Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Talmud: Why has a Jewish law book become so popular?

BBC   When someone asked Einstein, shortly before his death, what he would do differently if he could live his life again, he replied without hesitation: "I would study the Talmud."

It contains the foundations of Halakha - the religious laws that dictate all aspects of life for observant Jews from when they wake in the morning to when they go to sleep at night. Every imaginable topic is covered, from architecture to trapping mice. To a greater extent than the other main Jewish holy book, the Torah, the Talmud is a practical book about how to live. [...]

When the commuters of Long Island struggle over a difficult passage of Talmud, they know that tens of thousands of Jews all over the world are on the same page. And when he travels abroad, Eliezer Cohen can usually find a local group to continue his studies. On one trip to Jerusalem, he even encountered a man who, like him, taught the daily reading on his way to work (although on a bus, rather than a train). [...]


  1. i really doubt that einstein said that. sounds like an aish seminar fabrication.

    1. There are references to Einstein saying that in books and on non-Jewish websites. And the BBC has no reason to make that up.

    2. I could not find the source of the quote with google. are you able to be more detailed

    3. http://cojs.org/cojswiki/Professor_Albert_Einstein_Praises_Effort_to_Make_Talmud_Accessible,_Dec._31,_1930.

      Professor Albert Einstein Praises Effort to Make Talmud Accessible, Dec. 31, 1930.

      “The scientific organization and comprehensive exposition in accessible form of the Talmud has a twofold importance for us Jews. It is important in the first place that the high cultural values of the Talmud should not be lost to modern minds among the Jewish people nor to science, but should operate further as a living force. In the second place, the Talmud must be made an open book to the world, in order to cut the ground from under certain malevolent attacks, of anti-Semitic origin, which borrow countenance from the obscurity and inaccessibility of certain passages in the Talmud.

      To support this cultural work would thus mean an important achievement for the Jewish people.”

      Quoted from a letter by Albert Einstein to Professor Chaim Tchernowitz of the Jewish Institute of Religion in New York.

      December 31, 1930. Jewish Telegraphic Agency (Jewish Daily Bulletin)

      Also see:


      What the Talmud has to say has challenged and delighted scholars throughout the centuries, and it continues to do so today. No less a personality than Albert Einstein, when asked near his death in 1955 what he would do differently if he were to start his life all over again, responded without hesitation, "I would study the Talmud."



  2. "There are references to Einstein saying that in books and on non-Jewish websites. And the BBC has no reason to make that up."

    The BBC likely relied on a similar third-hand source as you did. For now, this must remain an apocryphal quote.

  3. selach lee--looks like pretty strong ryas.


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