A gripping new history of Flavius Josephus portrays a Roman Jewish writer forever wrestling with his identity
The rabbis who reasoned about the day of rest also celebrated it. Plus: The Talmud on iPad and in translation.
A masterful encyclopedia sums up our history and culture but raises the question of where Jewishness lies today
Lionizing those who perform feats of memory and logic, who reason strictly from premise to conclusion
In this week’s page of Talmud, the rabbis show their skill at making distinctions between obligation and acting out
In order to understand Sabbath rules, the rabbis show, one must imagine exactly what work the Israelites did
This week, the rabbis ask if two half-sins equal a whole one. In what part of a sin is sinfulness located?
This week, the Talmud’s rabbis explore possible holy day violations to determine the nature of the sinner
In this week’s Talmud study, Jewishness is not just moral and theological matters. It is a way of life.
This week, Talmudic rabbis seek righteousness in the Bible’s tales of vice, weakness, and human frailty
This week, deduction and analogy propel the Talmud from the mundane to the miraculous
With The Lawgiver, the best-selling novelist takes another stab at the kind of Hollywood fame he’s always coveted
This week’s Talmud study reveals legal debates that refine the limits and nature of inherently abstract concepts
When new inventions made widespread sinning the norm, ancient rabbis adapted. The Talmud’s God approved.
The origin of a famous anecdote shines light on the compromises of Conservative and Reform Judaism
A Talmudic discussion of Hanukkah and Sabbath candles leads to a lesson in the sacred and profane
Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractal geometry, pens a disturbing new memoir on mathematics—and survival
Study of the Talmud’s second tractate reveals how the rabbis stuck to logic and made it sacred
Food-obsessed Jews, including an obese matriarch, are subtly rendered in Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins
The last chapter of the first tractate brings modern readers back to sex, bowel movements, and thunder
This week’s Daf Yomi considers—with Chaucerian verve—whether a rabbinic elite spoke for the Jewish people
In a haunting memoir, an Upper West Sider puts family secrets—including AIDS—under the microscope
One Talmudic rabbi’s prayers work, while others’ fall on deaf ears. Is humility more pleasing to God than pomp?
Michael Chabon’s new novel Telegraph Avenue is typically stylish, but overwritten
A coup at the rabbinic academy deposes Gamliel and unleashes a torrent of questions
In this week’s Talmud reading, the soul addresses God, but the body has its own agenda
The latest collection from the great Jewish poet Frederick Seidel expresses intimate revulsion at human feats
This week’s Daf Yomi reframes the debate over the primacy of force or scholarship in Jewish values
Where the Jackals Howl, Amos Oz’s newly reissued 1965 story collection, questions the virtues of toughness
Sages in a superstitious age accepted the existence of invisible devils and the use of magic to render them visible