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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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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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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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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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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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Does a Penis Make the Man? Hermaphrodites, Eunuchs, and Jews With Genital Deformities

Jewish law loves to separate people into airtight categories. Real-life sex and gender are more complicated. What then?

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Only the Wife Knows If the Husband’s ‘Semen Shoots Like an Arrow’

And other problems of divorce, infertility, and urination, in this week’s Talmud study

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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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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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