Example ITS Application

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texts being used: An Aggadah (it's a story) found in Talmud Bavli Taanit 20a-b and a translation by R. David Ingber

copy of or link/s to the text/s:

The original text can be found here:


and continued here:


This is R. David Ingber's translation (As we go I plan on offering more insight into the original meaning):

1. The Rabbis learned: A person should always be soft life a reed ant not hard like a cedar

2. A story: R' Eliezer son of Shimon came from the tower of Gador from the house of his teacher
3. he was riding on a donkey and traveling on the bank of the river
4. and he was very happy
5. and his mind was haughty (D'aato Gasa) because he learned much Torah

6. an exceedingly ugly man (person) chanced upon him
7. He said to him, "Peace onto you my teacher"
8 He did not respond
9. He said to him, "empty one, how ugly is 'that' man
10. perhaps all the people in your city are as ugly as you
11. He said to him, "I don't know (yo'dea) but why don't you go and tell the Craftsman who made me how ugly His handiwork is!!
12. As soon as he knew (ya'daa) about himself that he sinned, he went down from the donkey and prostrated before him
13. he said, I have afflicted you, forgive me
14. He said to him, I will not forgive you until you go to the Craftsman who made me and tell him "How ugly is this vessel that you made"

15. He traveled after him until he reached his city
16. the people of his city came out to greet him
17. and they said to him, "Peace onto you my teacher my teacher my master my master"
18. He said to them, "to whom are you calling teacher teacher"
19. They said to him, "to the one who is traveling after you"
20. he said to them, "If this is a teacher, there shouldn't be many like him in Israel."
21. They said to him, "on account of what?"
22. He said to them, "such and such he did to me."
23. They said to him, "nevertheless forgive him because he is a great man in Torah."
24. He said to them, "for your sake, I will forgive him
25. providing he doesn't make a custom out of doing this."

26. Immediately R' Eliezer son of Shimon entered and expounded
27. A person should always be soft like a reed and not hard like a cedar
28. Therefore the reed merited to have the writing pen come from it to write the Torah, Tefillin, and Mezuzot.

Brief summary of material being covered, and how (from what background) it is being approached: It takes an adage "A person should always be soft like a reed and not hard like a cedar" and relates it to a story about R. Eliezer ben R. Shimon's interaction (which demonstrates being like a reed and being like a cedar) with an unnamed person then connecting that with why the reed deserved to become the writing implement for sofrut.(scribal arts.)

I'm going to approach it as a piece of literature that was written intentionally with intention and purpose, a beginning, a middle, an end, scene changes, allusions, word play, etc. by going line by line through what R. David has helpfully broken down into 28 lines. At every point I'm going to be looking for input about the possible meaning of the text from those participating, staying along with the line by line format. I'm hoping people will disagree with me on some things, because I think more can come of it that way. This is a method that I learned from R. David by approaching aggadah 1-2 times weekly while at Elat Chayyim. He learned this method at a progressive Orthodox yeshiva.

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