A Rare Volume of the Talmud Appeared at a White House Ceremony

Yesterday, Eric Lander was sworn in to his post as the White House science adviser using not a Bible but Pirkey Avot, the “Chapters of the Fathers”—a talmudic tractate devoted to ethical teachings, guidance for judges and scholars, the importance of Torah study, and other nonlegal topics. Of special interest is the particular edition selected, which was published in 1492 and belongs to the Library of Congress. Aviya Kushner writes:

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Read more at Forward

More about: Civil religion, Jewish history, Rare books, Talmud

Despite Opposition from the Taliban, Islamic State Is Thriving in Afghanistan

According to Taliban officials, Islamic State’s Afghanistan offshoot (known as the “Khorasan province,” or ISKP) has but a negligible presence. American diplomats, for their part, have claimed that the new jihadist government in Kabul can provide a bulwark against the group, which opposes what it sees as the Taliban’s relative religious moderation. But, Oved Lobel argues, the evidence supports neither interpretation:

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Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: ISIS, Taliban, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy