Three Great Reads from the Jewish Journal

The new coalition in Israel, a controversial new movie about Israel’s founding, and an ode to small things.

The new coalition has ambitious plans for Israel, some good, some questionable. And as is the habit of new coalitions, the newly elected bosses rush to implement their agenda like a herd of running elephants. Alas, they soon notice, from a distance, an approaching wall. That’s the wall we will call “reality.” It’s a wall that tends to spoil early plans, to moderate ambitions, to alter purposes.

On Thursday, Netflix began streaming the Jordanian film “Farha,” which purports to focus on the experiences of a young girl during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The hero watches as Israeli soldiers, portrayed as inhumanly cruel, brutally and graphically murder innocent Palestinian families, including children. While the film claims to be “based” on true events, the director has admitted that it is not factual…

In Mishna Torah (4:17), the philosopher Maimonides makes a remarkable statement: “Small things are the overflowing goodness that Hashem gave us to settle this world in order to inherit the next world”. The emphasis is on small things that are filled with such goodness that they entitle one to heavenly reward. Why? Because they “settle the world”.

Three Great Reads from Around the Web

The quirks of English spelling, the power of creativity in old age, and a diatribe against ugly design.

You walk into your favorite coffee shop. You greet the familiar barista, who knows your daily order. You say “Hi, I’ll have the”—wait, I can’t figure out how to write the next word. You know, “the usual,” but shorter. Hip! Casual! I’ll have the … uzhe. I mean, the yoozh. The youj?!

Why does this shortened form of usual, which rolls off the tongue when it’s spoken, cause so much confusion when we try to write it down?

Artists who make it into old age can be like that. Vulnerable like the rest of us to all the ills that flesh is heir to — Hockney, now 85, has been going steadily deaf for years — they can still soldier on, occasionally in a state of something like exaltation. And surely, for them that’s a work-related condition, because they do something they love.

WE LIVE IN UNDENIABLY UGLY TIMES. Architecture, industrial design, cinematography, probiotic soda branding — many of the defining features of the visual field aren’t sending their best. Despite more advanced manufacturing and design technologies than have existed in human history, our built environment tends overwhelmingly toward the insubstantial, the flat, and the gray, punctuated here and there by the occasional childish squiggle.

Commentary on Parashat Vayishlach

This week at the Jewish Journal, Parashat Vayishlach is under discussion. Parashat Vayishlach features Jacob’s meeting with Esau, his encounter with an angel, the defiling of Dinah, the death of Isaac and Rachel, and the renaming of Jacob.

Esau ran to greet him. He embraced him and, falling on his neck, he kissed him; and they wept.

– Genesis 33:4

Alissa Thomas-Newborn: While many question whether Esav’s intentions are genuine, the Ibn Ezra emphasizes that Esav never intended Yaakov harm.

If only we lived in the time of the Bible, we might imagine, things would be different. We may feel wistful for the security our patriarchs must have felt, knowing that God was there for them at every moment. They had prophecy and miracles, while we are left alone with our doubts.

The oak tree Deborah was buried under is called Allon-bacuth, meaning “oak of weeping.” That is to say, the mourning for her was so great because of the impact of Deborah’s life on the existence and continuum of the Jewish people.

Three New Jewish Podcasts

Just in time for the weekend, three new podcasts about Judaism, Jewish culture, and Israel.

Happy Hanukkah! Or as we like to spell it, (c)(h)(x)(j)an(n)(i)(u)k(k)a(h)! We’re about 1 week early, but in this episode, Dan and Lex explore Hanukkah in depth, asking how we might deepen our relationship to it if we connected it to frameworks from our recent conversation with Emily Tamkin, about her book Bad Jews.

In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, Dovid Bashevkin dives deeply into the world of dating. As we explore the realm of relationships, Dovid uses his own journey to help us find the proper framework for balancing one’s romantic, religious, and professional identities.

Is there any chance that those who misled or failed the public during the height of the coronavirus pandemic will be held accountable? In this week’s episode of “Top Story,” JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin and former Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services Tevi Troy say that’s unlikely.

Today’s Hot Issues

Three Great Reads from the Jewish Journal Three Great Reads from Around the Web Commentary on Parashat Vayishlach Three New Jewish Podcasts