The Internet is a strange and often wonderful place. Here’s a personal story from last week.
When I first wrote The Sea of Talmud: A Brief and Personal Introduction seven years ago, Theodore Sternberg wrote one of the sharpest Amazon reviews of the first edition: “Too much about Henry Abramson, not enough about the Talmud.”
Ouch! That stung.
But in reality, that’s what the book is about: like the subtitle says, it’s a “brief and personal introduction,” which alternates between basic facts about the Talmud–its authorship, where it was written, its content and so on–and the story of my own encounter with this glorious text, the amazing teachers and incredible study partners I’ve had, and so on. I haven’t counted up the words in each section, but I aimed for about a 50-50 split between “Henry Abramson” and “the Talmud.” Mr. Sternberg was obviously hoping for a different balance.
So when I wrote the second edition–which is free on Kindle this week, by the way–I thought I should help clarify that for potential readers by reading some of the negative reviews, including Mr. Sternberg’s. Here’s the video, check timestamp 3:00.
Now the fun part: Theodore Sternberg watched the video! After he heard me read his review, he wrote a beautiful comment: “I appreciate your sense of humor. If there is anything I can do to help promote the second edition, don’t hesitate to ask.”
Thank you, Mr. Sternberg, for your generosity of spirit! I’m taking advantage of it right now.
So that–along with a surprising tweet from Jewish rapper Nissim Black–was one of the highlights of my week on the Internet.
Anyway, if you’re interested in some light, and hopefully entertaining reading, please enjoy a free copy of The Sea of Talmud: A Brief and Personal Introduction for your e-Reader. I had fun writing it, and revising it for this second edition, and I think it’s a useful warm-up to the Siyum ha-Shas coming this January!