Is Love Stronger Than Death?

In his laudatory review of Hillel Halkin’s After One-Hundred-and-Twenty: Reflecting on Death, Mourning, and the Afterlife in the Jewish Tradition, Abraham Socher writes:

As Halkin mentions near the outset of this deeply personal book, he has already passed the “threescore and ten” years promised in Psalms, and neither he, nor any of us, expect to live the extra half-century granted to Moses. That, after all, is the point of saying “ad meah v’esrim” (until one-hundred-and-twenty), the traditional phrase upon which his book’s title plays. But this is not a death-haunted book, or, if it is, it is not, despite a lifelong hypochondria, really the prospect of his own extinction that haunts Halkin.

He writes movingly of his parents’ passing, especially his mother’s, and of his ambivalence about reciting the mourner’s kaddish for them. And he admits frankly that he cannot imagine surviving the loss of a child, though, of course, having lived in Israel for the past five decades, he has seen that happen far too often.

[Although] he is firm in his disbelief, . . . it is Halkin’s abiding love for his wife that spurs him toward a belief in some kind of immortality. “How can a love like ours simply disappear?” he asks her, “Doesn’t it have to go on existing somewhere?” Despite his biblical this-worldliness, the experience of love has given Halkin an intimation of eternity.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Afterlife, Death, Judaism, Kaddish, Love, Mourning, Religion & Holidays

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus