Question: Is it true that the Talmud says "A Jew may violate but not marry a non-Jewish girl”?--Gad. Shas 2:2.  I also found the it says that a Jew may violate a gentile girl of 3 years---Avodah Zarah 37a.  This all sounds like supremacy to me.

Answer: The quotation "A Jew may violate but not marry a non-Jewish girl?" does not exist, as far as I can tell, in the Talmud.  The source you quoted, "Gad. Shas 2:2" is not an abbreviation for any of the Tractates of the Talmud, nor does it refer to any classical Jewish text with which I am familiar.  My suspicion is that it is totally fabricated -- if you have a better reference for me (such as where you came across this quotation), I will look into it further.

I looked up the second quotation, from Avodah Zarah 37a, is also not correct.  The Talmud does not say that a Jew may violate a gentile girl of 3 years of age.


Question: I need help with something. I was having a heated discussion with a young man whose head is being filled with white supremacist propaganda (I am black).  Usually I can give these jerks a run for their money but one thing comes up every time that I would like to have a better argument for. They all swear that your Talmud contains a section which encourages sexual relations between adults and girls as young as age three. I am certain that they have taken it and twisted it to suit their evil agenda. However, I have not seen what they are talking about. I would love nothing more than to be able to quote the section in its proper context and take the wind right out of the sails of that pathetic excuse for their hatred. They also claim that your church teaches that any Jew who takes the life of a non-Jew is carrying out the will of God because all non Jews are an offense to the lord and a minion of Satan.

I am not Jewish so my argument weakens considerably when the topic comes around to the Jewish faith. I would be thrilled if you can send me the section they use in its entirety so that I can present it as it was meant to be read, instead of out of context as they have obviously had it presented to them. Any help at all to strengthen my arguments against their hatred and bigotry would be most appreciative. The young man I mentioned seems to be less eager to conform to their ways the more we talk. I would like to help him come to an informed decision (as well as myself) and he says he is willing to read anything I present to him instead of clouding his mind with those one sided propaganda newspapers he's been getting. Please Help!

Answer: First of all, please realize that the literature of the Talmud is a collection of discussions on various topics of Jewish law, but not all of the material in every discussion:

1) represents the majority view;

2) applies today;

3) was meant to be taken seriously.

I have seen a reference on some hate web sites to a quotation in the Talmud from Avodah Zarah 37a, claiming that it says that a Jew may violate a gentile girl of 3 years of age.  This is a total fabrication -- the Talmud does not say this.

There is a midrashic (non-legal) discussion in Talmud Sanhedrin 58b regarding Moses killing the Egyptian overseer.  From that story, Rabbi Hanina learns that if an idolater hits a Jew, he is worthy of death, but the Talmud does not specify that the death penalty is dealt by a human court -- rather, the Code of Maimonides notes that the death penalty is dealt by the hand of God.  He also translates Proverbs 20:25 midrashically as, "One who hits a person (R. Hanina understands this word as referring to an Israelite) attacks the Holy One."  Incidentally, in the religious traditions that believe the Hebrew Bible is sacred, the mere fact that humanity is created in the image of God means that one who strikes a human being at the very least strike the image of God.

In a note in the Soncino translation of the Talmud, Sanhedrin 57A, the editor notes that "not a few of these harsh utterances were the natural result of Jewish persecution by the Romans, and must be understood in that light.  In actual practice, these dicta were certainly never acted upon, and it is significant that a commission of Roman officers, after investigating Jewish law in its relation to Gentiles, took exception to only two laws, one relating to the damage done by a goring ex, and the other permitting a Jew the use of property stolen from a Gentile.  Rabbi Gamliel repealed this latter law."

Bottom line:  The Talmud never teaches that a Jew who takes the life of a non-Jew is carrying out the will of God, and does not say that all non Jews are an offense to the lord and a minion of Satan.


Question:   I am a Jew living in Dallas TX. I was watching news following the presidential election and candidates. I was watching a news article on Pat Buchanan. They spoke of a white power activist group backing Pat. He said he didn't want their backing and the news mentioned a web site, www.stormfront.org. I though I would visit this site and see ahat they had to offer to humanity. I was shocked to see what I had found. There was a section on the Talmud. Now I have not studied the Talmud or anything of that sort but was surprised at what I saw. Proclamations such as:

Some Teachings of the Jewish Talmud

Erubin 21b. Whosoever disobeys the rabbis deserves death and will be punished by being boiled in hot excrement in hell.

Moed Kattan 17a . If a Jew is tempted to do evil he should go to a city where he is not known and do the evil there.

Hitting a Jew is the same as hitting God

Sanhedrin 58b. If a heathen (gentile) hits a Jew, the gentile must be killed.

O.K. to Cheat Non-Jews

Sanhedrin 57a . A Jew need not pay a gentile ("Cuthean") the wages owed him for work.

Jews Have Superior Legal Status

Baba Kamma 37b. "If an ox of an Israelite gores an ox of a Canaanite there is no liability; but if an ox of a Canaanite gores an ox of an Israelite...the payment is to be in full."

Jews May Steal from Non-Jews

Baba Mezia 24a . If a Jew finds an object lost by a gentile ("heathen") it does not have to be returned. (Affirmed also in Baba Kamma 113b). Sanhedrin 76a. God will not spare a Jew who "marries his daughter to an old man or takes a wife for his infant son or returns a lost article to a Cuthean..."

Jews May Rob and Kill Non-Jews

Sanhedrin 57a . When a Jew murders a gentile ("Cuthean"), there will be no death penalty. What a Jew steals from a gentile he may keep.

Baba Kamma 37b. The gentiles are outside the protection of the law and God has "exposed their money to Israel."

Jews May Lie to Non-Jews

Baba Kamma 113a. Jews may use lies ("subterfuges") to circumvent a Gentile.

Non-Jewish Children are Sub-Human

Yebamoth 98a. All gentile children are animals.

Abodah Zarah 36b. Gentile girls are in a state of niddah (filth) from birth.

Abodah Zarah 22a-22b . Gentiles prefer sex with cows.

Living in the south I am bombarded with questions and attacks dealing with things of this nature. How does a Jew defend themselves when asked a question of this nature? Where are they getting these writings? What does it all mean? I feel this is very important to Judaism.

I was also watching news on Al Gore and was becomed by the nomination of Joseph Leiberman Democratic Senator from Connecticut, as his VP running mate. He and his wife Hadassah spoke wonderfully about breaking the Jewish barrier as Kennedy did by becoming the first Roman Catholic president.

I get called many names, of which I won't repeat. They need not be spoken or written at anytime. I understand this is a touchy subject but I would like to know how to handle their confrontations.

Answer: I quickly checked most of the statements you have listed with the actual statements and context of the Talmud, and for the most part they are either inaccurate or not representative of Jewish law.  The problem stems from a misunderstanding, or a perversion, of the literature of the Talmud.  The Talmud is a collection of discussions on various topics of Jewish law, but not all of the material in every discussion:

1) represents the majority view;

2) applies today;

3) was meant to be taken seriously.

The statement that "whosoever disobeys the rabbis deserves death and will be punished by being boiled in hot excrement in hell [Eruvin 21b]" is not even found in the Talmud.  The correct statement is "whosoever transgresses the words of the Scribes is liable for the death penalty."  First, not every statement of the Rabbis falls in the category under discussion; and second, this is a typical example of exaggerated language -- there was no death penalty for violating a non-Torah law, but the Sages wanted to emphasize the importance of obeying the metaphorical fences they constructed around serious Torah prohibitions, in order to prevent people from accidentally violating the Torah law.

