In a self-interview at The Nervous Breakdown, Tod Goldberg shares what he learned from sacred Jewish texts while researching his novel Gangsterland:
I actually learned more from the Talmud than I did the Torah, since I was already generally familiar with the Torah. The Talmud, however, has so much insight into the laws and philosophy that are the bedrock of the faith, plus essentially provides case law, which is pretty fascinating to read. I also read a great many books on Jewish thought and identity, which were incredibly helpful. What I learned and what I appreciated personally are vastly different than what was good for Gangsterland. What changed for me personally was a greater appreciation for what it has meant, historically, to be a Jew. That even if I don’t believe in every tenet of the religion per se, I am nevertheless a Jew, and with that comes history, and with that comes a certain a genetic duty. I also learned that the ancient Jews had an exceptionally nuanced understanding of human nature and were bedeviled by many of the same existential questions I still have, which made me feel pretty good, actually, because I think we all end up thinking our hopes and fears are uniquely idiotic, but here you have people in the 8th century concerned with the very things you are concerned by in the 21st. But the most important thing I learned reading all of these books was about forgiveness. Forgiving yourself. Forgiving others. Forgiving the mistakes you haven’t made yet. That was extraordinarily enlightening.