May 27, 2009
The Talmud, A Selection, a new translation with an introduction by Norman Solomon, Penguin Classics, £16.99
Rabbi Solomon writes:
The anecdotes about Hillel and Shammai in Shabbat 31a indicate a strongly encouraging attitude towards converts, but the baraita below suggests caution, perhaps necessary when converts to Judaism lapsed and slandered Jews to the occupying authorities, or if they joined Christian or heretical sects and made a nuisance of themselves. This may be what lies behind Rabbi Chelbo’s caustic yet ambivalent comparison of converts to a “scab”.