In this week’s Torah reading of Mishpatim, God communicates to Moses a catalogue of civil laws, addressing such issues as torts, property, punishments for theft, and so forth. The German-born Spanish rabbi Jacob ben Asher (ca. 1269-1343), in the introduction to his codification of the corresponding body of talmudic law, attempts to explain the purpose of judges, courts, and the legal system itself, arguing that without such institutions, society would disintegrate into a war of all against all. Contrasting Jacob ben Asher’s approach with that of another Spanish talmudist, Nissim of Gerona (1320-1376), Shlomo Zuckier examines their radically different interpretations of Jewish law:
Is Jewish Law an Expression of Heavenly Ideals or a Pragmatic Measure for Bringing Order to Society?
Hizballah Bears Responsibility for the Beirut Blast
According to the Lebanese government, the explosion in its capital city on Tuesday that left over 100 dead and many more injured or homeless was caused by the accidental detonation of some 2,750 of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer often used for making bombs. (Less than one-thousandth of that amount was used by Timothy McVeigh to destroy the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995.) Previously, police have discovered Hizballah warehouses in London and Germany storing many tons of the same explosive. Hussein Ibish comments: