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July 20, 1979 - Image 64

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1979-07-20

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64 Friday, July 20, 1919

Talmud Fragments Pieced Together in Scholar's 17-Year Study

NEW YORK — The case
of the Talmud fragments,
427 eroded, jigsaw shaped
pieces of Talmud that were
originally written between
the 7th and 11th centuries,
has finally been closed.
Dr. Abraham I. Katsh,
former president of Dropsie
University, recently pub-
lished the last of three vol-
umes in his 17-year study
that sheds new light on the
Talmud, according to a
story in The New York
For the past 100 years,
the fragments, originally
found in Cairo, have been
lying in boxes in Russia,

well-kept but rarely
The recently studied -
material, Katsh said,
illustrates what scholars
and Jewish religious
savants had to deal with
when faced with
an enigma or contradic-
tion in the Talmud. There
was always a belief that a
different version existed,
but never proof.
"Now the different ver-
sion is in writing," Katsh
said. "For instance,_ in
Ethics of the Fathers, it is
written that one should not
converse too much with a
woman. However, . . .

throughout the Talmud, the
woman is protected.
"Now comes this new
material and two words are
added, to the effect that one
should not speak too much
to a woman while she is
menstruating. That adds a
lot and reinforces ethical
practices and traditions
about staying away from a
woman at that time."
In another instance,
Katsh found fragments re-
fering to Jesus, who is not
mentioned in the present
The search took Katsh
to the Soviet Union six
times, during which he

not only established a
rare scholarly rapport
with Soviet librarians but
also viewed a wealth of
Judaica stored there. The
Talmud pieces were
among 1,200 other items
of the Antonin Geniza
Collection in the Lenin-
grad Library.
Cambridge University
acquired about 100,000
fragments while 150,000
fragments went to bib-
liophiles and researchers in
many parts of the world.
The Antonin Collection has
not been easily accessible to
Western scholars.
The first two volumes of

the set were published in
1970 and 1975. Katsh has
annotated and catalogued
the collection in English. (It
was published in Hebrew.)
Katsh explained that
many of the variants in the
Talmud were the result of
government censorship in
Europe and the East, where
certain names and refer-
ences were deleted.
Although the study has
been completed, Katsh is
not taking much time to
bask in the light he has
shed. "There is a lot more
material from the
Jerusalem Talmud and I
also found manuscripts


written in Arabic," he said _ .
"There is much to be dor

Zionist Efforts in S. America
U.S. National Seder of Freedom Becoming Critical for Students

Ties to the Founding Fathers

Proposed for the Fourth of July


(President Emeritus, Dropsie U.)

(Editor's note: The fol-
lowing is excerpted from
the first Sol Feinstone
Lecture delivered by Dr.
Katsh at Dropsie Univer-
sity in Philadephia in
As we celebrated
Passover, I found myself
thinking: If only on the
Fourth of July a Na
Seder would be instituted
by the American people. All
Americans might better ap-
preciate their constitu-
tional rights and privileges.
Because the event of the
Exodus which the Jews re-
cite on Passover is the first
act of emancipation , in the
history of the world.
- Ever since the Jews went
out of Egypt to accept a con-
cept of ethical monotheism
and freedom, in spite of all
the tragedies of the past
2,000 years of persecution,
their survival was a,protest,
a cry for freedom and eman-
cipation, a message of lib-
erty for the world. And it
will continue that way until
we do attain universal free-
So it would not be so out-
landish to have a July
Fourth Seder ceremony and
narrate the words of the
Puritans which they recited
upon arriving here, similar
to the words in the Hag-
"Ought not, and may not
the children of these fathers
rightly say: our fathers
were Englishmen, who
came over this great ocean
and were ready to perish in
this wilderness, but they
cried mite the Lord, and He
heard their voice and looked
on their adversity . . .
"Yea, let them who
have been redeemed by
the Lord show how He
hath delivered them from
the hand of the oppres-


sor, when they wandered
in the desert wilderness
out of the way; and found
no city to dwell in, both
hungry and thirsty their
soul was overwhelmed in
them. Let them therefore
confess before the Lord
his loving kindness and
his wonderful works be-
fore the children of men."
I call your attention to
that last phrase — they
found no city to dwell in . . .
You are all familiar with
the words on the Liberty
Bell, and you know that
they come from Leviticus
25:10 "And thou shall pro-
claim liberty throughout
the land unto all the inhabi-
tants thereof:" The Hebrew
word for "Liberty" in this
text is d'ror. The talmudic
sages asked themselves:
What is the significance
of this word d'ror? Their an-
swer is of particular impor-
tance to us at this point, be-
cause the root of d'ror means
to dwell," and the sages ex-
plained poetically, It
means that one may dwell
unmolested wherever be
he." Even in Skokie.
Freedom, therefore, to the
Founding Fathers of this
country — and to us today
— contained the significant
element of "living in peace
beneath your vine and fig
tree," and as the prophet
said — there shall be no one
to make them afraid.
Indeed a National Seder
celebration on July 4 would
not really be a new idea for.
America. Back in our early
days, Benjamin Franklin
and Thomas Jefferson drew
up a design for the seal of
the newly established
United States of America. It
portrayed Pharaoh and all
his host, passing in an open
chariot through the divided
waters of the Red Sea in
pursuit of the fleeing Israel-
ites, while Moses, with

beams of heavenly light
radiating from his head,
stands on the farther shore
with hand outstretched over
the sea, causing it to over-
whelm Pharaoh and his
host. Beneath this repre-
sentation is inscribed the
motto: 'Resistance to Tyr-
ants is obedience to God."

Unfortunately, today
nations decide issues not
on their just merits but by
means of political blocs.
A communist bloc. A
Moslem bloc. An Afro-
Asian bloc. But a July
Fourth Seder might
usher in an era where
hearts would beat with
new sympathy toward all
humanity, where i new
spirit would evince- the
recognition that we are
all brothers, where this
new heart and this new
spirit would join together
for world freedom and
world peace.

Then the world would
realize that one can be a
slave even in freedom, one
can be spiritually in bon-
dage even while physically
free. Because in every gen-
eration there is a feasibility
that a ,new king may arise
"who did not know Joseph,"
and who will forget that our
ancestors laid down for us,
all their work and struggle
that we might live in a free

Cultural Zionism

The movement for the re-
turn to Zion was motivated
by various forces of which
one of the most powerful
was cultural. Cultural
Zionism, expounded by the
philosopher Ahad Ha'am
(1856-1927), maintained
that Jewish cultural
creativity could only de-
velop when the Jews lived
in their own Land.


The Zionist movement is
guilty of the sin of neglect
towards the Jews in South
America, the head of the
World Zionist Organiza-
tion's student division told
the Jewish Telegraphic
Agency following his one-
month trip to the region.
"We are totally avoiding a
world which desperately
needs our help."
Dror Zeigerman, head of
the 10-month-old student
division, contends that
some 70,000 Jewish stu-
dents in South America
constitute Israel's best
market for aliya in the
college-age group — if they
can only be reached. "The
money and the power are in
the U.S.. . . But it's time
we looked southward," says
"Jewish youth in South
America is in a state of so-
cial and spiritual' depriva-.
tion. The Zionist movement
and the Jewish community
are one of the few places in
which he can freely express
Following an extended
visit to Brazil, Uruguay,
Argentina, Chile, Peru
and Colombia, Zeiger-
man is convinced of the
need for an organized
call for aliya there. The
regimes, he says, pre*ent
the youth from thinking
and the campuses are
physically decentralized
so as to prevent social ac-
tivities. "Just in that light
alone, Israel has much to
offer the South American
Jewish student," he says,
adding that the new
college-age generation
would readily respond to
a call of aliya — if the call
were made.
As it stands now, efforts
directed by the WZO at the
South American continent
are poorly organized. "We
have to stop thinking and
speaking English," con-
tends Zeigerman, pointing
to the surplus of written
material on Zionism which
goes unused in South
America simply because it
is written in the wrong lan-
guage. The same situation
applies to outdated visual
material, which is cast aside
due to its lack of relevance.


The problem, however,
says Zeigerman, does not
pertain only to South
America, where it is felt
most strongly, but to the
WZO's-approach to students
"The WZO has largely
overlooked the student in
its aliya efforts for a number
of reasons," observes
Zeigerman. "First, it is dif-
ficult to locate and organize
students. Second, on an
ideological level, all activi-
ties of the Zionist movement
seem to stop at high school
graduation. Third, a whole
series of objective difficul-
ties, such as the rise of th&
left and the Vietnam War,
have prevented a more effi-
cient link with Jewish stu-
dents throughout the world.
The Zionist movement just
couldn't compete on the
campuses with these
Now, he contends,
Zionism can attract stu-
dents — both because
competition has died
down and because of the
contemporary search for
roots. "Jews are return-
ing to their Judaism," he
Also, the situation has
somewhat improved with
the creation of the WZO
student division. Until this
year, Jewish students were
taken care„ of by the youth
and hehalutz department
where, he contends, they
were severely overlooked.

against the PLO, against
anti-Semitism, in support of
Soviet JeWry, then it's only
a small step to magnifying
their-interest in Israel and
aliya," Zeigerman observes.
He also wants to estab-
lish aliya groups on the
campuses and increase
Jewish student partici-
pation in educational
programs in Israeli uni-
versities. "This year, we
have 2,000 Students
enrolled here from the
U.S. and another 2,500
from South America. As
far as the student is con-
cerned, this is the real
key to bringing him
closer to Zionism," he
Zeigerman does not ex-
pect his division to "conquer
the student world," but he
expects it to work efficiently
with small numbers of stu-
dents who would in turn
build wider Zionist action
circles around themselves.
If we have an active core,
things will roll from there
by themselves."
The division head urges
that steps be taken quickly:
"The situation is more seri-
ous than most people
realize. Who will provide
the Jewish nation with
quality leadership in an-
other 10-15 years? As it
stands now, there is no corn-
ing generation in the
Zionist movement . . .
Things have to be altered

"In 1978, students were
allocated only $400,000,
three percent of the de-
partment's $10 million an-
nual budget," Zeigerrnan
notes. Now, with the crea-
tion of the separate student
division, some $1 million
has been allocated. "It's still
only 10 percent of youth and
hehalutz, but it's a definite
improvement over the prev-
ious situation."

Legion, Hagana
Founder Recalled

With the proper assis-
tance, Zeigerman envisions
a situation in which Zionist
nuclei could be established
on campuses throughout
the world and up to 100 stu-
dents on each campus would
be responsible for involving
others in issues relevant to
Israel. "If we can get stu-
dents involved in the fight

39th yahrzeit of ZeeN Ja-
botinsky, the founder of
the Jewish Legion and
Hagana, will be comme-_
rated on July 24, at the Bier
Auditorium in New York in
an observance sponsored by
the United Zionists-
Revisionists of America.
Jabotinsky founded the
Jewish Legion, the first
Jewish army to exist in
more than 1,800 years, dur-
ing World War I to aid the
British in freeing Palestine
from Turkish control. In
1920, he formed the Hagana
as a defensive body to pro-
tect Jews from Arab at-

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