The New Jerusalem Talmud is both a process and a product. It’s a way of approaching controversy, both in holding face-to-face group discussions and open online debates, which embraces multiple perspectives. It’s guided by an assumption that any major modern controversy has – and needs – more than two polarized and simplistic sides. That by, instead of trying to focus on how everyone else is wrong, we try to discover the points or perspectives where everyone else might be at least partly right — so that each controversy becomes an opportunity for many truths to emerge.
A “four directions format”, using the graphic and linking possibilities of today’s Internet, and recalling the form of the “world’s first hypertext”, the Jewish Talmud, is our innovative way of presenting the multi-dimensional essence of modern controversial issues. This will be available as follows:
- A set of websites consisting of:
- our innovative “Daf” format
- supporting materials and links to sources and data
- There will be separate pages for stages of each topic:
- open-source, “blog”-style discussions of controversies open to anyone
- higher-level, carefully moderated discussions of invited scholars and participants
- polished, carefully edited and researched published “dafs” which capture the essence and the many sides of controversies
- Print publications of finished “Dafs” on each topic
The New Jerusalem Talmud is an Institute of the finest scholars and thinkers in the world, based in Jerusalem, Israel.
The New Jerusalem Talmud is a set of websites devoted to multi-dimensional presentation and commenting on the world’s biggest controversies.
The New Jerusalem Talmud is a better-than-wiki resource for you to discover the full and fair view of the most important issues facing our planet.
MM Thank you everyone for coming. Ok the idea of the New Jerusalem Talmud: there’s a quote by a scholar named Moshe Halbertal, who compared Greek wisdom and Jewish wisdom. He said that in Greek wisdom, Socratic dialogue is the basis for most Greek thinking, where there’s one person saying a statement and then another person dialectically arguing with them. And the way it’s usually set up is— it’s a setup!: the one person is right and the other one’s wrong—and the argument is constructed in such a way as to eliminate all the possibilities until there’s only one right answer. and that right answer can somehow be simplified and extracted upward to an abstract principle which is universally true. That tends to be the model for most western thinking, & certainly most university thinking and that tends to be the implicit thinking of most of the ways we talk about controversies in the world today. there can only be one person or side that’s right and it must be from one truth, and that principle can then be abstracted out.
What Moshe Halbertal did was he said was: In the Jewish way of dialogue, which we see time and again in the great work of Jewish thought which took several hundred years to create called the Talmud, We start with what’s called a Mishnah, which is initially a set of statements by a couple rabbis, very often which contradict. Maybe even three or four contradictory opinions. Then we go into a discussion of bringing up what’s called ‘kashias’, meaning challenges against each of the two or three or four opinions. And then the bulk of the thinking, rather than eliminating them all until [there’s only] one right, is in trying to prove that somehow they’re all right. That there are different perspectives by which you can see that each of the great rabbis must be speaking something from truth. And that has the effect as you get deeper and deeper into the discussions of bringing out many, many truths. Because each perspective – from each perspective or angle or levels of looking at a discussion– different truths can emerge.
So that quality – that way of thinking about things – is something – if any of you follow any of the major controversies of today, whether in politics or environmentalism or abortion, or whatever it is, — that sort of nuance is, well, let’s just say it’s not there so much.
And… this [NJT] is a work in progress. I apologize if looking at this ‘Daf’ is confusing. We are building on a model – gemara – which is itself, initially, a very confusing and difficult medium, when you look at it. It’s also kind of the original hypertext. When you look at a daf of gemara, it’s very hard to figure out what’s going on, and it’s only in the – getting into the interaction of the different statements and words and whatever, that you get into understanding what they’re discussing, how the different contradictory opinions and engagement come out.