It is sometimes said that much of the world’s most useful information is contained in books being used to wedge doors shut.

There’s luscious irony in that proposition and in this slow but gripping film from Israeli writer/director Joseph Cedar.

It concerns a father and son – both scholars of the Talmud which is, in basic terms, the central text of rabbinical Judaism and the font of Hebrew scriptures.

That might not be a totally precise description for a collection of writings discussing Jewish history, law, customs and culture. These writings stem from the oral culture of the Torah and combine teachings from the Mishnah texts (2nd century) with additional commentary known as Gemara (5th century).

Together they form an instructive scripture that offers learning and practical wisdom….something of a moral DIY manual on how to conduct your life meaningfully, productively and ethically. (Is that reasonably close, Rabbi?)

 

Read the full review by Doug Anderson at the Sydney Morning Herald.

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