In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ questions of obligation in matters of levirate marriage, and how values change with time
At what point does a disagreement between groups of Jews become a point of religious principle, which cannot be compromised?
Daf Yomi: In rabbinic Judaism, study is not merely a pragmatic enterprise, but a religious act in itself
When two mitzvot conflict, the Talmud asks, how do we decide which takes precedence?
Two years and 100 columns in to the Daf Yomi cycle, our critic pauses to reflect on its intellectual challenges and delights
Tread carefully, the rabbis warn, when seeking to understand creation or envision God
The Talmud imagines the world as organized for the benefit of Torah sages, even in matters of sex and death
Daf Yomi: The Talmud’s ruling principle is that there is always a correct course of action, since God is watching
Talmudic rabbis debate professional eulogizers, trying to strike a balance between the holy and the mundane
In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis debate the value of recycling, upselling, renovation, and sacred trash
What happens when the most authoritative guardians of the tradition are sometimes baffled by the tradition themselves?
Antic embellishments, like Esther being good in bed, help Talmudic rabbis to more fully explicate the text’s divine meaning
Talmudic rabbis, like us, can only study the course of history for the elusive signs of God’s intentions
In a struggle against the idea of history, Jewish life strives to change as little as possible, even when new religions take over
Talmudic rabbis debate Jewish solidarity in the face of misfortune, a communal imperative that still holds today
The Torah sages study and respond to natural phenomena in an effort to understand our place on Earth
Judaism became a religion of laws, haunted and bound by the absence of a home for Jewish sovereignty
Technical discussion about the shofar leads quickly to an examination of deep spiritual questions
Why gamblers, pigeon racers, and usurers can’t witness a Jewish new moon, and why the lunar calendar still matters
Talmudic rabbis set out to debate the religious calendar, and wind up talking about religious sincerity
Why Talmud study is not reading, in the usual sense of the word, but rather deciphering the true meaning of the text
With great metaphysical creativity, Talmudic rabbis probe the exact limits of comparison and analogy
In debating the principles of intentional sin, sages find that pleading ignorance is no defense, even if not all laws can be followed
Talmudic rabbis debate the paradoxical belief in Jewish chosenness despite the evidence of Jewish powerlessness
In the Talmud, nostalgic, biblical, divine explanations override accurate secular history and chronology
To the Talmudic rabbis, religion was not opposed to the law but deeply connected to its study, even if dialogue wins over decree
For a hundred generations Jews lived in anticipation of redemption, a historical tension that continues to define Judaism
Why read the Talmud as a secular Jew? In part, for its expression of an independent Jewish creativity and spirituality.