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Lo Bashamayim Hi: The Oven of Achnai (Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 59)

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Published on Nov 8, 2012

"The Law is Not in Heaven." Seems simple, right? God 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.

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BimBam (formerly G-dcast) is a new media studio making Jewish videos, apps and animated series that are joyful, empowering introductions to Jewish ideas and life for kids & adults. Watch something Jewish at https://www.bimbam.com.

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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 God's on. We 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.

- Eliana Light and Stu Sufrin

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