An Introduction to the Talmud
by Dr. Harris Brody
Jewish people have a unique and particular way of thinking. They are the most successful and productive in the business world as doctors, lawyers, and executives. In Judaism, knowledge is not the property of a "select few" but of equal value among all Jews. Even in the dark ages Jews were centuries ahead in various arts because of Talmud study. The heart and soul of the Jewish people is in the Talmud (Jewish oral laws). It may be in various degrees among the different branches of Judaism, but it is there. Today most Jews have never seen a Talmud, but its contents are taught with the use of the prayer book, keeping religious traditions and holidays, and from the rabbis' sermons. What they hear and learn from their rabbis and tradition they accept without question. A practicing Jew, whether he realizes it or not, learns Talmud in the Synagogue . Violating a Jewish law will quickly bring "Talmud scholars" to the scene correcting that one.
The ancient sages teach that every Jew is required to study Talmud Torah (all religious Jewish literature), "whether poor or rich, healthy or suffering, young or old. Even a beggar going from door to door for sustenance, or someone with a family to support, must establish time to study Torah during the day and night, for it is written, 'You shall recite it day and night'" (Mishnei Torah, Hichot Talmud Torah 1:8).
It was taught that every Jew is obligated to study the Talmud. "For how long is one obligated to study? Until the day of death, as it is said, 'So that they do not fade from your mind as long as you live. When a person doesn't study he forgets'" (Shulhan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 246:3).
It has also been taught, "Look into it, grow old and gray in it and don't run away from it, for there is no better measure than it" (Pirkei Avot 5:24). A common response most Gentile believers receive when witnessing to a Jew is, "You believe in your way and I will believe in mine. I don't believe in Yeshua (Jesus) because I'm Jewish." A Jew looks upon Christianity as paganism and Yeshua (Jesus) as a Gentile savior. In general, a Jew is not interested in hearing a "Gentile gospel" nor a "Gentile interpretation" of their Scriptures. They have their Peshat (contextual meaning) and their Derash (commentary).
To really understand a religious or semi-religious Jew and to reach him, you need to understand and respect his Talmud. The "Christian" church oppressed and attacked the Talmud all through the ages. In AD 553 Emperor Justinian prevented the teaching of the "second tradition." In AD 712 the Visigoths in Spain forbade "converts" to Christianity to read Hebrew books. In 1199 Pope Innocent III proclaimed that only the clergy could give the interpretation of Scriptures and that the Jews were a subversive element. This led to the burning of Jewish books by the "church." In southern France, in 1233, Maimonides Guide of the Perplexed was burned. He was a famous Rabbinic codifier, philosopher, and physician (1135-1204). In Paris, in 1236, Pope Gregory IX listed thirty-five charges against the Talmud. The allegations made were that it was against Christian theology and prevented Jewish conversions. He decreed that all Jewish books were to be confiscated and burned at the stake. Volumes of Talmud were snatched away even during synagogue services. Similar instructions were conveyed and carried out by the kings of France, England, Spain, and Portugal.
In Paris, June 25-27, 1240, the inquisitorial committee condemned the Talmud and two years later twenty-four wagonloads of Jewish books containing thousands of volumes were burned by the public executioner. This continued to be the practice of all "Christian" lands. In Rome, in 1553, the Council of Cardinals carried out the decree of seizing and burning all Jewish books to the full potential. Jewish homes were broken into and their books seized and burned. In Poland, in 1757, a thousand copies of the Talmud, which had been confiscated by the clergy and police, were burned.
In the name of Christ Talmuds were burned, and by the sword Jews were forced to convert or be killed. Synagogues were burned down as "Christians" marched around them singing how they loved Jesus.
The Jewish people will never forget the pogroms, the inquisitions, and the burning of their Talmuds. A good majority of Gentile believers today will approach the Jew and in a sense tell him that his theology is all wrong and his books are meaningless. This is certainly not the way to "win friends and influence people," especially Jewish people.
With the use of the Scriptures and Talmud I try to get a Jew to question and examine if his theological position is sound and true. Our Lord did the same. He answered a question with a question to get one to examine his position. Today, to do this, one's questions and answers should be from Talmud Torah to support his Biblical position. Let me illustrate this from a Talmudic story. Issac B. Judah was a disciple of Rabbi Rami bar Hama, but left him to study with Rabbi Sheshet. The reason given was that every time he asked his former Rabbi a question the answer would be with a rational argument. When the disciple found a Mishnah (law) that contradicted the Rabbi's rational argument, the Rabbi replied that the argument no longer applied. However, this was not so with Rabbi Sheshet. Every time the disciple found a Mishnah to contradict Rabbi Sheshet's answer, the Rabbi replied that it is one Mishnah against another (Zev 96b).
With the use of the Talmud I point out that my interpretation of the Messianic prophecies of the Scriptures is truly the traditional view. If this is followed logically then the only result is that Yeshua, Jesus, is the Messiah or the Scriptures and Talmud are false.
© Copyright Dr. Harris Brody, Petah Tikvah Magazine all