Ynetnews.com is reporting that a majority of South Koreans own a copy of the Talmud at home and that the study of Talmud has become part of the national educational curriculum. The reason being, according to South Korean Ambassador to Israel, is that it will make them smarter, like the Jews:
We tried to understand the secret of the Jewish people. How do they – more than other nations – manage to reach such impressive achievements? How is it that Jews are such geniuses? The conclusion we reaches is that one of your secrets is studying Talmud.
The Talmud is indeed a fascinating piece of work. It is not only a religious text but serves as an important source of inspiration for artistic and intellectual work and characterizes Judaism as a religion and culture that seeks to question, criticize and grapple with difficult ideas and laws.
I can’t blame the South Koreans for being interested and it is indeed a compliment of sorts – but it brings up a point that I have written about before: the fetishization of Jews, whereby singling Jews out for greatness is the same as discriminating against them or stereotyping them.
It is just kind of creepy. I mean, sure, Jews have some distinct characteristics as a people, and it is legitimate to admire that – but they are also just human beings, and its a bit creepy to think that they are being singled out, even if in praise.
Imagine if a group of Lithuanians decided to start practicing Buddhism in order to be better at making pianos or electrical appliances or something… it is bizarre, right?