Adam Kirsch is the director of the MA program in Jewish Studies at Columbia University and the author, most recently, of Emblems of the Passing World: Poems after Photographs by August Sander.
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Heidegger Was Really a Real Nazi

Is the philosopher’s complexity enough to excuse his overt anti-Semitism? A dive into the so-called ‘black notebooks’ from the 1930s is revealing.

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‘Against Everything’ Is a Brilliant Exercise in Hope

Mark Greif’s thought-provoking new collection of essays defiantly refuses to lay waste our powers, getting and spending

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Smoothing the Path to a Sinner’s Repentance

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ ancient oral law makes it easier for thieves to regain spiritual balance with their victims—a reminder of the kinship of all Jews

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Jonathan Safran Foer’s Nice-Jewish-Boy Fiction

Campus Week: The bestselling writer’s ambitious new ‘Here I Am’ represents the triumph of sentimentality and sincerity over irony and anger, which is a great loss

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Thievery Corporation

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ how the theft of a pregnant cow leads the Talmudic sages to examine the concept of wages

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Is ‘An Eye for an Eye’ Really an Eye for an Eye?

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis reinterpret a famous biblical verse to allow compassion to trump logic

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Reality Bites, for Immigrants With Smartphones

Lara Vapnyar’s ‘timely’ and ‘insightful’ new novel, ‘Still Here,’ wonders what the American dream looks like to former Russians

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An Ox, a Donkey, a Sheep, and a Garment Walk Into a Bar…

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ dissecting the hermeneutics that governs the Talmud’s approach to law

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The Unsettling Exploits of Daniel Silva’s Mossad Superspy

In the new thriller ‘The Black Widow,’ master Israeli agent Gabriel Allon is forced to confront hard questions about ISIS

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Law v. Lore

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ competing strands of legal wrangling and storytelling in the ancient compendium of Jewish thought

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Burden of Proof

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ the rabbis spin out all the hypotheticals—and then some—from a few simple verses from Exodus about open pits and a goring ox to see who might be at fault when things go wrong

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Tied Up in Knots Over a Goring Ox

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ the Talmud tries to make sense of an incoherent Biblical law about awarding damages

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One Law for Jews, Another Law for Gentiles

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ non-Jews are denied equal protection under the rules of the Talmud

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The Shock of Recognition

As the ‘Daf Yomi’ cycle returns to a familiar anecdote about a camel causing a fire, it reveals the Talmud’s complex web of interlaced elements as more than a compendium of laws

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Can Jewish Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings?

Emily Barton’s ‘richly imagined’ new novel ‘The Book of Esther’ projects fantasies of Jewish power onto a Tolkien-like land

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Toward a Taxonomy of Damage

The Talmud is what happens when the laws of the Written Torah are not sufficiently broad or abstract to serve as the basis for a functioning legal system

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My Son the Doctor Has Chosen the Wrong Profession

So says the Talmud in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’—where rabbis call boys a blessing and daughters a necessary evil and blame their uncontrollable lust for actions befitting a rapist

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Adam Sachs’ Motherless Son, Fathered by Kafka and Louis C.K. and Haunted by Delmore Schwartz

Stories of paternal complications, in a new collection by Adam Ehrlich Sachs and a ‘long-needed’ new selection of the writings of Delmore Schwartz

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Know Your Place

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic scholars undermine the Jewish caste system

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Barbra Streisand Is Ready for Her Close-Up

Neal Gabler’s ‘impassioned’ new biography of the entertainer explores the paradox of modern Jewishness

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Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage, Go Together Like a—

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ reading, Talmudic debates over marriage contracts are often predicated on linguistic precision, not human needs

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The True Pleasure of the Talmud Is Its Intellectual Gamesmanship

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ reading, a pair of sages engage in a duel of the mind, posing, parrying, and riposting over hypothetical marriage and sexual scenarios

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A Masterful Account of Humiliation and Despair

Robert F. Worth’s ‘A Rage for Order’ brings the broad disappointments of the Arab Spring to the human level

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Crime and Punishment and Punishment and Punishment

The Talmudic system of laws assumes the adherent is eager to learn how to follow God’s commandment, not why to follow it—and that he has faith in an otherworldly justice not necessarily reflected in this life

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Men: Thank God We’re Not Women!

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis have a hard time explaining gender differences in commandments and blessings, including whether women can shave their beards

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Ghetto: The Shared History of a Word

The Jewish ghetto haunts sociologist Mitchell Duneier’s new history of the American one

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Honor Thy Mother and Father

Sure, fine, but what does that actually mean in practical everyday terms? This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study unpacks filial duty.

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Better Living Through Criticism

A.O. Scott’s defense of considered opinions comes just as the culture needs it most

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By Talmudic law, Jewish Men Purchase Brides as They Would a Slave or a Piece of Real Estate

Sure, the woman consents, but the ‘specter of ownership’ hangs over the relationship. Plus: If you’re buying a woman, what is she actually worth in hard currency?

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Poets in the Kitchen Window

Canadian-Israeli writer Ayelet Tsabari’s new collection of short stories, ‘The Best Place on Earth,’ turns Israeliness into a new kind of Diasporic identity

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