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Biblical Commentary

Eruv Eruv
Friday, March 12, 2010 by | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

One of the more obscure municipal systems knocked out of commission by late February's blizzards along the Atlantic seaboard were eruvim. These, as the New York Times explained, are networks of poles and wires that construct symbolic boundaries around Jewish communities, thus enabling the observant to carry objects through outdoor public spaces on the Sabbath. The prohibition against carrying is of ancient vintage, attestedĀ in the book of Jeremiah (17:21-22): ". . . and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; neither carry forth a burden out of your houses." The Talmud (Shabbat...
Mediterranean Maimonides Mediterranean Maimonides
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 | Jewish Ideas Daily » Daily Features

Civilizations come and go. Their greatest surviving creations remain. Such is the case with the work of Maimonides (1135–1204), a towering thinker, known to Jewish tradition as "the Great Eagle," who continues to defy easy characterization. Two new biographies depart from past treatments to situate the thought of this master philosopher within the Arabic civilization of his time, and more generally in the prism of the Mediterranean world. To the late scholar Shlomo Dov Goitein, the Mediterranean was a gracious, cross-cultural society that reached its apotheosis in the person of Maimonides' son Abraham, a Jewish devotee of Sufism. To Maimonides' more recent biographers, it...
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Editors' Picks
Forgive Me Moshe Halbertal, Jewish Review of Books. In explaining the laws of forgiveness, the Talmud relies on stories, adding uncommon depth not only to the law but to the theme of forgiveness itself.
Beyond Bruriah Judith Hauptman, CJ. Contrary to a long-held scholarly belief, women in the rabbinic period did learn Torah—in their own way.
Flogging and the Rabbis Michael L. Satlow, Michael L. Satlow. A once-common practice, recently recommended for revival by an American criminologist, is discussed at length in the Talmud. Barbarous, or something more complex and perhaps even effective?
Why Study Talmud? Richard Hidary, Shofar. An important question, to which a collection of entertaining personal testimonies by contemporary talmudists repeatedly yields a common answer: for the joy of it.
Protestant Mishnah Amit Gevaryahu, Talmud Blog. Can the ancient rabbinic code of law be studied on its own, apart from the commentaries, deliberations, and disputes of the Talmud?
On Torah and Judaism James L. Kugel, YouTube. Interviewed in Moscow, the eminent scholar talks about his life, his career, and the tension between what he does as a student of the Bible and how he lives as a Jew. (Video)
Treasures from the Vault Ilana Tahan, British Library. Hundreds of digitized images from splendidly illuminated and decorated Hebrew manuscripts in London's British Library are due to go live at the end of June.
The Origins of Purim Avinadav Witkun, Muqata. Why was not even one copy of the scroll of Esther found among the Dead Sea Scrolls?—and other mysteries of Purim.
Talmud for Beginners Nathan Jeffay, Forward. A now-completed translation of the Talmud into modern Hebrew (and, partially, into English) has made a notoriously difficult text accessible to the Jewish layman.
Biblical Seductions Gil Student, Torah Musings. In the hands of a sexual-harassment attorney, six key narratives in the Bible receive a bold and creative interpretation.