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.

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Read more at Book of Doctrines and Opinions

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

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy