When Roger Scruton Taught Yeshiva Students

Roger Scruton, the influential British philosopher, music and architecture critic, and essayist, died last month at the age of seventy-five. Mark Gottlieb reminisces about coming to know Scruton, whom he hired five years ago to teach a seminar to a group of Orthodox yeshiva students. By and large, the students did not possess advanced university degrees but did possess advanced training in Jewish law:

From the first hour, a deep mutual admiration developed between teacher and students. For the yeshiva men, it was hard not to be impressed by Sir Roger’s sweeping intellect, his masterful reign over fields as disparate as aesthetics, sociology, political philosophy, philosophy of science, oenology, and theology. For Sir Roger, these nimble young rabbinic scholars could parry and thrust with the best of his university students. He seemed at once bemused and impressed by the students’ energy and fierce, no holds-barred intelligence.

During the seminar, special attention was paid to the singular contributions of Judaism to Western culture, not as a form of flattery to his audience but as a sober recognition that the Jewish people have always been the canary in the coal mine of Western culture, the intellectual dissidents in a sometimes decadent or barren intellectual world.

Last year, Scruton was subject to an all-too-familiar brand of character assassination, which resulted in his removal from a government commission under baseless and scurrilous accusations of anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry. All were subsequently retracted and apologized for. Gottlieb wrote to Scruton during his ordeal to offer moral support, and quotes here from the philosopher’s reply:

I do believe that these trials come to us also from God, and that we are schooled by them to re-examine our life, and to acknowledge the ways in which, and the extent to which, we have misused our love. I have been greatly encouraged to discover the extent of the friendship that has been offered to me as a result of this trial, and it has taught me to look with gratitude on the gifts that I have received.

Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Philo-Semitism, Philosophy, Yeshiva

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7