Header

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?

Header

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

Header

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

Header

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

Header

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.

Header

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

Header

Accident or Crime?

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

Header

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’

Header

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?

Header

The Talmud and the Thought Police

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

Header

Rebellious Elders

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

Header

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

Header

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

Header

False Idols

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

Header

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

Header

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

Header

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

Header

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.

Header

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

Header

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

Header

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

Header

The Inheritance

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ one sage overrules the consensus, and men may dispose of their wealth upon their deathbeds at will

Header

The Talmud’s Hot Tub Time Machine

How Moses could know how his people’s story would end before it was even written is in keeping with the spirit of ‘Daf Yomi’

Header

Taking a ‘Sharp Knife’ to the Talmud

Daf Yomi: Interpreters of ancient Jewish law ‘often give the impression of doing whatever needs to be done to make the Bible mean what they want it to mean’

Header

Terms of Service

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ why the law is in the details

Header

Caveat Emptor

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic sages ask what it is safe to assume in matters of transactions within the law, and what must be specifically proven

Header

When You Buy a Cow (or a Boat) What Do You Get From the Seller? When Is It Yours? And What Really Is a Cow Anyway?

This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study goes straight to the essence of the matter. Plus, ‘fish tales’ and 750-mile-high waves.

Header

The Art of the Deal

Talmudic rabbis regulated real estate transactions based on biblical principles of ownership and centuries of experience of the practicalities of Jewish life

Header

Why Jews Are Forbidden to Be Happy

Talmudic rabbis debate just how much of life should be forsaken as part of the Jewish responsibility to mourn for the past

Header

The Law of the Kingdom, or the Law of the Jews?

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, the rabbis debate whether Jews owe anything to gentiles, when it comes to property rights

Load More...