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Tracing the Way of the Nazirites

An ancient vow—no wine, no hair-cutting, no contact with the dead—and its demands and sins are the subject of the new tractate in our ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study

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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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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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What’s Mine Is Mine and What’s Yours Is Mine, Too

Giving, taking, owning, donating, and other elements of property law, in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’

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Is It Fair To Charge Fees for Religious Education?

This week’s Talmudic debate is centered on the perceived and real benefits of study, teaching, and sacrifice

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The Talmud as Fossil Record of Ancient, Everyday Jewish Life and Idioms

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ study, why vows are hardly sacred, and why circumcision is the most glorious of rituals

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‘The Law of the Kingdom Is the Law’

This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study refutes the ‘dual loyalty’ charges against Jews

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Sex: Sin, Obligation, or Pursuit of Pleasure?

Discussing vows, Talmudic rabbis detour into the temptations of Jewish love-making—where almost anything goes

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Why Taking Vows Is a Wicked Act

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ the Talmud explores why oaths are not for the virtuous, except in the rarest of cases

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If Victorious, I Vow To Sacrifice My Daughter—Wait, No! I Didn’t Mean That! Uh-Oh.

Bridging the gap between biblical terseness and the needs of a functioning Jewish legal system

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For Jewish Widows, Like Modern Drug Offenders, Just How Much Matters

Why Talmudic law is precise, and how practical matters can test the moral foundations of the system

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Marriage: A Math Problem

Studying who’s owed what, when, and how much in cases of divorce, widowing, and inheritance

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Divorce Court: Talmud

Settling scores, carving up estates, negotiating claims, in biblical law. Plus: A virgin is worth twice as much as a widow or divorcee.

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Jewish Bride Has a Mole? Grounds for Divorce. Husband Smells Bad? Live With It.

Inequality under the wedding canopy, in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study. Plus: a story about cheating the Angel of Death.

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Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage, They Go Together Like …

If the point of marriage is not happiness but religion, what constitutes grounds for divorce? Plus: tips for grooming pubic hair.

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How Often Should Married Jewish Couples Have Sex?

And other matters of conjugal bliss in this week’s Talmud study, including a woman’s right to sexual fulfillment

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Would a Jackal Take Better Care of Its Young?

For most Jews in Talmudic times, marriage was the biggest financial transaction of their lives

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When Jews Were Like ISIS

We, too, stoned our women for infidelity. Patriarchal injustice persists in Orthodoxy. What’s a modern Talmud reader to do?

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Talmudic Rabbis Debated the Cost of Rape—In Terms of the Woman’s Market Value

Reading the oral law today forces Jews to reconcile repellent, outdated legal views with modern morals

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Incestuous Rapists Get What They Deserve

Talmudic rabbis believe ‘the hand of Heaven’ makes sure that the punishment fits the crime

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Belief, Truth, and Lies in Divorce, Marriage, Rape, and Female Chastity

Rightly or wrongly, Talmudic thinkers presumed that gentiles would persecute the Jews in their midst

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Can a Blind Bride Be Attractive? If Not, How Do You Pay Her a Compliment?

The sages debate the demerits of little white lies, and consider the subtleties of legal claims made by spouses and other property owners

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Virginity Is a Commodity (and Can Be Divined by Sitting a Bride on a Wine Barrel)

Talmudic rabbis are less interested in mystical speculation than in concrete questions, like the state of women’s hymens

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Virgin Brides, Premarital Sex, and Jewish Patriarchal Ownership of Female Bodies

The ‘Daf Yomi’ cycle heads into thorny gender issues around marriage, gynecology, and Sabbath sex

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Juliet’s Dilemma: Seduced Unmarried Minors Engaging in ‘Licentious Sexual Intercourse’

Talmudic rabbis ask what agency young women have in determining their fate in sex, marriage, and divorce

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In Matters of Divorce, as in Uber’s ‘Surge Pricing,’ What’s Unjust Isn’t Always Illegal

This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ probes the connection between the magical thinking of the Bible and the rational concerns of the Talmud

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Let’s Talk About Sex With Minors, Rape, and ‘Uncovering the Nakedness’ of Sisters

Talmudic rabbis, gladiators of the mind, sought glory and eternal fame—but also pondered the mundane side of being human

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The Return of Martin Guerre: Abandoned, Adulterous, Raped, and Widowed Wives

Talmudic sages say that sinful acts—especially those committed by women—are not the rabbis’ fault

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