Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Great Regulars: The Talmud goes on to give several criteria

for identifying an am haaretz: "anyone who does not tithe his produce properly," "anyone who does not recite the Shema in the evening and the morning," "anyone who does not wear tefillin," "anyone who does not have a mezuzah on his home's entrance." Finally, the most sweeping definition of all: "even if one read scripture and studied Mishna, but did not serve Torah scholars"--that is, did not master Gemara--"he is an am haaretz." By that definition, of course, 90 percent of modern Jews fall into this shameful category.

from Adam Kirsch: Tablet: Talmudic Pride and Prejudice


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