When two mitzvot conflict, the Talmud asks, how do we decide which takes precedence?
New novels answer Irving Howe’s question: Can we accept aesthetic pleasure in a book about the Shoah?
Two years and 100 columns in to the Daf Yomi cycle, our critic pauses to reflect on its intellectual challenges and delights
Tread carefully, the rabbis warn, when seeking to understand creation or envision God
New novel ‘The Betrayers’ boldly places at its center the most famous refusenik and all he represents for Soviet Jewry
The Talmud imagines the world as organized for the benefit of Torah sages, even in matters of sex and death
Daf Yomi: The Talmud’s ruling principle is that there is always a correct course of action, since God is watching
Talmudic rabbis debate professional eulogizers, trying to strike a balance between the holy and the mundane
Is Jewish rebellion really a form of submission? Two new novels and one political critic examine apostasy.
So much of the Talmud is about working the land, and the rules that govern labor, profit, and loss
In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis debate the value of recycling, upselling, renovation, and sacred trash
What happens when the most authoritative guardians of the tradition are sometimes baffled by the tradition themselves?
Antic embellishments, like Esther being good in bed, help Talmudic rabbis to more fully explicate the text’s divine meaning
Talmudic rabbis, like us, can only study the course of history for the elusive signs of God’s intentions
In a struggle against the idea of history, Jewish life strives to change as little as possible, even when new religions take over
What Adam Bellow and other conservatives get wrong about the political leanings of creators of imaginative fiction
Talmudic rabbis debate Jewish solidarity in the face of misfortune, a communal imperative that still holds today
The Torah sages study and respond to natural phenomena in an effort to understand our place on Earth
Judaism became a religion of laws, haunted and bound by the absence of a home for Jewish sovereignty
Technical discussion about the shofar leads quickly to an examination of deep spiritual questions
Why gamblers, pigeon racers, and usurers can’t witness a Jewish new moon, and why the lunar calendar still matters
Talmudic rabbis set out to debate the religious calendar, and wind up talking about religious sincerity
Why Talmud study is not reading, in the usual sense of the word, but rather deciphering the true meaning of the text
With great metaphysical creativity, Talmudic rabbis probe the exact limits of comparison and analogy