I've come across a page that lists quite a few items as "Some of the teachings of the Talmud". They are pretty harsh things and I kind of doubt a reasonable and kind person would believe and follow them, whether Jew or not.

Starting on that page from the heading:

Some Teachings of The Jewish Talmud [This is the heading]

The Talmud specifically defines all who are not Jews as non-human animals. [This is the first summary]

[The parts supposedly from the talmud that say this follow.]

it lists many items (way to many to quote all) and they can certainly be construed as anti-Semitic (as the site generally appears to be).

Are these works generally considered part of the Talmud? Are they accurately represented in the brief summaries? Does a typical Jew believe and follow these things (or should they, I guess)?

Disclaimer: I'm not even sure what the Talmud is. I know many modern Jews revere it and that it is a collection of Rabbinical works, but that's about it.

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    @fredsbend a meta-question for you: when presented with an obviously-hostile site with a defamatory goal, especially once it's been shown to have misrepresented anything, why should one think that anything it "quotes" is accurate? Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 13:06
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    Problems with this post: 1) Links to a site we'd rather not promote. 2) Possibly duplicate of another post that similarly raises claims about the Talmud found on the Internet. 3) Asks about a collection of claims whose common theme is "stuff taken out of context from the Talmud to make Judaism look bad," which is all over the map. Therefore, I think this post should be edited to focus on one claim (or collection of closely-related claims) that has not yet been dealt with on Mi Yodeya, and introduced with "I found this on an anti-Judaism website," without linking.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 13:22
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    @fredsbend I agree with Isaac's comment. We don't mean to sound like we're brushing you off, but for the reasons he gave, I'm putting this on hold. We'd welcome (non-duplicate) questions about specific claims. Since this question already has answers, I suggest asking those as new questions. Thanks for understanding! Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 14:50
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    @MonicaCellio, thanks for your help. I posted my comment before I noticed that there were answers on this question. I like Mefaresh's which addresses the general question on a methodological and epistomological level. I'd be in favor of editing the question to better match that answer, along the lines of "When I see incriminating-looking quotations from the Talmud on anti-Judaism websites, how should I approach that?" but stated better and more precisely.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 14:56
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    They haven't actually made an argument from what I see, just assertions. And we can certainly challenge credibility (like accurate and complete reporting) based on source when there are reasons to be suspicious. Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 21:36

3 Answers 3


Absolutely not, none of these "quotes" are representative of Talmudic, Rabbinic, or mainstream Jewish belief.

These quotes are either mistranslated or taken completely out of context.

Furthermore, most major commentators say that most, if not all the references to the idol worshipers in the Talmud do not apply to modern-day Gentiles.

Without a mastery of the original language of the source i.e.. Aramaic and Mishnaic Hebrew, it is impossible to pass judgment on the material at hand, and the nuances involved in the text are only privy to those who have spent a large amount of time and investment in understanding them.

It should be understood as well, that Jewish Law culled from the Talmud is an intricate body of rules, and each rule has its parameters and limits, and with that just like in any respectable set of laws and subset of laws, there will always be technical aspects to it that carries with it dispensations and scenarios that fall outside the bottom line "obligation". So too, regarding the "give and take"; known in Talmudic parlance as the Shakla V'tarya, of the Talmud when discussing and fleshing out the Law discussed, in order to fully understand the Law at hand in its fullness, full intellectual investigation requires a discussion of scenarios which are not practically feasible, and may even seem beyond the pale of normalcy, and completely impractical, but in order to find and feel out the parameters and boundaries of where the law applies and ends.

This approach is common in any normal university setting (especially Law School). Go into any classroom discussing civil rights and other social issues, and one will hear seemingly wacky discussions and scenarios seriously discussed such as "whether animals should be thought of as owned by humans, and whether that is needed to confer civil rights to animals" (as suggested by Cass Sunstien Here who claimed he does not believe that in a policy sense, but was only discussing it philosophically). These types of theoretical discussions are implicitly accepted as legitimate, for we understand that in the interest of investigation, ideas are tested and taken seriously. So too in the Talmud, in order to fully grasp the parameters of the Law and subject under discussion, ideas are discussed seriously and openly in order to push the discussion for more clarity.

Thus, a large part of these "quotes" are not representative of accepted, peer-reviewed and majority ruled Jewish opinion, as some of these comments were cherry picked straight out of the middle of a long detailed discussion.

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    The last three paragraphs are definitely the important part. Basically, if you understand what the Talmud is and how it was put together it's pretty easy to tell what's going on.
    – user3178
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 21:17

a person can take quotes from the bible or the talmud and pretty much fabricate anything he wants.

even if such quotes exist, there are other quotes saying the exact opposite such as the mishna in avot 1

Rabbi Akiva used to say: Beloved is the man that he was created in the image of G-d; an extra love is made known to him that he was created in G-d's image, as it says (Genesis 9:6) "for in His own image G-d made humankind". Beloved are the Jews that they are called sons to G-d; an extra love is made known to them that they are called sons to G-d, as it says (Deuteronomy 14:1) "You are children of the Lord your G-d."

whose first half clearly refers to non-jews. show me any other religion which puts all men on such a high pedestal.

whatever one finds in the talmud must be taken in context of everything else said. hence it is important to ask a wise rabbi who is well versed in the entire talmud before accepting any quotes from those looking to demonize the torah sages.

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    Also worth noting: arguments in the talmud sometimes take the form of "if we accept that opinion, then that would mean X" where X is some ridiculous thing that we don't accept. Malicious people seeking to misrepresent Judaism will then say "the talmud says X", completely out of context. Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 13:09
  • Christianity in large part would probably agree with that entire quote. But Christianity did spin from Judaism. The theme I am seeing, illustrated further in Monica's comment above, is that the Talmud engages in hypothetical sometimes, so context is very important.
    – user3178
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 21:20
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    The talmud is full of arguments that in the end we do not accept -- hypotheticals, reductios ad absurdum, ones with limited scope (that ruling is true only under these specialized circumstances that weren't stated up front), and sometimes ones that are just mistaken. That's why, as you said, you need to study in context; isolated excerpts will lead you astray. Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 21:39

After reviewing the page linked, I know, as others have answered, that many of those quotes are not accurate translations or interpretations of the Talmud.

Anyway, gentiles are not considered animals, and Jews who think they are, are incorrect. We believe that people who live virtually without morals are like animals because they are losing their human soul (and become even worse then animals); this applies to Jew or non-Jew alike. This does not mean we should treat them with no respect, because we are supposed to treat people with basic respect to maintain a functioning society. Also, good Jews try not to judge people, especially in our modern world where many people are trying to be good but are just struggling with their desires (treating all people with proper respect may possibly be considered law if the society's constitution (e.g. United States) includes equality).

Also, some of the references to people being "animals" are talking about the human body in a context of Jewish bodily ritualistic laws, where the body is just like an animal's if not for sanctification. Jews are commanded by God to keep many bodily ritualistic laws to sanctify their bodies. Gentiles don't have this, so their "body" is simply coarse physicality. If a gentile wants to become "holier," good for him or her, but it is not necessarily his or her mission in life. There are many Jews who don't live up to their mission of holiness, and that makes them a lot more "animalistic" than many gentiles who are being holier in their divine service.

There are differences between Jews and non-Jews in Talmudic law. However, that is not the law in practice for most of the cases discussed. Some of our Rabbis (Meiri, Maimonides, Rabbi Reuven Margolis, Rabbi Samson Hirsch, and others) have explained that the reason there is some discrimination in the Talmud is because the nations of the world at that time did not have just and moral systems of law; therefore, we treated them in law as they treated others. Nonetheless, the way of the Torah is a way of peace and love, and Jews were encouraged to go above the strict letter of the law and treat gentiles like Jews in order to show God's love, greatness, and morality to the world.

These Rabbis explain (and is implied by Maimonides concerning the case of the oxen) that as non-Jews evolve to become moral and just in their systems of law in society, the Jewish law evolves with it, and we are obligated to treat them as is the accepted standard. As far as I understand, that will be reflected in Jewish law for eternity, as long as gentiles remain faithful to God and morality.