Photos: The Talmud Translated To Arabic!
On a stand at the book fair in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia about two months ago was a sign advertising the first translation in history of the Babylonian Talmud into Arabic The huge project, which sparked debate in Saudi Arabia over the propriety of advertising the sale of Jewish religious literature in a Muslim country, was the work of a Jordanian research institute What is the Rebbe's outlook on this?
On a stand at the book fair in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia about two months ago was a sign advertising the first translation in history of the Babylonian Talmud into Arabic.
The huge project, which sparked debate in Saudi Arabia over the propriety of advertising the sale of Jewish religious literature in a Muslim country, was the work of a Jordanian research institute.
The work joins several other translations into Arabic in recent years of canonical Jewish works.
Experts disagree about the origin of this trend. Some call it purely scientific, while others believe it stems from a desire to "know your enemy" or an anti-Semitic attempt to "expose the truth" about Judaism.
Still other scholars say there is a desire to know Jewish works better so as to "purify" the Hadith - Muslim law - from Jewish influences.
The institute that translated the work, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies in Amman, focuses mainly on the social sciences and international relations.
Dr. Raquel Ukeles, curator of the Israel's National Library Islam and Middle East collection says the translation stemmed from scientific curiosity.
The introduction deals with the importance of the Talmud and its study, and in explaining that it is not just a text of religious law, but deals with politics and morality, Ukeles said.
"They see the importance of Jewish identity and the rise of religious parties in Israel and therefore recognize the importance of understanding the religious culture important to Judaism," she added.
The translation took 96 scholars six years to complete. Some were Aramaic-speaking Christians who helped illucidate the Aramaic expressions in the Talmud.
No Jewish scholars are known to have taken part in the work.
The translation does not include the interpretations by Rashi and others that have been added to the Hebrew version.
The editors of the translation say in the introduction that the lack of an Arabic translation of the Talmud "has always been an obstacle to understanding Judaism."
The introduction also states that when the idea of the translation was raised, it was greeted with many positive responses and the issue also came up in the discussions in the Arab League, which pushed for the project.
The Talmud in Arabic, its editors write, "will help understand what caused them to build the State of Israel in Palestine and gather the Jews there. It will help explain how the Jews look at the other and their relation to modernization, human rights and the place of other religions."
Nabih Bashir, a Jerusalemite Ph.D. student at Ben-Gurion University, said he believes the trend "is connected to the increased influence of the ultra-Orthodox and the religious Zionists; there is curiosity and so there is a demand," says Bashir, whose translation of Yehuda Halevi's "the Kuzari" into Arabic was barred from Israel.
Israeli customs authorities are holding up the import of Bashir's translation, which was printed in Beirut and took him some seven years to complete, on the grounds that it "violates the laws regarding commerce with the enemy."
Another example of growing interest in Jewish texts is a translation into Arabic of the Mishnah, completed three years ago by Prof. Mustafa Mansour of Cairo University.
The last effort to translate the Talmud was by a Jerusalemite, Hamadi Nu'abani, in the 1980s, who managed to publish only one tractate.
To date, there have been no attempts to translate the entire Gemara into Arabic. The sections that have been translated are mainly those that can be used for anti-Semitic or anti-Israel propaganda.
In honor of the first Siyum Harambam, in 5745, the Rebbe gave a "Hadran" during the Yud Alef Nissan Farbrengen, and concluded during the Acharon Shel Pesach Farbrengen. The "Hadran" was later edited by the Rebbe and printed in the back of Likutei Sichos Vol. 27. In Seif 13 the Rebbe presents a revolutionary explanation in regards to the times of Moshiach, by saying that the Non-Jews will also be focused on learning Torah: In the conclusion of his book, the Rambam writes: "The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d," and afterwards he changes his wording and writes: "The Jews will therefore be great sages."
A simple reading of this Halacha implies, that the Non-Jews are also included in the category of "the entire world" (as opposed to "the Jews"), and their occupation will solely be that of knowing G-d (as the Rambam writes in the end of the chapter 11: "He will then perfect the entire world, [motivating all the nations] to serve G-d together, as it is written 'I will make the peoples etc'.").
The meaning of learning Torah "solely to know G-d" is that the learning is not for the purpose of knowing how to keep the Mitzvos, rather it is for the purpose of understanding Torah, to reach the level of "Kesser Torah," and this applies to the Non-Jews too...
This too is the reason why the Rambam chose the verse "For the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d," to imply that not only "The Jews" will be knowledgeable in Torah, but rather "the world" - "The occupation of the entire world will be solely to know G-d."
Some might say, that this concept of translating the Talmud to Arabic, is another step in preparing the world for the coming of Moshiach, when all nations will be learning the Torah.