Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Shopping

For those of you who find interest in the Daf Yomi thread at this blog, but have no way of learning more on their own, Penguin has recently published an English-language book about the subject: The Talmud: A Selection (Penguin Classics). According to Lawrence Grossman, reviewing it in The Forward, it's actually a good introduction. Sounds like a fine Christmas present, don't you think?

Someday I ought to write a rumination about the phenomenon of how ever more traditional Jewish books are being translated into English, in what has become a phenomenon unprecedented since the heyday of Aramaic, 18 centuries ago. But I'm too busy right now, sorry.


AKUS said...

Perhaps you should send a copy to each of the people named in this hate-fest organized by the BDS crowd to celebrate Xmas in the UK:

Celebrating Xmas in the UK certainly seems different from the way its done in America.

Bryan said...

I have that book. As a goy, I find it absolutely fascinating. Of course, since it's a selection, it's difficult to cull an idea of what "the Talmud" has to say about any given subject, because you don't know whether you're missing an important passage somewhere.

Yaacov said...

I assure you, Bryan, that you're missing an important passage. Not because of being a goy or not: simply, it is so gigantic no-one sees it all. Just recently our congregation's rabbi told how in a discussion with one of the greatest scholars of our age - and I mean, top-notch great - it transpired that the source he was citing was one the sage had never seen.

As for what "the Talmud has to say" - well, not really possible in any case. A nation of compulsive talkers, talking for centuries: what's the chance there will be consensus except in the broadest terms?

Bryan said...

Well, I don't look to the Talmud for consensus, but rather for the justification of various arguments.

I will say, however, that I imagine reading this book is very different from reading a page of real Talmud. The text is not centered on the page with commentaries surrounding it, but merely offers the text and then all of the commentaries following it, with no good distinction between the commentaries. Very confusing.