For Jews, the End Is Never the End

This past weekend Jews celebrated Shmini Atseret—the Eighth Day of Assembly—which concludes the weeks-long season of sacred days. According to an oft-cited parable explaining this holiday’s meaning, it represents God’s request that the Jewish people stay one extra day before “departing” from their extended “holiday visit.” Chaim Steinmetz subjects this parable to some scrutiny:

[H]ow will staying one more day make it easier to say goodbye? The problem of saying goodbye will come back the next day! [Rather], I think this Midrash is making a different point. By staying one more day beyond the end, we have demonstrated a significant truth: the end is not the end. With an extra day, the last day of Sukkot is no longer the last day of Sukkot. Shmini Atseret is actually an attack on the very notion of endings.

And Jews don’t believe in endings. Our notion of time is founded on the understanding that a timeless Being created the world; therefore, a concept of time with rigid beginnings and ends is impossible. For those whose greatest aspiration is to have an experience of the infinite, the constraints of time, with its beginnings and ends have a very different meaning.

In the Diaspora, Shmini Atseret is a two-day holiday; the second day, known as Simḥat Torah (Rejoicing of the Torah), also connects to the holiday’s significance, according to Steinmetz:

On Simḥat Torah we will be concluding our yearly reading of the Torah; yet immediately, almost compulsively, we must start reading the first book of the Torah, the book of Genesis, again. The Torah might have a final chapter but it has no end. We will return, and return again and again, to the Torah.

Jewish history also has no end. Jews have refused to accept the dignified burial that so many demanded of us. We have managed to survive, revive, and thrive, to the confusion of the pundits and the frustration of our enemies. Every time it looked like there was an end to Jewish history, there was a new beginning, even more remarkable than the previous one.

Read more at Happiness Warrior

More about: Jewish holidays, Judaism, Simhat Torah, Sukkot

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

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