Judaism’s manual of sacred technology prizes holiness over beauty, action over thought, and ritual over belief
Biblical examples of righteousness and wickedness show that in Judaism, goodness remains possible and divine
A Talmudic problem: Abraham lived before the law was given, so how can his actions be used to interpret the law?
An ancient principle of Judaism, debated at length in the Oral Law, is that it is a sin to count Jews—or is it?
To the Talmudic rabbis, a miracle is more plausible than the notion that their sources were incorrect
A ‘mezuzah,’ like Judaism, is designed for life in this world, not for a messianic future, or for martyrdom
The rabbinic tradition arose from the fact that the Bible doesn’t tell us what we need to know to lead our lives
In their faith, Talmudic rabbis kept contradictory thoughts, believing in both the reality of miracles and their unreliability
In the Talmud’s descriptions of self-glorifying and self-enriching Temple priests, lessons for today’s public officials
Daf Yomi: The Talmud provides the Jewish version of well-known Christian gospel about money-changers
The Talmud is not a literary text, yet its role in maintaining the continuity of Jewish history is undeniable
By elevating witches and demons to the level of gods, Talmudic rabbis diminished religious thought
In the Talmud, examples of real-life rabbinic behavior and the intensely personal nature of lawmaking
In the Bible, the rabbis had the most accurate possible description of the world—a flawed and limited cosmology
Daf Yomi: The one protection God granted the Jews was to scatter them, so that no single enemy could destroy them all at once
In this week’s Daf Yomi, deference, privilege, and the appearance of impropriety from the rabbis of ancient Jewish society
Instead of asking us to passively agree with the rabbis, oral law engages the intellect in concrete problems of logic and interpretation
Daf Yomi: Could Judaism ever go back to now-alien-seeming rituals from before the destruction of the Temple?
One of many ancient local customs analyzed in this week’s Talmud study is the habit of separating Jews from gentiles
Most American Jews have effectively cast off rabbinic guidance. Would the Talmud’s rabbis have respected us for it, or disdained us?
By imbuing even the most mundane things—like vinegar—with importance, the rabbis find proof of sacred history
Daf Yomi: Much of the rabbinical ingenuity is devoted to figuring out how to draw clear lines in murky situations
Daf Yomi: A closer look at the Holy of Holies provides a fascinating illustration of how the rabbis of the Talmud read the Bible
Daf Yomi: For the rabbis, trivial—even outdated or immaterial—problems can provide the best thought experiments
Daf Yomi: For generations, Talmudic training has meant exercising the mind in logical thinking, not just learning laws
Daf Yomi: In textual analysis, the rabbis found biblical bases for customs and rituals that lacked them
Long after the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed, Talmudic rabbis kept it alive in their imaginations, and ours
Daf Yomi: The rabbis examined practical dimensions of deep questions, including those raised around saliva, urine, and sex
Daf Yomi: Our literary critic ambles over rooftops, ruins, and ships, in search of meaning in Jewish commentary