Like Israelites wandering a desert, a good Talmudic translation apparently can’t be rushed.
After more than four decades of work, Israeli Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz finally released a new Hebrew translation of the Talmud this week, a project he’s worked on since the Johnson administration.
Begun in 1965, the work is intended to make the Talmud accessible to Israelis, with the original text translated from Aramaic to modern Hebrew, and now buttressed by insights from Steinsaltz, a 72-year-old resident of Jerusalem. The rabbi, who was 27 when the project began, has released a new section of the translation approximately once per year, and discussed the release of the series’ 46th and final book on Israel’s Army Radio.
“I did it because it is necessary,” he said. “The Talmud is the spine of our culture … I wanted to restore to the Jewish people their heritage.”
A prolific writer of original material, Steinsaltz has also translated sections of the Talmud into English, Spanish, French, and Russian. The completion of his new Hebrew Talmud was trumpeted Sunday as part of the Global Day of Jewish Learning, an international event that promotes Jewish study.