How “Paradise Lost” Brought the Values of Jerusalem to the Art of Athens

In his epic poem Paradise Lost, the 17th-century English poet and philosopher John Milton sought to retell the opening chapters of Genesis in the style of Homer and Vergil—needless to say, through a decidedly Calvinist lens. Dov Lerner, an Orthodox rabbi, explains what makes this poem so powerful:

All of his poetic predecessors, from classical Greece to Spenserian Britain, use words to paint pictures that celebrate war. But for Milton, war is simply unworthy. Despite his strenuous defense of regicide and his vindication of a parliamentary rebellion, he sees war as occasionally necessary, but rarely the province of nobility. Myths of monumental conflicts and tales of fights and feasts and steeds and knights are, in Milton’s words, “Not that which justly gives Heroic name to Person or to Poem.”

For Milton, true virtue is found not in the defeat of others but in the mastery of the self, not in armed conflict but in contesting temptation, in what he calls “the better fortitude of Patience.” And this alone is the proper subject of epic poetry. In book after book of Paradise Lost, . . . Milton dismantles the celebration of mortal combat so paradigmatic of Homer and Virgil—depicting belligerence as the blemish of the weak, and resilience as the sign of the strong.

Milton is the first, and in some ways the greatest, to turn the genre on its head, in ways that make his work not just brilliant, . . . but deeply biblical—and not simply as a consequence of its cast. As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks argues, . . . Judaism’s most important moral contribution to the West is “not the clash of titans on the field of battle, but the quiet inner drama of choice and will, restraint and responsibility.” And it is precisely this contribution that Milton absorbs, along with his Puritan peers, and sets at the epicenter of his poem.

Read more at Tradition

More about: Ancient Greece, Hebrew Bible, John Milton, Jonathan Sacks, Judaism

Why Saturday Was a Resounding Defeat for Iran

Yaakov Lappin provides a concise and useful overview of what transpired on Saturday. For him, the bottom line is this:

Iran and its jihadist Middle Eastern axis sustained a resounding strategic defeat. . . . The fact that 99 percent of the threats were intercepted means that a central pillar of Iranian force projection—its missile and UAV arsenals—has been proven to be no match for Israel’s air force, for its multilayered air-defense system, or for regional cooperation with allies.

Iran must now await Israel’s retaliation, and unlike Israel, Iranian air defenses are by comparison limited in scope. After its own failure on Sunday, Iran now relies almost exclusively on Hizballah for an ability to threaten Israel.

And even as Iran continues to work on developing newer and deadlier missiles, the IDF is staying a few steps ahead:

Israel is expecting its Iron Beam laser-interception system, which can shoot down rockets, mortars, and UAVs, to become operational soon, and is developing an interceptor (Sky Sonic) for Iran’s future hypersonic missile (Fattah), which is in development.

The Iron Beam will change the situation in a crucial way. Israell’s defensive response on Saturday reportedly cost it around $1 billion. While Iron Beam may have to be used in concert with other systems, it is far cheaper and doesn’t run the risk of running out of ammunition.

Read more at JNS

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Iron Dome, Israeli Security, Israeli technology