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 this week’s Daf Yomi, deference, privilege, and the appearance of impropriety from the rabbis of ancient Jewish society
By imbuing even the most mundane things—like vinegar—with importance, the rabbis find proof of sacred history
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Daf Yomi: For the rabbis, trivial—even outdated or immaterial—problems can provide the best thought experiments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
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
Daf Yomi: Our literary critic discovers more rules on male authority, Shabbat meals, and how the rabbis thought about wealth
The Talmudic rabbis saw the world as a wedding—a place of charity and pleasures to be enjoyed while it lasts
Through reasoning, the rabbis brought all of natural creation under the rule of law
The Talmud’s pragmatism and wonder meet in a technical problem about the height of a boundary line
By avoiding authoritative rulings in favor of nuanced debate with the ideas of the past, the Oral Law refuses to simplify
The range of problems and the variety of answers in the study of Oral Law lead to new pathways of reasoning
To overcome fated lives, the Talmud’s rabbis argued, perform virtuous acts according to Torah
Rabbis left enforcement of their Talmudic decrees to communal standards and voluntary commitment
When is a tent just a tent and not like a bed or a hat? To update Jewish laws, the rabbis reasoned by analogy.
You wouldn’t expect that the tractate on Shabbat would be the place to discuss circumcision. You’d be wrong.
Talmudic rabbis debate the reach of permissions and prohibitions, and Jews are rewarded for virtuous behavior
The rabbis who reasoned about the day of rest also celebrated it. Plus: The Talmud on iPad and in translation.
In this week’s page of Talmud, the rabbis show their skill at making distinctions between obligation and acting out
In order to understand Sabbath rules, the rabbis show, one must imagine exactly what work the Israelites did
This week, the rabbis ask if two half-sins equal a whole one. In what part of a sin is sinfulness located?
This week, the Talmud’s rabbis explore possible holy day violations to determine the nature of the sinner
In this week’s Talmud study, Jewishness is not just moral and theological matters. It is a way of life.
This week, Talmudic rabbis seek righteousness in the Bible’s tales of vice, weakness, and human frailty
This week, deduction and analogy propel the Talmud from the mundane to the miraculous