Press Release: "It has become a common refrain among the anti-Semites that the Talmud is the 'smoking gun' that confirms their belief about Jews being stingy, malevolent and intent on world domination," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "They create this myth about Jewish practices and tradition, which helps to further justify and promote their anti-Semitism." (ADL Press Release, ADL Says Extremists Use the Talmud to Promote Anti-Semitism)
Abstract from The Talmud in Anti-Semitic Polemics: "Recently there has been a renewal of attacks on Judaism and Jews through recycling of old accusations and distortions about the Talmud. Anti-Talmud tracts were originally developed in the Middle Ages as Christian polemics against Judaism, but today they emanate from a variety of Christian, Moslem and secular sources. Sometimes 'studies' have blatantly anti-Semitic tones; sometimes they are more subtle. Yet all of them remain as false and pernicious today as they did in the Middle Ages. Because of their unfortunate frequent reappearance, there is a need to formally rebut these accusations and canards. The Anti-Defamation League developed the following essay that explains in an honest and scholarly way the Talmudic teachings as understood by Jewish religious authorities."
Abstract: "Halakhah is rabbinic law and legal rulings. Their present making is a bear-garden. Hundreds of rabbis issue rulings — each on his own judgement, each to his own flock --- which state laws to flout, what commands soldiers are to disobey. This bear-garden made it possible for a religiously-observant student to righteously murder the Prime Minister of Israel."
Abstract: This solemn ceremony in Judaic religious practice has been an issue of controversy between the Jews and Christian nations for more than a thousand years. Text and explanation by The Jewish Encyclopedia, and commentary by Elizabeth Dilling. To hear the melody of the Kol Nidre, see the movie The Jazz Singer (1927), starring Al Jolson.
Source: Aish HaTorah http://www.aish.com/holidays/Shavuot/The_613_Commandments.asp
This is linked from the Orthodox Union page, "Jewish Philosophy and Belief" http://www.ou.org/torah/belief.html
Abstract: "The following is a brief listing of the 613 commandments, as recorded and classified by Maimonides in the 12th century. This listing is taken from his classic compendium of Jewish law, the Mishneh Torah, which contains 14 primary 'books' or sections. This list should not be used as a source for any practical Halachic ruling. There are differences of opinion over the applicability today of some commandments in this list. Similarly, distinctions must often be made between rabbinically-decreed commandments and those that still have binding force as Torah-law today. In all cases of doubt, a competent rabbinical authority should be consulted. This list is reprinted from the book, Bible Basics, a user-friendly, illustrated reference guide to the Five Books of Moses. (Published by International Traditions Corporation, Jerome S. Hahn, General Editor.)"
Abstract: "The Oral Torah is not an interpretation of the Written Torah. In fact, the Oral Torah preceded the Written Torah. When the Jewish people stood at Mount Sinai 3,300 years ago, God communicated the 613 commandments, along with a detailed, practical explanation of how to fulfill them. At that point in time, the teachings were entirely oral."
Aish HaTorah is a Jewish outreach and educational organization. According to the Aish HaTorah page, Who is Aish HaTorah? "Aish HaTorah has become one of the world's largest organizations dedicated to answering the vital question, 'Why be Jewish?' … Aish HaTorah operates 26 full-time branches and offers programs in 80 cities, representing 17 countries on 5 continents."
According to Israel National Radio, "Rav David Bar Chayim [is] one of Israel's Leading Torah Scholars [and] the head of the Makhon Ben Yishai Institute for Torah Research." A few years ago, Rabbi Bar-Chayim was a scholar at the Jewish religious school, Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav Kook, in Israel. While at the school, he published his study entitled The Jews Are Called Man. Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav Kook was founded in 1924 by Rabbi Abraham Yitchak Kook (1865-1935), and today is one of the largest Talmud colleges in Israel.
Talmud translator Dr. H. Freedman describes the Sephir Yezirah in a footnote as follows: "The Book of Creation, Heb. Sefer Yeziroh, is the title of two esoteric books. The older, referred to here, was a thaumaturgical work popular in the Talmudic period. It was also known as Hilkoth Yezirah (Laws of Creation), and is so called in the same story quoted on [Sanhedrin] 67b. Rashi there states that the creation was performed by means of mystic combinations of the Divine Name, which does not come under the ban of witchcraft. Its basic idea is that the Creation was accomplished by means of the power inherent in those letters (Cf. Rab's saying: 'Bezalel knew how to combine the letters by which heaven and earth were created'. Ber. 55a. Cf. also Enoch LXI, 3 et seq.; Prayer of Manasseh: Ecc. R. III, 11 on the magic power of the letters of the Divine Name), and that this same power could be utilised in further creation. The work was ascribed to Abraham, which fact indicates an old tradition, and the possible antiquity of the book itself. It has affinities with Babylonian, Egyptian, and Hellenic mysticism and its origin has been placed in the second century B.C.E., when such a combination of influences might be expected. It is noteworthy that Raba's statement above, though not mentioning the Sefer Yezirah, insists on freedom from sin as a prerequisite of creation by man, v. J.E., XII, 602." (Tractate Sanhedrin 65b page 446, footnote 8.)
