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
As our Talmud column returns, debates over Oral Law range from the existential to the mundane
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
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
One Talmudic rabbi’s prayers work, while others’ fall on deaf ears. Is humility more pleasing to God than pomp?
A coup at the rabbinic academy deposes Gamliel and unleashes a torrent of questions
In this week’s Talmud reading, the soul addresses God, but the body has its own agenda