Riding to the Inauguration Ball on Shabbat

Last Friday, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump—both observant Jews—rode in a limousine to the inaugural ball after the commencement of the Sabbath, having reportedly received permission from a rabbi on the grounds that walking to the ball would pose a substantial security risk. Their decision naturally prompted much discussion in the Jewish community. Jack Abramowitz, noting that Kushner is an adviser to the president and not a candidate for chief rabbi, weighs in:

Unsurprisingly, the degree to which this decision was accepted or condemned by the Jewish public strongly correlated with one’s personal politics. I would like to take a different approach: it’s none of our business. . . .

The Trump-Kushners did the right thing: they asked a rabbi. Even if the decision was wrong (and I don’t know that it was), the onus isn’t on them. When you ask your rabbi a question, you don’t expect it to appear in the synagogue bulletin for other congregants’ consideration. This should be no different.

We take pride when observant Jews are in positions of prominence but then we nitpick their behavior. It’s great to see that Sabbath-observant Jews can accomplish pretty much anything in today’s society—something our ancestors never would have believed—but just because someone is Sabbath-observant, that doesn’t make him a religious authority . . .

There is the obvious objection that Jews who do questionable things in public [are seen in rabbinic tradition as] desecrating God’s name. To that, I say yes and no. . . . Bernie Madoff, who bilked millions with a giant Ponzi scheme, desecrated God’s name. But when it comes to religious duties, nobody knows the intricacies of Jewish law as well as we do. If we can’t agree on Ivanka’s ride, do you really think Joe Public knows or cares? In such cases, I think the desecration happens when we [start] attacking these celebrities in public.

Read more at Orthodox Union

More about: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Orthodoxy, Religion & Holidays, Shabbat

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy