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Saturday, January 01, 2011

What do the Talmud and...the Chinese Have in Common?

Here is a new take on a Yiddishe Kopf: the Chinese are trying to emulate Jewish business intelligence and ingenuity, by (of all things) studying the Talmud!

Jewish visitors to China often receive a snap greeting when they reveal their religion: “Very smart, very clever, and very good at business,” the Chinese person says. Last year’s Google Zeitgeist China rankings listed “why are Jews excellent?” in fourth place in the “why” questions category, just behind “why should I enter the party” and above “why should I get married?” (Google didn’t publish a "why" category in Mandarin this year.) And the apparent affection for Jewishness has led to a surprising trend in publishing over the last few years: books purporting to reveal the business secrets of the Talmud that capitalize on the widespread impression among Chinese that attributes of Judaism lead to success in the financial arts.
Han Bing, a Chinese author of the book "Crack the Talmud" said after attending a series on the Torah that Jews and the Chinese people have had similar problems, such as immigration and global isolation.  I read somewhere--wish I remembered where, so I could link it--that Chinese leaders met with Israeli leaders some time back and were marveling at the economic success of Israel in such a short span of 62 years of statehood.  They were under the impression that there were approximately "only" 100 million Jews world-wide.  Were they shocked when they were informed that the global Jewish population was only approximately 13.3 million (don't know if this is current).

As far as Jewish business acumen goes, however, I fear that this family didn't get its fair share of genes.  Maybe my kids will prove that wrong...



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