The world is a wonderful, if very wacky, place to be.

Posts tagged ‘Korean Talmud’


I would like to thank Tamar Yonah for the opportunity to be on her show. You can download or listen here:

My interview about the Korean Talmud is at 1:05:42.

Anyone else find it interesting how fascinated we are by people who are fascinated by us? Considering our history, it’s certainly an unusual experience.

Oh, and just in case you really can’t believe that Korean parents are looking to our people for a model of education, a friend of ours in South Korea sent us this link to his kids’ preschool, The International Art School in Seoul. This is a Korean school, and the link takes you to the English translation of the site. Click on the word “what” and you will find the following copy:

Perhaps the most multicultural group on the earth are the Jews. Centuries in exile from their homeland of Israel required them to adapt to the cultures and learn the languages of their resident countries while remaining true to the culture of their ancestors. This is one reason why the Jews have found success far beyond their numbers in fields as diverse as art, science, and information technology. At the INTERNATIONAL ART SCHOOL we attempt to mimic these conditions by immersing children in a multicultural, multilingual learning environment as part of a structured regimen of instruction.

When the kids become too successful in school, do the teachers steal their property, expel them, and then force them to wander the streets until another school takes them in?

I know, I know, they’re just being buzzword compliant. But that’s the amazing thing: Jewish success as a positive is now a buzzword outside of our community, too. Personally, I think that the Koreans are pretty darned smart themselves, and have made awesome strides in the past 60 years. In that short time they have built the 15th largest economy in terms of GDP in the world; I’m not sure they really need our help. it’s a huge compliment that they are looking to us for fresh ideas to take them into the future. A greater flow of ideas between South Korea and Israel can only strengthen us both.


Radio Interview!

I’m going to be interviewed by Tamar Yonah for her Arutz Sheva show today about the Korean Talmud story, 4:30 PM Israel time. It’s only an hour and a half’s notice for you guys, but I thought you’d like to know.

You can listen here:

Isn’t that cool? It’s thanks to you!

Oh, and it turns out that my friend’s copy of the Korean Talmud for adults is a book on tape. More information as I get it…

Tal-Mu-Deh… the Grown Up Version?

One of our friends in Korea has the Korean Talmud for Grown Ups. When he sends me more information, I will post.

In other news, we are getting ready for Pesach.

Do you think Sagitta grabbed the scissors in order to trim her bangs? I just can’t bring myself to cut her hair, even if she chronically pulls out every ponytail holder, clip and barrette I put in. On the one hand, it makes her look like a terrier and obscures her vision. On the other hand… I’m just not ready to cut it. Maybe there’s a clip I haven’t tried yet. And if I wait, eventually her hair will just catch behind her ears.

Comment if you have a suggestion, I’m willing to try anything. Except the obvious.

Tal-Mu-Duh, the real story.

So in all this hubbub, Cloud Man went downstairs to the giant bookstore in the Coex mall and got a Korean edition of the Talmud, just so that I can share it will all of you.

It's a lousy shot, but the best his cell phone can do in those light conditions.

That’s it. That book is the entire Talmud in Korean.

A close-up is warranted here:

You just can't make this stuff up. Not even if you're Ynet.


For the sake of comparison, here’s our personal copy of the Babylonian Talmud:

This edition is set in an 8 point font, and it still takes up most of a shelf.

Just to drive the point home, here’s what the inside of our Talmud looks like:

Vilna edition, natch.

And here’s a scan of what the inside of the Korean Talmud looks like:

That chapter is titled, "Solomon's Judgment".


Clearly, the Koreans did not not somehow translate Shteinzalz or the Artscroll, like the Ynet article would lead us to believe. Don’t expect to be arguing over the ox that gores or the halachic dimensions of a sukkah with our friends in the East anytime soon.

So here’s the scoop on what’s really happening: once upon a time, Rabbi Marvin Tokayer wrote a compilation of stories from the Tanach and the Talmud for the Japanese audience. Now this is fascinating in and of itself, because what the Japanese want with Agaddic tales is a probably a great story. But then this Japanese compilation was translated into Korean, where it’s really taken off. In the bookstore, Cloud Man saw about twenty different editions of this work; there was a variety of different publishers with different illustrations. Some are aimed at younger children, some are aimed at teens. There’s even a five volume set.

Cloud Man was able to ask an English-speaking young Korean woman what the book in his hand was.

“The Talmudeh. It’s famous”, she said.

Cloud Man asked her, what is in this book?

“It’s children’s stories”.

He asked her, who reads this book?

“Parents buy it for their children, so that they can have the knowledge of the Yutayne”, she answered.

He asked her to translate the words on the cover. She told him it said, “Talmudeh, the Wisdom of the Yutayne”.

“Who are the Yutayne?”, Cloud Man asked.

She did not know. She had to google, and it was clearly not a translation issue. The Wisdom of the Yutayne may as well have been the Wisdom of the Undersea Dwellers of Atlantis. Yutayne is the Korean for Yehudim. You know, Jews.

So there we have it. The Talmud, in the Korean mind, is a series of stories much like Aesop’s Fables. The notion of it being a giant body of Oral Tradition and Law spanning multiple generations is completely absent. Yet the belief that the study of this work makes the Yutayne smart has remained, which somehow led to the belief that the study of stories about noble behavior is going to lead to a Nobel prize. It’s a misconception on top of a half truth sandwich with a side of fallacy, but as I tell my kids, being smart is all nice and good, but it’s not enough. First you have to be a mentsch. If that’s what the Korean people want their children learning, who am I to argue?

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: