Noting that “the number of outstanding chess players who are Jewish is stunning,” and drawing on Gary Kasparov’s How Life Imitates Chess and last Sabbath’s Torah reading of Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9), David Wolpe observes that the game of chess can teach important lessons about personal responsibility, humility, and much else. (Video, 11 minutes.)
The Jewish Ethical Lessons of Chess
Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated
The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”
In particular, Berkowitz argues,
to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.
In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.
Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.