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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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Lovesick: Stefan Zweig’s ‘Letter From an Unknown Woman’

Bookworm: The Austrian novelist dissects a broken heart

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Gatsby and Henry

Bookworm: Like James Gatz, my grandfather from the Ottoman Empire reinvented himself in America

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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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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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Jake Tapper’s Spy Novel Is Startlingly Good

Bookworm: The Washington hand’s debut thriller ‘The Hellfire Club’ delivers

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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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Dude, Spicoli Wrote a Novel

Bookworm: On his own time and not on Mr. Hand’s time, Sean Penn composed ‘Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff,’ but what for?

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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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A Revelatory History of a Single Block on the Upper West Side

Bookworm: Gangsters, kidnappers, a pencil-maker, a Shakespearean actor, a toothpaste magnate, and other 20th-century ghosts in Daniel Wakin’s surprising new account of a section of Riverside Drive

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Microaggressions

Meme Wars: Why the racial future of America hinges upon Asian Americans

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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