The correct translation of Moed Katan 17a is "If a Jew is overcome by his sexual drive, he should go to a city where he is not known, put on sordid clothes, â  and do the sordid deed rather than profaning the name of heaven openly.  Clearly, the Talmud does not approve of using a prostitute in another city, but the point is that it is better to sin secretly than publicly.

The context for the two statements from Sanhedrin 58b is a midrashic (non-legal) discussion of Moses killing the Egyptian overseer.  From that story, Rabbi Hanina learns that if an idolater hits a Jew, he is worthy of death, but the Talmud does not specify that the death penalty is dealt by a human court -- rather, the Code of Maimonides notes that the death penalty is dealt by the hand of God.  He also translates Proverbs 20:25 midrashically as, "One who hits a person (R. Hanina understands this word as referring to an Israelite) attacks the Holy One."  Incidentally, in the religious traditions that believe the Hebrew Bible is sacred, the mere fact that humanity is created in the image of God means that one who strikes a human being at the very least strike the image of God.

In a note in the Soncino translation of the Talmud, Sanhedrin 57A, the editor notes that "not a few of these harsh utterances were the natural result of Jewish persecution by the Romans, and must be understood in that light.  In actual practice, these dicta were certainly never acted upon, and it is significant that a commission of Roman officers, after investigating Jewish law in its relation to Gentiles, took exception to only two laws, one relating to the damage done by a goring ex, and the other permitting a Jew the use of property stolen from a Gentile.  Rabbi Gamliel repealed this latter law."

The statement in Yevamot 98a does not say that all gentile children are animals -- it quotes Ezekiel, who compares the children of Egyptians to animals.  The word nidah does not mean filth.  It means separated, and in the context of Avodah Zarah 36b is means that it is forbidden for Jews to marry non-Jews.

Finally, Avodah Zarah 22a-b does not say that Gentiles prefer sex with cows.  It implies that in the ancient Greeks were suspected of sex with animals, a suspicion which is refuted on the very the next page.

I do not suggest that you get into a discussion with the kind of racist and anti-Semitic groups who sponsor the web site you mentioned.  You cannot defend yourself from people so full of hate that they do not care about the truth.  You may, however, get questions from reasonable Christians who have questions about Judaism.  In this case, your best strategy is to educate yourself about our sacred texts.  Study the Bible, Talmud, and Midrash.  If you are confident about your religion, you will be able to explain it comfortably to your non-Jewish neighbors.


Question: I found this on a teen issues website:

Dear TeenCentral,

This is the second story that I am writing to this site. I am an 18 year old Jewish boy living in Isreal (sic). If you read my last story, then you know that I have been very troubled lately with what I have witnessed about the attitudes of my people toward non-Jewish people. We refer to non-Jews as “goyim”, which means cattle people. TeenCentral gave me some advice after I sent in my first story. TeenCentral said that I should do some reading and research on the topic. Well, I have done just that, I studied the Talmud (our most sacred holy book, even more sacred that the Torah). Apparently, it is not allowed for any “goyim” to read the Talmud, and I found out just why that is. I have translated some verses from the Talmud and I am listing them right here. This made me very sad. I don’t want to betray my people, but how can I stand by and do nothing after learning this? Please read this and tell me what I can possibly do.

Moed Kattan 17a. If a Jew is tempted to do evil he should go to a city where he is not known and do the evil there.

Menahoth 43b-44a. A Jewish man is obligated to say the following prayer every day: Thank you God for not making me a gentile (non-Jew), a woman or a slave.

Sanhedrin 57a. A Jew need not pay a gentile the wages owed him for work.

Baba Mezia 24a. If a Jew finds an object lost by a gentile it does not have to be returned.

Sanhedrin 76a. Jews May Steal from non-Jews

Yebamoth 98a. All gentile children are animals

Abodah Zarah 36b. Gentile girls are in a state of niddah (filth) from birth.

I was shocked.  Is all this true?

Answer: I am troubled by the message you found on the teen web site, because it is obviously a fake.  A real Israeli boy would not make so many obvious errors, some of which I will point out below.  First, however, I want to suggest that you stay away from this particular web site.  The site owner or editor of the webzine who posted (or created) the letter you read is so irresponsible that would makes me distrust any information you might find there.

Goyim does not mean cattle people.  It simply means "nations," which refers to people who are not Jewish.

The Talmud is not holier than the Torah.

Non-Jews are certainly allowed to study Talmud.

With respect to the statements from the Talmud that you quote, I have checked most of the statements listed below with the actual statements and context of the Talmud, and for the most part they are either inaccurate or not representative of Jewish law.  The problem stems from a misunderstanding, or a perversion, of the literature of the Talmud.  The Talmud is a collection of discussions on various topics of Jewish law, but not all of the material in every discussion:

1) represents the majority view;

2) applies today;

3) was meant to be taken seriously.

The correct translation of Moed Katan 17a is "If a Jew is overcome by his sexual drive, he should go to a city where he is not known, put on sordid clothes, ?  and do the sordid deed rather than profaning the name of heaven openly.  Clearly, the Talmud does not approve of using a prostitute in another city, but the point is that it is better to sin (by having sexual relationship with a prostitute) secretly than do so publicly.

In a note in the Soncino translation of the Talmud, Sanhedrin 57A, the editor notes that "not a few of these harsh utterances were the natural result of Jewish persecution by the Romans, and must be understood in that light.  In actual practice, these dicta were certainly never acted upon, and it is significant that a commission of Roman officers, after investigating Jewish law in its relation to Gentiles, took exception to only two laws, one relating to the damage done by a goring ex, and the other permitting a Jew the use of property stolen from a Gentile.  Rabbi Gamliel repealed this latter law."

The statement in Yevamot 98a does not say that all gentile children are animals -- it quotes Ezekiel, who compares the children of Egyptians to animals.  The word nidah does not mean filth.  It means separated, and in the context of Avodah Zarah 36b it means that it is forbidden for Jews to marry non-Jews.

Regarding Menahot 43b-44a:  Jews thank God daily for having been given the obligation to do mitzvot.  Traditional (Orthodox) Jews use the language from Menahot because a Jewish man has more obligations than a Jewish woman; and Jews have more obligations than non-Jews (I assume you have no problems being thankful that you were not created a slave!)  Therefore, it makes sense that a Jewish man would thank God for not creating him as a woman/non-Jew who have few mitzvot to observe.  By the way, the Conservative Siddur (prayer book) has changed the language of these three blessings, to thank God in positive terms for having made us in God's image, free, and Jewish.

Response:  Thank you for writing back.  Ilooked up the information already and have called the site several times and they wont remove it.  It’s a public anonymous site and I’m afraid people will assume the same thing I did and believe it.  Since the people at Jewish.com are adults I was wondering if one of you could call.  The site is TeenCentral.net and look up the search-o-matic “Jewish”.  There are many more stories like that.  I was just asking if you would, you don’t have to.

Answer: Rachel -- thanks for calling this to my attention.  I have already called them, and left a message for one of the people in charge.  The real danger here is that the anti-Semitic statements he makes are not challenged by the answer, and thus to people reading the correspondence, they appear to be validated.

. . .

Thank you so much again for forwarding the material to me.  I have talked to the person in charge of teen central, and that boy’s messages will be removed.  If you do see anything questionable, please feel free to contact me again.

Response:  I am so happy.  I called around 6 times and it was still there and I kept having to talk to the same woman who was getting really annoyed.  Thanks so much, I really really appreciate you taking the time to do that.

Answer: Unfortunately, some people don’t take teens seriously.  Ironic, isn’t it, when the people on a teen web site don’t take teens seriously!


Question: I need help.  I started a topic in the Civil Liberties forum in About.com titled: Israel Out From Grace. This is a political forum on the net. I ask if there is a new criticism towards Israel today that cannot be cast under the old 'Jew bashing'.  People from many backgrounds and walks of life have argued that US ties to Israel are wrong and have caused the recent terrorism. (I've argued against this-madness is madness, Israel is not to blame) One poster has appeared quoting extensively from your historic texts.  The quotes are inflamatory and disgusting; bestiality, sex with children, OK to cheat non-Jews, etc.  I have nothing to combat this with.  The quotes are standing alone, unchallenged.

Answer: I suggest that you contact About.com and get them to remove the offensive material.  Most forum have policies regarding the posting of hate speech.  I have not looked at your forum to get the specific quotations (and you did not supply me with any), but I have answered questions like yours in the past, and below are some paragraphs which address some of the misinformation that is common on hate sites.

Please, though -- the best way to address this is to get it removed (which I have successfully done on other sites), rather than argue with it, which only legitimizes the questions.

First of all, please realize that the literature of the Talmud is a collection of discussions on various topics of Jewish law, but not all of the material in every discussion:

1) represents the majority view;

2) applies today;

3) was meant to be taken seriously.

I have seen a reference on some hate web sites to a quotation in the Talmud from Avodah Zarah 37a, claiming that it says that a Jew may violate a gentile girl of 3 years of age.  This is a total fabrication -- the Talmud does not say this.

There is a midrashic (non-legal) discussion in Talmud Sanhedrin 58b regarding Moses killing the Egyptian overseer.  From that story, Rabbi Hanina learns that if an idolater hits a Jew, he is worthy of death, but the Talmud does not specify that the death penalty is dealt by a human court -- rather, the Code of Maimonides notes that the death penalty is dealt by the hand of God.  He also translates Proverbs 20:25 midrashically as, "One who hits a person (R. Hanina understands this word as referring to an Israelite) attacks the Holy One."  Incidentally, in the religious traditions that believe the Hebrew Bible is sacred, the mere fact that humanity is created in the image of God means that one who strikes a human being at the very least strike the image of God.

In a note in the Soncino translation of the Talmud, Sanhedrin 57A, the editor notes that "not a few of these harsh utterances were the natural result of Jewish persecution by the Romans, and must be understood in that light.  In actual practice, these dicta were certainly never acted upon, and it is significant that a commission of Roman officers, after investigating Jewish law in its relation to Gentiles, took exception to only two laws, one relating to the damage done by a goring ex, and the other permitting a Jew the use of property stolen from a Gentile.  Rabbi Gamliel repealed this latter law."

Bottom line:  The Talmud never teaches that a Jew who takes the life of a non-Jew is carrying out the will of God, and does not say that all non Jews are an offense to the lord and a minion of Satan.

The correct translation of Moed Katan 17a is "If a Jew is overcome by his sexual drive, he should go to a city where he is not known, put on sordid clothes, â  and do the sordid deed rather than profaning the name of heaven openly.  Clearly, the Talmud does not approve of using a prostitute in another city, but the point is that it is better to sin (by having sexual relationship with a prostitute) secretly than do so publicly.

In a note in the Soncino translation of the Talmud, Sanhedrin 57A, the editor notes that "not a few of these harsh utterances were the natural result of Jewish persecution by the Romans, and must be understood in that light.  In actual practice, these dicta were certainly never acted upon, and it is significant that a commission of Roman officers, after investigating Jewish law in its relation to Gentiles, took exception to only two laws, one relating to the damage done by a goring ex, and the other permitting a Jew the use of property stolen from a Gentile.  Rabbi Gamliel repealed this latter law."

The statement in Yevamot 98a does not say that all gentile children are animals -- it quotes Ezekiel, who compares the children of Egyptians to animals.  The word nidah does not mean filth.  It means separated, and in the context of Avodah Zarah 36b it means that it is forbidden for Jews to marry non-Jews.

Regarding Menahot 43b-44a:  Jews thank God daily for having been given the obligation to do mitzvot.  Traditional (Orthodox) Jews use the language from Menahot because a Jewish man has more obligations than a Jewish woman; and Jews have more obligations than non-Jews (I assume you have no problems being thankful that you were not created a slave!)  Therefore, it makes sense that a Jewish man would thank God for not creating him as a woman/non-Jew who have few mitzvot to observe.  By the way, the Conservative Siddur (prayer book) has changed the language of these three blessings, to thank God in positive terms for having made us in God's image, free, and Jewish.


Question:  I have several questions.   I hope that is not over the limit.

1)  In some of the racist chat rooms, the racists "quote" the talmud.  One of their quotes is that it is ok for a Jew to have sex with a 3 year old girl.  Where did they get this crazy notion from?

2)  I read (I'm pretty sure it was in the encyclopedia Judaica) that either a lock of Abraham's and/or Mohammed's hair can be found at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.  If this is the case, I must have missed it when I was there.  Where was it?

3)  I believe there was also a picture of an ancient synagogue (I believe it was in the Galilee) in the Encyclopedia Judaica where the building was carved with both a Star of David and a swastika.  I know the swastika is also an ancient symbol.  Do you have any knowledge of synagogues carved like this and what could be the significance of the swastika?

4)  How many Jews are presently left in the former Soviet Union?

Answer:

1)  I don't know where the notion that it is permitted to have sexual relations with a minor child came from.  The Talmud very clearly states that a minor girl who is betrothed has the right to refuse the marriage.  Most Talmudic opinions take this one step further, completely prohibiting betrothal of minors.

2)  I don't know anything about locks of hair in in the Dome of the Rock.

3)  As far as I know, the swastika was used as a simple geometric pattern.  It had no particular significance until the Nazi's reversed the direction of the arms and tilted it 45 degrees to use as their symbol.

4)  According to the most recent American Jewish Year Book, 1998, the Jewish population of Russia in 1996 was 546,600.


Question:  Where in The Talmud does it say “o save one live is the same as saving a entire world” (not the Quote in Sanhedrin that says “a Jewish life”)?

Answer: The quote that you are seeking:  "One who saves a single life, it is as if one saved an entire world, and one who destroys a single life, it is as if one destroyed an entire world," comes from two places:

Pirkei Rabbi Eliezer, Chapter 47

Avot D'Rabbi Natan, version 1, Chapter 31 (first paragraph) - Solomon Schechter puts the word "Israel" (Jew) in brackets, indicating that he did not think that it was in the original saying.


Question:  I'm looking for commentary and original text on B. Talmud, Baba Metzia 39b.

Answer: The original text of Baba Metzia 39b along with commentaries of Rashi, Tosafot, and others can be found in any standard Talmud.  Translations are available both in the Soncino and in the Steinsaltz editions.  The Steinsaltz translation also includes a commentary.


Question:  I understand that someplace in the Talmud it states that if a city is besieged and the attackers want one person from the city to be surrendered, to be killed, that the city may not surrender that person.  Is this true,  what is the specific Talmudic reference?

Answer: The original source for this ruling, based in part on the story of Sheva ben Bikhri in II Samuel 20, comes from the Tosefta of Terumah 7:23 (in some editions, 7:20), related to Mishnah Tosefta 8:11-12.  The Talmud Yerushalmi Terumah 8:4 (or 46b) contains the fullest discussion of the ruling, and it is codified in Maimonides Mishneh Torah Hilkhot Yesudei Hatorah 5:5:

"If [they] say to you:  'Hand over one of you and let us kill him, or we will kill all of you' - they should all be killed rather than handing over one person.

If they are specific, and say, 'Hand over so-and-so and let us kill him, or we will kill all of you' - if so-and-so is already liable for the death penalty, as was Sheva ben Bikhri, give him to them; . . . If so-and-so is not liable for the death penalty, they should all be killed rather than handing over one person."

Obviously, I do not have the time to translate and type each of the sources for you, but I hope this helps get you started.

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