Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How the Talmud became a bestseller in South Korea

By Ross Arbes
In 2011, the South Korean Ambassador to Israel said on Israeli public television that “each Korean family has at least one copy of the Talmud.” Illustration by Min Heo
The Jewish Talmud is a dense compilation of oral laws annotated with rabbinical discussions, consisting of about two and a half million words. The legend is that God recited the Talmud, the oral law, to Moses on Mount Sinai, while simultaneously giving him the Torah, the written law. In June, 2014, I accompanied Jung Wan Kim, an Incheon-based P.R. manager and Talmud teacher, on a visit to Chul-whan Sung, then the head of the book-publishing division of Maekyung Media Group, one of the largest South Korean media companies. Sung estimated that “over eighty per cent of the country” had read most of Tokayer’s Talmud in some form or another.[link]