28 January 2011

China: The Talmud as business guide?

Tracing the Tribe is still catching up with a mountain of email, so here's an interesting article on the increasing popularity of the Talmud in China.

The Newsweek story, by Isaac Stone Fish, covers the surprising trend in publishing books on Jewish topics, including those supposedly revealing business secrets in the Talmud.
... Titles such as Crack the Talmud: 101 Jewish Business Rules, The Illustrated Jewish Wisdom Book, and Know All of the Money-Making Stories of the Talmud share the shelves with stories of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. There’s even a Talmud hotel in Taiwan inspired by “the Talmud’s concept of success” that features a copy of the book Talmud Business Success Bible in every room. With the increasing interest in business education in China, and a rise in sales of self-help literature, the production of business guides to the Talmud has exploded. The guides are like the Chinese equivalents of books such as Sun Tzu and the Art of Business. ...
Crack the Talmud's author, writing under a nom de plume, says a series on the Jewish Bible by a prominent publisher made him realize that “ancient Jews and today’s Chinese face a lot of the same problems,” such as immigration and isolation, and spotlights such business rules as “tell a customer about defects” and “help more people.”

A book titled Jewish Family Education claims to have sold more than 1 million copies.

Associate dean of Shanghai's Center of Jewish StudiesWang Jian says The Talmud “has become a handbook for doing business and seeking fortunes.”

The presence of mid-19th century Jewish real estate entrepreneurs - Hardoon, Sassoon and Kadoorie - may have influenced the lack of antagonism towards "members of the tribe."

Nanjing University Jewish studies professor Xu Xin is quoted in the article as saying that some 50% of Westerners active in Mao Zedong's China were Jewish, which led to interest in Jewish culture.

Athough the Talmud contains information on contracts, zoning and charging interest, in addition to many other topics, it is certainly not a get-rich-quick guide as many in China seem to believe, according to the story.

Read the complete and interesting article at the Newsweek link above.


  1. Anonymous1:15 PM

    Gives me an idea for a book: that the developers of the original spreadsheet software got the idea from the Chinese restaurant menu...with its column A, column B, column C.

  2. Anonymous11:13 PM

    Reminds me of the Western world using the Art of War from Sun Tzu -- using a fresh outside perspective to solve problems.