Friday, August 03, 2007

Israel Zinberg's volkisch view of the Talmud

Read about Israel Zinberg, author of a multivolume tour-de-force in Yiddish, Die Geschichte fun der Literatur bei Yidn, which surveys Jewish literature from the 10th century to the 19th. It is available in Hebrew and in 12 beautiful volumes in English, and is best read, in my opinion, as a companion to Mayer Waxman's multivolume tour-de-force. And then you can add icing and read Klausner's multivolume tour-de-force Historia Shel Ha-Safrut ha-Ivirit ha-Hadasha if you are so inclined.

In any case:

"Because the Talmud is the result of many generations of collective effort, because the entire community built this mighty structure, there had to be in it all types of folk creativity--religious laws, philosophical ideas, and speculative doubts, together with popular stories, legends, magical incantations, proverbs, jokes, dancing songs, and the like. The Talmud also is, by its very nature, an anonymous work; its author is the entire people of Israel, from the greatest scholar to the meanest ignoramus. This great anthology is a monument of popular creativity as well as of national literature. The folkloristic and the national, the personal and the communal, the individual and the collective--all are fraternally braided together in it."

(History vol. VIII, pg 4., also in vol. I, I think)

There are obvious technical problems with this paragraph, but it contains an interesting idea.

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