How a Comic-Book Version of the Haggadah Reveals an Enduring Truth about the Exodus

April 17 2020

This Passover, Mark Gottlieb brought with him to the seder the Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel, which presents the classic text in comic-book format. One particular illustration led him to new insights into the Haggadah’s invocation of the prophecy in Genesis 15, where God tells Abraham that his descendants will be slaves in foreign land. Thanks to this volume’s layout, Gottlieb came to appreciate the connection between the citation of this passage and the declaration that “it was not only one man who rose up to destroy us: in every single generation people rise up to destroy us—but the Holy One saves us from their hands.”

[God’s] promise of both oppression and redemption was not merely a one-time occurrence, an oath to Abraham exhausted by the Exodus from Egypt, never to be repeated. No, this was a perennial promise, with elements of painful oppression and beatific salvation, made to the Jewish people for all time. Egypt is not a relic of ancient history, [an] event to be realized at one particular time and place but no more.

What kind of deity can make such a promise, one not only of raw power but of timeless and loving empathy? Surely no god the world had seen before Abraham’s family arrived on the historical scene. At Moses’ first encounter with God on Mount Horeb, there’s no getting around this question: . . . “Behold, when I come to the Children of Israel and say to them, the God of your forefathers has sent me to you, and they say to me, What is His Name?—what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13).

This is God’s answer to Moses’s request: “I Shall Be as I Shall Be. And He said, So Shall you say to the Children of Israel, I Shall Be has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). . . . [T]he God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is not only historical, . . . but insists on His loving relationship with His firstborn child (Exodus 4:22) and, by His identity as a transhistorical Creator, with all His creatures through empathy and engagement, throughout time. As the 11th-century, French exegete Rashi puts it, “The Divine Name ‘I Shall Be’ suggests His relationship to the sufferer, ‘I shall be with them in this sorrow as I shall be with them in other sorrows.’” This is precisely the kind of loving God of compassion and constancy foreshadowed [in Abraham’s prophecy] and annually reconfirmed at seder tables around the world.

Read more at Public Discourse

More about: Abraham, Exodus, Haggadah, Hebrew Bible

Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

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