Why Moses Maimonides (and Leo Strauss) Believed Revelation Was Necessary

In his Leo Strauss and the Rediscovery of Maimonides, Kenneth Hart Green newly configures the approach taken to the age-old problem of reason and revelation by the towering 12th-century philosopher Moses Maimonides and by his 20th-century interpreter Leo Strauss. Daniel Rynhold writes in his review:

Modern thought, Green argues, has approached religion by either refuting it or “claiming to contain it in versions of rational moralism,” which amounts “merely to [putting] it to sleep by attempting to . . . repress or deny the deeper conflict in the soul of each human being.” . . . As [Friedrich] Nietzsche had before him, Strauss recognized “the frailty of reason as a substitute for religion in political life, never mind what its absence from morality and psychology yields as an access to the human soul.” But while Nietzsche’s response to the threat of nihilism called on man to fill the vacuum himself, . . . Strauss came to understand through his study of Maimonides that Nietzsche’s post-religious nihilism could only be avoided through a return to revelation. . . .

For Green’s Strauss, the key to Maimonidean wisdom is the view that the dialectic between Jerusalem and Athens defines Western civilization; the modernist attempt to dissolve that tension ignores the centrality and power of the religious impulse for human endeavor. . . . Thus . . . Strauss echoes a number of modern Jewish philosophers . . . in thinking that “a balance of forces and a dynamic tension is healthier in the mind than a single dominant view or form of thought in complete control,” and it is in his unearthing of the hidden Maimonides that Strauss discovers the way to navigate this necessary tension. Green’s Strauss is not, therefore, a cynical atheist—and neither is his Maimonides.

Read more at Notre Dame

More about: Friedrich Nietzsche, History & Ideas, Jewish Philosophy, Judaism, Leo Strauss, Maimonides, Reason

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy