The Jewish Prohibition on Cremation and Cryonics Reflects a Deeply Held Belief about Human Nature

As the ancient Roman historian Tacitus noted, Jewish custom mandates burial in the earth, an obligation treated with gravity by the Hebrew Bible and even more so by the rabbinic tradition. Thus cremation, not to mention recent techniques like cryonics, are forbidden by halakhah. Shlomo Brody explains that these attitudes stem from the biblical idea that the divine image inheres in every human being:

Humans, according to the Bible, were created from the earth, and in death we return to our source. This reminds us during our lifetime of our modest origins, while further encouraging us to utilize our time on earth to merit eternal life in the world to come alongside the resurrection of the dead, which will be granted only through God’s grace.

It was precisely out of a rejection of these notions that many Westerners favored cremation, when new technologies developed for efficient incineration in the 1870s. In modern cremations, bodies are incinerated at four-digit temperatures for two to three hours. Bone fragments and other residue are further pulverized before they are collected and returned. . . .

Interestingly, in some Eastern religions, cremation is utilized precisely because of a belief in the continued (and primary) existence of the soul, with the body’s destruction indicating its inconsequence. [But] Jewish law rejects this attitude toward the physical body. While the soul and its eternal life may have primary importance, the body is still seen as a holy vessel that allows us to manifest our inner spirit. [Likewise], a Torah scroll that has become blemished must still be treated with sanctity and properly interred. All the more so with the human body, which was created in God’s image and allows us to bring the divine word into the world.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Death, Halakhah, Judaism, Religion & Holidays

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security