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The Talmud and the Internet: A Journey between Worlds

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  183 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
The Talmud and the Internet, in which Jonathan Rosen examines the contradictions of his inheritance as a modern American and a Jew, is a moving and exhilarating meditation on modern technology and ancient religious impulses. Blending memoir, religious history and literary reflection Rosen explores the remarkable parallels between a page of Talmud and the homepage of a web ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published September 15th 2001 by Picador (first published September 1st 2000)
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Feb 07, 2010 Sellyndavies rated it it was ok
What I like about Jonathan Rosen is his craftsmanship as a writer. Unfortunately, in this book, he seems to brush upon a few different themes, without committing to any one of them. The net result is a monologue that meanders without delivering on the promise suggested by the title. The book is part memoir about the lives of his grandmothers - one of whom lived and died in safety in the United States - and the other, who died during the Holocaust. He says his father, who lost his entire family ...more
This is a short book of the thoughts of a young man trying to find meaning in his family history, the history of Jewish and European history as it relates to his family, and the meaning of history as he and his family move into the future. It is sprinkled with lovely family stories, nods to great literature, and bits of history. If you want to get a taste of a thoughtful, contemporary Jewish-American life, Jonathan Rosen is one of the go-to authors.
It is a short, pleasant read. It is tender, tho
Ben Pashkoff
May 20, 2012 Ben Pashkoff rated it liked it
Recommended to Ben by: Tsipi
Raises some interestingpoints, but.... could have been/should have been/would have been... oh well - probably to be forgotten in the near future. NOT what I would put down as one of my more influential reads. Most interesting point (IMMHO) was a comparison of the lives and times of Flavius Josephus and R Yhanan Ben-Zakkai. Again could have had more to it. Maybe this is what contemporary liberal American Jewry is idolizing?
Apr 09, 2009 Noah rated it it was amazing
This book is really well written and does a good job of weaving stories from the Talmud with the Author's own personal story. It illustrates the relevance of studying ancient texts in post-modern times and offers powerful insight into the human condition.
May 11, 2013 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion-judaism
Through a series of essays, Rosen unpacks the layers of his own relationship to religious and personal ambiguity, to suffering and joy, and to seemingly disparate 'ancient' and 'modern' approaches to knowledge, finding nourishment in the struggle.

He uses what I would call narrative theology to examine the metaphors we use to define our understandings of home, exile, and knowledge. He finds that the structure of the internet mirrors deeper truths of the Talmud and of our own spiritual journeys:
Nov 22, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
I was delighted to happen upon this little volume which brings together my interests in two areas - Jewish philosophy and modern computer technology. This is a somewhat autobiographical memoir of a man who is Jewish, though not a rabbi or scholar. He's also a fairly amateurish user of the Internet (and the book is now somewhat dated, since it was published in 2000 and so much has happened in technology since then). But he meditates effectively on the relationship and similarities between the ...more
Arthur Gershman
Nov 22, 2012 Arthur Gershman rated it it was ok

