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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In the Rains, Talmudic Symbols of Goodwill, Punishment, and a Deep Covenant

The Torah sages study and respond to natural phenomena in an effort to understand our place on Earth

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When the Talmud Replaced the Temple as the Structure at the Heart of Jewish Life

Judaism became a religion of laws, haunted and bound by the absence of a home for Jewish sovereignty

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Dr. Zhivago’s CIA Connection and the Pope

‘The Zhivago Affair’ is a detailed reconstruction of one of the most fascinating of the Cold War’s cultural skirmishes

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Talmudic Rabbis Debate the Practice of the Law Versus the Intention Behind It

Technical discussion about the shofar leads quickly to an examination of deep spiritual questions

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‘Daf Yomi’: Talmudic Rabbinical Thought Was Part Lunatic, Part Moon Shot

Why gamblers, pigeon racers, and usurers can’t witness a Jewish new moon, and why the lunar calendar still matters

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The Bathtub Kabbalah of J.D. Salinger

Two new biographical sketches depict the great recluse as agent of growth, emblem of permanent adolescence, and cipher

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Can God Be Tricked Into Forgiving Unethical Behavior?

Talmudic rabbis set out to debate the religious calendar, and wind up talking about religious sincerity

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On the Impossibility of Over-Interpreting the Bible

Why Talmud study is not reading, in the usual sense of the word, but rather deciphering the true meaning of the text

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Which Is More Sacred: a Festival or Shabbat? A Mitzvah or Money?

With great metaphysical creativity, Talmudic rabbis probe the exact limits of comparison and analogy

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Rivka Galchen Is Not Your Mommy

The thirtysomething characters in ‘American Innovations,’ her vital, intelligent, new collection of stories, have trouble growing up

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Talmudic Rabbis, All Men, Admit They Cannot Bring Women Under Their Power

In debating the principles of intentional sin, sages find that pleading ignorance is no defense, even if not all laws can be followed

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Aharon Appelfeld Creates a Jewish Saint in ‘Suddenly, Love’

In his new novel, the great Israeli writer conjures a slow-burn connection between an innocent caretaker and her aging charge

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Why Did God Choose the Jewish People To Receive the Torah?

Talmudic rabbis debate the paradoxical belief in Jewish chosenness despite the evidence of Jewish powerlessness

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I Dream of Lansky: The Dead Jewish Mob King Rules Zachary Lazar’s Law-Bending Novel

At the intersection of artifice and experience comes a beguiling fantasia on Jewish themes, ‘I Pity the Poor Immigrant’

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Which Came First: The Chicken, the Egg, or the Divine Law That Governs Their Use?

The apparent abstraction of Talmudic rulings, immune to the vagaries of history, are also a key to Jewish survival

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Jugglers, Acrobats, a Magnificent Temple—and Notably No Political Strife

In the Talmud, nostalgic, biblical, divine explanations override accurate secular history and chronology

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Hungarian Gold Train Stops for Good Americans, Bad Israelis in Ayelet Waldman’s New Novel

‘Love and Treasure’ weaves a multigenerational tale through World War II back to a lost European paradise

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Why Read Daf Yomi? To Rediscover an Older Way of Imagining the Jewish Spirit.

To the Talmudic rabbis, religion was not opposed to the law but deeply connected to its study, even if dialogue wins over decree

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Simon Schama Moderates a Moderate History of Moderate Jews

‘The Story of the Jews’ is the most important TV documentary about Jewish history since Abba Eban’s famous ‘Heritage’ series

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The Talmud Is a Training Manual for Jews Preparing for the Next Holy Era

For a hundred generations Jews lived in anticipation of redemption, a historical tension that continues to define Judaism

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Jewish Culture Was Not Always a Response to Non-Jewish Culture

Why read the Talmud as a secular Jew? In part, for its expression of an independent Jewish creativity and spirituality.

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Rationalism, Mysticism, Slaves, and a Sukkah Made From an Elephant

The Talmud describes rabbis who were not just judges and legal analysts, but magicians as well

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In the Talmud, Jews Losing Touch With the Everyday Words of the Holy Land

In staking claims about the validity of Jewish identity, the rabbis show that the Diaspora has existed for nearly as long as Judaism

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Math Problem for Talmudic Rabbis: Building the Right Size Sukkah

Pi, irrational numbers, and squaring the circle are all brought to bear to find justifications for tradition

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‘The Museum of Extraordinary Things’ Is Extra Ordinary

In her latest novel, Alice Hoffman renders the brutal world of Lower East Side immigrants in the romantic hues her readers expect

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How Large Must a Sukkah Be To Be Called a Sukkah—And Yet Still Be Far From Heaven?

In dissenting opinions, Talmudic rabbis propose and debate every detail of Sukkot’s booth and, in so doing, measure God

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In the Talmud, One Sin Is Beyond Repentance: Giving God and Jews a Bad Name

A holy desecration is unethical in part because of the social pressure to reflect well on the tribe

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A Young Lawyer, Given a Revelation by God, at Sea About What To Do With It

In Joshua Max Feldman’s entertaining debut novel ‘The Book of Jonah,’ Greed is Good meets Sept. 11

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Too Much, Too Little: Talmudic Rabbis’ Creativity Shines When Interpreting Prohibitions

Manna, and fasting, are not just miracles of sustenance and faith, but also elements of jurisprudence

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Some Jewish Acts Seem Meaningless. The Talmud Says You Should Do Them Anyway.

Illogical Jewish laws are ‘matters that Satan challenges’: raising doubts for enemies of Judaism and skeptical Jews

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