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The Talmud and the Internet, in which Jonathan Rosen examines the contradictions of his inheritance as a modern American and a Jew, is a moving and exhilarating meditation on modern technology and ancient religious impulses. Blending memoir, religious history and literary reflection Rosen explores the remarkable parallels between a page of Talmud and the homepage of a web The Talmud and the Internet, in which Jonathan Rosen examines the contradictions of his inheritance as a modern American and a Jew, is a moving and exhilarating meditation on modern technology and ancient religious impulses. Blending memoir, religious history and literary reflection Rosen explores the remarkable parallels between a page of Talmud and the homepage of a web site, and reflects on the contrasting lives and deaths of his American and European grandmothers.


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The Talmud and the Internet, in which Jonathan Rosen examines the contradictions of his inheritance as a modern American and a Jew, is a moving and exhilarating meditation on modern technology and ancient religious impulses. Blending memoir, religious history and literary reflection Rosen explores the remarkable parallels between a page of Talmud and the homepage of a web The Talmud and the Internet, in which Jonathan Rosen examines the contradictions of his inheritance as a modern American and a Jew, is a moving and exhilarating meditation on modern technology and ancient religious impulses. Blending memoir, religious history and literary reflection Rosen explores the remarkable parallels between a page of Talmud and the homepage of a web site, and reflects on the contrasting lives and deaths of his American and European grandmothers.

30 review for The Talmud and the Internet: A Journey between Worlds

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sellyndavies

    What I like about Jonathan Rosen is his craftsmanship as a writer. Unfortunately, in this book, he seems to brush upon a few different themes, without committing to any one of them. The net result is a monologue that meanders without delivering on the promise suggested by the title. The book is part memoir about the lives of his grandmothers - one of whom lived and died in safety in the United States - and the other, who died during the Holocaust. He says his father, who lost his entire family a What I like about Jonathan Rosen is his craftsmanship as a writer. Unfortunately, in this book, he seems to brush upon a few different themes, without committing to any one of them. The net result is a monologue that meanders without delivering on the promise suggested by the title. The book is part memoir about the lives of his grandmothers - one of whom lived and died in safety in the United States - and the other, who died during the Holocaust. He says his father, who lost his entire family at the age of 14, thought the world needed to be redeemed, but his mother, who grew up here, thought the world fine as it is. Rosen compares the commentaries in the Talmud to following Internet links. I'm not sure what his point was, although many of his seemingly unrelated observations are interesting.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rona

    This is a short book of the thoughts of a young man trying to find meaning in his family history, the history of Jewish and European history as it relates to his family, and the meaning of history as he and his family move into the future. It is sprinkled with lovely family stories, nods to great literature, and bits of history. If you want to get a taste of a thoughtful, contemporary Jewish-American life, Jonathan Rosen is one of the go-to authors. It is a short, pleasant read. It is tender, tho This is a short book of the thoughts of a young man trying to find meaning in his family history, the history of Jewish and European history as it relates to his family, and the meaning of history as he and his family move into the future. It is sprinkled with lovely family stories, nods to great literature, and bits of history. If you want to get a taste of a thoughtful, contemporary Jewish-American life, Jonathan Rosen is one of the go-to authors. It is a short, pleasant read. It is tender, thoughtful, but not evenly written. It is an early book in his career.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ben Pashkoff

    Raises some interestingpoints, but.... could have been/should have been/would have been... oh well - probably to be forgotten in the near future. NOT what I would put down as one of my more influential reads. Most interesting point (IMMHO) was a comparison of the lives and times of Flavius Josephus and R Yhanan Ben-Zakkai. Again could have had more to it. Maybe this is what contemporary liberal American Jewry is idolizing?

