Adam Kirsch is a contributing editor for Tablet Magazine and the author of Benjamin Disraeli, a biography in the Nextbook Press Jewish Encounters book series.
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Magical Thinking, Superstition, and Incantations in Jewish Oral Law

By elevating witches and demons to the level of gods, Talmudic rabbis diminished religious thought

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Philip Roth, Master of Deception

The Nobel laureate chronicled the American Jewish Experience

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When the Rabbis Got Together for Shabbat Dinner, Drama—and Law—Ensued

In the Talmud, examples of real-life rabbinic behavior and the intensely personal nature of lawmaking

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Jonathan Franzen’s Love Letter to the Doyen of Jewish Intellectual Vienna

The anointed king of American letters’ eccentric new book, ‘The Kraus Project,’ is also hate mail for our shallow culture

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We No Longer Live in the World of Talmudic Rabbis. What’s a Modern Jew to Do?

In the Bible, the rabbis had the most accurate possible description of the world—a flawed and limited cosmology

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In the Talmud, Jews in Exile Are Considered Defenseless Before Their Enemies

Daf Yomi: The one protection God granted the Jews was to scatter them, so that no single enemy could destroy them all at once

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When the Rabbis Do Things by the Book, They Give the Talmud Its ‘Talmudic’ Qualities

In this week’s Daf Yomi, deference, privilege, and the appearance of impropriety from the rabbis of ancient Jewish society

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Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt (1963)

The book that taught America how to think about the Holocaust

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Daniel Deronda, George Eliot (1876)

The first, and greatest, philosemitic English novel

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The Puttermesser Papers, Cynthia Ozick (1997)

A woman, her golem, and the keys to the city

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The Garden of the Finzi-Continis, Giorgio Bassani (1962)

Doomed Jewish lives, behind high walls

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The Jewish War, Flavius Josephus (75)

An eyewitness account of Jewish defeat at Roman hands

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Guide for the Perplexed, Maimonides (12th c.)

A bridge from the sacred to the secular

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Kaddish, Leon Wieseltier (1998)

A prayer for the dead, and for the life of books

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Babylonian Talmud (770)

Judaism: A User’s Guide

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The Bible

In the beginning

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Only Yesterday, S.Y. Agnon (1945)

With Israel’s Nobel Laureate, the personal was more than political: it was religious.

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In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, Delmore Schwartz (1938)

Forgotten genius was Lou Reed’s teacher, Saul Bellow’s inspiration

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Altneuland, Theodor Herzl (1902)

The utopian novel that became a reality

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The Emancipation of Fanny von Arnstein and the Quandaries of German Jewry

Hilde Spiel’s newly re-translated biography of the Austrian aristocrat is a cautionary tale of Jews during the German Enlightenment

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When Talmud Is the Focus of Jewish Observance, Theology Comes to Life

Instead of asking us to passively agree with the rabbis, oral law engages the intellect in concrete problems of logic and interpretation

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My Jewish Mother Was a Communist, and Other Tales of Lost Leftists

Jonathan Lethem’s new novel ‘Dissident Gardens’ traces three generations of American Jewish radicalism

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In the Talmud, Minds Full of Torah Instead of Bowls Full of Sacrificial Blood

Daf Yomi: Could Judaism ever go back to now-alien-seeming rituals from before the destruction of the Temple?

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Good Jewish Fences Once Made Good Jewish Neighbors. Do They Still?

One of many ancient local customs analyzed in this week’s Talmud study is the habit of separating Jews from gentiles

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Wayne Koestenbaum’s Seriously Campy, Anti-Dandy, Big Gay Collection of Essays

The virtuoso of queer theory’s rhetorically playful and nuanced prose on AIDS, Lana Turner, and the ‘imminence of nothingness’

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Are American Jews Creating a New Jewishness, or Just Abandoning the Real Kind?

Most American Jews have effectively cast off rabbinic guidance. Would the Talmud’s rabbis have respected us for it, or disdained us?

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How the Talmud Has Bridged the Gaps Between Various Jewish Cultures for Ages

By imbuing even the most mundane things—like vinegar—with importance, the rabbis find proof of sacred history

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The Talmud, in Seeking To Eliminate Ambiguity, Maps the Invisible Onto the Visible

Daf Yomi: Much of the rabbinical ingenuity is devoted to figuring out how to draw clear lines in murky situations

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Jesus Was a Rebel and a Bandit. What Made Him Also the Christian Son of God?

Reza Aslan’s powerful new ‘Zealot’ paints a vivid, accessible portrait of Jesus as a Jewish nationalist