In Judaism, the Zohar is a work of great importance. It is attributed to Rabbi Simeon b. Yohai (sometimes called R. Simeon in the Talmud). The Zohar is the classical repository of the mystical traditions called the Kabbalah (sometimes "Cabala."). Rab Judah, the prominent Talmud Sage, declared that LORD God created the Universe with the techniques of Kabbalah (Berakoth 55a).
"Simeon b. Yohai, who is the reputed author of the Zohar, spent thirteen years in a cave with his son, hiding from the Romans, and suffering great privation." (Tractate Sukkah, page 209, footnote 12, by Talmud translator Reverend Dr. Israel W. Slotki)
"One of the foremost disciples of R. Akiba. Whilst his father appears to have been persona grata with the Roman authorities, R. Simeon himself was their bitter enemy, on account of the selfish mercenary and immoral motives that prompted even their apparently good actions. Eventually he had to flee them and, together with his son R. Eleazar, hide in a cave for thirteen years. (Shab. 33b.) During that time his knowledge of both legal and mystical lore increased phenomenally. In the Mishnah the name R. Simeon (without further description) denotes R. Simeon b. Yohai." (Tractate Aboth, page 87, footnote 8, by Talmud translator J. Israelstam)
The entry "Gentile" in The Jewish Encyclopedia (1901-1906) tells us that "Simon ben Yohai is preeminently the anti-Gentile teacher. In a collection of three sayings of his, beginning with the keyword [H] (Yer. Kid. 66c; Massek. Soferim xv. 10; Mek., Beshal-lah, 27a; Tan., Wayera, ed. Buber, 20), is found the expression, often quoted by anti-Semites, 'Tob shebe-goyyim harog' (='The best among the Gentiles deserves to be killed'). This utterance has been felt by Jews to be due to an exaggerated antipathy on the part of a fanatic whose life experiences may furnish an explanation for his animosity; hence in the various versions the reading has been altered, 'The best among the Egyptians' being generally substituted. In the connection in which it stands, the import of this observation is similar to that of the two others: 'The most pious woman is addicted to sorcery'; 'The best of snakes ought to have its head crushed' (comp. the saying, 'Scratch a Russian and you will find a Tartar')." (emphasis added) The cite given for "Tob shebe goyyim harog" is: Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud) Kiddushim 66c. (See Gentile, below.)
Source: Extracts from New Kabbalah http://www.newkabbalah.com/
Abstract: "'Kabbalah' means 'given by the tradition,' and the term refers to the mystical and esoteric traditions of the Jewish people … the theosophical Kabbalah, embodied in the Zohar and the followers of Isaac Luria, seeks to understand and describe the divine realm …"
The Judaic mystic, Rabbi Isaac Luria, lived between 1534 and 1572. Dr. Drob, our authority on Lurianic Kabbalism, is Senior Forensic Psychologist at Bellevue Hospital in New York, and grandson of Rabbi Max Drob, who was a disciple of Solomon Schechter and one of the early leaders of the Conservative movement. We are fortunate that Dr. Drob has taken the time to bring his specialized knowledge to the common man.
Rabbi Dr. Finkelstein wrote The Pharisees (1938) while he was Teacher of the Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTSA), a center for Conservative Judaism. "His The Pharisees is a study of the sociological background of the faith and achievement of this greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted party in Jewish history and religion," says The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia (Vol. 4, page 307).
Rabbi Dr. Finkelstein, the son of a rabbi, was educated at the College of the City of New York and Columbia University. He received is ordination as rabbi from JTSA 1919. He was appointed as professor of theology at JTSA in 1931 and was elected provost in 1937. In 1940 he was elected the fourth president of JTSA and held that post until his retirement in 1972.
Rabbi Rodkinson (1843-1904) first published his ten volume English language New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud between 1896 and 1903 under the editorship of the Rabbi Dr. Isaac M. Wise, the renowned pioneer of Reform Judaism. A second edition was published in 1918 by the New Talmud Publishing Company. Rabbi Rodkinson's The History of the Talmud, which appears as Volume X of the 1918 edition, is currently on line at Sacred Texts (http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/talmud.htm). The History of the Talmud includes a thumbnail biography of each of the Talmud Sages and a history of attempts made to destroy or censor the Talmud over the centuries. Sadly, despite the efforts they made to bring the Talmud to the people, Rabbis Rodkinson and Wise abridged sections of the text. Rabbi Rodkinson explains his reasons for doing so in footnotes and in History, apparently without realizing that his New Edition was a part of the phenomenon he deplored.
The Jewish Religion: Its Influence Today: Table of Exhibits collected by Elizabeth Dilling
A direct link to a table of the exhibits Elizabeth Dilling included in her book. Many are of significant interest, especially those from The Jewish Encyclopedia.
This frank and authoritative discussion of the place of non-Jews under the Talmud is a useful reference for Jews and non-Jews alike. For example, the attention of a careful reader is immediately drawn to this phrase: "… but the shedding of the blood of non-Israelites, while not cognizable by human courts, will be punished by the heavenly tribunal (Mek., Mishpatim, 80b)." There is much to learn in this article.