  4. 4 out of 5

    David

    In this short book Rosen muses on loss, renewal and connections. The connections between past and present, between people, between ideas. He focuses on the Talmud and the Internet as two mediums for connection. He likens a page of the Talmud to a website’s home page, both complete with links to other places in time and space.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David

    I was delighted to happen upon this little volume which brings together my interests in two areas - Jewish philosophy and modern computer technology. This is a somewhat autobiographical memoir of a man who is Jewish, though not a rabbi or scholar. He's also a fairly amateurish user of the Internet (and the book is now somewhat dated, since it was published in 2000 and so much has happened in technology since then). But he meditates effectively on the relationship and similarities between the Tal I was delighted to happen upon this little volume which brings together my interests in two areas - Jewish philosophy and modern computer technology. This is a somewhat autobiographical memoir of a man who is Jewish, though not a rabbi or scholar. He's also a fairly amateurish user of the Internet (and the book is now somewhat dated, since it was published in 2000 and so much has happened in technology since then). But he meditates effectively on the relationship and similarities between the Talmud, the "holy book" of Judaism, and a webpage, giving some interesting insights into the applications of modern technology. He weaves into his essays many personal insights about his own ancestors (including those killed in the Holocaust), along with Jewish teachings and legends - the wisdom and martyrdom of Akiba, the mock funeral of Yochanan ben Zakkai, destruction and diaspora, the survival of the Western Wall, the Jew-turned-Roman-historian Josephus, etc. For me, this was a very satisfying collection of thought-provoking essays. But in computer lingo, YMMV.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Eli

    Through a series of essays, Rosen unpacks the layers of his own relationship to religious and personal ambiguity, to suffering and joy, and to seemingly disparate 'ancient' and 'modern' approaches to knowledge, finding nourishment in the struggle. He uses what I would call narrative theology to examine the metaphors we use to define our understandings of home, exile, and knowledge. He finds that the structure of the internet mirrors deeper truths of the Talmud and of our own spiritual journeys: Through a series of essays, Rosen unpacks the layers of his own relationship to religious and personal ambiguity, to suffering and joy, and to seemingly disparate 'ancient' and 'modern' approaches to knowledge, finding nourishment in the struggle. He uses what I would call narrative theology to examine the metaphors we use to define our understandings of home, exile, and knowledge. He finds that the structure of the internet mirrors deeper truths of the Talmud and of our own spiritual journeys: characteristics that I couldn't do justice here. Much like a good story, what is rich about these essays can't be boiled down or summarized; they must be experienced. The author and I would no doubt use very different labels for much of what we consider most important to us in outlook and politics. But I found a certain kinship with him in his valuing of a multiplicity of truths, and in his ultimate trust in chaos as a path to disjointed harmony. The book spoke to me and to recent spiritual struggles of mine in nourishing and strengthening ways.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Arthur Gershman

    A tip of the old hat to Keith Leverberg who expressed my thoughts almost exactly with his title of his Amozon review, although I judge Rosen a little less harshly. This book is carelessly constructed, with such screamers as, at page 130, "The Talmud that my wife and I study from together belonged to her grandfather, who immigrated to Palestine, thanks to the Balfour Declaration, in 1924, was wounded in the 1948 War of Independence and devoted the rest of his life to the study of Talmud." Or some A tip of the old hat to Keith Leverberg who expressed my thoughts almost exactly with his title of his Amozon review, although I judge Rosen a little less harshly. This book is carelessly constructed, with such screamers as, at page 130, "The Talmud that my wife and I study from together belonged to her grandfather, who immigrated to Palestine, thanks to the Balfour Declaration, in 1924, was wounded in the 1948 War of Independence and devoted the rest of his life to the study of Talmud." Or something like that. Read it with a grain of salt, and buy it at your peril.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

