Fake news, fake quotes

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Check out the attached quote, supposedly from the Talmud. Sounds good, right? I happen to concur with the message. But the quote itself is not quite real:

Since we live in an era of fake news, we need to be careful about sharing quotes. This is challenging because when we read a quote that supports “our” position then we instinctively assume that it’s correct. Psychologists call this confirmation bias.

How can we best counter this? Generally assume best intent but also follow the Russian proverb, Trust but verify (Доверяй, но проверяй; Doveryai, no proveryai.)

Just like we should always check social and political stories with reputable news sources, PolitiFact and Snopes, we should the check Jewish quotes that are endlessly shared on social media.

As for this “Talmud” quote being shared online? It turns out to be a mashup of different authors, written at different times, for different purposes. The analysis is below.

Fake quotes Talmud mashup

The words “Do justly now. Love mercy now. Walk humbly now” is from The Book of Michah (מיכה ), part of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) 6:8.
“You are not obligated to complete the work but neither are you free to abandon it.” is from Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers) 2:16
Another part is a modern day text from Rami Shapiro, Wisdom of the Sages, 41, where he offers a translation of Rabbi Tarfon’s work, I need to check, I think on on Pirke Avot 2:20.
Then all of this became a mashup in “Moving Beyond Individualism in Pastoral Care and Counseling” by Barbara J. McClure, page 235


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