Bringing the Jerusalem Talmud to the Digital World

Jan. 21 2022

The Jerusalem Talmud, or as it known in Hebrew, Yerushalmi, is the compilation of some seven generations of rabbinic scholarship, roughly spanning the years 225 to 425 CE. It has long been sidelined by its more frequently studied successor, the Babylonian Talmud, or Bavli. Recently, the late Heinrich Guggenheimer’s English translation of this massive work was added to Sefaria’s online library of Jewish texts. To Zachary Rothblatt, this constitutes “a watershed moment in history”:

Now, Yerushalmi can and will have a place in the cultural conversation of the average [student]. While it remains a difficult text even in translation, its newfound accessibility is unprecedented. . . . Yerushalmi preserves hundreds of [rabbinic] traditions absent in Bavli. Bavli contains many more statements from the first four generations of Eretz Yisrael Amoraim, [that is, the sages active in Roman Palestine from circa 230 to 350 CE], but much less material from the fifth generation and onward.

The numerous traditions common to both Talmuds also present a rich opportunity for direct comparison. As [the medieval sage] Yom Tov ben Abraham Assevilli wrote, “We always rely on their Talmud (i.e., that of the scholars of the Yerushalmi) and interpret and codify our Talmud (the Bavli) based on their words.”

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Read more at Lehrhaus

More about: Talmud, Translation

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism