For Jews, Parenthood Is More Than a Lifestyle Choice

June 16 2021

After some writers have condemned the study of Jewish fertility and continuity as inherently demeaning to women, the scholar Mijal Bitton responded that such arguments not only ignore the fact that several important students of Jewish demographics are women, but also insult the choice of so many women to have children and families. Sarah Rindner contends that this argument concedes too much:

[R]educing such a core Jewish (and human) value as procreation to a matter of choice and agency is insufficient. While this intellectual move may solve a certain surface-level dilemma as far as squaring feminism with motherhood, it fails to account for the crucial place that childbearing and parenting has, for millennia, occupied in Jewish belief and practice, and the deep human potential that is unlocked when we bring new life into the world. Childbearing is the very first commandment Adam and Eve receive in Genesis. It forms a fundamental part of the blessings and responsibility entrusted to Abraham, whose very name derives from the Hebrew word meaning father, and it is the source of anxiety and promise throughout the Bible as a whole.

Reducing Jewish continuity to a matter of a parent’s choice also marginalizes the outcomes of these choices: children themselves.

In delineating the various people and parties who could conceivably be offended by a Jewish continuity agenda, Bitton [thus] leaves out the most important population of all: the future humans upon whom the entirety of civilization rests. It’s true that having children is physically and emotionally taxing, and undoubtedly the burdens are unequally distributed between sexes, at least for discrete periods in a child’s life. Some of these challenges can certainly be remedied; others are on a certain level inherent.

Far from just one just choice among many equally valid options, Jewish pro-natalism is a cornerstone of our belief system. Without Jewish children we would evaporate into ether, along with the groundbreaking and world-changing ideas we stand for.

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Read more at Sources Journal

More about: Children, Family, Hebrew Bible, Judaism

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter