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
This week’s Talmud study reveals legal debates that refine the limits and nature of inherently abstract concepts
When new inventions made widespread sinning the norm, ancient rabbis adapted. The Talmud’s God approved.
The origin of a famous anecdote shines light on the compromises of Conservative and Reform Judaism
A Talmudic discussion of Hanukkah and Sabbath candles leads to a lesson in the sacred and profane
Study of the Talmud’s second tractate reveals how the rabbis stuck to logic and made it sacred
The last chapter of the first tractate brings modern readers back to sex, bowel movements, and thunder
This week’s Daf Yomi considers—with Chaucerian verve—whether a rabbinic elite spoke for the Jewish people
This week’s Daf Yomi reframes the debate over the primacy of force or scholarship in Jewish values
Sages in a superstitious age accepted the existence of invisible devils and the use of magic to render them visible
Our book critic dives into Daf Yomi’s daily regimen expecting a law code, but instead finds a chain of questions
I grew up in a world of observance, separate from secular America, but soon realized that the borders are more porous than they seem
A new collection offers four centuries of women’s spiritual literature