Hi, @AlphaOmega! Amazing that you’re doing kibbutz in Israel right now. I bet it’s been fascinating! Continuing to pray for your time there.
As for the Talmud, I don’t think it’d serve you well in your conversation with your friend to go after it’s reliability. If Wikipedia is correct, then it is…
…the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law and theology… The entire Talmud consists of 63 tractates, and in standard print is over 6,200 pages long. It contains the teachings and opinions of thousands of rabbis (dating from before the Common Era through to the fifth century) on a variety of subjects, including halakha, Jewish ethics, philosophy, customs, history, lore and many other topics. The Talmud is the basis for all codes of Jewish law, and is widely quoted in rabbinic literature.
It’s a rich source of history, if anything, and it’d be interesting to know what it teaches! If your friend is familiar with it, maybe you could get him to explain it to you? That way you could evaluate if/how it reconciles to our Scriptures.
Side note: it is not surprising to learn that there are others in Jewish history, who claimed to be the Messiah. I don’t necessarily think that it was a common thing to do, but awaiting ‘the consolation of Israel’ or the ‘kingdom of God’ seemed to be a thing that the NT writers acknowledged. (Think Simeon the prophet in Luke 2 and Joseph of Arimathea in Luke 23.)