I’ve given a lot of thought to how I want to introduce this torrent, especially since I hope that it will remain well-seeded in its entirety – Including the DVD Extras.
Briefly and incompletely, the Talmud is the collection of man-made oral laws and Biblical commentary based upon the TORAH – The first five books of the Bible. It is a central Jewish belief that the Torah is the divine and multi-layered word of G-D, which defies simple or concise explanation. This belief in deep complexity, metaphor, allegory, and the right / duty of Mankind to study, delve and question is perhaps the single biggest fundamental difference between Judaism and Christianity. While there are millions of ‘Orthodox’ Jews, there cannot really be Jewish ‘fundamentalists’, because the very nature of the religion (as typified by the Talmud) is to ask and argue over what G-D meant.
Filmmaker Salfati’s remarkable achievement with this hour-long film is to demonstrate – with great wit, clarity, charm, and even humor – the history of the Talmud and the nature of Talmudic learning and debate. In a very real way, this kind of learning led to the development of modern thinking in such crucial areas as law, science, and logic. In addition to an exhaustive exploration of the Talmud, the film also guides the viewer through the history of Jewish communities, concluding with present-day New York.
Many modern people discovering Talmud for the first time via this film, and who have been conditioned by watching Middle East news into thinking that Jews and Muslims are very similar, will be shocked by the stark contrast between the debate in a Jewish Yeshiva and the rote memorization standard in an Islamic Madrasah. There has never been a book quite like the Talmud, or one that so unified a scattered people for so long. To learn even a little of the history of the Talmud is to gain profound insight into a foundational document in the history of literate humanity.
As to the DVD extras (which many folks ignore for the main film, causing a torrent to quickly die), I don’t think I have ever seen a DVD in which the extras compliment the main film so well, or are so vital to the entire endeavor. These 10 clips show collections of ancient Talmuds in modern libraries, cover the study methods in considerable depth (especially how women are beginning to study it, or what it is like in a rabbinical yeshiva), how the book is designed and printed, interviews with the greatest Talmudists alive today, and even archival footage of the Ponievitch yeshiva that was decimated in the Holocaust, but whose surviving members went on to found the principal yeshiva of Modern Israel.
You don’t need to be Jewish, or even religious in any way to enjoy this film. Any fan of history or literature will come away from this entertained and enlightened. I also hope that spreading this film will go some way towards combating Anti-Semites that are fond of telling the unenlightened that the Talmud is a book of conspiracies and satanic magic. It’s the driver’s manual and Cliff’s Notes study guide to the Torah. I hope you enjoy the torrent.
"...exhaustively retraces the story and significance of the Talmud." L.A. Croix
"...precisely and eloquently [communicates] a wealth of information...traces history with great intelligence..." Telerama
DVD Extra 01 - Ponievitch Yeshiva 1932 Footage
DVD Extra 02 - Valmadonna Trust Library in London
DVD Extra 03 - Jewish Theological Seminary in New York
DVD Extra 04 - Library of Agudath Hassidel Chabad
DVD Extra 05 - Artscroll Publishing in New York
DVD Extra 06 - Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in Jerusalem - modern talmudist
DVD Extra 07 - Judy Tenzer - Drisha Institute in New York - Women talmudists
DVD Extra 08 - Yad Avraham Institute in New York - studying at work
DVD Extra 09 - Yashiva Lubavitch in Brooklyn
DVD Extra 10 - 'Daf Yomi'- The Page A Day method of studying