No photos of Korean children learning Talmud. Thus, for no rational reason other than the exotic vibe—love the colorful coats—I’m posting this picture of Jewish children in Samarkin studying Torah, 1910.
Close to 50 million people live in South Korea, and everyone learns Gemara (Talmud) in school. “We tried to understand why the Jews are geniuses, and we came to the conclusion that it is because they study Talmud,” said the Korean ambassador to Israel. And this is how “Rav Papa” became a more well known scholar in Korea than in Israel.
It is doubtful if the Amoraic scholars, Abbaye and Rava imagined their discussions of Jewish law in the Beit Midrash in Babylon would be taught hundreds of years later in East Asia. Yet it turns out that the laws of an “egg born on a holiday” (“ביצה שנולדה ביום טוב”) is actually very interesting to the South Koreans who have required that Talmud study be part of their compulsory school curriculum.
Almost every home in South Korea now contains a Korean-translated Talmud. But unlike in Israel, the Korean mothers teach the Talmud to their children. In a country of close to 49 million people who believe in Buddhism and Christianity, there are more people who read the Talmud – or at least own their own copy at home – more than in the Jewish state. Much more.
“So we too will become geniuses.”
Full story here.
A few quick reaction shots:
1. This has got to be a joke.
2. Okay, it’s not a joke.
3. What a great premise for a screwball comedy. American rabbi, think Paul Rudd, is hired to teach Talmud in Korea. You know the drill: fish out of water, kosher kid confronts deeply weird food, incomprehensible language and customs, cute Korean babe—Lee Young Ae would be brillaint—is all hot and bothered about, yup, Talmud, forbidden but zany romance with aforementioned rabbi, conflict, heartbreak, lessons learned… supply your own resolution.
4. The South Koreans are more enthusiastic and knowledgeable about Gemara, Talmud, than American or Israeli Jews, which is both whacky and tragic.
5. And finally, I must confess that as a young student in Yeshiva, during Gemara shiur—Talmud class—I was dreaming of movies and movie stars—Jean Harlow, Fay Wray, Irene Dunne, Dolores Hart, etc.—instead of Rabbi Akiba. Which is why this screenwriter/blogger/whatever is not a genius.
Update on the Korean Talmud story via Raising Wings. As usual, initial reports are, um, not quite accurate.
Meanwhile, an IDF Medical Delegation prepares to leave for Japan:
An IDF Home Front Command and IDF Medical Corps delegation departed for the Miyagi district in Japan on Saturday, March 26th 2011, carrying 60 tons of equipment.
The delegation consists of around fifty soldiers and officers including logistics teams, experts in the field of population management, Japanese translators, experts from the Committee of Atomic Energy, fourteen doctors specializing in different fields, seven nurses and nine paramedics. The teams will assist Japan’s rehabilitation efforts by providing various medical services and establishing a medical center manned by the IDF Home Front Command and IDF Medical Corps specialists
Number of Arab Muslim or Persian Muslim delegations helping the Japanese people?