For a creative writing assignment for my Talmud class last semester, I was asked to write a mishnah and accompanying sugya. A mishnah refers to the smallest unit of the Mishnah, redacted in 200 CE, a part of the Talmud, and therefore in this case to a few, generally unattributed, rabbinic statements on a particular topic.
The other part of the Talmud is the gemara, the debates of the generations of rabbis subsequent to the Mishnah; the Talmud was redacted between 350 and 500 CE (depending on the edition). A sugya is a building block of gemara, a proof-based elucidation of an aspect of the mishnah.
As readers of this blog well know, I am a huge Joss Whedon fan. So for this assignment I chose Buffy the Vampire Slayer as my source text. I wrote a mishnah about the power of words in hevruta (the paired learning that takes place in the beit midrash), and then I used episodes of Buffy to write the gemara to explain that mishnah.
After I mentioned the project on Facebook, several people asked to read the finished product. So here it is. (It’s a PDF because of the formatting, which mimics a page of Talmud.)
I will note that the document will likely be nearly incomprehensible unless you know a great deal about both Buffy and Talmud. (And since I know more about Buffy than I do about Talmud, I’ll admit that Talmud studiers might find that aspect incomprehensible as well.)
For those only mildly curious, here’s the mishnah — with Hebrew “signal words” in parentheses — which contains a quote from Buffy. Who can name the episode and speaker (without Google)?