Header

In the Talmud, Size Matters

This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ helps Jews swear in disputes of the kind they might encounter in small claims court. Plus: if an oath must be taken in the name of God, can the literal name be spoken? And is Abraham’s penis a sacred object?

Header

Sworn Testimony

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, how a flying duck aimed at a judge gets the ancient sages out of a moral and intellectual bind

Header

The Art of Christmas Avoidance

Only in Jerusalem do I feel secure enough as a Jew to enjoy the holiday

Header

The Letter of the Law

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ how a badly educated Jew might be able to complete a sex act with an ‘impure’ woman and not be sinful while a Talmud scholar could not

Header

The Order of Things

The reasoning behind the Talmud’s categories and sub-categories isn’t always apparent. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ the Talmud wonders about its own organization.

Header

To Flog or Not to Flog

Which sinners are to taste the lash, how many strokes of it, in what circumstances, with what intention, and as just punishment in which cases, and with what exceptions: As always, the Talmud leaves no contingency unaccounted for

Header

Accident or Crime?

How studying Torah could kill a child, and other lessons in involuntary manslaughter from this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study

Header

We’re All Pagans Now

Having largely abandoned our faith in one unifying force, we just call on our demons to defeat the devils summoned by our enemies

Header

Transgender Jews Find a Place in the Mikveh

Traditional rituals have become more inclusive and embracing

Header

On Bearing False Witness

Talmudic rabbis debate what’s to be done with the liars who help hide crimes—and who to believe in such cases—in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’

Header

Peeking Into the World to Come

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis delve into the practical questions around the Jewish afterlife. Like: will it be here on Earth? Will the Messiah be there, or will we be led there by his arrival? And what does redemption look like? Also, is the food kosher there?

Header

The Talmud and the Thought Police

‘Daf Yomi’: Do heretical Jewish thinkers have a say in the World to Come?

Header

Rebellious Elders

Daf Yomi: Why heresy is rare in Talmudic law, where judicial dissent and tiered courts institutionalized freedom of thought

Header

Are Jews Exempt from Capital Punishment?

Talmudic rabbis’ lenient interpretation of Biblical laws made the death penalty difficult to impose, even in cases where murder was clearly the intent

Header

Finding Faith in Sukkot

After reading Ecclesiastes, I realized Sukkot is the perfect holiday for a spiritual skeptic like me

Header

Put to Death For Crimes Yet to Be Committed

‘Daf Yomi’: The odd case of preemptive punishment highlights Talmudic rabbis’ generous interpretation of the Torah’s unenforceable laws

Header

Be Unprepared for Yom Kippur. There’s No Other Way.

You can’t get ready for repentance, which is why the holiday shuns elaborate rituals and favors awkward improvisations

Header

False Idols

Talmudic rabbis disagree on whether the action or the intention of veneration or protest is more important. Plus: Is magic holy?

Header

What I Gained by Losing Weight

As the High Holidays kick in, one formerly obese writer reflects on going kosher, long runs, and mastering his sins

Header

Rosh Hashanah in Zion

After I left the Orthodox world—and my marriage—I found a new place to observe the Jewish New Year: on a different kind of path

Header

The Anti-Semite Can Cite Talmud for His Purpose

Taken out of context, ancient Rabbinic laws—such as those on capital punishment discussed in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ study—can attract the attention of those who hate us

Header

On Capital Punishment

Talmudic rabbis pondered the most fundamental ethical questions—including the value of human life—in debating death sentences by hanging or stoning

Header

Surprise, Discovery, Ritual, Meaning, and Wonder

Five years into the seven-year ‘Daf Yomi’ cycle of Talmud study, our columnist pauses to reflect on what the ancient text has taught him about being Jewish today

Header

The Elul Challenge: To Prepare for the High Holidays, Can You Spend an Hour a Day Without Your Phone?

To repent, you must first know yourself, which means taking a break from technology’s distractions

Header

Lest Ye Be Judged

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ how Talmudic rabbis carried the life-or-death burden of sitting in judgment of others

Header

Healing the World, One Halal Cart at a Time

This Tisha B’Av, I tried a new tradition: buying strangers lunch

Header

The Real Lesson of Tisha B’Av

The holiday frequently brings sermons about Jewish unity, but the story of the destruction of the Temple offers a very different message

Header

Reading Torah Against the Grain

Daf Yomi: Do Talmudic rabbis seek justification for givens by retrofitting biblical text to their needs? The case of the Sanhedrin courts.

Header

Follow the Money

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ tough-minded and practical wisdom on financial transactions from the ancient rabbis

Header

The Art of Forgery

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, the rabbis attempt to imagine every possible way to alter a legal document, and a coinciding method to thwart each of them

Load More...