The scholar, critic, and masterful translator remains dedicated to uncovering the full subtlety and intelligence of the stories in sacred texts
Daf Yomi: Our literary critic ambles over rooftops, ruins, and ships, in search of meaning in Jewish commentary
Daf Yomi: Our literary critic discovers more rules on male authority, Shabbat meals, and how the rabbis thought about wealth
Rachel Kushner’s new novel The Flamethrowers is overly cool and stylish. So, why do the critics swoon for her?
This week’s Talmud reading prompts strikingly contemporary questions about observance and belief
As the rabbis remind us again this week, the law is the law—whether it pleases you or not
The New York of the young novelist’s vividly imagined Odds Against Tomorrow looks an awful lot like us
The Talmudic rabbis saw the world as a wedding—a place of charity and pleasures to be enjoyed while it lasts
Through reasoning, the rabbis brought all of natural creation under the rule of law
Helene Wecker’s new The Golem and the Jinni reads like When Harry Met Sally, if Harry and Sally were beasts
The Talmud’s pragmatism and wonder meet in a technical problem about the height of a boundary line
By avoiding authoritative rulings in favor of nuanced debate with the ideas of the past, the Oral Law refuses to simplify
In André Aciman’s new Harvard Square, an Egyptian-born Jew and a Tunisian Muslim meet their limits
As our Talmud column returns, debates over Oral Law range from the existential to the mundane
The writer’s new novel, The Retrospective, is a surreal study of the contested sources of Israeli identity
The range of problems and the variety of answers in the study of Oral Law lead to new pathways of reasoning
To overcome fated lives, the Talmud’s rabbis argued, perform virtuous acts according to Torah
Rabbis left enforcement of their Talmudic decrees to communal standards and voluntary commitment
When is a tent just a tent and not like a bed or a hat? To update Jewish laws, the rabbis reasoned by analogy.
Alexander Stille never stopped investigating his parents, as shown by his new memoir about his World War II heritage
You wouldn’t expect that the tractate on Shabbat would be the place to discuss circumcision. You’d be wrong.
An exhilarating new intellectual history argues that anti-Judaism is at the heart of Western culture
Talmudic rabbis debate the reach of permissions and prohibitions, and Jews are rewarded for virtuous behavior
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?