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In the Talmud, Size Matters

This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ helps Jews swear in disputes of the kind they might encounter in small claims court. Plus: if an oath must be taken in the name of God, can the literal name be spoken? And is Abraham’s penis a sacred object?

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Sworn Testimony

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, how a flying duck aimed at a judge gets the ancient sages out of a moral and intellectual bind

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An Elegy for a Beit Midrash

Saying goodbye to Drisha’s Manhattan study hall, where I and so many other women were first introduced to the Talmud

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The Letter of the Law

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ how a badly educated Jew might be able to complete a sex act with an ‘impure’ woman and not be sinful while a Talmud scholar could not

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‘Rabbi’ John Selden and the Restoration of the Jews to England

How the modern academic discipline of ‘Jewish Studies’ was invented in Renaissance England by the the greatest Christian Hebraist of the age

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The Order of Things

The reasoning behind the Talmud’s categories and sub-categories isn’t always apparent. In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ the Talmud wonders about its own organization.

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The Language of Our Love

Measuring a relationship in poems and tractates of Talmud

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To Flog or Not to Flog

Which sinners are to taste the lash, how many strokes of it, in what circumstances, with what intention, and as just punishment in which cases, and with what exceptions: As always, the Talmud leaves no contingency unaccounted for

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Accident or Crime?

How studying Torah could kill a child, and other lessons in involuntary manslaughter from this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study

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On Bearing False Witness

Talmudic rabbis debate what’s to be done with the liars who help hide crimes—and who to believe in such cases—in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’

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To Really Dig the Talmud, Try Reading It Drunk

What wine goes well with Rabbi Zeira? An upcoming evening of text, art, and booze has the answer.

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Peeking Into the World to Come

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis delve into the practical questions around the Jewish afterlife. Like: will it be here on Earth? Will the Messiah be there, or will we be led there by his arrival? And what does redemption look like? Also, is the food kosher there?

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The Talmud and the Thought Police

‘Daf Yomi’: Do heretical Jewish thinkers have a say in the World to Come?

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Rebellious Elders

Daf Yomi: Why heresy is rare in Talmudic law, where judicial dissent and tiered courts institutionalized freedom of thought

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Are Jews Exempt from Capital Punishment?

Talmudic rabbis’ lenient interpretation of Biblical laws made the death penalty difficult to impose, even in cases where murder was clearly the intent

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Put to Death For Crimes Yet to Be Committed

‘Daf Yomi’: The odd case of preemptive punishment highlights Talmudic rabbis’ generous interpretation of the Torah’s unenforceable laws

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False Idols

Talmudic rabbis disagree on whether the action or the intention of veneration or protest is more important. Plus: Is magic holy?

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Sacrificing My Childhood

My father taught me Talmud as a boy—whether I wanted to learn it or not

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The Anti-Semite Can Cite Talmud for His Purpose

Taken out of context, ancient Rabbinic laws—such as those on capital punishment discussed in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ study—can attract the attention of those who hate us

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On Capital Punishment

Talmudic rabbis pondered the most fundamental ethical questions—including the value of human life—in debating death sentences by hanging or stoning

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Bringing ‘Daf Yomi’ to Life. And Vice Versa.

In her new memoir ‘If All the Seas Were Ink,’ Ilana Kurshan recounts her time in Israel—one page of Talmud at a time

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Surprise, Discovery, Ritual, Meaning, and Wonder

Five years into the seven-year ‘Daf Yomi’ cycle of Talmud study, our columnist pauses to reflect on what the ancient text has taught him about being Jewish today

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Lest Ye Be Judged

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ how Talmudic rabbis carried the life-or-death burden of sitting in judgment of others

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Reading Torah Against the Grain

Daf Yomi: Do Talmudic rabbis seek justification for givens by retrofitting biblical text to their needs? The case of the Sanhedrin courts.

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Follow the Money

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ tough-minded and practical wisdom on financial transactions from the ancient rabbis

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The Art of Forgery

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, the rabbis attempt to imagine every possible way to alter a legal document, and a coinciding method to thwart each of them

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What Happens When a Dying Man Doesn’t Die

A question of morals for a loopy Coen-brothers script, in this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study

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David Shapiro’s Narrow Bridge

A descendant of the New York School brings cantorial poetics to his new collection, ‘In Memory of an Angel’

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How a Cucumber Decides Whether a Son Inherits Over a Donkey

With surprising analogous thinking, ancient Talmudic sages tackled very modern questions—by accident or foresight, depending on how liberal your views—of transgender rights, the rights of unborn fetuses, women’s rights, and wealth distribution

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An Old Jew Is on His Deathbed, and Says to His Son…

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ what’s right—and what’s legal—in matters of inheritance

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