One of the newest and biggest centers of Talmud study is neither in Hasidic Brooklyn nor in Israel–it’s the nation of South Korea.
The Talmud, the ancient collection of Jewish wisdom, stories, and laws, occupies nearly 3,000 pages in the original Aramaic. But today, a single-volume edition of the Talmud, translated into Korean, is available in virtually every bookstore in the country. Parts of the Talmud are even required reading at schools, according to Young Sam Mah, South Korea’s ambassador to Israel.
The reason for this? “Jews have a high percentage of Nobel laureates,” says Young Sam Mah, who recently appeared on the Israeli television program Culture Today. “We tried to understand, what is the secret of the Jewish people? The conclusion we arrived at is that you study the Talmud.”
The ambassador cited many cultural parallels between Jews and South Koreans–the emphasis on family time on weekends, respect for the elderly, and the emphasis placed on education and study. As a result, says the Israeli news site YNet, “Rav Papa became a more well-known scholar in South Korea than in Israel.”
April 8, 2011