Adam Kirsch is a poet and literary critic, whose books include The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature.
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Cooking Times and Air Rights

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis determine the finer points of animal sacrifice and follow their logical reasoning to the limits of the absurd

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Suited to the Fire

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis continue their investigations into sacrificial offerings and remain dispassionate in their analysis of sexual sins. Plus: the origin of the word ‘treyf.’

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Bird Sacrifice

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ Talmudic rabbis try to establish the rules governing ritual slaughter of feathered offerings

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The End of Human Rights

‘Rooted Cosmpolitans’ traces how the fight over human rights remains a struggle over Jewish identity and destiny

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Archaeology Without Ruins

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ ancient Talmudic rabbis look for the First and Second Temples without stones or relics to guide them

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Mapping the Temple

Daf Yomi: Talmudic rabbis, as distant from the original animal sacrifices as we are from the Civil War, try to piece together a layout that matches the Torah

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Myth and Meaning

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, the ancient rabbis take personal ownership of their Torah interpretations, as they map the spaces that separate the holy from the mundane

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Blood of the Soul

This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study continues to explore the real—and hypothetical—practicalities of ritual animal sacrifice

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On Priestly Perfection

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ how ancient Talmudic rabbis recreated and understood the lost religious culture of the First Temple

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If A, Then B

Through Daf Yomi’s exercises in mathematical logic, Talmudic rabbis attempt to decipher the will of a reasonable God. Plus: What distinguishes guilt from sin?

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Slaughtered Offerings

In making animal sacrifices, says this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, ancient Jews learned the importance of doing religious actions with deliberate purpose

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When a King Sins

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, the surprising origins of power’s responsibility to the governed. Plus: How the Kingdom of Judea became the Religion of Judaism.

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Angels in America

Tony Kushner’s masterpiece of 1980s cruelty returns to Broadway just as the next wave of illiberalism washes over Trump’s new order

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Disobey

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, how are individual Jews supposed to act when a religious court makes a ‘manifestly illegal’ ruling or unjust order?

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Grapes of Math

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ the Talmudic calculations that make forbidden wine and food into permitted meals for religious Jews

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Truth or Coincidences

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, the Rabbis offer desperate—or reassuring—explanations for why God does not interfere in the world in order to prevent sin

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Statue of Limitations

This week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study considers how Jews can avoid idolatry and still live in a public space full of graven images

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On the Perils of Assimilation

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, patrolling the boundaries between Jewish and pagan society

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Immoral, Weak, Abusive, Untrustworthy, and Murderous

What Talmudic sages thought of the pagan gentiles of their day is disturbingly paranoid and hostile

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How Jews Should Deal With Gentiles

According to this week’s ‘Daf Yomi’ Talmud study, as little as possible

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A Shared Debt: The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Gershom Scholem

How Eichmann in Jerusalem led the thinkers into a principled disagreement over Zionism and universalism that ultimately broke their quarter-century bond

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Thou Shalt Sell No White Rooster and Bow to No Idols

Daf Yomi: How could Jews live as a minority among peoples, the Romans and the Persians, whose religion they considered sinful?

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The Talmud’s Revenge Fantasies

In this week’s ‘Daf Yomi,’ the oft-banned tractate that indulges a God ‘making sport’ with the enemies of a persecuted and oppressed people

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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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A Cruel and Elusive Family History

Agata Tuszyńska’s ‘Family History of Fear’ and Ivan Jablonka’s ‘A History of the Grandparents I Never Had’ open old wounds

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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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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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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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