Why the Talmud Considered the Translation of Scripture a Reason to Mourn

Tomorrow is the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tevet, a fast day that commemorates the beginning of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 587 BCE. Originally, the two preceding days were also days of fasting. While the reasons for the fast of 9 Tevet are shrouded in mystery, the fast of 8 Tevet (in Yiddish, khes Teyves) mourns the composition of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible produced in the 3rd or 2nd century BCE—according to legend, by a group of 70 Jewish elders. In the ancient world, the Septuagint made the Tanakh accessible to Greek-speaking Jews, such as the Alexandrian philosopher Philo, as well as to Gentiles—early Christians among them.

The fast of 8 Tevet was a subject of particular fascination to Rabbi Moses Schreiber (a/k/a the Chasam Sofer), a sage of tremendous erudition and an early pioneer of Orthodoxy, who spent much effort combating the early phases of Reform Judaism and the inroads of modernity. Elli Fischer—a translator of Hebrew books by profession—discusses the history of this day, and why it held such attraction to Schreiber. (Audio, 46 minutes.)

Read more at Down the Rabbi Hole

More about: Hebrew Bible, Moses Schreiber, Septuagint, Tenth of Tevet, Translation


Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria