Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Anti-Semitic use of the Talmud

THIS WEEK'S DAF YOMI COLUMN BY ADAM KIRSCH IN TABLET: The Anti-Semite Can Cite Talmud for His Purpose. Taken out of context, ancient Rabbinic laws—such as those on capital punishment discussed in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ study—can attract the attention of those who hate us.

Two comments on the discussion of the death penalty in b. Sanhedrin. First, as I have said repeatedly before, the ancients lived in a world whose casual cruelty and brutality is hard for us to imagine. Second, the Talmud's horrific discussions of the merits of various forms of execution are all theoretical and often purely exegetical. I don't doubt that such executions were common in the larger world, but Jewish courts did not have the authority to impose the death penalty in this period.

The use of the Talmud by anti-Semites has come up from time to time at PaleoJudaica. Often such works also make liberal use of fake Talmudic quotes from non-existent tractates. Some discussion is here and links.

Earlier Daf Yomi columns are noted here and links.

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