Adam Kirsch is the director of the MA program in Jewish Studies at Columbia University and the author, most recently, of The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature.
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Not in Heaven

Man’s authority to interpret the Torah in a ‘postmagical age’ is the subject of this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ rabbinical debate

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Michael Chabon’s Apollo Mission to the Past

The new Moonglow is a novel in the form of a memoir, a superhero comic in the form of prose, and a paean to the fading Greatest Generation

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The Coin of the Realm

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, the finer points of monetary transactions, and the attendant honesty ingrained in them

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At Home in History, and Nowhere Else

Saul Friedländer’s ‘small masterpiece in the literature of the Holocaust’

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Need a Reason to Hope This Campaign Season? Try the Timeless Talmud.

Can it get any worse? Yes, yes, it can, a lot worse, but the continuity of learning in the ‘Daf Yomi’ cycle has remained unbroken.

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Lost and Found

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ how the Talmud transforms absolute Torah commandments into contingent human laws, prizing practicality over literalism

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The Jew Who Killed the Banks?

Alan Greenspan: genius or villain? A new biography, ‘The Man Who Knew,’ prosecutes and praises the conductor of a wild market ride

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The Book That Obama Won’t Read, But Hillary Clinton Should

Sixty years after the Suez Crisis, two new histories of the Egypt-Israel conflict try to garner lessons on the Mideast and American power in a changing world

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I Swear

A simple dispute over ownership leads the Talmudic sages into a debate, in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ about the value of a spiritual oath versus secular claims of honesty

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The Mother Tongue

In an excerpt from ‘The People and the Books,’ a portrait of Glückel of Hameln, the 17th-century Jewish woman whose access to Judaism’s foundational stories was through the Tsenerene, a Yiddish retelling of the Torah

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Jew vs. Non-Jew vs. Jew

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic sages attempt to deal with the risks inherent in communal loyalty taking precedence over common law and principled justice

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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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