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Can a Woman Rape a Man, as Shia LaBoeuf Claimed? The Rabbis Have a Say.

This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study is NSFW

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Talmudic Rabbis Ponder Sexual Relations That Are Prohibited by Jewish Law

Plus legitimate and bastard offspring, slaves, and distinctions between Jews, non-Jews, and half-Jews

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Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Brother’s Wife. Unless He Dies. Then—Well, Here’s the Thing…

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ questions of obligation in matters of levirate marriage, and how values change with time

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Converting for Love (Like Natalie Portman’s Husband)? The Talmud Forbids It.

Talmudic Rabbis regulated not just actions but reputations, and left a legacy we debate and refute to this day

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How To Solve Disputes Between Schools of Jewish Thought? In Private, or Not at All.

At what point does a disagreement between groups of Jews become a point of religious principle, which cannot be compromised?

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The Talmud’s Difficulty Is What Makes the Talmud ‘Talmudic’—And Unlike the Law

Daf Yomi: In rabbinic Judaism, study is not merely a pragmatic enterprise, but a religious act in itself

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Sex With Your Uncle? OK. Sex With Your Widowed Daughter’s Rival? Not OK.

When two mitzvot conflict, the Talmud asks, how do we decide which takes precedence?

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The Study of Law as a Spiritual Act: Finding Truth and Meaning in the Talmud

Two years and 100 columns in to the Daf Yomi cycle, our critic pauses to reflect on its intellectual challenges and delights

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The Talmud’s Mysticism Is Too Mindblowing Even for Its Students

Tread carefully, the rabbis warn, when seeking to understand creation or envision God

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If Even the Angel of Death Makes Mistakes, Where Is There True Justice?

The Talmud imagines the world as organized for the benefit of Torah sages, even in matters of sex and death

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Rules for Hair Cutting and Rending Garments—and Exceptions for Newborns

Daf Yomi: The Talmud’s ruling principle is that there is always a correct course of action, since God is watching

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In the Days Between the Major Holidays, Little Clues to Jewish Ritual and Life

Talmudic rabbis debate professional eulogizers, trying to strike a balance between the holy and the mundane

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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‘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

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Can God Be Tricked Into Forgiving Unethical Behavior?

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

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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

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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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Talmudic Rabbis, All Men, Admit They Cannot Bring Women Under Their Power

In debating the principles of intentional sin, sages find that pleading ignorance is no defense, even if not all laws can be followed

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Why Did God Choose the Jewish People To Receive the Torah?

Talmudic rabbis debate the paradoxical belief in Jewish chosenness despite the evidence of Jewish powerlessness

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Which Came First: The Chicken, the Egg, or the Divine Law That Governs Their Use?

The apparent abstraction of Talmudic rulings, immune to the vagaries of history, are also a key to Jewish survival