Are Jews Meant To Be Farmers, Workers, or Thinkers?

So much of the Talmud is about working the land, and the rules that govern labor, profit, and loss

How Can We Respect Both the Sanctity of Jewish Things and the Practical Needs of the Jews?

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis debate the value of recycling, upselling, renovation, and sacred trash

American Jews Speak English, but Our Sacred Texts Are in Hebrew

What happens when the most authoritative guardians of the tradition are sometimes baffled by the tradition themselves?

When the Talmud Offers Close Readings of Sacred Fictions

Antic embellishments, like Esther being good in bed, help Talmudic rabbis to more fully explicate the text’s divine meaning

Is the Book of Esther—a Story Told in Human Terms, Not Miracles—a Holy Book?

Talmudic rabbis, like us, can only study the course of history for the elusive signs of God’s intentions

Why Early Jews Didn’t Care at All About Christians

In a struggle against the idea of history, Jewish life strives to change as little as possible, even when new religions take over

Why Even the Greatest Rabbis Can’t Be Trusted

Talmudic thinkers debate the ethics of winning God’s favor, and when a holy person can be too righteous

Better To Suffer or Better To Live? Eating—and Not Eating—as a Meritorious Jewish Act

Talmudic rabbis debate Jewish solidarity in the face of misfortune, a communal imperative that still holds today

In the Rains, Talmudic Symbols of Goodwill, Punishment, and a Deep Covenant

The Torah sages study and respond to natural phenomena in an effort to understand our place on Earth

When the Talmud Replaced the Temple as the Structure at the Heart of Jewish Life

Judaism became a religion of laws, haunted and bound by the absence of a home for Jewish sovereignty

Talmudic Rabbis Debate the Practice of the Law Versus the Intention Behind It

Technical discussion about the shofar leads quickly to an examination of deep spiritual questions

‘Daf Yomi’: Talmudic Rabbinical Thought Was Part Lunatic, Part Moon Shot

Why gamblers, pigeon racers, and usurers can’t witness a Jewish new moon, and why the lunar calendar still matters

Can God Be Tricked Into Forgiving Unethical Behavior?

Talmudic rabbis set out to debate the religious calendar, and wind up talking about religious sincerity

On the Impossibility of Over-Interpreting the Bible

Why Talmud study is not reading, in the usual sense of the word, but rather deciphering the true meaning of the text

Which Is More Sacred: a Festival or Shabbat? A Mitzvah or Money?

With great metaphysical creativity, Talmudic rabbis probe the exact limits of comparison and analogy

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