The background and qualifications of the authors of this article are described by the Encyclopedia as follows:
Emil G. Hirsch, Ph.D., LL.D., Rabbi, Sinai Congregation; Professor of Rabbinical Literature and Philosophy, University of Chicago; Chicago, Ill.; also on the Editorial Board of the Encyclopedia
Judah David Eisenstein, Author, New York City
Executive Committee of the Editorial Board, presumed to be
Isidore Singer, Ph.D. Managing Editor. (Department of Modern Biography from 1750 to 1906.)
I. K. Funk, D.D., LL.D. (Chairman of the Board.) Editor-in-Chief of the Standard Dictionary of the English Language, etc.
Frank H. Vizetelly, F.S.A. (Secretary of the Board.) Associate Editor of the Standard Dictionary; Author of "The Preparation of Manuscripts for the Printer," etc.
Source: The Thomas Project, (Library of Congress), various URLs as specified
The US Congress honored Rabbi Schneerson with a series of resolutions coinciding with his lunar calendar birthday. The first such resolution found by Come and Hear™ was January 21, 1975, and we have included those through April 12, 1993.
The Talmud's Noahide Laws create interest in Noah's Flood, and by extension, in the Gilgamesh Flood of ancient Sumeria. The Gilgamesh tale dates back to the Third Millennium, B.C. Scholars generally agree that the Gilgamesh story predates the Noah's Flood story.
There are remarkable parallels between the two stories: An Ark was built and loaded with animals, rain fell creating a great flood, birds were released to find land, and the ark came to rest on a mountain. In the Gilgamesh Flood, rain fell for six days, and on the seventh day there was rest — reminiscent of the six days of Creation in Genesis, and the seventh day of rest.
"A popular theory, proposed by liberal 'scholars,' is that the Hebrews 'borrowed' from the Babylonians, but no conclusive proof has ever been offered," writes the Institute for Creation Research. Indeed, from our vantage point thousands of years later, what could constitute conclusive proof that the Hebrews had borrowed Babylonian myths and altered them to suit?
Comparison between the two stories, graciously prepared by The Institution for Creation Research, can be found at http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-285.htm. As the ICR states, "A study of these parallels to Genesis 6-9, as well as the many others, demonstrate the non-coincidental nature of these similarities."
According to Bible scholars, Moses climbed Mt. Sinai to receive Mosaic law approximately 1275 B.C. Five hundred years earlier, however, the Babylonian king Hammurabi had already erected a stone obelisk in his kingdom on which were written an entire body of laws. There are remarkable parallels between the Code of Hammurabi and Mosaic Law. For example, Hammurabi wrote "an eye for an eye, bone for bone, a tooth for a tooth" (#197, #198, and #200) and Moses wrote "thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe" (Exodus 21:23-25). There are many other parallels as well.
The stone with Hammurabi's code now rests in the Louvre.
A new look at the Old Testament and LORD God's justice. This collection of Biblical passages raises at least two questions: Was Man created in God's image, or was God created in Man's? In what way can it be said that Christianity is an offshoot of Judaism?
Abstract: "Through the [Israelite] prophet Samuel, [King] Saul was given a divine command to utterly destroy [the Amaleks] — man, woman, child, cattle, and goods … According to modern ethical standards, this act of total extermination was a barbarous thing (though it was scarcely less refined than modern warfare!) But instead of making a value judgment from our standpoint, let us try to understand the act within the religious perspective of ancient Israel."
In this essay, Pelley summarizes his view of the role of Jews in history. One point in particular that draws our interest is his assertion that Jesus was not a Jew, and was not an adherent of Judaism. It is Pelley's opinion that the Old Testament and the New Testament were artificially sewn together by scrounging prophesies from the Old Testament to show that Jesus fulfilled them, and by inserting quotes in the mouth of Jesus to show He was faithful to Judaism.
Traditional Christianity links Jesus of Nazareth with the Old Testament through verses such as Mark 5:17-18: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." But a more careful reading combined with an intimate knowledge of Judaism suggests that Jesus was not an adherent of the Judaism of his day. He evaded Mosaic law, flouted Pharisaic law, and attacked the Temple rites head-on.
Thomas Jefferson was another who considered the Old Testament of the Bible was incompatible with the New. Of the Jewish tradition and religion, Jefferson wrote: "Their system was Deism; that is, the belief in one only God. But their ideas of him and of his attributes were degrading and injurious … Their Ethics were not only imperfect, but often irreconcilable with the sound dictates of reason and morality, as they respect intercourse with those around us; and repulsive and anti-social, as respecting other nations. They needed reformation, therefore, in an eminent degree." (Letter To Dr. Benjamin Rush, Washington, April 21, 1803, "Syllabus of an Estimate of the Merit of the Doctrines of Jesus, Compared with Those of Others." http://www.angelfire.com/co/JeffersonBible/jeffbsyl.html, cached.)