Torah & Texts

Lo Bashamayim Hi

By Stu Sufrin and Eliana Light

The Talmud's story of the Oven of Achnai

“The Law is Not in Heaven.” Seems simple, right? G-d gave us the Torah and now we can do whatever we want with it.

If you only read the first half of the story of Achnai’s oven, that’s exactly what you might think, but it’s a little more complicated than that. Given the events that unfold after the initial debate is over, “Lo Bashamayim Hi” becomes more of a question than a statement—it’s even unclear what side G-d’s on. The artists of this tale decided to capture this uncertainty by telling the entire story with all its difficulties, and not giving away any easy answers. The length and wordiness of the text lent itself to a ballad, weaving narration and dialogue through one voice with a medieval- traveling minstrel feel. The characters engage with the story through a full range of emotions, expressing the passion and exasperation that arise because of this debate. The music itself dips and swells, becoming the argument, the mourning rabbis, and the turbulent sea. There is so much action and so many questions in this story that it is a microcosm of the Talmud itself; loud, messy, without a clear end or beginning, and raising more questions than answers. We hope our film does the same.


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This film was made possible in part by funds granted by the Covenant Foundation. The statements made and the views expressed, however, are solely the responsibility of the filmmakers.

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Bava Metzia 59a-b Source Sheet

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Talmud Character Map

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Lo Bashamayim Hi Lyrics

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Lo BaShamayim Hi MP3

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Studio G-dcast: Talmud Curriculum

The development of this program was made possible in part by funds granted by the Covenant Foundation. The statements made and the views expressed in the individual projects, however, are solely the responsibility of the artists.

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