A Great Scholar’s Lost Introduction to the Thought of Maimonides

In 1963, a new translation of the medieval Jewish philosopher and halakhist Moses Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed, rendered into Arabic from English by Shlomo Pines, with a seminal introduction by the political scientist Leo Strauss. The late orientalist S.D. Goitein—who did more than anyone to bring to light and interpret the treasure of the Cairo Genizah, and thus to illuminate the world in which Maimonides lived—wrote a review of the translation, recently made available online with an introduction by Warren Zev Harvey, in Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent. In his review, Goitein sums up the book’s aim:

The Guide—we should remember—was intended to give an answer to the questions of the perplexed not of our own time, but of those of the 12th century. At that time there were many educated Jews who had studied the sciences and Greek philosophy and were also versed in the Bible and post-biblical Jewish writings. Such people were very much disturbed by the obvious discrepancies between rational thinking and many passages in the Hebrew scriptures. Maimonides’ first aim was the demonstration of the rationality of the Jewish religion. For, according to him, religion is not a faith opposed to rational thinking, but represents the highest form of rational thinking itself.

However, it would be entirely erroneous to assume that Maimonides solely intended to restore the “peace of mind” to the Jewish intellectuals of his time. Maimonides’ ultimate goal was the guidance of the select few to the highest possible level of spirituality the human mind is able to attain.

It was not only moral perfection, utmost justice, and lovingkindness in relation to our fellowmen, which was postulated by Maimonides. This, according to him, was only a preparatory stage, to be complemented by the struggle for spiritual perfection, the constant pursuit of a life with God.

This insistence on incessant striving for one’s own perfection is an ideal valid for all times.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Cairo Geniza, Jewish Thought, Judaism, Moses Maimonides


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security