Can a Progeny-Obsessed Religion Make Room for the Childless?

In his recent book, The Pater, Elliot Jager reflects on his relationship with his father, who abandoned him in childhood, and on his own experience as an adult unable to have children. David Wolpe writes in his review:

Judaism, with its first commandment to “be fruitful and multiply,” its anxiety about numbers and continuity, and its central prayer, the sh’ma, commanding us to “teach these words to our children” . . . doesn’t merely imply progeny. It is obsessed with it. . . .

Jager ultimately abandons his religious orthodoxy as a sort of “reprimand to God.” If the Jewish tradition is about children, and God refuses to cooperate, how can one maintain reverence? . . .

Jewish tradition, however, [also] has its consolations—even if they don’t always manage to soothe. . . . While Judaism instructs that teaching someone is equivalent to giving birth to him, Jager notes that many people say it is having children, more than anything else, that gives their own lives meaning.

In the end, perhaps, [this] book is the author’s stand-in creation. . . . Jager may not have a child, but he has enabled those who do have children to understand better the trials of the childless.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Children, Family, Fertility, Judaism, Religion & Holidays

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict