Tucked into this historically dense and compelling documentary about the Talmud are delightful anecdotes that enliven the story of the "hidden face of the Torah," the guide for Jewish conduct.
The narrator describes davening, for example, as "the oscillation of life," the forward movement of rabbis and students signifying an "activation of understanding" and the backward movement of rabbis and students signifying a "closing that ensures memorization" of the interpretive text.
The film follows Jewish community migration through six centuries, as the Talmud survives numerous book burnings and morphs over time from an oral history to a published work, with interpretation of the Torah text as it is written and rewritten.
Much of the content focuses on the history behind the questioning methodology of the Talmud, interspersed with lively biographies of major Talmud scholars such as Maimonides. This "vast body of legal, mythic and philosophical texts, this mixture of religious commentary and debate, of history and science, and of anecdote and humor" comes alive under the direction of documentarian Pierre-Henry Salfati.
Talmud is available on DVD in English, French and German.
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