The Emotional Experience of Yom Kippur

In his writings and lectures, Joseph B. Soloveitchik, one of the greatest rabbinic minds of the last century, often contrasted the rational and experiential aspects of religiosity. He begins with this contrast in this 1976 High Holy Day sermon, reminiscing about the awe and ecstasy he witnessed praying on Yom Kippur with his older relatives and teachers in prewar Europe. Key moments of the liturgy—such as the description of the priests and people falling to their knees in reverence when the high priest uttered the ineffable name of God during the Temple service—produced, according to Soloveitchik, profound feelings that even the most adept teacher cannot transmit to his students.

Yet, he argues, a careful analysis of the minutiae of the law (halakhah) can serve as a way to reconnect with this lost sense of religious enthusiasm, as he demonstrates in the second part of the lecture. (Video, ten minutes. Yiddish with English subtitles.)

Read more at Ohr Publishing

More about: Halakhah, Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Judaism, Yom Kippur

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy