The Talmud, the book of Jewish law, is one of the most challenging religious texts in the world. But it is being read in ever larger numbers, partly thanks to lớn digital tools that make it easier khổng lồ grasp, and growing interest from women - who see no reason why men should have sầu it to themselves.

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Step inlớn the last carriage of the 07:53 train from Inwood to Penn Station in Thành Phố New York và you may be in for a surprise. The commuters here are not looking at their phones or checking the value of their shares, but peering down at ancient Hebrew and Aramaic text và discussing fine points of Judaic law.

It's a study group on wheels, & the book absorbing their attention in between station announcements is the Talmud - one of the most challenging và perplexing religious texts in the world. The group started 22 years ago, khổng lồ help Long Island's Jewish commuters find their way through the "book", which stretches to well over 10 million words across 38 volumes.

In his book, the Complete Idiot's Guide to lớn the Talmud, Rabbi Aaron Parry says that when, shortly before his death, Einstein was asked what he would vày differently if he could live his life again, he replied without hesitation: "I would study the Talmud."

It contains the foundations of Halakha - the religious laws that dictate all aspects of life for observant Jews from when they wake in the morning to when they go to lớn sleep at night. Every imaginable topic is covered, from architecture to trapping mice. To a greater extent than the other main Jewish holy book, the Torah, the Talmud is a practical book about how to live.

"The laws are very, very relevant lớn everyday life," says Eliezer Cohen, a real estate manager who organises the classes on the train with a couple of other amateur scholars. "Many times, I go lớn the office afterwards và I'll get questions on current events or in business và I'll say, 'Oh, we just learnt that today in the Talmud.' It's a blueprint for life."

But the Talmud is perhaps better described as a prompt for discussion and reflection, rather than a big book of Do's và Don'ts.

"The Talmud is really about the conversation & the conversation never ends," says Rabbi Dov Linzer, of the Yeshivat Chovevei Torah School in Thủ đô New York. It is a distillation not just of oral law, but also the debates and disagreements about those laws - with different rabbinic sources occupying a different space on the Talmudic page. Mixed in with it all are folk stories and jokes.

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At one time, tackling this most forbidding of texts was restricted khổng lồ male scholars ready khổng lồ devote themselves lớn prolonged study in a yeshiva or religious school. Then, in 1923, a rabbi named Meir Shapiro introduced a study regime known as daf yomày, or "page-a-day". Under the supervision of a teacher or a fellow student who has prepared in advance, students read through two facing pages of Talmud and commentary, try to lớn work out the meaning & discuss the implications for their lives.

When the commuters of Long Isl& struggle over a difficult passage of Talmud, they know that tens of thousands of Jews all over the world are on the same page. And when he travels abroad, Eliezer Cohen can usually find a local group to continue his studies. On one trip to lớn Jerusalem, he even encountered a man who, like hlặng, taught the daily reading on his way to lớn work (although on a bus, rather than a train).

1. Mishnah 2. The Gemara 3. Rashi 4. Other commentaries 5. Pages and chapters
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