Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s Theological Case for Zionism

Dec. 24 2018

On Israel’s independence day in 1956, as Egypt seemed increasingly likely to attack the fledgling Jewish state, the great 20th-century sage Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik gave a lengthy lecture on Jews’ obligation to support Israel. The lecture, later published in English as “Fate and Destiny,” appeared first in Hebrew as Kol dodi dofek—“the voice of my beloved knocks”—a verse from the Song of Songs. Soloveitchik’s exegesis of this verse forms the basis of his argument that Jews are obligated to respond to the divine “knocks” manifested in recent history. In conversation with Jonathan Silver, Soloveitchik’s student Jacob J. Schacter explains the historical and theological context behind this argument. (Audio, 29 minutes. Options for download and streaming are available at the link below.)

Schacter’s entire online course on Soloveitchik’s thought can be found here.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Judaism, Religion & Holidays, Religious Zionism

 

Why Israel Pretends That Hamas Fired Rockets by Accident

March 21 2019

Israeli military and political officials have repeated Hamas’s dubious claim that the launching of two rockets at Tel Aviv last week was inadvertent. To Smadar Perry, accepting Hamas’s story rather than engaging in further retaliation is but a convenient, and perhaps necessary, way of aiding Egyptian efforts to broker a deal with the terrorist group. But even if these efforts succeed, the results will be mixed:

The [Israeli] security cabinet has met in Tel Aviv and decided that they would continue indirect negotiations with Gaza. A message was sent to Egypt, whose delegation is going back to Gaza to pass on the Israeli demands for calm. The Egyptians also have to deal with the demands from Hamas, which include, among other things, an increase in aid from $15 million to $30 million per month and an increase in the supply of electricity.

The requests are reasonable, but they do leave a sour taste in the mouth. Israel must ensure that this financial aid does not end up in the pockets of Hamas and its associates. [Israel] also knows that if it says “no” to everything, the Iranians will step in, with the help of their Gazan friends in Islamic Jihad. They are just waiting for the opportunity.

Hamas also must deal with the fallout from a series of massive handouts from Qatar. For when the citizens of the Gaza Strip saw that the money was going to the Hamas leadership, who were also enjoying a fine supply of electricity to their own houses, they took to the streets in protest—and this time it was not Israel that was the focus of their anger. . .

[But] here is the irony. With Egyptian help, Israel can reach understandings for calm with Gaza, despite the lack of a direct channel. . . . In the West Bank, where the purportedly friendlier Fatah is in charge, it is more complicated, at least until the eighty-three-year-old Mahmoud Abbas is replaced.

As evidence for that last statement, consider the murder of two Israelis in the West Bank on Sunday, and the Palestinians who threw explosives at Israeli soldiers at Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem yesterday.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, West Bank