Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Lost Prayer

While the Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer is known for his sacrilegious literary treatments of Jews and Judaism—a ḥasidic typesetter was so offended by the novel Enemies: A Love Story that he destroyed the manuscripts—some of his nonfiction and unpublished works show a different attitude. One indication of this attitude is a short personal prayer, composed in Hebrew and scrawled on the back of a receipt in or around 1952. David Stromberg, whose translation (with some minor adjustments) is excerpted below, speculates that the prayer reflected a slow “return to religion” Singer undertook in the early 1950s.

In contrast to Singer’s Yiddish prose—which is in every way striking, employs a rich and varied vocabulary, and always seems to wink ironically at the reader—the prayer’s Hebrew is simple and sincere, drawing on the standard liturgical tropes and phrases. But its deviations from theological expectations are, therefore, all the more intriguing:

Master of the Universe, fill my heart with love for the Jewish people, and rest for the soul.

Let me see the Creator in each and every creature, and His mercy for each thing He creates.

There’s not a single drop of water or particle of dust in which Your light is lacking, or that is outside your domain. . . .

Though we may not know the purpose of life, or why You sent us into this world to suffer, we understand that it is our duty to build and not to destroy, to comfort and not to torment, to bring joy rather than sorrow to Your creatures.

There is only one joy: to increase and not to lessen the world’s joy. Seek happiness, but not on account of your neighbors or family, for you are they and they are you; you are brethren, children of God.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Isaac Bashevis Singer, Judaism, Prayer, Yiddish literature

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela