Adam Kirsch is a poet and literary critic, whose books include The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature.
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Lest Ye Be Judged

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ how Talmudic rabbis carried the life-or-death burden of sitting in judgment of others

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Reading Torah Against the Grain

Daf Yomi: Do Talmudic rabbis seek justification for givens by retrofitting biblical text to their needs? The case of the Sanhedrin courts.

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Follow the Money

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ tough-minded and practical wisdom on financial transactions from the ancient rabbis

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The Art of Forgery

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, the rabbis attempt to imagine every possible way to alter a legal document, and a coinciding method to thwart each of them

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What Happens When a Dying Man Doesn’t Die

A question of morals for a loopy Coen-brothers script, in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study

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How a Cucumber Decides Whether a Son Inherits Over a Donkey

With surprising analogous thinking, ancient Talmudic sages tackled very modern questions—by accident or foresight, depending on how liberal your views—of transgender rights, the rights of unborn fetuses, women’s rights, and wealth distribution

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An Old Jew Is on His Deathbed, and Says to His Son…

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ what’s right—and what’s legal—in matters of inheritance

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The Inheritance

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ one sage overrules the consensus, and men may dispose of their wealth upon their deathbeds at will

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The Talmud’s Hot Tub Time Machine

How Moses could know how his people’s story would end before it was even written is in keeping with the spirit of ‘Daf Yomi’

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Taking a ‘Sharp Knife’ to the Talmud

Daf Yomi: Interpreters of ancient Jewish law ‘often give the impression of doing whatever needs to be done to make the Bible mean what they want it to mean’

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Terms of Service

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ why the law is in the details

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Caveat Emptor

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic sages ask what it is safe to assume in matters of transactions within the law, and what must be specifically proven

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When You Buy a Cow (or a Boat) What Do You Get From the Seller? When Is It Yours? And What Really Is a Cow Anyway?

This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study goes straight to the essence of the matter. Plus, ‘fish tales’ and 750-mile-high waves.

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Going to Lvov

Polish poet and essayist Adam Zagajewski’s extravagant and miraculous new collection, ‘Slight Exaggeration,’ takes on banality and vulgarity through elegant art

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The Art of the Deal

Talmudic rabbis regulated real estate transactions based on biblical principles of ownership and centuries of experience of the practicalities of Jewish life

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Why Jews Are Forbidden to Be Happy

Talmudic rabbis debate just how much of life should be forsaken as part of the Jewish responsibility to mourn for the past

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The Law of the Kingdom, or the Law of the Jews?

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, the rabbis debate whether Jews owe anything to gentiles, when it comes to property rights

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Camille Paglia on Jews and Feminism

A dialogue with Adam Kirsch, about her new collection ‘Free Women, Free Men’

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Does the Talmud Legalize Squatting?

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ putting limits on property rights

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Thanksgiving in Mongolia Revisited

A miscarriage—and other fateful devastations—in Ariel Levy’s ‘hard-hitting’ new memoir, ‘The Rules Do Not Apply’

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Daf Yomi: ‘Whoever Is Stronger Prevails’

Talmudic rabbis solve territorial disputes by giving the spoils to the victor

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Adulting With Jami Attenberg

A Brooklyn woman learns to ‘handle her shit’ in the new novel, ‘All Grown Up’

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If You’ll Buy That, the Rabbi’ll Throw the Golden Gate in Free

This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study examines the origin of rules for real estate transactions

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Israeli Immigration Thriller Becomes Global Sensation

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen’s suspenseful new ‘Waking Lions’ turns the fateful collision of an Israeli doctor and an African immigrant into an indictment of surging nationalism

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Talmud to Betsy DeVos: Yes, We Need Public Schools

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ rabbinical thinking on the relationship of public goods and private obligations explains the advantages of universal education accessible to all

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Who Wrote the Torah?

This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study dives into a foundational puzzle of the religion

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Depression Classic

Daphne Merkin’s alarmingly powerful memoir, ‘This Close to Happy,’ delves into the childhood wreckage and adult emptiness of ‘the process of depression’

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What the Talmud Says About Trump’s Border Wall, Paid For by Mexico

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ when it comes to privacy, good fences may indeed make good neighbors

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From America to Russia and Back, ‘The Patriots’ Tells Us Stories That Couldn’t Be More Current

Sana Krasikov’s ‘boldly imagined’ new novel sees Russia as a place where it is impossible to keep your hands clean

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What the Rich Owe the Poor

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ the deep Jewish roots of income equality, and the shared dignity it brings

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