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The Talmud Is a Training Manual for Jews Preparing for the Next Holy Era

For a hundred generations Jews lived in anticipation of redemption, a historical tension that continues to define Judaism

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Jewish Culture Was Not Always a Response to Non-Jewish Culture

Why read the Talmud as a secular Jew? In part, for its expression of an independent Jewish creativity and spirituality.

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Rationalism, Mysticism, Slaves, and a Sukkah Made From an Elephant

The Talmud describes rabbis who were not just judges and legal analysts, but magicians as well

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In the Talmud, Jews Losing Touch With the Everyday Words of the Holy Land

In staking claims about the validity of Jewish identity, the rabbis show that the Diaspora has existed for nearly as long as Judaism

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Math Problem for Talmudic Rabbis: Building the Right Size Sukkah

Pi, irrational numbers, and squaring the circle are all brought to bear to find justifications for tradition

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How Large Must a Sukkah Be To Be Called a Sukkah—And Yet Still Be Far From Heaven?

In dissenting opinions, Talmudic rabbis propose and debate every detail of Sukkot’s booth and, in so doing, measure God

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In the Talmud, One Sin Is Beyond Repentance: Giving God and Jews a Bad Name

A holy desecration is unethical in part because of the social pressure to reflect well on the tribe

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Too Much, Too Little: Talmudic Rabbis’ Creativity Shines When Interpreting Prohibitions

Manna, and fasting, are not just miracles of sustenance and faith, but also elements of jurisprudence

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Some Jewish Acts Seem Meaningless. The Talmud Says You Should Do Them Anyway.

Illogical Jewish laws are ‘matters that Satan challenges’: raising doubts for enemies of Judaism and skeptical Jews

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What Happens When the Talmud Asks, ‘What If?’

Probing hypothetical, metaphysical problems was the rabbis’ way of defining what matters most in Judaism

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The Talmud Pays Little Attention to What Jews Believe, Yet Asks Them To Have Faith

Judaism’s manual of sacred technology prizes holiness over beauty, action over thought, and ritual over belief

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In the Talmud, the Fall of a Priestly Upper Class Is Just Deserts

Biblical examples of righteousness and wickedness show that in Judaism, goodness remains possible and divine

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Which Came First: Abraham and the Patriarchs or Moses and the Torah?

A Talmudic problem: Abraham lived before the law was given, so how can his actions be used to interpret the law?

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What the Talmud Would Say About the Pew Survey of American Jews: Stop Counting

An ancient principle of Judaism, debated at length in the Oral Law, is that it is a sin to count Jews—or is it?

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Miraculous Architecture of the First Temple Leads to Religious Sectarianism in the Second

To the Talmudic rabbis, a miracle is more plausible than the notion that their sources were incorrect

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The Talmud Says God Can’t Protect Jews From Persecution; They Must Take Precautions

A ‘mezuzah,’ like Judaism, is designed for life in this world, not for a messianic future, or for martyrdom

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The Talmud’s Yom Kippur, With Sacrifice and Blood, Is Nothing Like Jewish Ritual Today

The rabbinic tradition arose from the fact that the Bible doesn’t tell us what we need to know to lead our lives

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The Importance of Cubits and Shewbread and Everything That Makes Your Eyes Glaze Over

In their faith, Talmudic rabbis kept contradictory thoughts, believing in both the reality of miracles and their unreliability

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Reconstructing the Life of the Temple and Its All-Too-Human Denizens

In the Talmud’s descriptions of self-glorifying and self-enriching Temple priests, lessons for today’s public officials

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There Are Thieves in the Temple. Or Are They Sacred Messengers?

Daf Yomi: The Talmud provides the Jewish version of well-known Christian gospel about money-changers

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On the Origin of Passover’s Four Questions and the Renewal of Miracles

The Talmud is not a literary text, yet its role in maintaining the continuity of Jewish history is undeniable

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When the Rabbis Got Together for Shabbat Dinner, Drama—and Law—Ensued

In the Talmud, examples of real-life rabbinic behavior and the intensely personal nature of lawmaking

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We No Longer Live in the World of Talmudic Rabbis. What’s a Modern Jew to Do?

In the Bible, the rabbis had the most accurate possible description of the world—a flawed and limited cosmology

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In the Talmud, Jews in Exile Are Considered Defenseless Before Their Enemies

Daf Yomi: The one protection God granted the Jews was to scatter them, so that no single enemy could destroy them all at once

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When the Rabbis Do Things by the Book, They Give the Talmud Its ‘Talmudic’ Qualities

In this week’s Daf Yomi, deference, privilege, and the appearance of impropriety from the rabbis of ancient Jewish society

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When Talmud Is the Focus of Jewish Observance, Theology Comes to Life

Instead of asking us to passively agree with the rabbis, oral law engages the intellect in concrete problems of logic and interpretation

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In the Talmud, Minds Full of Torah Instead of Bowls Full of Sacrificial Blood

Daf Yomi: Could Judaism ever go back to now-alien-seeming rituals from before the destruction of the Temple?

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Good Jewish Fences Once Made Good Jewish Neighbors. Do They Still?

One of many ancient local customs analyzed in this week’s Talmud study is the habit of separating Jews from gentiles

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Are American Jews Creating a New Jewishness, or Just Abandoning the Real Kind?

Most American Jews have effectively cast off rabbinic guidance. Would the Talmud’s rabbis have respected us for it, or disdained us?

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How the Talmud Has Bridged the Gaps Between Various Jewish Cultures for Ages

By imbuing even the most mundane things—like vinegar—with importance, the rabbis find proof of sacred history