Lust, Paganism, and Jewish Leadership

At the heart of this week’s Torah reading of B’ha’alotkha—which covers a bewildering assortment of disparate topics—is the incident of the quail. As the Israelites in the desert complain about their diet, which consists only of manna, Moses becomes frustrated with his responsibilities and God feeds the people quail “until it comes out of their noses” before striking them with a plague. Arguing that, but for this incident, the messianic era would have begun already during the time of Moses, Joseph B. Soloveitchik explores the link between lust and the pagan mentality and concludes with reflections on leadership and the state of American Jewry. (1978; audio, 1 hour and 41 minutes.)

Read more at YU Torah

More about: Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Judaism, Moses, Numbers, Paganism, 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