10 Years Ago: Tzvee and Talmud Hullin on the FYI Page 3 of the Jewish Standard

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Ten Years Ago: Larry Yudelson of the Jewish Standard of Teaneck wrote me up for their page three FYI column.

The Jewish Standard, Teaneck NJ
July 8, 2011

Local author puts Talmud translation on the web

As the seven-year cycle of daily Talmud study known as Daf Yomi began a new tractate last month, Tzvee Zahavy found himself running low on blog ideas.

Zahavy, a Teaneck resident, professor and rabbi, is also a blogger.

As the Daf Yomi project approached the beginning of the Babylonian Talmud tractate Hullin, Zahavy realized that he already had content.

"I figured it would be a service both to me in my own studies, and to my readers, if each day for 142 in all, I shared on my blog the text of my English translation of one page of the Talmud text," he said.

Zahavy translated Hullin as part of a series that was completed in 1995 by Professor Zahavy and others, called, "The Talmud of Babylonia. An American Translation." Sales of the set have been modest, in the thousands, he said.

The translation is now available in a new edition from a Christian publisher, Hendrickson, in both print and digital formats.

Artscroll’s English version of the Talmud is better selling, Zahavy said because it is Orthodox-approved and non-academic.

Zahavy said that the general public does not go out in great numbers to buy and read books of and about the Talmud. “Back in the late sixties, author Norman Mailer told us students in a lecture at Yeshiva College that he read the Soncino English Talmud every night at bedtime,” Zahavy said. “We saw that he was trying to impress us and he didn’t. We all knew that the Talmud is always studied seriously - it is never read at bedtime.”

Zahavy’s newest book is called “God’s Favorite Prayers.” The volume will be published in print and digital formats this summer by Talmudic Books, a new imprint that Zahavy started. He is confident that it will sell better than his Talmud translations.“More people pray than study,” he said.

--Larry Yudelson