How Maimonides’ Son Brought Sufi Practices into Judaism

As the only son of the great medieval Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides, Abraham (1186-1237) followed in his father’s footsteps, serving as official head of Egypt’s Jewish community and its leading religious authority. In response to what he believed was a widespread spiritual crisis, he sought to reinvigorate Jewish piety by importing ideas and practice from Sufism, the mystical school of Islam then greatly influential in North Africa. This effort is the subject of a recent book by Elisha Russ-Fishbane. (Interview by Alan Brill.)

Historians of Jewish philosophy often consider it remarkable that the son of the great Maimonides—considered a champion of rationalism and moderation against mysticism and asceticism—would so blatantly stray from his father’s course and choose the mysticism of Sufism over the sober ideals of philosophy. The truth, as usual, is much more complicated.

Philosophy, in its medieval guise, was no less dedicated to personal liberation from physical attachments than was its Sufi counterpart. Mysticism, for its part, did not always entail a rejection of reason. In practical terms, Jewish philosophers and mystics of the medieval Islamic world advocated ways of life that were remarkably similar in orientation. . . .

Abraham . . . understood the path of [Sufi-influenced] pietism as the logical extension of the core principles of his father’s doctrine. That said, Abraham made far more extensive use of Sufism’s spiritual terminology than his father ever did, although there is [a scholarly] consensus that the father was not devoid of a modest Sufi vocabulary of his own. Even more meaningfully, Abraham embraced concrete Sufi practices within his own pietist circle and openly praised his Muslim counterparts, at times holding them up as a model for his own community.

Read more at Book of Doctrines and Opinions

More about: History & Ideas, Jewish Philosophy, Judaism, Maimonides, Mysticism, Sufis

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation