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.
Several months ago, in article
, firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
To The Authority Of The Talmud (Part Two)
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