An Ultra-Orthodox Woman Reflects on Judaism and Sexuality

Drawing on kabbalah, feminist theory, and a wide variety of other sources, Miriam Kosman’s recent book, Circle, Arrow, Spiral, explores the idea that masculine and feminine symbolism in traditional Jewish texts can be applied to the actual relationship between the sexes. (Interview by Alan Brill)

[In the book’s title], the arrow represents a male energy and force. It connotes progress, action, force, productivity, [and a] constant striving to have more and get more. The circle represents the female force which symbolizes the idea of wholeness, harmony, and relationship. The arrow is doing; the circle is being.

The ideal in Judaism is the spiral, which is a synthesis of these two forces.

There are many examples of this spiral in the whole structure of Judaism. One classic one is the dynamic between Shabbat and the days of the week. The days of the week would be a male . . . ; Shabbat would be a circle, or female. The spiral would be the synthesis [in which] the building and accomplishing we do during the days of the week create the person we bring to the relationship of “being” on Shabbat, and the experience of Shabbat sends us out to our work week from a higher place. . . .

[Applying these concepts, I differ from Jewish feminists in] many ways. Firstly, I do not see Jewish gender conceptions as problems that need correction. On the contrary, understanding the value of the dance between these two primal forces upends the idea that gender difference represents a flawed, chauvinistic approach that needs to be updated. To me, adopting [an absolute] egalitarianism robs us all of the richness, depth, and insight that gender difference can yield. [However], I do see women’s growing prominence [in public life] as a positive thing, and I want that to continue.

Read more at Book of Doctrines and Opinions

More about: Feminism, Judaism, Kabbalah, Religion & Holidays, Shabbat, Ultra-Orthodox

Israel’s Retaliation against the Houthis Sends a Message to the U.S., and to Its Arab Allies

The drone that struck a Tel Aviv high-rise on Thursday night is believed to have traveled over 2,000 kilometers, flying from Yemen over Egypt and then above the Mediterranean before veering eastward toward the Israeli coast. Since October, the Houthis have launched over 200 drones at Israel. Nor is this the first attempt to strike Tel Aviv, only the first successful one. Noah Rothman observes that the Houthis’ persistent attacks on Israel and on international shipping are largely the result of the U.S.-led coalition’s anemic response:

Had the Biden administration taken a more proactive and vigorous approach to neutralizing the Houthis’ capabilities, Israel would not be obliged to expand to Yemen the theater of operations in the war Hamas inaugurated on October 7. The prospects of a regional war grow larger by the day, not because Israel cannot “take the win,” as President Biden reportedly told Benjamin Netanyahu following a full-scale direct Iranian attack on the Jewish state, but because hostile foreign actors are killing its citizens. Jerusalem is obliged to defend them and the sovereignty of Israel’s borders.

Biden’s hesitancy was fueled by his apprehension over the prospect of a “wider war” in the Middle East. But his hesitancy is what is going to give him the war he so cravenly sought to avoid.

In this context, the nature of the Israeli response is significant: rather than follow the American strategy of striking isolated weapons depots and the like, IDF jets struck the port city of Hodeida—the sort of major target the U.S. has shied away from. The mission was likely the furthest-ever carried out by the Israel Air Force, hitting a site 200 kilometers further from Israel than Tehran. Yoel Guzansky and Ilan Zalayat comment:

The message that Israel sent was intended to reach the moderate Arab countries, the West, and especially the United States. . . . The message to the coalition countries is that “the containment” had failed and the Houthis must be hit harder. The Hodeida port is the lifeline of the Houthi economy and continued damage to it will make it extremely difficult for this economy, which is also facing significant American sanctions.

Read more at National Review

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