The Wisdom of Judaism: An Introduction to the Values of the Talmud


Discover the Talmud and its universal values for all people. While the Hebrew Bible is the cornerstone of Judaism, it is the Talmud that provides many central values for living. The Talmud sets out specific guidelines and lyrical admonitions regarding many of life's ordinary events, and offers profound words of advice for life’s most intractable dilemmas. This accessible introduction to the Talmud explores the essence of Judaism through reflections on the words of the rabbinic sages, from one of American ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (10) from $1.99   
  • New (6) from $13.30   
  • Used (4) from $1.99   
The Wisdom of Judaism: An Introduction to the Values of the Talmud

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49 price
(Save 38%)$16.99 List Price


Discover the Talmud and its universal values for all people. While the Hebrew Bible is the cornerstone of Judaism, it is the Talmud that provides many central values for living. The Talmud sets out specific guidelines and lyrical admonitions regarding many of life's ordinary events, and offers profound words of advice for life’s most intractable dilemmas. This accessible introduction to the Talmud explores the essence of Judaism through reflections on the words of the rabbinic sages, from one of American Judaism’s foremost teachers and writers, Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins. Dr. Elkins provides fresh insight into ancient aphorisms and shows you how they can be applied to your life today. Topics include: Kindness through Giving, Welcoming and Sharing; Human Relationships; Personal Values; Family Values; Teaching and Learning; and Life’s Puzzles. Enlightening and inspiring, the values of the Talmud can be appreciated not just by Jews, but by anyone seeking a greater understanding of life and its mysteries.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The Talmud inaugurated a series of efforts to clarify the Bible that continues to this day. Aptly describing these efforts as "a conversation between generations," Rabbi Elkins adds his commentary to the commentaries, focusing on the implications of the Talmud's teachings for human behavior. Since ethical and moral acts constitute the core of Judaism, Elkins begins by exploring Jews' responsibility for the welfare of others. He goes on to specify the significance of the Golden Rule, following with a chapter on the importance of fairness, humility, flexibility and dignity. Next, Elkins discusses the family, emphasizing the difficulty of finding the right mate, but insisting that it is equally vital to work on maintaining the marital relationship. He also considers connections to parents and children. The penultimate section describes Talmudic views on teaching and learning, stressing the requirement to transmit the Jewish heritage from one generation to the next. Finally, Elkins examines dilemmas humans confront such as the problems of earning a living, rejecting extremism, seeking to grasp too much and recognizing the good things people do despite their imperfections. This introduction to the morality of Judaism contributes significantly to our practical understanding of Talmudic wisdom. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Getting to know the Talmud, a source of many day-to-day values for Jews everywhere.

—Graham Christian
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580233279
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/1/2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 166
  • Sales rank: 702,785
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins, award-winning anthologist, lecturer, educator and author, is co-editor of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul. Widely published in the Jewish and general press, he is author of The Wisdom of Judaism: An Introduction to the Values of the Talmud (Jewish Lights), and is editor of Yom Kippur Readings: Inspiration, Information and Contemplation; Rosh Hashanah Readings: Inspiration, Information and Contemplation; and Jewish Stories from Heaven and Earth: Inspiring Tales to Nourish the Heart and Soul (all Jewish Lights). He is rabbi emeritus of The Jewish Center of Princeton, New Jersey, and a former member of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly and the Council for Jewish Education. Visit his websites— and—for more information.

Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins is available to speak on the following topics:

  • A Taste of Eco-Judaism
  • Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul
  • Shabbat: A Day for the Rest of Your Life
  • Hasidic Wisdom and Modern Psychology
  • A Tale of Two Cities—Jerusalem and Washington DC: The Jewish People's Love Affair with the Holy City
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

The Wisdom of Judaism

An Introduction to the Values of the Talmud
By Dov Peretz Elkins


Copyright © 2007 Dov Peretz Elkins
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-58023-327-9

Chapter One

The Essence of Religion

The Torah begins and ends with acts of kindness.

Sotah 14a

The Torah bases itself on two stories: in Genesis God clothes the naked-God covers Adam and Eve with a leaf-and in Deuteronomy God buries Moses. (See a similar statement in Judaism's early morning Shaharit service, from Shabbat 127a: Elu devarim she'adam okhel perotayhem ... [These are the deeds that yield immediate harvest and continue to yield in future days ...].)

Clothing the naked and burying the dead are among the acts of kindness frequently mentioned when the ancient Rabbis discuss the daily acts of goodness that every human being may be called upon to perform.

There are several things that stand out regarding this Talmudic passage.

First, it is not the gigantic, heroic, once-in-a-lifetime things we do that Judaism (and all religions, I believe) demands of us. It is the simple daily acts, the repetitive acts of goodness, thoughtfulness, and concern for the other, that make us "religious," that is, ethical and spiritual. Helping a neighbor, providing food for the hungry, giving clothes for the needy, and offering assistance with a life-cycle event-such as a birth, a wedding, or a burial-are the mark of the religious person in Judaism.

Second, what we call "the essence of religion" in Judaism is what we do for others. In a famous passage in the Jerusalem Talmud, God says that, if necessary, it is more important to treat our fellow humans well than it is to treat God well. God says, "I wish that when necessary, my children would forget me, and pay more attention to the Torah's ethics about treating one another" (Jerusalem Talmud, Hagigah 1:7).

As Martin Buber, the Austrian-Jewish philosopher, points out in Hasidism and Modern Man, this is one of the primary characteristics of Hasidic philosophy, which is to say that it is a Jewish doctrine that Hasidism emphasizes. In Buber's words, the core teaching of Hasidism is that "[You] cannot approach the divine by reaching beyond the human; [you] can approach [God] through becoming human. To become human is what [you have] been created for."


Excerpted from The Wisdom of Judaism by Dov Peretz Elkins Copyright © 2007 by Dov Peretz Elkins. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2007

    for rabbis, non-rabbis, and anyone else

    I wrote this review for fellow rabbis. But I think it's quite obvious that everything I am saying is applicable to anyone who is interested in being stimulated by the great ethical ideas of Judaism. 'The Wisdom of Judaism' is a great read - and you might wind up being a better person for having read it! So here is what I sent to my rabbinic colleagues: If you're like me, you spend a fair amount of time thinking about sermons. There's one -- or, for many of us, two -- that we are required to give week in and week out. In addition, there are, for most of us, the monthly devar Torah for the Board, and periodic divrei Torah for the Sisterhood or for the local meeting of some organization or other. And there is the monthly bulletin article. And we are called upon to teach a 45-minute lesson at a USY meeting or regional convention. And on and on. Sometimes the well runs dry. I often wish I had a book of Talmudic and midrashic sayings, accompanied by, say, 2-page commentaries that were written in the way that people actually speak. If I were compiling in my mind the ideal kind of such book, the topics would include such important and practical matters as Fairness, Personal growth, Humility, Flexibility, Marriage, Community, Self-improvement, Criticizing others. These are the topics that are the bread and butter 'now that Pesach is over' of what we should and do speak about. These are the topics that I would love to have arranged for me in a handy volume, with the sayings all laid out and the commentary already supplied. Well, this particular dream has now been fulfilled for us. That is exactly what 'The Wisdom of Judaism' is all about. Dov has compiled approximately 60 subjects, all of them pertinent to the way that our congregants live their lives, that we can use and adapt for the many occasions that we are called upon to offer some wisdom of Judaism. To anyone reading this: I support the notion of listening to rabbis. However, if you acquire Rabbi Elkins' 'The Wisdom of Judaism,' you can have a portable rabbi of your own!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2007

    Belongs on the Top Ten List of Jewish Books

    Most general books on ¿Jewish wisdom¿ are superficial, slapped together collections of platitudes, bowdlerized poppycock designed to convince readers that Judaism is really just Thomas Jefferson, but in Hebrew. Elkins¿ book stands out¿and is easily well worth the price. I am buying a carton of them to give as gifts. THE WISDOM OF JUDAISM: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE VALUES OF THE TALMUD by Dov Elkins is brilliant. Elkins is easily the leading Jewish anthologist alive and all of his books are worthwhile. This one is no exception. A great introduction. THE WISDOM OF THE TALMUD belongs on the top ten lists of modern Jewish classics.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)