In South Korea there are close to 49 million residents, and they all learn Gemara in school ( “We tried to understand why the Jews are such geniuses and we concluded that (it is because) they study Talmud,” explained South Korea’s ambassador to Israel.

Korean TalmudKorean Talmud (Photo courtesy of the Embassy of South Korea to Israel)


In a week of renewed terror including a bomb in Jerusalem (with 1 dead, 39 wounded, some still in critical condition) and the returning shelling to the south of Israel (with rockets now reaching the outskirts of Be’er Sheva and Ashdod), as well as a joyous announcement about the Elitzur Ramle basketball team taking the women’s EuroCup final, what’s the big deal about learning Talmud in South Korea?

“We were curious how come the Jews are so successful academically and have a much higher percentage of Nobel Prize winners in all fields… what is their secret?… one of your secrets is studying Talmud,” continued ambassador Young-Sam-Ma. There might be now more (translated) Talmud volumes in South Korean homes than in Israel! In his appearance on Israeli TV he spoke about shared values between the Jewish people and the Koreans such as the place of the family, respect for elders, education and culture. He was impressed with the fact that even in a small kibbutz there is a cultural center with on-going cultural activities.

And the ambassador found other similarities between South Korea and Israel: both were established in 1948, are surrounded by enemies, are poor in natural resources and notorious for bad driving habits: “I feel right at home driving in Israel.”

Read more about it in Hebrew here:,7340,L-4046985,00.html