Sunday, January 2, 2011

the Talmud is not a business manual??

Newsweek has a great piece called "Selling the Talmud as a Business Guide". Seems that somehow the Chinese have decided that the Talmud is the secret of why Jews are supposedly great businessman.

Titles such as Crack the Talmud: 101 Jewish Business Rules, The Illustrated Jewish Wisdom Book, and Know All of the Money-Making Stories of the Talmud share the shelves with stories of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. There’s even a Talmud hotel in Taiwan inspired by “the Talmud’s concept of success” that features a copy of the book Talmud Business Success Bible in every room. With the increasing interest in business education in China, and a rise in sales of self-help literature, the production of business guides to the Talmud has exploded. The guides are like the Chinese equivalents of books such as Sun Tzu and the Art of Business.
Personally, I am less then happy about this image.  I can't help but think that having a billion Chinese think Judaism=Money is going to come back to bite us one day in the future. Sadly I am sure that some Jews are reading this article and feel proud at the image of the "clever Jew" portrayed here. I cringe.  Newsweek is somewhat sensitive to the fear of Anti-Semitism and comments:

"The Chinese perception of Jews as expert moneymakers does not have the religion-based antagonism that often accompanies the same stereotype elsewhere in the world"

However I am not convinced. The stereotype might not be negative in China yet, but I am sure that sooner or later the west will successfully manage to export the negative connotation.

Additionally and more importantly, I am sad to see that instead of looking to Judaism for its moral teachings, China is looking to Judaism as a capitalist guidebook. This is especially more distressing as ever more Israelis and Jews look eastward for their spirituality. Why are we looking at them for their ancient learning, and they are looking at us thinking we can teach them only the secrets of making money?


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