The Modern Orthodox Hasidic Revival, Its Predecessors, and Its Discontents

In the early-to-mid 20th century, the Jewish thinkers Martin Buber, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Hillel Zeitlin constituted what Shai Secunda terms a “neo-ḥasidic triumvirate,” all of whom to one extent or another stood outside of Ḥasidism, but sought to draw on its ideas to address the challenges of modern Jewish life. In the 1960s and 70s, they were followed by a second triumvirate of the mystical guru Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the charismatic musician Shlomo Carlebach, and the scholar Arthur Green, who focused less on abstract ideas and more on Ḥasidism’s ecstatic and experiential tendencies. Secunda also writes of a third wave of neo-Ḥasidim, which include the popular American therapist and podcaster Rabbi Joey Rosenfeld and the late Israeli talmudist Rabbi Shimon Gershon Rosenberg, whose main goal is to use ḥasidic vibrancy to breathe new life into Modern Orthodoxy. In a review of several works, Secunda describes a series of talks Rosenfeld gave at a New Jersey synagogue:

His subject, the Sabbath, couldn’t have been more familiar, but he approached it from an unexpected angle, speaking of it as the “death of the week.” Rosenfeld invoked well-known rabbinic sources, which he read in conversation with the striking formulations of the Zohar, ḥasidic teachings, and Naḥman of Bratslav’s tales. He also made reference to Western literature—but it wasn’t Shakespeare or Kant, but Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. The final talk of the weekend was a postmodern mashup titled “The Redemption of Doubt” that riled a few in the audience, especially those still loyal to Yeshiva University’s litvishe (Lithuanian) rationalism. What, some unsympathetic congregants wondered, was this wild rumpus all about?

In his podcasts, Rosenfeld returns again and again to themes of divine concealment and paradox, faith and doubt, anxiety and depression, joy, desire, and self-realization. Remarkably, this somewhat Kierkegaardian list is not a course of angst-ridden hurdles to be overcome, or at least contained, by the behavioral certainties of Jewish law. Rather, it reflects a divine reality in which these supposed negatives are accorded a position within God.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Abraham Joshua Heschel, Hasidism, Martin Buber, Modern Orthodoxy, Shlomo Carlebach


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