How Jonathan Sacks’s Wisdom Can Help America Rebound

Dec. 20 2023
About Jonathan

Jonathan Silver is the editor of Mosaic and the Chief Programming Officer of Tikvah, where he is also the Warren R. Stern Senior Fellow of Jewish Civilization.

Some 50,000 soldiers serving in the IDF will soon receive a booklet, titled “Why I am a Jew,” that contains a chapter from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’s book Radical Then, Radical Now. That the late British chief rabbi’s words have such appeal to young men and women on the frontlines is testimony to the power of his words for the Jewish people, whose fate now lies in these brave soldiers’ hands. But Sacks also possessed an unrivaled ability to share Jewish wisdom with the world at large, and that ability is the subject of this essay by Mosaic’s editor Jonathan Silver:

Freedom, the capacity for self-rule at the heart of the American ideal, thus expresses itself ambiguously. At times, liberty seemed a natural right, endowed to all men by their Creator. But other voices . . . suggested that liberty was not a right but a precious and hard-won achievement, the result of moral formation, a learned discipline that draws on classical and biblical resources considerably older than the American constitutional order. . . . [N]o one would convey that older and more capacious understanding of human freedom more eloquently than the British lord and chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, the late Jonathan Sacks.

Silver focuses on two addresses that convey these ideas:

Taken together, these two speeches suggest precisely what is needed for freedom in America to rebound: we must recover the arts of family formation, which not only bring love and life into society but also impress upon parents the sort of generational perspective they need to take responsible civic action. And we must be willing to do this in opposition to a culture that has mistaken liberty for license and that encourages us either to indulge shallow pleasures or at least to dull our pains. Sacks can help us recover the biblical truth that it is possible to erect structures of inner freedom even on the shores of Babylon.

Read more at Acton Institute

More about: American society, Freedom, Jonathan Sacks

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security