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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Divorce Court: Talmud

Settling scores, carving up estates, negotiating claims, in biblical law. Plus: A virgin is worth twice as much as a widow or divorcee.

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Jewish Bride Has a Mole? Grounds for Divorce. Husband Smells Bad? Live With It.

Inequality under the wedding canopy, in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study. Plus: a story about cheating the Angel of Death.

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Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage, They Go Together Like …

If the point of marriage is not happiness but religion, what constitutes grounds for divorce? Plus: tips for grooming pubic hair.

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The Murder of the Century

A reissue of Meyer Levin’s 1956 novel about the notorious Leopold and Loeb case captures the enduring power of Jewish self-hatred

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How Often Should Married Jewish Couples Have Sex?

And other matters of conjugal bliss in this week’s Talmud study, including a woman’s right to sexual fulfillment

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Saul Bellow Was a Cranky Essayist

A new collection of the writer’s aggrieved nonfiction sends readers running back to his masterful fiction

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Would a Jackal Take Better Care of Its Young?

For most Jews in Talmudic times, marriage was the biggest financial transaction of their lives

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When Jews Were Like ISIS

We, too, stoned our women for infidelity. Patriarchal injustice persists in Orthodoxy. What’s a modern Talmud reader to do?

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Alexis Landau’s Merchant Ivory Novel

In a ‘richly appointed’ debut, ‘The Empire of the Senses,’ German Jews of the 1920s live in blissful ignorance

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Talmudic Rabbis Debated the Cost of Rape—In Terms of the Woman’s Market Value

Reading the oral law today forces Jews to reconcile repellent, outdated legal views with modern morals

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Incestuous Rapists Get What They Deserve

Talmudic rabbis believe ‘the hand of Heaven’ makes sure that the punishment fits the crime

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Israel: The Original Terrorist State

Bruce Hoffman’s riveting new history of pre-1947 Palestine reviews the violent birth of the modern Jewish homeland

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Belief, Truth, and Lies in Divorce, Marriage, Rape, and Female Chastity

Rightly or wrongly, Talmudic thinkers presumed that gentiles would persecute the Jews in their midst

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Can a Blind Bride Be Attractive? If Not, How Do You Pay Her a Compliment?

The sages debate the demerits of little white lies, and consider the subtleties of legal claims made by spouses and other property owners

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Virginity Is a Commodity (and Can Be Divined by Sitting a Bride on a Wine Barrel)

Talmudic rabbis are less interested in mystical speculation than in concrete questions, like the state of women’s hymens

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Sadistic Jewish Hitler Scholar Abuses Girl in Jerusalem

Israeli novelist Gail Hareven dives fearlessly into the the moral quagmires of abuse, vengeance, and the legacy of the Holocaust

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Virgin Brides, Premarital Sex, and Jewish Patriarchal Ownership of Female Bodies

The ‘Daf Yomi’ cycle heads into thorny gender issues around marriage, gynecology, and Sabbath sex

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Tony Judt Is Aging Poorly

A new collection of the late historian’s essays says more about his prejudices than about his achievements

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Juliet’s Dilemma: Seduced Unmarried Minors Engaging in ‘Licentious Sexual Intercourse’

Talmudic rabbis ask what agency young women have in determining their fate in sex, marriage, and divorce

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In Matters of Divorce, as in Uber’s ‘Surge Pricing,’ What’s Unjust Isn’t Always Illegal

This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ probes the connection between the magical thinking of the Bible and the rational concerns of the Talmud

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Let’s Talk About Sex With Minors, Rape, and ‘Uncovering the Nakedness’ of Sisters

Talmudic rabbis, gladiators of the mind, sought glory and eternal fame—but also pondered the mundane side of being human

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Mark Greif’s Brilliant Contribution to the History of Ideas

‘The Age of the Crisis of Man’ traces the fall and rise of individualist pragmatism in America

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The Return of Martin Guerre: Abandoned, Adulterous, Raped, and Widowed Wives

Talmudic sages say that sinful acts—especially those committed by women—are not the rabbis’ fault

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Does a Penis Make the Man? Hermaphrodites, Eunuchs, and Jews With Genital Deformities

Jewish law loves to separate people into airtight categories. Real-life sex and gender are more complicated. What then?

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The Time of His Time: Letters From Norman Mailer

The turbulent private—and public—affairs of a titanic figure in American Jewish intellectual life

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Only the Wife Knows If the Husband’s ‘Semen Shoots Like an Arrow’

And other problems of divorce, infertility, and urination, in this week’s Talmud study

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The Unforgivable Sin of Survival

Only now, years after he survived Auschwitz, can we hear the alienation and fury of H.G. Adler’s newly translated ‘Shoah Trilogy’

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Virgins, ‘Partial Virgins,’ Sodomy, Bestiality, Prostitutes, Marriage, and Forbidden Sex

In the patriarchal society of the Talmud, a woman’s body is always under the supervision and scrutiny of men

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The Great Jewish American Liberal Academic Anti-Anti-Zionist Freak-Out

‘The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel’ shows how the boycott movement is more significant than its achievements suggest

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Can a Woman Rape a Man, as Shia LaBoeuf Claimed? The Rabbis Have a Say.

This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study is NSFW

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