A tip of the old hat to Keith Leverberg who expressed my thoughts almost exactly with his title of his Amozon review, although I judge Rosen a little less harshly. This book is carelessly constructed, with such screamers as, at page 130, "The Talmud that my wife and I study from together belonged to her grandfather, who immigrated to Palestine, thanks to the Balfour Declaration, in 1924, was wounded in the 1948 War of Independence and devoted the rest of his life to the study of Talmud." Or some
Feb 14, 2013 Rachael rated it really liked it
A slim book but not necessarily a quick read. It's an elegant personal essay interspersed with musings about the chaos of the Internet and the Talmud-- and such chaos represents the creativity, dynamic growth, and inter-relatedness of human nature/human society. It made me want to adopt several of his Judaic philosophies about the boundless nature of learning, the unfazed mixture of the divine and the mundane, the embrace of messiness, uncertainty, and all the stuff that as a slightly type-A, ...more
Jun 24, 2014 Leah rated it it was amazing
This book is a small gem. It's a beautiful meditation on Rosen's identity, Talmud, the internet and the bridge between the past and the present. Rosen has an easy and approachable style, and the book is chock full of insight that will appeal to all readers - even those with little interest in ancient Jewish texts or the web. As someone who spends a great deal of time thinking about what it means to be a cultural Jew, I found this book illuminating and thought-provoking. Highly recommend.
May 15, 2012 Peter rated it it was amazing
This is my second read of this truly amazing essay/reflection/memoir by Jonathan Rosen, a smart articulate thoughtful writer/editor in New York. The book is a tool, in itself, for navigating the hard questions about who we are, where we position ourselves and how we understand meaning, the sacred and the profane. I read this ten years ago and it was a great book, I read it this year and it was an even better book, I'll read it again in a decade and record my thoughts.
Dennis Fischman
Dec 11, 2014 Dennis Fischman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
The Talmud and the messy Internet of 2001, when this book was written, are both conversations between many different people, across time and space, where one topic can lead to the next in the blink of an eye. Jonathan Rosen suggests that for people living in exile, both are, oddly enough, home. This slim book contains deep wisdom. Read my full review at
Jul 05, 2009 Eric rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting meditation on the relationship between the internet and the Talmud, filtered through the death of the author's grandmother. Very enlightening for those not familiar with the ins and outs of the Talmud beyond the occasional Yom Kippur service. It's a short book and that may be its biggest flaw—I really wanted it to go deeper in the end, despite the author's effective matter of fact tone.
Nov 14, 2011 Aryeh rated it liked it
This book has promise. It reads smoothly, yet smartly, like an extended New Yorker article. The authors points and personal touches are well formulated. Unfortunately, a number of his historical facts including dates are incorrect. I think that may be more of an editor issue, given the rest of the book though. Worth a read, but for religious or personal rather than for scholarly reasons.
Mahmoud Haggui
Aug 31, 2013 Mahmoud Haggui rated it liked it
اسمعي يا اسرائيل إلهنا واحد" (شمع يسرائيل أدوناي إلوهينا أدوناي أحد). اباناالذى فى السماء ليتقدس اسمك لتكن مشيئتك" إسمع صوتنا يا ربنا واشفق علينا وارحمنا واقبل برحمة ورضاء صلاتنا ومن بين يديك يا ملكنا لا تردّنا خائبين إذ أنت سامع صلوات كل فم دعاك سبحانك وتبارك اسمك يا سامع الصلوات ومجيب الدعاء
المجد فى الاعالى و على الأرض السلام و بالناس المسرة. #أمين
Sharon Rosenberg-Scholl
Aug 24, 2012 Sharon Rosenberg-Scholl rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, jewish
The title is a bit misleading as it's not so much about the Talmud and the Internet specifically but about making sense of the contradictions in one's life. Beautifully written, I found myself drawn into the author's story of his life, his parents, grandparents and the histories he brings forward - messily, with conflict and contradictions.
May 14, 2008 Taylor rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It's funny, easy to read, informative and raises some important questions. He captures a lot of beautiful if esoteric moments that somehow I think we can all relate to. Def. give this one a whirl!
Jun 16, 2010 Margo rated it it was ok
Although a great example of postmodern fiction and autoethnography, I found this book to just be kinda boring. Maybe it would have been better if I knew more about the Jewish religion but I guess it's too late now.
Heidi Stone
Feb 28, 2012 Heidi Stone rated it liked it
a little bit hard to understand with the Jewish references, but interesting read. Probably wouldn't read again, a one time experience.
Jun 02, 2010 Meagan rated it liked it
Really interesting look into a modern Jewish-American ethnography. A good, quick read that's really pleasant and gives you some good things to think about.
Peter Wolfley
Mar 05, 2012 Peter Wolfley rated it liked it
Pure post-modernism. When you become an established writer you can work out childhood issues in book form. Very similar style to In Bed with the Word.
Burke rated it liked it
May 05, 2008
Mark rated it liked it
May 18, 2014
Rebecca rated it really liked it
Dec 30, 2013
Joseph Parton
Joseph Parton rated it it was amazing
Mar 20, 2009
Joshua rated it it was ok
Dec 20, 2008
Whitney Marie
Whitney Marie rated it it was amazing
Feb 12, 2015
Jen rated it really liked it
May 24, 2011
Virgen Ruiz
Virgen Ruiz rated it it was amazing
Jan 02, 2008
Heidi rated it it was amazing
Feb 13, 2009
Ruth Adar
Ruth Adar rated it liked it
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“The Talmud tells a story about a great Rabbi who is dying, he has become a goses, but he cannot die because outside all his students are praying for him to live and this is distracting to his soul. His maidservant climbs to the roof of the hut where the Rabbi is dying and hurls a clay vessel to the ground. The sound diverts the students, who stop praying. In that moment, the Rabbi dies and his soul goes to heaven. The servant, too, the Talmud says, is guaranteed her place in the world to come.” 2 likes
“The Talmud offered a virtual home for an uprooted culture, and grew out of the Jewish need to pack civilization into words and wander out into the world. The Talmud became essential for Jewish survival once the Temple - God's pre-Talmud home - was destroyed, and the Temple practices, those bodily rituals of blood and fire and physical atonement, could no longer be performed. When the Jewish people lost their home (the land of Israel) and God lost His (the Temple), then a new way of being was devised and Jews became the people of the book and not the people of the Temple or the land. They became the people of the book because they had no place else to live. That bodily loss is frequently overlooked, but for me it lies at the heart of the Talmud, for all its plenitude. The Internet, which we are continually told binds us together, nevertheless engenders in me a similar sense of diaspora, a feeling of being everywhere and nowhere. Where else but in the middle of Diaspora do you need a home page?” 2 likes
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