Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Update to the Korean Talmud Story

I sent this Email yesterday to the blog "Ask a Korean":

Recently in Israel the Korean Ambassador gave an interview where he claimed that " almost every home in South Korea boasts a Korean version of the Talmud, and mothers commonly teach it to their children, who call it the "Light of Knowledge.""

This story has been picked up by numerous newspapers in Israel as well as international Jewish Blogs. I would be highly interested in knowing if this is in fact true, or just a case where an ambassador has found our sweet spot. 
I received this answer today:
Believe it or not, it is true. I read a cartoon version of the Talmud when I was a child also.

Just to make 100% certain, I sent him another question:

Thanks for the reply. I have since started to suspect  that Koreans though seem to think the Talmud is a collection of moral stories. The Talmud is in fact a huge collection of books (some 2000+) pages. I'm assuming you didn't learn / read a book dealing with Jewish religious law, but rather a book of collected Jewish Moral stories?BT  
To which he replied:

Correct. My particular version was like a cartoon version of Aesop's Fables or something like that. If the impression is that Korean children study huge tomes, that would be incorrect.

So firstly I would like to thank "Ask A Korean" for the fast responses. I think at this point there is no doubt  that when Koreans talk about the Talmud they are thinking about some collection of Moral stories - like Aesop's fables. It seems that Ynet has led us astray, and that the Jewish fantasy that  Koreans spend their days trying to understand the logic of talumdic pilpul, will have to be postponed until the messianic age.

What is more interesting is how a story that was so illogical and contrary to common sense became so widely quoted?  

Sidenote: Ask a Korean has told me he is planning a post explaining why Koreans are fascinated with Israel. I will of course link to it, once it is posted.

No comments: