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Adam Kirsch’s weekly reflections on Daf Yomi

December 4th, 2012

In his weekly column in Tablet on Daf Yomi, Adam Kirsch discusses the ways in which the “Talmudic rabbis seek righteousness in the Bible’s tales of vice, weakness, and human frailty.”  From the column:

The Bible displays extraordinarily little anxiety about portraying its heroes in an unflattering light. Jacob can be both a liar and thief, and the man who wrestles with an angel and wins the name of Israel; David can be both the anointed of God and an adulterer. But as this week’s Daf Yomi reading showed, the rabbis of the Talmud were by no means at ease with this kind of ambiguity. In a long discussion that begins in Shabbat 55b, they consider some of the most famous sinners in the Bible and argue passionately that in fact none of them did what the Bible expressly says they did.

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