Three Great Reads from the Jewish Journal

The great news about Israel, the situation of Bennett’s coalition, and a look at why the IDF operates in Jenin.

One of the problems with constantly defending yourself is that you can lose sight of the big picture. In recent years, with the rise of antisemitism and anti-Zionism, the pro-Israel community has spent much of its time on the defensive. The haters attack, the community fights back. Our energy is in the fight.

From Israel’s coalition point of view, the situation is clear: we must keep it going, for as long as possible. Nothing good is waiting for us, coalition members, if we crumble. No improvement is expected in circumstances, in jobs, in opportunities to have impact. Some parties will find themselves outside the Knesset.

The PA, by its deliberate inaction, has forced the Israeli army to occasionally enter Jenin in pursuit of terrorists. The alternative would be for the Israelis to just sit back and wait for the terrorists to attack again. Obviously, they can’t do that. They have to chase them. And sometimes that means chasing them into a Palestinian Arab city.

Three Great Reads from Around the Web

A look at life in the Middle Ages, an examination of Japan’s fascination with miniature food replicas, and the question of whether or not trees are intelligent.

Our ancestors of the distant past can be invoked in conversations about nearly anything: They supposedly worked less, relaxed more, slept better, had better sex, and enjoyed better diets, among other things. Their purported habits are used as proof of recent folly, but also of future possibility. Things could be better; after all, they have been before… The problem is that these assertions about our glorious history usually don’t quite check out…

The popular life-size food models known as shokuhin sampuru, displayed outside countless casual Japanese restaurants, function as promotional materials first, a way to boost sales. But the craftsmanship of a food model can be extraordinary — a fish so ridiculously crammed full of detail, so obsessively recreated, that you want the replica itself.

A couple of years ago, I came across Diverse Intelligences, an initiative of the Templeton World Charity Foundation that funds research projects with names like “Brainless Intelligence” and “Play, a Computational Perspective.” (T.W.C.F. shares its founder with—and has received donations from—the John Templeton Foundation, an unusual funder of science and spirituality research that has made some scientists uneasy.

Commentary on Parashat Emor

This week at the Jewish Journal, Parashat Emor is under discussion. Parashat Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23) – begins with a set of purity regulations for priests. It then continues to list the main high holidays and to tell the story of a blasphemer who is stoned to death by the community.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Take the blasphemer outside the camp, and all who heard [his blasphemy] shall lean their hands on his head. And the entire community shall stone him.

–Lev. 24:13-14

Rabbi Janet Madden: The blasphemer’s story is a cautionary tale of a character who transgresses a sacred boundary. But punishment for cursing Hashem does not come directly from the Divine.

We do not need to avoid difficult passages in the Torah. It is foolish, as the Rabbi of Chelm should know, to apply modern sensibilities to ancient texts. Over the centuries we have transcended the sensibilities of the ancient world, even of the Talmud, because of the Talmud, specifically Berakhot 9:5: “It is time to serve the Lord, go against your Torah.”

We increase Torah by wrestling with Torah.

The kohen was called upon to do his work with full concentration and complete intent. But the value of family is of even greater importance. There is no space for spiritual peaks without the foundation of proper family ties, which in this case are expressed by taking care of the burial of a relative who passed away.

Three New Jewish Podcasts

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

In conversation with Yaky Yanay, CEO of Pluristem Therapeutics, an Israeli biotech firm that is pioneering cell technology, with applications for medical care and creating food products like sustainable, lab-grown meat.

Shmuel Rosner and Maren Niehoff talk about her book: “Philo of Alexandria: An Intellectual Biography”. Maren R. Niehoff is Max Cooper Professor of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University, and member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Mark and Lowell do their best to get a word in edgewise this week as the inimitable, lovable and legendary “Pitbull of Comedy” Bobby Slayton aka “Yid Vicious” reluctantly joins the podcast.

Today’s Hot Issues

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