From the time my dear friend Bob educated me on the need to answer the critics about the Talmud and all of their other complaints, I had wanted to do that. Here and there I put together some material, but was not ready yet for a fuller exposition of the issues. I was after all dealing with people who have no love of Jews, and I was willing to answer many questions, but to go into the Talmud, my beloved Talmud, and explain things about the Talmud to people who have not shown much love for it, was frightening to me. But I recently saw in I believe it was stormfront.org the website for people who usually don't love Jews, that they asked in a very dignified manner why someone is not really answering their questions about the Talmud. I was happy to see that they listed this website, in a very kind manner. This is the second time I have seen my material in Stormfront. The other time was about their quoting my material on the Gay Lobby. Also, recently I have received some letters from people who seem very sincere, especially "Judy," so I feel obligated to do a better job, even though I am nervous.
Attacks on the Talmud are claims and quotes that it teaches :
1) to steal from gentiles
2) to have sex with children
3) to have no respect for gentiles, in the worst way and
4)the Talmud is attacked for its statements about Christianity and its founder
5) Jewish supremacy.
Here is a letter I wrote recently about the above. I am happy that it was well received by the person I sent it to, so I am not so nervous about putting it here. Anyone who has any comments, criticisms, etc., please let me know. I thank you.
Thank you very much for your interest and concern. I will try to answer your concerns here briefly, until I get a larger piece which I hope to post on my jewhaters.com website, when I am able to do so.
I have studied Talmud for fifty years, even more, and the ideas that the Talmud teaches to steal from gentiles, or to have sex with minors, are completely wrong. The Code of Law clearly states that stealing from a gentile is forbidden, as does Maimonides. Maimonides clearly states that one who fools a gentile, even a pagan, with false weights, is an abomination. All codifiers agree on this point. I cannot understand how anyone can say that Talmudists and Orthodox Jews believe in stealing from gentiles. As a matter of fact, the great Rabbi Yehuda the Pious writes that someone cheated from a gentile and his children died and he lost his money as a punishment. Does this sound like the Orthodox Talmudists approve stealing from gentiles?
The Talmud, while proscribing stealing, looks to define it in terms of various of the 613 commands, to categorize it technically. Therefore, certain passages about theft apply to all people and some do not. For instance, we are commanded to return the lost objects of our pagan neighbors, and certainly our gentile neighbors, and we must participate in the community, pay our taxes, and certainly not steal. But if we find a pagan's lost chicken, we do not have to take hours of our time to return it. If, however, we want to be pious and sanctify G-d's Name, we do return it, and it is meritorious to return it, but we are not sinners if we do not return it. Recall also that the pagans of the Talmud and bible were very great sinners and murderers, so that should be part of the discussion. Biblical pagans put their children in metal pots and cooked them for the gods. Nonetheless, we may not steal from them. I have a book written by a Holocaust survivor who discusses at length if Jews in the camps were forbidden to steal from the Nazis. One idea is that stealing from a pagan or very vicious person is forbidden because it damages the character of the one who steals, even if the victim of the theft is totally wicked.
The Talmud has many arguments and statements that are understood by scholars but are not understood by others. For instance, if the Talmud is interested in knowing at what age intercourse is intercourse rather than simply a damage, for reasons important to the Talmud, it has a right to study this, but this is not to infer what the haters do that Orthodox Jews sleep with little children. When, historically, have Orthodox Jews slept with little children? The Talmud maintains that intercourse before the age of three is not intercourse in the sense that the child is no longer a virgin. Virginity is very important and must be defined, but this discussion if intercourse at age four or five destroys virginity does not mean that one may sleep with little children.
Maimonides, and this is quoted in the Code of laws, says that anyone who marries a minor has sinned. How can anyone say that Talmudists and Orthodox Jews believe in having sex with little children?
This applies to sex. But marriage itself may be made with minors. This is because in ancient times and even in some communities in recent times, families looked high and low for the right match for their children. When they found it, they sometimes made the match years before the marriage. In this sense, when parents feared that they would miss a good opportunity for their children, they might make the marriage while the child is young, at least the engagement part, while the actual marriage could wait. If someone married a minor and had sex with her this would not be incest or adultery or fornication, but we don't approve or like it. If there was an emergency, or if someone went ahead and had sex with his young wife, this would not be considered child abuse. Today, we may not understand this, but this is a far cry from saying that the Talmud allows sex with children without marriage.
Various Talmud Passages
To understand statements in a book, we must understand the style of the book. Therefore, let us begin with a general understanding of the Talmud, its style, its goals, and then we can understand its teachings.
First of all, what is the Talmud?
Although the Talmud is printed in book form, it was not designed as a book. Rather, the Talmud is the Oral Law. What is the Oral Law? G-d at Sinai gave the Ten Commandments and the Torah, or the Five Books of Moses, to Israel. This was written down, and is today the Torah Scrolls read in the synagogue. In addition, G-d gave Moses an Oral Law. The Oral Law was a code to interpreting the Written Law. True to its name, it was not written down, although scholars could make notes. For about 1500 years the Talmud was memorized, that is, the arguments of the sages were memorized, and a scholar was required to know much of it by heart. But this standard could only be maintained when the Jews lived in Israel. After the Destruction of the Second Temple, the Jews could not longer maintain such a level, and the rabbis had to compile written editions of the Talmud.
Our point is, that a book must be written for an audience, but the Talmud is not written for an audience. It is simply a collection of oral discussions of the rabbis. The audience for these oral statements were other rabbis. Talmudists are known to be ferocious debaters, and therefore, the level of ferocity in the verbal exchanges is very high. The Talmud wanted this and taught, "When the father and son study Torah, they seem to hate each other from the vicious debating. But when they cease learning together, we see that they love each other." This applied to all learners. In debate they must fight for the truth. They must argue with every fiber. But this was never personal. This led to a very high level of truth, because an opponent would tear you apart if you made a mistake. The rules were, you had no pity on anyone, not even a parent or a child. This led to the parent or child becoming better scholars, so everyone was satisfied.
Because the high level of intellectual debate created a climate of savage invective, we find rabbis saying incredible things to defend themselves in debate. They take oaths, they utter incredible imprecations, because nothing must stand in the way of accurately recording the teachings of the Torah. Every rabbi felt like a chain in the Law from Sinai, and any mistake, any laxity, could break the chain and ruin it. Thus, people spoke as they did. A Medieval gentile who entered an ancient Spanish Yeshiva described it as a den of bull fights. Yeshiva students don't just read when they study, they argue, and the room is a roar of debate.
When I discuss Torah with my children or grandchildren, if I don't get war, I am sad.
In such a climate, during debate, everyone was an enemy. The ferocity in intellectual debate did not stop when the rabbis battled each other. It carried over in its criticism of Jews who were not up to snuff. In fact, the ferocity of the rabbis in their devotion to the Torah and the truth of the Talmud did not sit well with many Jews, who did not study. These were referred to by the rabbis as Am Hooretz, or "People of the land." Someone once said that he hated the rabbis so much he wanted to bite them like a donkey bites. He was asked why not like a dog bites. He replied, "When a dog bites, it tears the skin. When the donkey bites, it breaks the bones." This particular ignoramus eventually became the greatest rabbi of his era, Rabbi Akiva, but when he was outside the study hall, his feelings towards the rabbis were not lovely. Those feelings were aggravated by the verbiage of the rabbis.
In the ferocious style of polemics the Talmudists suggested that "A Jew who does not study Torah should be torn apart like a fish on Yom Kippur." Do you think that rabbis went around tearing people apart on Yom Kippur? But the Talmud utilized exaggeration to defend the Torah, or to defend one's opinion, or to defend against people who don't think that Torah learning is the most important thing in the world.
Who is the Enemy of the Talmudists?
In the Talmud, the enemy was one who did not appreciate Torah learning. Here and there others, even gentiles got a denigrating reference, but it never came to the vehemence of when the rabbis talk about the ignoramuses. The rabbis had plenty to say about everything and anything, but the nasty talk is almost always about Jews, or about some rabbi who disagrees with another one. When talking about the pagans among them, even those who were depraved, the tone is not emotional. But when fighting with our children about the Talmud, every drop of emotion is aroused. Even without the emotion, the style of the Talmud is to criticize something as if it was the end of the world. The Talmudic scholar was expected to understand that G-d gave the Law and the rabbinical authority to make "fences" around the Law. G-d created man in His image so that people would be spiritual. A rabbi was supposed to be very spiritual. Thus, speaking among themselves, the rabbis were very vociferous about not only sin but any infraction that is related to sin. For instance, becoming angry was considered a very evil thing. All of us get angry, and people in the Talmud also became angry. But to be human is one thing, and to accept failure is another.
The Talmud requires that when we do slip and become angry, we must recognize not that we slipped a bit and forget about it, but that we slipped and did something truly awful. Does a person with a divine soul being watched by G-d and the heavenly hosts let loose when he loses control? If he does, he must purify himself with penitence and this will only happens when he realizes just how terrible getting angry is. Therefore, the rabbis point out that when you get angry you can smash a dish. But when you are finished smashing dishes your anger can lead to who knows what, maybe to hit someone, maybe to do worse things. Therefore, anger must be judged not only as a violation of a divinely created being with a divine soul, but as a force that can lead someone to commit murder or anything when he loses control of himself. For this reason we don't wait until the angry person picks up a knife. We tell the person who shows the first signs of anger in its mildest form: If you don't learn to control yourself, you are in danger.
We have thus covered two characteristics of the Talmud: vociferous and even violent verbiage in debate, and what may seem to be exaggeration when talking about small infractions such as anger. We come now to the Talmud's attitude about gentiles.
Jewish Enemies, Gentiles and Pagans in the Talmud
The Talmud does mention some things about gentiles and pagans, some of it critical, but the main criticism, the fire, the emotion, was with internal problems. Jews are a nation with a history of internal conflict that is more destructive in some ways than external conflict. The prophet said, "Those who overthrow you and those who destroy you will issue from your loins." We are nation of idealists and some of them are quite dangerous. The first generation of Israel sold Joseph their brother into slavery. The Second Temple was destroyed because of "vain hatred." When the Romans came to destroy Jerusalem, they watched in amazement as the Jewish army divided into three and all three divisions began killing each other. The "wild ones" gained control and burned the stores of food in Jerusalem, forcing people to go out and fight like "men." They murdered a rabbi because they suspected that he opposed them. The murderer was the rabbi's nephew. Finally, a rabbi smuggled himself out of the city and met with the Roman general. That began a warm relationship of the rabbis and leaders of Rome, who protected the rabbis from the "wild ones." Anyone who has read about Russian Communism knows what I am talking about.
Two recent books by Israeli Jewish professors contain more incitement against Jews than anything published by the gentiles. One wrote a book that the Talmud is full of incitement against Christians, and the other wrote a book that Jews in the Middle Ages who were tortured to confess drinking Christian blood may have been guilty as charged. When the Jewish Communists, the cursed Yesvetskia, got their hands on a rabbi, don't ask.
The Talmudists have been battling other elements in Israel from the beginning of the Second Temple period. The internal battles of ideology resulted in mighty slaughters of rabbis time and time again in the Second Temple period. Thus, the Talmudists, products of the Second Temple period over two thousand years ago, have much to say about their Jewish enemies, and have little energy for anyone else.
A great Medieval rabbi, Rabbi Yehuda the Pious, told Jews to make way for others in their travels, and to do a kindness to a gentile traveler as well as a Jew. In fact, he says, "Honor a gentile more than a Jew who opposes the Torah." We know where that idea comes from.
The Vatican recently released its files on the Inquisition. A reviewer commented that the major emphasis and destruction was not aimed at non-Catholics, but at Catholics who were seen to deviate from the main Catholic position. The rabbis never had a physical Inquisition, but they did protest internal dissent and certain Jewish sects such as the "wild ones" with their burning the stores of food to force Jews to leave the security of the walls of Jerusalem to go out and fight a hopeless battle with the Roman Legions.
I was recently involved in dealing with a very tough religious Jewish man, and whoever approached him about something received a snarled rebuff. Someone asked me to intervene, but cautioned me to speak not Yiddish but English to him. I spoke a pure English to him, and he agreed to what I asked. Why did he snarl at the others and talk nicely to me? The others spoke Yiddish and he turned on them. When I spoke like a gentile, he was not angry, and showed respect. It is a strange world, but that is what happened.
The Talmud has strong words for everyone, because that is how the Talmudists spoke, to each other, and about everything. The Torah, they said, was fire, and one must be on fire to learn it and practice it. Their talk was also fire. But inside the intellectual fireworks was a love created by an honest spirituality. When you just read the words, however, it sounds awful. But remember, whatever they say about Romans, Greeks, and other pagans, they spoke much worse about their own, about those who opposed the scholars, and even other scholars who "erred" etc.
There is a method to the madness. The rabbis did not want a cold religion. They did not want people to give a dollar of charity and then turn on the radio. They wanted a person to cry when he gave a dollar, and suffer because he could not give two dollars. For this they awakened people with emotional phrases, with metaphors, with pictures and astounding warnings. But this was a system to produce not just the mind, but the heart.
If you want the Jewish attitude towards gentiles and pagans, read the Jewish Torah literature, beginning with the bible or the Five Books of Moses and going through the Talmud,. If you do, and are careful in your reading, you will notice something extremely interesting. The Jews lived more or less at peace with the gentiles during the entire Biblical Era. The Jewish Era in the Bible begins 3700 years ago with the Jewish year 2000, with Abraham's becoming a Jew. Abraham was greatly honored and respected by all of the Egyptian and Canaanite Kings. So was his son Isaac, and so was his grandson Jacob. Other than a few problems with having their wives taken and then returned, the basic atmosphere was quite positive. One bad episode was when Dinah the daughter of Jacob was raped, but it is obvious from the story in the bible that this has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. Even when the sons of Jacob destroyed the village of the rapist, the pagan kings despite their feelings did not harm the Jews.
The bad part begins, not with biblical pagans hurting Jews, but with Jews and their relatives. The problems begin with Laban the father-in-law of Jacob who tormented him while he was in Laban's house, but there was no lasting damage, and the two parted properly enough. The real serious problems begin with the sons of Jacob selling their brother Joseph out of envy or whatever idealisms they may have had. This led to the divine decree that the Jews would go to Egypt as slaves and in Egypt the Jews did become slaves. It is clear from the biblical account that there was no anti-Semitism in Egypt. The Egyptians were confused by the large number of Jews in their country, and seeking to control them, enslaved them. We can call the Egyptians any names we want, because they murdered baby boys and enslaved the Jews. But the issue was not anti-Semitism in its modern form. The Egyptians had a religion which rejected eating sheep, and when the Jews ate sheep the Egyptians were horrified and so the two people did not eat together. But there was no hate. Indeed, not all Egyptians even agreed that Jews should be enslaved. An Egyptian princess, Basya, saved Moses when he was left in a basket in the river.
Indeed, the rabbis make it clear that Pharoah was an unwilling taskmaster of the Jews. He did not want to enslave the Jews, but the populace insisted upon it. Eventually, the rabbis say, he was dethroned until he would agree to enslave the Jews. Whether you want to believe this story or not, the point we make here is that the rabbinical literature does not paint Pharoah as a hater of Jews, quite the opposite. In fact, rabbinical literature blames the Jews for their miseries in Egypt, and does not point the finger at the Egyptians. Therefore, the issue was not hate.
The Jews left Egypt and received the Torah at Sinai. Now we find an evil people, Amalek, who came to make war with Israel. Were they anti-Semites? Were they haters? If you study the origins of Amalek you see that the parents were the best of the gentiles, one a relative of the Jews, Elifaz, and the other perhaps the outstanding gentile woman in the world, Timna. Amalek was a highly spiritual family that fought Israel because they did not accept that Israel was G-d's Chosen People. Amalek itself was spiritual and wanted that roll, or at least, it hated Israel for rejecting Amalek, as actually happened, but that is another topic. We find that the mighty genius Bilaam, the sorcerer, was in this category. He prayed to G-d to destroy the Jews so that gentiles could be G-d's Chosen People, but G-d turned his mouth to utter blessings for the Jews. This is surely not classical hatred of Jews as we in the modern world understand it.
We learn from the above that in biblical times most gentiles had a great respect for the early Israelites, until the Jews declined and sold their brother, and then, they entered a lowly state and slavery. Even then we don't find the modern hate of Jews in the bible.
To leap forward in Jewish history we come to the Babylonian King Nevuchadnezzar exiling the Jews to Iraq or Babylonia. He burned the First Temple and killed many Jews. And yet, the prophets and the rabbis make it clear that although we call him "wicked" for destroying the Temple, there was no hate of Jews in this king. Indeed, his highest ministers were great rabbis and his closest friends were prophets. He conquered because he was determined to conquer the world or for other reasons we don't have to go into now. But there was no anti-Semitism involved.
After the Babylonians came the Persians. Here, too, rabbis enjoyed very high and powerful positions, and the Jews became very prosperous. There were individuals such as Haman the Persian Prime Minister who plotted to wipe out the Jews, because he descended from Amalek, but the general trend was not one of hate. At one time the Queen of Persia and the Prime Minister were Jews. The Queen didn't go willingly, but at least, it wasn't anti-Semitism. Finally, the Persian King rebuilt the Second Temple and allowed the Jews to return to Israel. Most Jews refused to leave as they were prosperous and happy in exile.
In Jewish historic terms, we have covered very briefly the Egyptian Exile, the Babylonian Exile, and the Persian Exile. In each of these, Jews were honored by kings and became Prime Ministers. There were some bad moments, some very bad moments, but there was no anti-Semitism in the modern form as a hate of Judaism or Jews per se. There was, however, here and there, a hate for Jews as the Chosen People, by gentiles who were spiritual themselves and did not like G-d choosing Jews. This led to great hate, but it wasn't the same as the modern denigration of the Jew as a lower thing.
We come now to the Greek Exile, which began under Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great conquered Persia and Israel, and came to Jerusalem in triumph. His generals wanted to plunder, but Alexander honored the High Priest Simon and refused to harm the Jews in any way. Out of appreciation, the Jews named their sons Alexander, a custom that has lasted to this day. But when Alexander died, his generals began a hideous exile for Israel, and treated the Jews in the worst way. Here ended the biblical era's good times for Jews among the nations. The new Greeks, after Alexander, were tyrants, vicious and wicked. The Jews hated them because they robbed and raped and because they tried to destroy the Jewish religion. Finally, the High Priest Matisyohu rebelled against the mighty Greek armies and defeated them. But the Jews in the Greek Era, or the Second Temple Period, loathed the Greeks and the Greeks loathed them.
The Greeks ran naked to show their physical beauty. The Jews prized modesty. The Jews honored women. The Greek governor would come to a Jewish wedding and rape the bride in front of everyone. The Jews hated idols, and the Greeks tried to force the Jews to worship idols.
After a period of time, the Jews lost their independence when Rome conquered Israel. The Romans were better behaved than the Greeks, and the rabbis in general had a very good relationship with the Roman courts, with exceptions for when the Jews rebelled against Rome. But Rome was a terrible tyrant, and followed the Greek idea of forcing others to worship as the Romans did. The Romans wanted to break the Jewish religions, even thought there were many Romans who had good relations with the rabbis. The Romans burnt Rabbi Chananyeh ben Tradyone to death, slowly, because he taught Torah in public.
Thus, Greece and Rome tried to destroy the Torah and they terrorized the Jews. The Talmud was written during the Roman conquest, and reflected teachings from the Greek conquest. If a gentile meant a Greek or a Roman, no nice things would be said. But if a gentile meant a Persian, the Talmud says, "I love the Persians." Even among the Romans, there were good Emperors, the best being Antoninus who had an excellent relationship with Rabbi Yehuda the Prince. Perhaps due to this relationship, Rabbi Yehuda became fabulously wealthy and the Jews prospered. When Rabbi Joshua went to the Roman Royal Court the mother of the Emperor would personally greet him with warm words and great respect. The Talmud has many stories of Rabbi Joshua and his discussions with the Emperor and his immediate family.
