A Personal Look at the Spanish Inquisition

Between the wave of anti-Semitic violence in 1391 and the expulsion of all Jews in 1492, many thousands of Spanish Jews were baptized. Many of them remained in close contact with their Jewish relatives, and no small number also observed some traditional Jewish rituals in private. Concerns about such behavior, and the beliefs it suggested—as well as the equivalent practices of baptized Muslims and, later, the infiltration of Protestant doctrines—led the monarchy to create the Spanish Inquisition in 1478. This office of the Church was responsible for investigating Catholics suspected of harboring heretical ideas or engaging in blasphemous activities. (Unconverted Jews and Muslims were excluded from its jurisdiction.)

The Holy Office also kept meticulous records of its interrogations, which generally began with the simple question, “Tell us about yourself.” For Richard Kagan, these documents have been an invaluable source about the lives of former Jews and their descendants. He discusses his findings with Nachi Weinstein. (Audio, 74 minutes.)

Read more at Seforim Chatter

More about: Jewish history, Sephardim, Spanish Inquisition

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7