On the small peninsula that collectively holds the populations of both North and South Korea, about 50 million people live in South Korea. One of the strangest facets of history is that almost the whole population of Korean youth is being taught from the Jewish Talmud. This was the shocking news to the Israeli people given weeks ago by the Korean Ambassador to Israel, Mr. Young Sam Ma.
Steeped in a long and deep history of Buddhism, and affected by the English missionaries who came to South Korea in the late 19th century, today, it is estimated that about 30% of the South Korean people are Christian church worshippers, with a different flavor to their lives. In the western world of Europe and America, the Jewish Talmud is ignored or derided, but in South Korea, it is highly esteemed.
It is not that the South Koreans are reading the Babylonian Talmud for its religious teachings, but the Korean Ambassador spoke highly of how it has developed the Jewish mind. As he spoke:
Mr. Young Sam Ma – “We tried to understand why the Jews are geniuses, and we came to the conclusion that we think it is because they study Talmud. And this is how "Rav Papa" became a more well known scholar in Korea than in Israel.”
So today, you can walk down any Korean street with shops and vending stores, and along with a pot of rice and noodles, you can purchase a copy of the latest “Stories from the Talmud” or reach over to a vending machine and purchase one of the ancient Jewish classics in Babylonian Judaism for lunchtime reading. It is not only sought after for its wisdom of everyday life, but the South Korean government has now made the study of Talmudic Judaism a part of all South Korean compulsory education for school age children.
South Korea is a country with a deep Buddhist history, but one which has embraced with enthusiasm the Christianity brought to its shores by missionaries in the late 1800s. Official statistics say some 30 per cent of South Koreans are church-going. In such a country, Jews are few and far between.
What make this collection of legal briefs by the ancient Jewish scholars that is the foundation of Jewish life after the TaNaKh, the Hebrew bible, so important to the Korean people? Why would they choose to read it rather than a novel, a book on contemporary Korean life, and that so many Koreans read these books, that it is sold in book-vending machines stocked along with classic works on Babylonian Judaism. As Ambassador Young Sam Ma stated:
Mr. Young Sam Ma – “It is doubtful if the Amoraic scholars, Abbaye and Rava imagined their discussions of Jewish law in the Beit Midrash in Babylon would be taught hundreds of years later in East Asia. Yet it turns out that the laws of an "egg born on a holiday" ("ביצה שנולדה ביום טוב") is actually very interesting to the South Koreans who have required that Talmud study be part of their compulsory school curriculum.”
This phenomenon has been going on for many years, but is virtually unknown about in the western world. Though there were initially a lot of complaints that were received by the Korean government when the Talmudic studies became part of compulsory school curriculum, the South Korean people over time readily took up the challenge for they too wanted their children to become geniuses like the Jewish people.
So today, almost every home in South Korea contains a Jewish Talmud translated into the Korean language. Unlike in Israel, where the Talmud is taught in the yeshivas by rabbinic scholars, in Korea the mothers actually teach the Talmud to their own children. Here in this country, known to be predominately Buddhist and Christian, there are more people that have access to a Jewish Talmud than to a Christian Bible.
Recently Mr. Young Sam Ma, the Korean Ambassador to Israel was hosted on Channel 1 TV program channel called, “Culture Today”. As Mr. Ma spoke on Israeli TV, he stated:
Mr. Young Sam Ma – “We were very curious about the high academic achievements of the Jewish people. Jews have a high percentage of Nobel laureates in all fields: literature, science and economics. This is a remarkable achievement. We tried to understand what is the secret of the Jewish people? How they - more than other people - are able to reach those impressive accomplishments? Why are Jews so intelligent? In our opinion, one of your secrets is that you study the Talmud.
Jews study the Talmud at a young age and it helps them, in our opinion, to develop mental capabilities. This understanding led us to teach our children as well. We believe that if we teach our children Talmud, they will also become geniuses. This is what stands behind the rationale of introducing Talmud Study to our school curriculum."
The Korean Ambassador to Israel went on to state that he also started studying the Talmud when he was very young. He admitted, “It is considered a significant study. The result is that more Koreans have Talmud set in their home than Jews in Israel.” Then he admitted;
Mr. Young Sam Ma – “I, for example, have two editions of Talmud: one my wife bought and the other I got from my mother in law”.
Then with this admission, the Ambassador went on to analyze that in his culture, their traditions are almost like the traditions of the Jews. When the parents-in-law who as parents of a Jewish bride buy her a set of Talmud writings, it is their main interest in that their future son-in-law must have access to the wisdom of the Jewish Talmud.
Today the Korean people are eagerly seeking anything that will help their children to achieve on an international level. The Korean parents are not only sending their children to school, but where other countries like America, the children are involved in extra-curricular activities to keep them entertained and active, the young Korean children rather are spending their evening hours in after school tutorials, extra curriculum or ‘crammers’ even up to midnight in order to seek their aspiration of success. According to one Korean mother of two children, Lee San-sook stated:
Lee San-sook – “The stereotype of Jews here is that they are ultra-intelligent people. Jews have come out of nowhere to become business chiefs, media bosses, Nobel Prize winners - we want our children to do the same. If that means studying Talmud, Torah, whatever, so be it."
