Toward an Ultra-Orthodox Feminist Theology

In Circle, Arrow, Spiral: Exploring Gender in Judaism, Miriam Kosman lays out a theological explanation of the traditional understanding of different roles for men and women, and a rationale for halakhic discrimination between the sexes. Sarah Rindner writes in her review:

The book draws on Jewish sources, particularly kabbalistic ones, as well as second-wave feminist theory, postmodern thought, [and] contemporary psychology and sociology, and offers a sweeping theory of gender as it manifests itself in Judaism. For Kosman, the traditional Jewish conception of male and female roles is not a challenge to be overcome; rather, it represents a sophisticated and delicate framework for enabling the “female force” to manifest itself within individual relationships and within history more broadly.

Obscuring the difference between men and women in the service of egalitarianism or other contemporary trends actually may have a counterproductive effect as it could, according to Kosman, serve to silence the feminine voice. . . . Kosman’s . . . book is critical reading for anyone who is invested in the Jewish intellectual tradition and uncomfortable with facile dismissals of its wisdom when it comes to gender in the modern world.

Read more at Book of Books

More about: Feminism, Halakhah, Kabbalah, Religion & Holidays, Sexism, Ultra-Orthodox

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy