A non-Jew who studies the seven Noachide laws is indeed worthy of praise. Cremer was accused of taking a passage of the Talmud out of context by insinuating that Judaism endorses child abuse.” 2 2 Canadian Jewish News , June 30, 2005.

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One only has to read further in Sanhedrin 59a, where the Gemara supplies its own very specific context, to discover that the citation does not overturn the death penalty for Talmud study by non-Judaics: “This Baraita seems to contradict Rabbi Yohanan’s ruling that a non-Jew who studies the Torah is liable for the death penalty.

The Gemara explains: There in the Baraita Rabbi Meir is referring to a non-Jew who studies the seven Noachide laws that non-Jews are obligated to observe.

In the language of Torah itself: study of the Torah begins, as a matter of simple, ubiquitous fact, in the Talmud. In all times, places, and writings, other than those rejected as heretical, from then to now, the Talmud formed the starting point and the ending point, the alpha and the omega of truth; justify by appeal to the Talmud, rightly read, persuasively interpreted, and you make your point; disprove a proposition by reference to a statement of the Talmud and you demolish a counterpoint.

In reading the written Torah itself, the Talmud’s exegesis enjoys priority of place.

Innovation of every kind, whether in the character of the spiritual life or in the practice of the faith in accord with its norms, must find justification in the Talmud.

“That is the power of this Judaism, which for as long time, and for the majority of practitioners of Rabbinic Judaism today, defines the normative, the classical, the authentic Torah: Rabbinic Judaism.

The Pharisees did not yet have a hold over the majority of the people of Israel; though the Pharisees did represent a potent underground current of corruption that had existed within Israel since the time of the Golden Calf.

It is interesting to note in this regard that the rabbis teach that the Israelites did not sin in their worship of the golden calf.

Rabbi Zalman Melamed of Bar Ilan University in Jerusalem writes: “..can classify the sin of the Golden Calf as not a true ‘fall’; it was not substantive, but just a result of confusion, a foolishness that overtook a nation impatiently awaiting its leader, Moses, In one rabbinic passage, in fact, our (Talmudic) sages compare the sin of the calf to an unfaithful wife's intimacy with a eunuch!