For Religious Ritual to Confront Death, It Must Step Outside of Reason

In Numbers 19, read in synagogues this Sabbath, the Torah commands the ritual slaughter and incineration of a red cow, the ashes of which are then mixed with water and used for the ritual purification of anyone who has come into contact with a corpse. Paradoxically, the priest who prepares the ashes himself becomes ritually impure, and by reason of this paradox the talmudic sages held this rite up as the archetypal ok, a commandment that defies human reason. Jewish theologians over the centuries have offered various explanations as to why God would make such nonrational-seeming demands. Jonathan Sacks offers an explanation of his own:

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Read more at Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

More about: American Jewish Committee, Death, Numbers, Torah

Hamas and Fatah Compete by Shedding Jewish Blood

During the past four weeks, there has been a rash of violent attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank. These are not a response to any Israeli actions, nor are they spontaneous outbursts. Rather, as Itamar Marcus and Maurice Hirsch explain, the violence is the result of deliberate incitement by the Palestinian Authority (PA), which began when its president, Mahmoud Abbas, realized he was unlikely to win the upcoming national elections. The violence, write Marcus and Hirsch, was originally a way to win votes, and is now a way to maintain popularity after Abbas’s decision to postpone the elections in definitely:

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Read more at JNS

More about: Fatah, Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian terror