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Monday, March 28, 2011

More on Korean Talmud studies - not quite as it was reported

As a follow-up to this post, I just spent a bit of time puzzling out Korean auto-translations from Google, and I have discovered that in no way are Koreans "studying" the Talmud.

When they say they are studying it, they mean that they have taken a small number of proverbs and Rabbinic stories that have been translated and they are reading and discussing just those stories. .

The Korean Talmud webpages I have seen treat the Talmud the same way one treats Aesop's Fables, as a shorthand way to gain insights into morality and how to live as well as plain entertainment. The bulk of the Talmud - as a basis for an all-encompassing legal system - is not mentioned.

I cannot find any indication of any real Talmud study. I can't find any translations of Talmud into Korean, nor any indication of scholarly study of the Aramaic/Hebrew original by Korean students. And in no way are the Koreans taking advantage of the parts of the Talmud that have sharpened the minds of Jews for centuries - the intricate pilpul, the careful reading of texts for legal ramifications, the hours it takes to reconcile two seemingly opposing source-texts.

As far as I can tell, the Koreans think that the brief snippets of translation they have access to is the Talmud. They do not seem to understand what the Talmud really is, hence the confusion about so many Korean people think they own copies of the Talmud.

So while it is still a fascinating topic, YNet seems to have overblown it a bit.