This image is not universally accepted in other religious or secular cultures. Amazingly the ‘Quite Normal” blogsite gave an interesting perspective on a Catholic message board called, ‘Fish Eaters Traditional Catholic Forum’. In this blog, a certain “Brogan”, called a teacher in South Korea is trying to figure out why the Korean children are learning the Talmud. He is absolutely perplexed that they should even care about the Talmud. As he expressed to his fellow Catholic ‘Fish Eaters’, he expresses with dismay and disgust that neither can the Korean children get over the interest and joy of reading the Talmud, but Brogan expresses in his updates the bad news for his fellow ‘Fish Eaters’;
Brogan on Catholic Forum - “The Koreans love it! They are nuts about Talmud. I tell you the way they acted were more fanatical then American kids about Harry Potter. I mean they LOVED the Talmud!”
It’s too bad that the Roman Catholics have such enmity against the Jewish people, but that should not surprise us. The Bible teaches us that Rome, the House of Esau will have enmity against his brother, the House of Jacob. This includes not only the Jews of the House of Judah, but also the Lost Tribes of the House of Israel (Jacob).
In spite of this Korean “fascination”, only a few Koreans really desire or are able to make the transition to become Jewish in their religious observation. That trend is also true in the lands in which the Lost Tribes of Israel reside, but the latter trend is also changing.
The problem is there are no synagogues In Korea, no kosher food, and a social working culture that is not accepting of Jewish Shabbat worship. To be an observant Jew in Seoul, one’s worship experience is only available on Friday evenings, at a Christian military chapel on the American Army base. It is weekly converted from hymn books and New Testaments to Chumash and Talmuds and back again when the service is over.
The congregational attendance is mostly non-Jewish Koreans, many of which speak Hebrew fluently. Whereas to almost all Koreans, Judaism is an ‘interest’ where they boast of their large collections of books and collectables of Judaica, yet there is still little interest in conversion to Judaism. Yet, the G-d of Israel does have His finger remolding the minds of the Korean people and maybe someday also, the North Koreans.
The Koreans most famous Jew is Abraham Cha. He is one of the rare few who have converted. At the make-ship synagogue, one cannot mistake Abraham with his unruly beard, his payot on his head, a tzitzit proudly showing and boasting a personal library of Jewish books, many Orthodox Jews would be envious about.
Yet, to achieve this distinction, Abraham lost his job. He was excommunicated by his family, was forced to divorce his wife and he could not find any job that would allow him to worship on the Jewish Shabbat or celebrate on the Jewish holidays.
Even so, the Koreans, unlike Brogan’s Catholic children readers, admire the Jews and want to copy and emulate them. Yet being Jewish still perplexes them. Yet, they would not even consider having an anti-Semitic feeling or thought against the Jews for they admire the Jews significantly.
What is even more interesting is the evidence that the study of the Jewish Talmud as taught in South Korea is more extensive than a study of the Jewish Aggada or the Pirkei Avot-style of personal ethics. They are eager to teach their children teachings on Jewish halakhah and legal studies from the Gemara.
According to Jewish scholars, the English-language based educational magazine for South Korean school children, called "The Kids Times", they features children’s cartoons that are readily available to the Korean public called “The Wisdom of the Talmud”. In this particular lesson study, called “Negotiating the Rent” the teaching lessons were taken directly from the Sugya at the beginning of the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud) Ketubot 103a.
With this fascination, one begins to question; are there hidden and undiscovered Jewish roots or the Lost Tribes of Israel that are imbedded in the genes of the South Korean peoples? What if the Korean peoples have not been touched by the truth of the G-d of Israel? Is this Hashem’s (G-d of Israel’s) way of bringing the knowledge of the Torah to the South Koreans, so if the Jews will be saved in the future “Kingdom of G-d” on earth, the South Korean’s will say, “That’s smart, I want to be like a Jew and be there too! Only Hashem knows!
Credit to “The Jewish Chronicle” – “Why Koreans are in Love with Judaism” – May 12, 2011
Credit to “Quite Normal” – “Talmud study mandatory in South Korea and the kids love it!” – March 28, 2011
If you have wondered how biblical prophecy fits into your life, and how it will affect the Return of the House of Israel, then the G-d of Israel is beginning his “call” to bring you home, too. You might desire to reconnect with the Biblical portrayals on what is and may be happening in your near future.
This Biblical portrayal includes Prophecies that the Lost Tribes of the House of Israel are about to return to the Land of their Biblical Inheritance. This is Divine Destiny in living reality as the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel return to their Homelands first in Shomron (Samaria), Israel. If you want to learn more, Contact “Kol Ha Tor Vision”, the Voice of the Turtledove.
Here is a joint Orthodox Jewish and 10-Triber Mission to bring awareness of the imminent fulfillment of the Biblical Prophecies regarding the Redemption of all Israel (12 Tribes Re-conciled and Re-United). This super Event of all Times will entail Establishing the Shomron (the Ancient Bible Heartland of the Patriarchs) and the Judean Wilderness as part of the Land of Israel, and preparing the “Land” for the Return of the Lost Tribes of the House of Israel and then the Redemption of All Israel.
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