HARRY KATZ ON THE “TALMUD”


The following dissertation (in seven parts) which is reproduced here verbatim was downloaded by the current writer in August 1995. Harry Katz is an anti-Zionist Jew, and one of the more rational contributors to alt.revisionism.

THE AUTHORITY OF THE TALMUD
-- Part One

 



Several months ago, in article ,

hoffman2nd@delphi.com promised to "expose the Talmud."  While nothing

could be more desirable than exposing the Talmud to a wider audience,

all Mr. Hoffman succeeds in exposing is his own confusion.

 

He begins:



	The Talmud is Judaisms holiest book.



This is not quite true.



Adin Steinsaltz is the world's acknowledged foremost authority on the

Talmud.  In "The Essential Talmud," (NY, Basic Books, Inc., 1976;

translated from the Hebrew by Chaya Galai) he writes:



	If the Bible is the cornerstone of Judaism, then the Talmud

	is the central pillar, soaring up from the foundations and

	supporting the entire spiritual and intellectual edifice.  In

	many ways the Talmud is the most important book in Jewish

	culture, the backbone of creativity and of national life.  No

	other work has had a comparable influence on the theory and

	practice of Jewish life, shaping spiritual content and serving

	as a guide to conduct.  The Jewish people have always been

	keenly aware that their continued survival and development

	depend on study of the Talmud, and those hostile to Judaism

	have also been cognizant of this fact.  The book was reviled,

	slandered, and consigned to the flames countless times in the

	Middle Ages and has been subjected to similar indignities in

	the recent past as well.  At times, talmudic study has been

	prohibited because it was abundantly clear that a Jewish

	society that ceased to study this work had no real hope of

	survival.



		-- p. 3





	The Talmud is the repository of thousands of years of Jewish

	wisdom...  It is a conglomerate of law, legend, and philosophy,

	a blend of unique logic and shrewd pragmatism, of history and

	science, anecdotes and humor.  It is a collection of

	paradoxes: its framework is orderly and logical, every word and

	term subjected to meticulous editing, completed centuries after

	the work of actual composition came to an end; yet it is still

	based on free association, on a harnessing together of diverse

	ideas reminiscent of the modern stream-of-consciousness novel.

	Although its main objective is to interpret and comment on a

	book of law, it is, simultaneously, a work of art that goes

	beyond legislation and its practical application....



		-- p. 4





The "book of law" referred to above is the Old Testament, especially

the first five books of Moses, which brings us to Mr. Hoffman's next

assertion about the Talmud:



	Its authority takes precedence over the Old Testament

	in Judaism.





This is a blatent error, as illustrated by Steinsaltz's next sentence:



	...And although the Talmud is, to this day, the primary source

	of Jewish law, it cannot be cited as an authority for purposes

	of ruling.



		-- p. 4





Mr. Hoffman claims:



	As a reader of Talmud (in the rabbinically authorized Soncino

	version) I know this to be true.



Mr. Hoffman must be a casual "reader of Talmud," not a student, as he

seems to have missed a significant volume of the Soncino edition of the

Talmud: the volume entitled _Index!_  In it he would have discovered a

section marked "Scriptural References" with 148 pages of footnotes, in

the small typeface reserved for footnotes, two columns per page, and

all of them references to the Old Testament.  Clearly, the authority of

the Talmud does not take precedence over the authority of the Old

Testament; rather the authority of the Talmud is derived from

the authority of the Old Testament!



--

Harry Katz



Do not blame thy friend for shortcomings which thou hast thyself.
        -- The Wit and Wisdom of the Talmud, Madison C. Peters, ed.

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