Torah studies in China

Now here’s a story, from Michael Ledeen. It’s called The Chinese and the Jews. This is how it starts:

Over the past couple of decades the Chinese have become more interested in the Jews. Of late the Chinese regime has been bringing Jewish scholars and theologians to the People’s Republic to discuss Torah, Talmud, Mishnah and even some of the more mystical tracts.

Now why would that be? Again some answers:

Back when the country’s greatest modern man, Deng Xiaoping, converted the PRC economy to capitalism, Chinese “social scientists” went to work trying to figure out what makes capitalists tick. They were quickly baffled. They kept running into problems; that “knack” we’ve got somehow eluded their new system. After a while, they figured out that the capitalists’ success couldn’t be entirely explained by the nuts and bolts of the marketplace, or by institutions like private property, important though they were. Yes, it would have been easier just to read Michael Novak’s magnum opus, but they got to his end place: religion is an essential part of successful capitalism.

In their amazing way of organizing most anything, the Chinese launched churches, and of course millions upon millions of them attended Christian (mostly Catholic) services. To be sure, the Party kept a suspicious eye wide open, and some of the churches were deemed too dangerous, even in the cause of Communism. But on they went, convinced they were on the right path. If anyone doubted it, they had mountains of research and even Tocqueville to justify the turn to religion.

After a couple of decades of this, there were still problems, and their social scientists took another look. This time around, they found–surprise!–lots of Jews involved in capitalist enterprises, from banks to stock exchanges to corporations. Indeed, the Jews had a history of doing it. Maybe the Jews knew something the others didn’t? Well, look at Israel…or New York…

And so they’re talking to Jews, not about capitalism but about Judaism. State radio now broadcasts in Hebrew. The Jewish experts who are brought to China find themselves speaking Hebrew with their Chinese interlocutors. Chinese students can now learn Hebrew, and immerse themselves in Jewish studies.

The world can sometimes be hilarious.