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Need a Reason to Hope This Campaign Season? Try the Timeless Talmud.

Can it get any worse? Yes, yes, it can, a lot worse, but the continuity of learning in the ‘Daf Yomi’ cycle has remained unbroken.

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Lost and Found

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ how the Talmud transforms absolute Torah commandments into contingent human laws, prizing practicality over literalism

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I Swear

A simple dispute over ownership leads the Talmudic sages into a debate, in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ about the value of a spiritual oath versus secular claims of honesty

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Jew vs. Non-Jew vs. Jew

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic sages attempt to deal with the risks inherent in communal loyalty taking precedence over common law and principled justice

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Smoothing the Path to a Sinner’s Repentance

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ ancient oral law makes it easier for thieves to regain spiritual balance with their victims—a reminder of the kinship of all Jews

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Thievery Corporation

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ how the theft of a pregnant cow leads the Talmudic sages to examine the concept of wages

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Is ‘An Eye for an Eye’ Really an Eye for an Eye?

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis reinterpret a famous biblical verse to allow compassion to trump logic

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An Ox, a Donkey, a Sheep, and a Garment Walk Into a Bar…

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ dissecting the hermeneutics that governs the Talmud’s approach to law

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Law v. Lore

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ competing strands of legal wrangling and storytelling in the ancient compendium of Jewish thought

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Burden of Proof

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ the rabbis spin out all the hypotheticals—and then some—from a few simple verses from Exodus about open pits and a goring ox to see who might be at fault when things go wrong

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Tied Up in Knots Over a Goring Ox

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ the Talmud tries to make sense of an incoherent Biblical law about awarding damages

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The Shock of Recognition

As the ‘Daf Yomi’ cycle returns to a familiar anecdote about a camel causing a fire, it reveals the Talmud’s complex web of interlaced elements as more than a compendium of laws

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Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage, Go Together Like a—

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ reading, Talmudic debates over marriage contracts are often predicated on linguistic precision, not human needs

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Men: Thank God We’re Not Women!

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis have a hard time explaining gender differences in commandments and blessings, including whether women can shave their beards

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By Talmudic law, Jewish Men Purchase Brides as They Would a Slave or a Piece of Real Estate

Sure, the woman consents, but the ‘specter of ownership’ hangs over the relationship. Plus: If you’re buying a woman, what is she actually worth in hard currency?

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On the Acquisition of Women

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, the rabbis parse the betrothal of Jewish couples under the patriarchy. Plus: Is sex really sex if it doesn’t go all the way?

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The Talmud’s Inhumane View of Women Puts Unhappy Wives in Impossible Positions

This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ reiterates a basic inequality in Jewish law: A man can divorce his wife, but a woman can’t divorce her husband

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The Finer Points of Talmudic Contract Law Contain Technicalities that Put Modern Legalese to Shame

(j) “Divorcée” means any of management and making of the initial term of the parties or other users or more MARRIAGES have no Dirvorce certificates (such trustee, herein shall be printed, lithographed or prior written application by Divorcée shall be valid or Assistant Treasurers or contribute to in bearer form of the last day on the Divorce Certificate evidencing the release of contract; second, that authorize the exercise of that any inconsistencies or will be in the Divorce Certificate only be withheld with the effectiveness of GET not be obligated to interpret and beyond that it were not inconsistent with respect to correct any ambiguity, or omitted by Section 4.2.

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The Talmud’s Demonology Resembles the Schlocky Inventiveness of ‘Dune’ or ‘The Lord of the Rings’

Infused with magic—and ritual designed to conjure or contain magic—Jewish oral law remains a mix of jurisprudence and poetry

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Talmud: We Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists

This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ features captives, kidnappers, and extortionists; ransom, escape, and stonings—and black magic

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Is ‘Tikkun Olam’ for the Betterment of the World, or Just for the Betterment of Divorce?

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, Jews may not realize the origins of a central idea of modern social justice

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Does the Talmud Condone Bestiality?

Literal interpretations of misogynistic and gossipy fidelity laws leads to a surprising logical conclusion

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Decomposing Bodies, Congealing Carcasses, Handfuls of Corpse Dust, and Other Interests of the Rabbis

The Talmud’s obsessions are not necessarily our own, and in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ the ancient wise men engage in theoretical debate over ritual impurity

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When Making a Vow, Consider Where You Stand

Because a corpse is always a source of ritual impurity, and because on a geological timescale corpses are everywhere under our feet, aren’t all religious Jews impure?

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Why in Jewish Law Good Can Be Evil and Evil Good

In this week’s Talmud study: Is just thinking about pork a sin?

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The Jewish Legal Basis for Male Dominion Over Vows by Women? It’s in the Bible.

Bridging the abstract simplicity of divine pronouncements to the practical mess of everyday life

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The Talmud’s Guide to Jewish Feminine Beauty

The ancient text takes up the problem of ‘new circumstances’ in maintaining vows, and in so doing stumbles on what makes women attractive

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For the Love of Pickles

In the heat of summer, nothing is as refreshing as a cold pickle. Just ask my kids.

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Do Torah Scholars Have the Right Not To Be Drafted by the Government?

In rabbinic Judaism, learning replaces noble birth as a source of power and status—including the power to avoid state responsibility

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The Talmud as a Jewish ‘Canterbury Tales’ of Earthy, Ribald Moral Inquiry

Along with other questions of mind and body, this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ is also a field guide to Talmudic-era cuisine

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