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 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