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The Badness of Good Stories

This week, Talmudic rabbis seek righteousness in the Bible’s tales of vice, weakness, and human frailty

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Testing My Faith

I’d left Orthodoxy. But as I waited for HIV test results, I looked to God and the Talmud for comfort.

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The Power of Positive Thinking

This week, deduction and analogy propel the Talmud from the mundane to the miraculous

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Eggs and Babies

This week’s Talmud study reveals legal debates that refine the limits and nature of inherently abstract concepts

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First-Century Technology

When new inventions made widespread sinning the norm, ancient rabbis adapted. The Talmud’s God approved.

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Standing on One Foot

The origin of a famous anecdote shines light on the compromises of Conservative and Reform Judaism

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Light Advice From the Rabbis

A Talmudic discussion of Hanukkah and Sabbath candles leads to a lesson in the sacred and profane

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Of Lice and Men

Study of the Talmud’s second tractate reveals how the rabbis stuck to logic and made it sacred

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The Rabbis’ Mental World

The last chapter of the first tractate brings modern readers back to sex, bowel movements, and thunder

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Talmudic Pride and Prejudice

This week’s Daf Yomi considers—with Chaucerian verve—whether a rabbinic elite spoke for the Jewish people

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The Right Way to Pray

One Talmudic rabbi’s prayers work, while others’ fall on deaf ears. Is humility more pleasing to God than pomp?

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Talmudic Rebbe-llion

A coup at the rabbinic academy deposes Gamliel and unleashes a torrent of questions

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Let’s Get Physical

In this week’s Talmud reading, the soul addresses God, but the body has its own agenda

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Talmud’s Warriors and Scholars

This week’s Daf Yomi reframes the debate over the primacy of force or scholarship in Jewish values

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The Talmud’s Many Demons

Sages in a superstitious age accepted the existence of invisible devils and the use of magic to render them visible

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A Talmudic Journey Begins

Our book critic dives into Daf Yomi’s daily regimen expecting a law code, but instead finds a chain of questions

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Women Join Talmud Celebration

As the daf yomi cycle of Talmud learning concludes this week, a Jerusalem study group breaks a barrier

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Wheel of Fortune

From the archives: A year into the financial meltdown, the calendar keeps turning, and so does the economic cycle