Adam Kirsch

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.

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

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

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

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?

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

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’

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?

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

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

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

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

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Daf Yomi: For the rabbis, trivial—even outdated or immaterial—problems can provide the best thought experiments

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

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

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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