Chinese Discover Key to Jewish Money Smarts: The Talmud

The Chinese are so obsessed with notions of innate Jewish business acumen that last year’s Google Zeitgeist China rankings listed “why are Jews excellent?” in fourth place in the “why” questions category, just behind “why should I enter the party” and above “why should I get married?” Newsweek reports that this apparent affection for Jewishness has manifested in the publication of a slew of brisk selling books that purport to reveal the business secrets of the Talmud (Text of early rabbinic writings pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history).

Available titles include Crack the Talmud: 101 Jewish Business Rules, The Illustrated Jewish Wisdom Book, and Know All of the Money-Making Stories of the Talmud. One can even spend the night at a Talmud Hotel inTaichung, Taiwan, which replaces the Gideon’s Bible with the Talmud Business Success Bible. It’s actually a pretty sharp looking hotel, and in keeping with strict Talmudic business strictures, offers free Wifi.

Han Bing, the (pseudonymous) author of Crack the Talmud, says a series on the “Jewish Bible” by a prominent publisher made him realize that “ancient Jews and today’s Chinese face a lot of the same problems,” such as immigration and isolation. The business rules he lists include such unsurprising—and universal—exhortations as “tell a customer about defects,” “help more people,” and “a partnership based on emotions is not dependable.”

Where does this admiration for Jews come from? Well apparently half the Westerners active in Mao Zedong’s China were Jewish. The richest non-Chinese in greater China is Jewish – Michael Kadoorie whose family arrived in China in the 19th century is worth an estimated $5 billion.

Of course the Talmud is not a guide on how to get rich quick. But after decades of buying shoddy Chinese products, it’s kind of refreshing to read that the Chinese buy crap too. Anyone want to translate my book Shakshuka and High Finance; A Moroccan Jewish Kabbalah Guide to Prosperity and Happiness into Mandarin? We’ll make a friggin killing!

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