Religious Interpretation Ought Not Be the Government’s Job

The Louisiana legislature is currently considering a bill that would further extend its own version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to forbid state agencies from punishing people or institutions for acting on their beliefs about marriage. Over 50 American Orthodox rabbis signed a letter in support of the measure; Gil Student explains why he joined them:

Imagine a kosher caterer that is sued for refusing to serve at a wedding on the Sabbath or a wedding-hall owner who is sued for refusing to rent the premises for an interfaith wedding. Many people interpret Jewish tradition as allowing these activities. But the government should never serve in the . . . role [of] telling people what their religion allows and forbids. No Jew, no American, should be forced to violate his deeply held religious convictions.

All people, especially minorities, need their rights protected. Ideally, when conflicts emerge between the rights of different minorities, compromises can be found that respect everyone’s needs. Alternative arrangements can often be found. However, we need laws to address those difficult cases that defy compromise. . . .

[America] must allow religion to flourish, because religious communities built this country into the great power that it is. Religious communities support the poor, provide healthy social frameworks for families, and encourage social activism.

Read more at Jewish World Review

More about: Freedom of Religion, Gay marriage, Politics & Current Affairs, Religion & Holidays, RFRA

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security