Copyright ©2000-2006 by Michael A. Hoffman II All Rights Reserved
The Talmud is Judaism's holiest book (actually a collection of books). Its authority takes precedence over the Old Testament in Judaism. Evidence of this may be found in the Talmud itself, Erubin 21b (Soncino edition): "My son, be more careful in the observance of the words of the Scribes than in the words of the Torah (Old Testament)."
The supremacy of the Talmud over the Bible in the Israeli state may also be seen in the case of the black Ethiopian Jews. Ethiopians are very knowledgeable of the Old Testament. However, their religion is so ancient it pre-dates the Scribes' Talmud, of which the Ethiopians have no knowledge. According to the N.Y. Times of Sept. 29, 1992, p.4:
"The problem is that Ethiopian Jewish tradition goes no further than the Bible or Torah; the later Talmud and other commentaries that form the basis of modern traditions never came their way."
Because they are not traffickers in Talmudic tradition, the black Ethiopian Jews are discriminated against and have been forbidden by the Zionists to perform marriages, funerals and other services in the Israeli state.
Rabbi Joseph D. Soloveitchik is regarded as one of the most influential rabbis of the 20th century, the "unchallenged leader" of Orthodox Judaism and the top international authority onhalakha (Jewish religious law). Soloveitchik was responsible for instructing and ordaining more than 2,000 rabbis, "an entire generation" of Jewish leadership.
N.Y. Times religion reporter Ari Goldman described the basis of the rabbi's authority:
"Soloveitchik came from a long line of distinguished Talmudic scholars...Until his early 20s, he devoted himself almost exclusively to the study of the Talmud...He came to Yeshiva University's Elchanan Theological Seminary where he remained the pre-eminent teacher in the Talmud...He held the title of Leib Merkin professor of Talmud...sitting with his feet crossed in front of a table bearing an open volume of the Talmud." (N.Y. Times, April 10, 1993, p. 38).
Nowhere does Goldman refer to Soloveitchik's knowledge of the Bible as the basis for being one of the leading authorities on Jewish law.
The rabbi's credentials are all predicated upon his mastery of the Talmud. Other studies are clearly secondary. Britain's Jewish Chronicle of March 26, 1993 states that in religious school (yeshiva), Jews are "devoted to the Talmud to the exclusion of everything else."