“If All the Seas Were Ink” by Ilana Kurshan (St. Martin’s) recounts the 7 ½-year period in which she participated in daf yomi, learning a page a day of Talmud. The details of her life unfold, not in a linear way, but through her engagement with all the tractates of the Talmud, the vast compendium of Jewish religious and commercial law and legends. Kurshan, who grew up on Long Island and now lives in Jerusalem, writes beautifully about the complexities of love, loss, shame, growth and the things that matter. Her voice is refreshingly modest, gently confident and profound.Earlier PaleoJudaica posts on the book are here and here.
Other works with fresh literary takes on the Talmud include “Six Memos from the Last Millennium: A Novelist Reads the Talmud” by Joseph Skibell and Jonathan Rosen’s “The Talmud and the Internet,” both memorable and original works. Kurshan’s is the most personal; her entry into the world of daf yomi was sparked by grief over her divorce after less than a year of marriage. While running the hills of Jerusalem, she learns that her running partner, who is not particularly observant, has just begun day yomi.
Visit PaleoJudaica daily for the latest news on ancient Judaism and the biblical world.