars and vermin from rags.

…and THAT, my friends, is how you deliver the whiz-bang kung-fu punch to an honored rabbi: with a combination of physical force and a good proverb. Apparently, people are still taking this to heart today. Courtesy of FAILblog:


Discover More

The Most Essential Kitchen Gadgets for Jewish Cooking

For everything from chicken soup to latkes, we can't live without these useful tools.

CRISPR, the Eclipse and Rabbi Soloveitchik

The fact that we can even think about changing genes to let blind people see is an incredible achievement in and of itself

When The History of Anti-Semitism and Racism Come Together

How the grandchild of Holocaust survivors and mother of an African American navigates the history of hate.