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The Talmud and the Internet: A Journey between Worlds [Paperback]


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The Talmud and the Internet: A Journey between Worlds [Paperback]

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The Talmud and the Internet by Jonathan Rosen is a small, wise, ingenious meditation on faith, technology, literature, and love. In the book's opening pages, Rosen (formerly the culture editor of Forward) seeks solace after his grandmother's death in the poetry of John Donne. Nagged by a half-remembered phrase from one poem, Rosen tracked down the text online, and "For one moment, there in dimensionless, chilly cyberspace, I felt close to my grandmother, close to John Donne, and close to some stranger who, as it happens, designs software for a living." In the Internet's "world of unbounded curiosity, of argument and information, where anyone with a modem can wander out of the wilderness for a while, ask a question and receive an answer," Rosen finds a real parallel to the Talmud, "a place where everything exists, if only one knows how and where to look." The literary resemblance has a cultural resonance, too. Rosen observes that "the Talmud offered a virtual home for an uprooted culture, and grew out of the Jewish need to pack civilization into words and wander out into the world." And the Internet suggests to Rosen "a similar sense of Diaspora, a feeling of being everywhere and nowhere. Where else but in the middle of Diaspora do you need a homepage?" In Rosen's analysis, the Internet and the Talmud signal and salve social and spiritual isolation. His book does this same thing, too. --Michael Joseph Gross

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