The Economist on “The Art Scroll Talmud”


The Economist has a short article on a new edition of the Talmud. I haven’t spent much time with this so I am not sure how it is revolutionizing Talmud study…

For Orthodox Jews, lifelong study of the Talmud is the supreme religious precept. But for many earnest students through the ages, it has been a frustrating grind. Written in Aramaic (often described as the language of Jesus), it does not easily surrender its textual meaning or inner reasoning. In the 11th century, a French rabbi named Shlomo Yitzhaki, often known by the acronym Rashi, wrote a ground-breaking commentary to make the original text more accessible. But even he is often terse and replete with abbreviations and unelaborated allusions, as are the thousands of commentaries and books of scholarly correspondence that accrued over the ages.

Talmud students inevitably wasted time barking up wrong trees or beating paths that had been beaten before. Not any more. The traditional study is radically changing and broadening, thanks to a 20-year-old American-based project nearing completion. “The Art Scroll Talmud” has published all 72 volumes of its English-language Talmud and nearly 60 volumes of a Modern Hebrew version. A French edition is progressing more slowly, and there are plans for a Russian one.

 

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