Therefore, if we bring ourselves up to date after the various exiles, we would say that relations with gentiles were very good from the earliest biblical times until the Greeks and Romans. The Greeks were a disaster, but the Romans were a mixed bag. We see in the Greeks a complete contempt of the Jew, but with the Romans there is a definite relationship with the Jew and a certain perhaps grudging acceptance by the Romans that the Jews were unique. The Talmud suggests that this is because the Romans descend from Esau, the brother of Jacob.
The Roman exile was not one of anti-Semitism in the modern sense, and Jews won much admiration in the Royal Court.
The problems began in the time of Constantine. He converted to Christianity and Ambrose was his priest. Ambrose ordered Constantine to kill all of the Jews and anyone who refused Christianity. Only the fall of Rome prevented this happening. Also, the disciple of Ambrose, Augustine, was not satisfied with dead Jews. He wanted converted Jews. Rome, under the influence of Augustine, then initiated the modern anti-Semitism, teaching that being a Jew was in of itself an affront to the church and the state, and that all Jews must be humiliated and harassed until they convert.
From that time to the present we have anti-Semitism in its modern form. The official state religion condemns Jews and seeks to force them to convert. It does this by demonizing the Jew, making lies about him, falsifying his religion, until the Jew becomes a creature with horns that drinks the blood of Christian children and assorted horror stories. A major point of attack is the Talmud, when taken out of context, can provide the haters with an excuse to demonize and punish the Jews and force them to convert.
Today, because of the Middle East situation, the Moslem world is supportive of hating Jews. Their schools and culture are filled with the kind of material once popular in Christian countries. Because the Holocaust cast the church in a bad light, because the Catholics backed Hitler on the orders of the Vatican and brought him to power, the church had to back down from its traditional official hate of Jews. But other Christians, the Protestants, have never changed their dogma. They believe that a Jew whose entire life is spent doing goodness and kindness will be sent to hell. But a Christian who does terrible sins and comes to heaven will be rewarded because he believes.
I say to those who want me to convert. G-d chose Israel and the Jewish people and swore to never turn away from them. Anyone who calls G-d a liar and says that G-d changed His Mind and broke his word is a blasphemer. Such a person will come to heaven and be asked, "Why did you call Me a liar? Why did you say I changed My Mind?"
The haters twist the Talmud to "prove" that people like me rape little girls, steal from non-Jews, think that gentiles are what they think about Jews, etc. All of this is the work of hate, but I suppose I will have to discuss the various passages individually, because these challenges must be answered.
Individual Talmudic Passages
I have a list of Talmudic quotations sent me by Peter, Judy and others. I will begin with the passage "If a Jew is tempted to do evil he should go to a city where he is not known and do the evil there." This translation is a lie. It is a lie in translation, and it violates the entire context. The Talmud is talking about a rabbi who could not control his sexual desires. He sought out prostitutes and slept with them. People began to talk, and Rabbi Yehuda pronounced a ban upon this rabbi. Then Rabbi Yehuda fell ill, and when he was dying, the rabbis came to visit him, including the one put under the ban. Rabbi Yehuda gazed at the rabbi under the ban and he seemed mightily pleased. The rabbi put under the ban cried out, "Must you laugh at me after you have put me under the ban?" Rabbi Yehuda replied, "I am smiling because I am dying. I am going to the other world. And when I get there I will say, 'Even such a great rabbi as this one I did not fear. I put the ban on him.'"
The Talmud discusses what the situation with the banned rabbi was. Surely he wasn't a plain sinner, but he had problems. He could not control himself. A Jew who sleeps with prostitutes is a sinner. But one who profanes G-d's Name is a heinous sinner, because it is the worst sin in the Torah. A rabbi sleeping with a prostitute is a Profaning of G-d's Name. Therefore, the rabbi struggled and when he lost out, he decided to go to another city, and perhaps he would at least not be recognized and he would therefore save himself the sin of Profaning the Name of G-d. However, he was discovered, and he was put under the ban.
One commentary explains that surely it is forbidden to do sins just because you can't control yourself. The statement is "one who can't control himself, let him wear dark clothes and various garments of sadness, and let him go somewhere people don't know him." This means, says the commentary, that a person who has an urge to sin, and dresses up in clothes of mourning, and goes to a different city, which is a stress because he is not around familiar people, may lose his interest in sinning, or at least, be able to control himself. But surely, it is a sin.
See how our enemies twist things. Maybe they never heard of someone who can't control himself. I work with people who have sexual problems, and yes, they are fine and good people, but they cannot control themselves. When these people get to court, and sometimes I turn them in, the authorities can recognize the difference between someone who is faking it and someone desperate to be cured. Of course, they cooperate with the latter. But such people do exist. And woe to that person if he is a rabbi and what sins he does profanes G-d's Name.
Another statement in the letter concerns someone who disobeys the rabbis and deserves to die and be burnt in hell with hot excrement. This is a wrong translation. As with the above quote, it also completely neglects the context of the discussion in the gemora. To understand this gemora, we have to refer back to something I wrote before. I said before that the great enemy of the Talmudists were the Jews who fought rabbinical authority and disputed the Oral Law. Let us look into this on a deeper level.
Prophecy existed in the world, among gentiles and Jews, since Adam. After the Giving of the Torah, prophecy rested upon Israel. But the prophets could no longer receive messages from G-d to all Israel at the beginning of the Second Temple Era, about 2400 years ago, at the beginning of the Greek Era in Israel. Instead, the rabbis put their hopes in the study of the Torah. Since the Written Law is inadequate to convey G-d's message, the Oral Law was studied carefully, and then the Written Law was understood. But some Jews did not feel that intellectual study could make up for prophecy. They denied that mortals bereft of prophecy could speak for G-d's Law. They therefore rejected the Oral Law and simply read the bible and did what they thought it said. When a rabbinical, or Perushim, wife went into labor on the Sabbath, the Perushim lit a fire and tended to her needs. But the Tsedukim, those who opposed the rabbis, insulted the rabbis and hurled insults at them for "profaning the Sabbath." Since the permission to profane the Sabbath when life and death depends upon it is not written openly in the bible, the Tsedukim rejected it. Their women and the baby may die, but they would not profane the Sabbath. This insulting of the rabbis, which also led to deaths of innocent people, is what the above statement in the Talmud is about.
What was the rational of the opponents of the rabbis? They felt that people make mistakes, and therefore cannot speak for G-d, who does not make mistakes. But does not the bible say that the Jews must obey the sages in all that they teach? Does the bible not tell the story of Korach who defied Moses and was destroyed? Those who insulted the rabbis were then forced to say that not only were the rabbis humans who erred and therefore could not be relied upon, but also the bible itself that calls for obedience to the rabbis in the most stringent manner was also to be interpreted in such a way as to reject it. Even the plain bible, they said, had imperfect passages.
The above passage in its proper translation is "whoever ridicules the words of the sages." This is the ridicule of the Tsedukim who make fun of those who saved lives by profaning the Sabbath. And why do they reject the rabbis and the passage in the bible that support the rabbis? They say the G-d's Law has within it imperfection, and that they would therefore select what they wished from the bible and reject the rabbis. This is similar to a person who eats and excretes the waste. Food is not perfect. But the Torah is, because G-d gave it. The rabbis therefore made this statement to show that one who considers the holy teachings of the Torah to be mortal inventions that can be ignored has compared the rabbis to excrement, and will be judged for that. This idea will bring punishment upon him in the Future World.
The next passage we will study is the idea that non-Jews are not human. This idea does not exist in the Talmud or anywhere else, for one simple reason. A non-Jew has a soul, and when G-d created the world there were no Jews. G-d said, "Let us make ADAM in our image and our form" and He meant gentiles. Thus, Jews are not the only ones called "Adam" or person.
Furthermore, every Jewish child begins studying the bible in Leviticus, where it says, "A man (Adam) who brings an offering to G-d." The first offering discussed is a burnt offering, and gentiles bring it, even pagans. Therefore, they are "Adam" or people. The person who translated that gentiles are not ADAM as not being human made a mistake. Adam is not a word that defines people relative to animals. It defines people relative to G-d and holiness. We must know the context besides the exact translation.
We say that someone is a person, meaning a good person. We say, "He is a man," meaning, a special man. Adam can also have two meanings. It means a regular Adam, a human being with a soul who can know G-d, and it can also mean a higher man. A non-Jew, a pagan or a gentile, are surely "human" and not only the word "human" applies to them but also the word Adam applies to them as they all have souls. But when we refer to the highest level of a human, we may refer to something special. For instance, the Talmud and Zohar say that a man who is not married is not a "ADAM," because "it is not good for a man to be alone." Thus, an unmarried man is not a "Adam." Of course, he is human. But even a Jew or a High Priest without a wife is not "Adam" in the highest sense of the word.
The Talmud says that a gentile or pagan who studies Torah is like a High Priest, but this does not mean that a pagan or a gentile has achieved the highest level of humanity, which is accepting the yoke of Judaism. On the other hand, the Jews are only the clergy of the human race, and are a tiny people. Everyone else is Adam but not clergy. We respect clergy as they are special, but this does not denigrate others to say they are "not human."
Another quote from the Talmud that seems to indicate, according to the questioner, a "legal supremacy of Jews over gentiles" is that about goring oxen. A Jewish ox gores the ox of a Canaanite and the Jew doesn't have to pay. A Canaanite ox gores a Jewish ox and has to pay the full amount. This clearly seems to be a problem, but if this indicates that Jews don't care about money of non-Jews, why did the Talmud limit itself to oxen? Let it just say a Jew has no liability to a gentile, and may take money from a gentile or damage or steal his property, or whatever other phraseology is warranted to show what the challengers think the Talmud is saying, that Jews can take the money of gentiles.
We find the solution in Maimonides in his Code. Maimonides teaches from sources in the Talmud that stealing from a gentile is a sin, just like stealing from a Jew, and if one steals money from a gentile he must return it. If a Jew uses false weights to steal from a gentile the bible and Talmud call him an abomination. So what is different about a Jewish ox goring a gentile ox?
Maimonides explains that the civil law, at least in the time of the Talmud when this law was made, requires one to pay for damages he personally did, but did not obligate him to pay for damages done by his animals. Thus, when a gentile sues a Jew in Jewish court because the Jewish ox gored the gentile's ox, we tell him that his law does not recognize this as a liability and we will judge him by his laws. But if a gentile ox gores a Jewish ox we make him pay the full amount. This is because gentiles in those days were not careful about their animals (because they would not be liable for damages done by them). Because of all of the damage done by gentile oxen let loose without stopping them from goring other oxen, the rabbis decreed that the gentiles are fully liable. Again, note that only with oxen do we find this double standard, and Maimonides explains it.
By the way, those hundreds of websites out there attacking the wording of the Talmud, let me ask a simple question: Why are there not hundreds of websites attacking the books of other religions? If you are looking for supremacy and hate, why look in the Talmud, which is simply rabbis talking about Jewish law, when you can talk about other religions who slaughtered huge numbers of "non-believers" and kidnapped their children, made forced conversions, and showed "supremacy" in every area? Why spend so much energy with the Talmud when Jews during the Talmudic period never went around slaughtering people as other religions did, when you can go after hate literature in other religions that actually encouraged and does encourage people to commit the most heinous crimes? Huh? I am waiting for an answer to that.
The Censored Talmud? - Hesronot HaShass
There is a collection of pieces of the Talmud excised by gentile printers. In earlier days, printing was an extremely expensive thing, especially to print a huge work like the Talmud. Jews could often not print their own books, so they gave the Talmud to gentile printers. Depending on the mood of the authorities, the Talmud was printed as is, or with the Inquisition or similar apparatus deciding what parts of the Talmud were acceptable and what were not. The excised pieces were collected as CHISRONOSE HASHASS, "Missing Parts of the Talmud", and published 400 years ago in Amsterdam, where a liberal government and society allowed Jews to prosper. The publisher of this small collection of missing parts of the Talmud was one Emanuel Bambashti.
Interestingly enough, the Italian editions, printed near Rome and the Vatican, were the most liberal ones, and were not censored. The Vatican had many Hebrew and Aramaic scholars and they knew exactly what the Talmud wanted to say. However, other countries had no Talmud scholars, and simply excised whatever they didn't like.
In those days, anyone with a suspicion against a Jew could create havoc. It goes without saying that anyone who breathed the slightest suspicion against the Talmud could consign words to being excised. Anyone who reads the beginning of the book, for instance, realizes how foolish the suspicions are.
The Talmud says, according to the first entry in the book, (excised from Talmud Blessings 4b) that Jews pray to G-d using one of the Psalms of David, Psalm 145. This Psalm is selected because it has a separate praise of G-d for every letter of the alphabet except for the letter "n" or NUN. The Talmud explains that NUN or "n" is missing because it begins the word "Nefila" or "falling." It quotes the passage in Amos 5.2 "The virgin of Israel falls, not to rise. Desolate in her land, nobody will lift her." This catastrophe is so frightening that we omit a NUN from the Psalm, let we hint at a catastrophe for Jews. The Talmud does not want to use, however, the term "catastrophe for Jews," so it writes, in the style of how people spoke then, of bad things in terms of others, evil people, and enemies. Thus, the Talmud says that the NUN, which clearly stands for the "virgin of Israel," stands for "the enemies of Israel." There is, of course, no mention of any specific enemy, simply because the term is a euphemism for Jewish destruction. The phrase, "enemies of Israel," however, alarmed the censors, who felt it might mean what they felt it would mean, although it surely meant the "virgin of Israel." So they excised it, and it ended up in the Missing Parts of the Talmud book.
In those days, nobody would ever say something that could bring bad luck to himself, and when saying something bad, always talked in the third person, or invoked evil as the target of destruction. This is common throughout the Talmud and related books, even when quoting gentiles or pagans.
The second entry is from the Babylonian Talmud Blessings page 9b. The Talmud advises Jews, even rabbis, to invest effort and energy, even money, to see the grandeur of secular kings. When a Jew sees the pomp and glory of a secular king, the Talmud says, he will remember it always. If Messiah comes, and the Jews enter the Age of Redemption, they will then remember the glory of secular kings, and compare this with the glory of the Messianic Age and the Future World. They will then say, "Can it be that the Messiah has more glory than the secular kings?" But this will happen.
This is obviously one of the devices suggested by the Talmud to encourage people to suffer through the bitter exiles and have faith in the coming of the Messiah. Why was this excised? Of course when G-d reveals His glory on earth all secular pomp and glory will fade in comparison to it. This no way insults anyone. When G-d reveals the Future World the greatest kings will surely prostrate themselves, of course. There is certainly nothing offensive in this statement. In fact, the Talmud's exact language is "one should always make effort to run to receive a Jewish king, and even a secular king, because if he merits [the Messianic Age] he will see the difference between the glory of Israel [in the Future World] to the kings of the nations of the world." Incidentally, the Talmud describes the extreme pomp and glory that accompanied a secular king. One who sees this is very excited and impressed. And yet, a Jew must see this and say, "The Future World is better even than this."
The third piece excised from the Talmud is a teaching of Rashi (acronym for Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitschok - 900 years ago - great European Talmud and bible commentator) Blessings 17a that in the Future World the Jews will have a greater glory than the nations have today. This is a theme declared in the prophets. The Jews suffer in this world and they are to be rewarded in the Future World. Even the angels will be ashamed of the glory of the Jews in the Future World, who suffered endlessly and remained faithful to G-d. There is nothing offensive in this thought.
The fourth entry excised a Jewish teaching that Jews in the exile cannot achieve a good spiritual level because of the suffering done by the governments who rule over them. Anyone who has studied history knows just how hideous the lot of the Jew was in almost all of the exiles. Can a fair person think that this statement, which is surely true and appropriate, is offensive?
The fifth entry is from Rashi's commentary on the Talmud Blessings 17a regarding a Jew who is praying in the middle of a highway. Suddenly along gallops a king and his retinue, but the Jew stands before G-d. The Jew, says the Talmud, must note what kind of king approaches. A Jewish king seeing a Jew praying will not kill the Jew, but a non-Jewish perhaps pagan king will not just sit there until the Jew finishes his prayer. Therefore, since there is a chance that the Jew could antagonize the gentile or pagan king by blocking his way, the Jew must step back and finish his prayers elsewhere. There is nothing offensive about telling a Jew that if he blocks a king's retinue by holding up traffic on a highway that he might be killed!
As a matter of fact, the Talmud brings a story of one Jew who saw a gentile king approach and did not move back. The king was furious, but did nothing. When the Jew finished, the king asked him, "If I cut off your head, who would complain to me?" The Jew told the king, "If someone supplicates before you and suddenly interrupts to talk to his friend, what happens?" The king replied, "He must die. He has insulted the king!" The Jew then said, "I was speaking to the King of Kings. May I greet you and honor you at such a time?" The king accepted this, and dismissed the Jew to go in peace.
The sixth excision is from Blessings 51a. A person drinks something poisonous and could die. He must therefore spit out the poison, even in the presence of a king. The censor removed the word "king."
The seventh excision is from Blessings 54a. "When the [MINIM] sinned and said there is only one world." Here the word MINIM is removed. MIN is a generic term used often in the Talmud to denote one who does not accept the Talmud or the rabbis, or any basic belief in Judaism. Here a denier says that there is no Future World. This group of deniers are usually traced to the disciples of Antignose in the very early period of the Second Temple. It was a reaction to rabbis who taught that one should serve G-d without seeking reward. If so, said a few disciples, there is no reward, and no Future World. They then founded a sect denying the rabbis. Why this is excised I cannot understand. Obviously, a nervous censor felt that any mention of MIN might mean not what it does mean, people who deny the Future World, but Christianity. However, we don't find that Christians deny the Future World, so there is no logic to any excision here.
The next excision (8) is from Blessings 57b where Nebuchadnezzar, the destroyer of the First Temple from Babylonia (Iraq) is called "wicked." Please. Why censor that? However, the censors suspected that any wicked person mentioned was really a front to insult their deity. Otherwise, there is absolutely no reason to excise this. This is ridiculous however, because the Talmud is talking there about places in Iraq, or Babylonia, and prayers recited there to remember the wickedness of Nebuchadnezzar. How could anyone construe this to mean the founder of Christianity who never lived in Babylonia? Those censors were really nervous people, obviously, and plenty ignorant!
The next two excisions are in Blessings 58a. Three blessings are discussed there. One, upon seeing sages, two, upon seeing monarchs, and three, upon seeing huge masses of people. One blesses gentile sages and Jewish sages very favorably. One blesses Jewish rulers and gentile rulers very favorably. The gentile blessing and the Jewish blessing are both very complimentary. However, when a Jew sees a huge amount of Jews, he praises the wisdom they produce in their hearts which is worthy of G-d knowing and appreciating it. But when we see a huge mass of pagans, who do not worship G-d, we criticizes them for not producing wisdom that is pleasing to G-d, and for having their hearts filled with ungodly thoughts. This last blessing, upon seeing huge crowds of pagans, the censor removed. The pagans never censored this, because the pagans let religions believe what they wanted, generally. The Church, however, at least some people in the church, censored it, even though it has nothing to do with the church, essentially, and could easily be applied only to early pagans who burnt their children as offerings.
The next entry removes the teaching in the Talmud that a Jew should run to see the populace honor a pagan or gentile king, so that when Messiah comes, we will see true honor to a king. There is nothing offensive about a mortal king having less honor then Messiah. Surely Jewish rulers have less honor than the Messiah. Why did the church censor remove this?