Perhaps no book is less known, yet more important, than the Shulchan Aruch.
Most people have heard of the Talmud – that compendium of Jewish laws, and thus the essence of Judaism. The Talmud, however, is vast and largely inscrutable for non-Jews. Fortunately, back in the mid-1500s, a Jewish rabbi named Joseph Karo decided to create a condensed, compact version of the Talmud. He called it ‘the set table’: the Shulchan Aruch.
Most of the Shulchan Aruch deals with inter-Jewish laws, but a fair number of passages discuss non-Jews – the Gentiles, or in less polite terms, the ‘goyim.’ As it happens, the laws of Judaism hold Gentiles in very low regard; they can be cheated, lied to, abused, even killed, if it serves Jewish interests. Jewish supremacy reigns throughout the Talmud and the Shulchan Aruch.
In Weimar Germany, a German scholar of religion and the Hebrew language named Erich Bischoff decided to write a summary and analysis of this most-important of books. In 1929, he published Das Buch vom Schulchan Aruch – the present work is translated from the 1942 edition. Never before or since has a knowledgeable scholar conducted such an honest and critical study. Here, we see many dark corners of the Jewish religion exposed; here, we see exactly how Jews view the contemptible goyim.
This book is invaluable for all those interested in cutting through the fog and obscurity of the Talmud, and in getting to the heart of Jewish thinking and Jewish attitudes: the Shulchan Aruch.