    A slim book but not necessarily a quick read. It's an elegant personal essay interspersed with musings about the chaos of the Internet and the Talmud-- and such chaos represents the creativity, dynamic growth, and inter-relatedness of human nature/human society. It made me want to adopt several of his Judaic philosophies about the boundless nature of learning, the unfazed mixture of the divine and the mundane, the embrace of messiness, uncertainty, and all the stuff that as a slightly type-A, ab A slim book but not necessarily a quick read. It's an elegant personal essay interspersed with musings about the chaos of the Internet and the Talmud-- and such chaos represents the creativity, dynamic growth, and inter-relatedness of human nature/human society. It made me want to adopt several of his Judaic philosophies about the boundless nature of learning, the unfazed mixture of the divine and the mundane, the embrace of messiness, uncertainty, and all the stuff that as a slightly type-A, abstract perfectionist , absolutely elude me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    An interesting meditation on the relationship between the internet and the Talmud, filtered through the death of the author's grandmother. Very enlightening for those not familiar with the ins and outs of the Talmud beyond the occasional Yom Kippur service. It's a short book and that may be its biggest flaw—I really wanted it to go deeper in the end, despite the author's effective matter of fact tone. An interesting meditation on the relationship between the internet and the Talmud, filtered through the death of the author's grandmother. Very enlightening for those not familiar with the ins and outs of the Talmud beyond the occasional Yom Kippur service. It's a short book and that may be its biggest flaw—I really wanted it to go deeper in the end, despite the author's effective matter of fact tone.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    This is my second read of this truly amazing essay/reflection/memoir by Jonathan Rosen, a smart articulate thoughtful writer/editor in New York. The book is a tool, in itself, for navigating the hard questions about who we are, where we position ourselves and how we understand meaning, the sacred and the profane. I read this ten years ago and it was a great book, I read it this year and it was an even better book, I'll read it again in a decade and record my thoughts. This is my second read of this truly amazing essay/reflection/memoir by Jonathan Rosen, a smart articulate thoughtful writer/editor in New York. The book is a tool, in itself, for navigating the hard questions about who we are, where we position ourselves and how we understand meaning, the sacred and the profane. I read this ten years ago and it was a great book, I read it this year and it was an even better book, I'll read it again in a decade and record my thoughts.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    This book is a small gem. It's a beautiful meditation on Rosen's identity, Talmud, the internet and the bridge between the past and the present. Rosen has an easy and approachable style, and the book is chock full of insight that will appeal to all readers - even those with little interest in ancient Jewish texts or the web. As someone who spends a great deal of time thinking about what it means to be a cultural Jew, I found this book illuminating and thought-provoking. Highly recommend. This book is a small gem. It's a beautiful meditation on Rosen's identity, Talmud, the internet and the bridge between the past and the present. Rosen has an easy and approachable style, and the book is chock full of insight that will appeal to all readers - even those with little interest in ancient Jewish texts or the web. As someone who spends a great deal of time thinking about what it means to be a cultural Jew, I found this book illuminating and thought-provoking. Highly recommend.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Fischman

    The Talmud and the messy Internet of 2001, when this book was written, are both conversations between many different people, across time and space, where one topic can lead to the next in the blink of an eye. Jonathan Rosen suggests that for people living in exile, both are, oddly enough, home. This slim book contains deep wisdom. Read my full review at http://dfischman.blogspot.com/2014/12.... The Talmud and the messy Internet of 2001, when this book was written, are both conversations between many different people, across time and space, where one topic can lead to the next in the blink of an eye. Jonathan Rosen suggests that for people living in exile, both are, oddly enough, home. This slim book contains deep wisdom. Read my full review at http://dfischman.blogspot.com/2014/12....

  13. 4 out of 5

    Aryeh

    This book has promise. It reads smoothly, yet smartly, like an extended New Yorker article. The authors points and personal touches are well formulated. Unfortunately, a number of his historical facts including dates are incorrect. I think that may be more of an editor issue, given the rest of the book though. Worth a read, but for religious or personal rather than for scholarly reasons.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    The title is a bit misleading as it's not so much about the Talmud and the Internet specifically but about making sense of the contradictions in one's life. Beautifully written, I found myself drawn into the author's story of his life, his parents, grandparents and the histories he brings forward - messily, with conflict and contradictions. The title is a bit misleading as it's not so much about the Talmud and the Internet specifically but about making sense of the contradictions in one's life. Beautifully written, I found myself drawn into the author's story of his life, his parents, grandparents and the histories he brings forward - messily, with conflict and contradictions.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    I really enjoyed this book. It's funny, easy to read, informative and raises some important questions. He captures a lot of beautiful if esoteric moments that somehow I think we can all relate to. Def. give this one a whirl! I really enjoyed this book. It's funny, easy to read, informative and raises some important questions. He captures a lot of beautiful if esoteric moments that somehow I think we can all relate to. Def. give this one a whirl!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Noah

    This book is really well written and does a good job of weaving stories from the Talmud with the Author's own personal story. It illustrates the relevance of studying ancient texts in post-modern times and offers powerful insight into the human condition. This book is really well written and does a good job of weaving stories from the Talmud with the Author's own personal story. It illustrates the relevance of studying ancient texts in post-modern times and offers powerful insight into the human condition.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Margo

    Although a great example of postmodern fiction and autoethnography, I found this book to just be kinda boring. Maybe it would have been better if I knew more about the Jewish religion but I guess it's too late now. Although a great example of postmodern fiction and autoethnography, I found this book to just be kinda boring. Maybe it would have been better if I knew more about the Jewish religion but I guess it's too late now.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    This is really awesome I think you would like it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    reed

    much better than you'd think from the title. much better than you'd think from the title.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Meagan

    Really interesting look into a modern Jewish-American ethnography. A good, quick read that's really pleasant and gives you some good things to think about. Really interesting look into a modern Jewish-American ethnography. A good, quick read that's really pleasant and gives you some good things to think about.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Melanee

    I loved this book. I really can't put a finger on why. I loved this book. I really can't put a finger on why.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    This is another one that I've read before and am just refreshing. This is another one that I've read before and am just refreshing.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell

    So good it makes me want to convert to Judaism!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Stone

    a little bit hard to understand with the Jewish references, but interesting read. Probably wouldn't read again, a one time experience. a little bit hard to understand with the Jewish references, but interesting read. Probably wouldn't read again, a one time experience.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Peter Wolfley

    Pure post-modernism. When you become an established writer you can work out childhood issues in book form. Very similar style to In Bed with the Word.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Perlie

    A tiny treasure. Very thoughtful and meditative reflection on bridging worlds. Many quotable passages. A book to reread.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hoyadaisy

    I assumed this would be an enormous book about the Talmud ON the Internet. No, it's a tiny, idiosyncratic, charming meditation on many contradictory pairs, in particular the Talmud and the Internet. I assumed this would be an enormous book about the Talmud ON the Internet. No, it's a tiny, idiosyncratic, charming meditation on many contradictory pairs, in particular the Talmud and the Internet.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Isaac Gittelsohn

    Pretty interesting little read, good thoughts to chew on

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    This book is less about the Talmud and the Internet and more about using those mediums to talk about the ghosts that haunt us on a personal level as well at the level of all of society. The connections he made were utterly fascinating and the narrative is deeply personal, yet I found it very relateable. Though my family was largely untouched by the Holocaust due to timing (to the best of our knowledge, who knows who may have been left behind), I have only known my grandparents through their stor This book is less about the Talmud and the Internet and more about using those mediums to talk about the ghosts that haunt us on a personal level as well at the level of all of society. The connections he made were utterly fascinating and the narrative is deeply personal, yet I found it very relateable. Though my family was largely untouched by the Holocaust due to timing (to the best of our knowledge, who knows who may have been left behind), I have only known my grandparents through their stories. So the work of trying to give meaning to their lives and the loss of their physical presence in your life really resonated with me. It's also interesting because even though this was written nearly 20 years ago at the dawn of the modern internet age, so much of the internet analysis still holds true. For all that the internet was not the great equalizer it was hoped it would be, some fundamental aspects of all of this information coming together to create meaning still holds truth. I also loved the comparison of the internet to the layout of the Talmud (and this was in the days before split screen!). I loved the storytelling style and the way in which the author engaged with long dead literary and historical figures in a very Talmudic way. The presentation was a solid part of the argument of the text, and was just pleasurable to read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hans Otterson

    More a midrash on the death of his two grandmothers and how that intersects with Jewish and family history than any sort of monograph on the subjects of "The Talmud" and "The Internet"*, still this is an engaging read that occasionally shines forth with some lasting insights -- the creative connection between Josephus and Yochanan Ben Zakkai foremost among these. Makes me want to do a little bit of poring over the Babylonian Talmud, too. *indeed the Internet is barely on offer as a subject here; More a midrash on the death of his two grandmothers and how that intersects with Jewish and family history than any sort of monograph on the subjects of "The Talmud" and "The Internet"*, still this is an engaging read that occasionally shines forth with some lasting insights -- the creative connection between Josephus and Yochanan Ben Zakkai foremost among these. Makes me want to do a little bit of poring over the Babylonian Talmud, too. *indeed the Internet is barely on offer as a subject here; as this was published in 2000, I'm sure Rosen's editor wanted to fluff it up a bit with something contemporary and sexy-sounding. (A part of the Shelf Love project: https://tinyurl.com/y5w8h4pa) 2P

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