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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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

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In the Shadow of the Divine, Reaping Unintended Benefits at the Edges of the Law

Daf Yomi: A closer look at the Holy of Holies provides a fascinating illustration of how the rabbis of the Talmud read the Bible

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Appreciating the Talmud’s Sublime Devotion to Torah for Its Own Sake

Daf Yomi: For the rabbis, trivial—even outdated or immaterial—problems can provide the best thought experiments

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Math Lessons and Quantum Physics in Studies of Rabbinic Stringency and Leniency

Daf Yomi: For generations, Talmudic training has meant exercising the mind in logical thinking, not just learning laws

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The Talmud’s Abstractions Live in Concrete Examples About Candles and Weasels

Daf Yomi: In textual analysis, the rabbis found biblical bases for customs and rituals that lacked them

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Mastering the Mechanics of Wealth and Power in ‘A Dual Inheritance’

In Joanna Hershon’s absorbing new novel, a Jew on the margins of American respectability reaches the pinnacle of the class pyramid

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In the Talmud’s Timeless Laws, a Vast Temple of the Mind

Long after the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed, Talmudic rabbis kept it alive in their imaginations, and ours

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How the Talmud Maps Behavior by Exploring Definitions, Not Listing Rules

Daf Yomi: The rabbis examined practical dimensions of deep questions, including those raised around saliva, urine, and sex

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Robert Alter Wants Us To Think More Seriously About the Bible as Literature

The scholar, critic, and masterful translator remains dedicated to uncovering the full subtlety and intelligence of the stories in sacred texts

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Why the Talmud Draws Imaginary Lines All Around Us—and Over Our Heads

Daf Yomi: Our literary critic ambles over rooftops, ruins, and ships, in search of meaning in Jewish commentary

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The Talmud Paints a Vivid Picture of Jewish Family Life in This Week’s Daf Yomi

Daf Yomi: Our literary critic discovers more rules on male authority, Shabbat meals, and how the rabbis thought about wealth

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The Mythmakers

Rachel Kushner’s new novel The Flamethrowers is overly cool and stylish. So, why do the critics swoon for her?

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Who Can Follow These Rules?

This week’s Talmud reading prompts strikingly contemporary questions about observance and belief

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The Irrelevance of Pleasure

As the rabbis remind us again this week, the law is the law—whether it pleases you or not

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Nathaniel Rich’s Apocalypse

The New York of the young novelist’s vividly imagined Odds Against Tomorrow looks an awful lot like us

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You Only Live Once

The Talmudic rabbis saw the world as a wedding—a place of charity and pleasures to be enjoyed while it lasts

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The Talmud’s Absolute Value

Through reasoning, the rabbis brought all of natural creation under the rule of law

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Monster Mash

Helene Wecker’s new The Golem and the Jinni reads like When Harry Met Sally, if Harry and Sally were beasts

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When Messiah Is an Afterthought

The Talmud’s pragmatism and wonder meet in a technical problem about the height of a boundary line

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Crossing the Line

By avoiding authoritative rulings in favor of nuanced debate with the ideas of the past, the Oral Law refuses to simplify

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Crimson-Blooded Americans

In André Aciman’s new Harvard Square, an Egyptian-born Jew and a Tunisian Muslim meet their limits

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Are Truffles Food?

As our Talmud column returns, debates over Oral Law range from the existential to the mundane

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A.B. Yehoshua’s Many Ghosts

The writer’s new novel, The Retrospective, is a surreal study of the contested sources of Israeli identity

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Navigating the Talmud’s Alleys

The range of problems and the variety of answers in the study of Oral Law lead to new pathways of reasoning

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Written in the Stars (Or Not)

To overcome fated lives, the Talmud’s rabbis argued, perform virtuous acts according to Torah

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Leave the Jewish People Alone

Rabbis left enforcement of their Talmudic decrees to communal standards and voluntary commitment

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