What Does It Mean to Say That “God Is One”? And How Are We Supposed to Love Him?

Recited twice-daily by observant Jews, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 begins with the famous, “Hear O Israel the Lord is Your God the Lord is One,” and continues with the commandments to love God, to teach “these words” to one’s children, and to preserve them through ritual. Straightforward though it may seem, this passage is filled with ambiguities, from the question of whether to read the opening words as “the Lord is One” or “the Lord alone” to the meaning of loving the Deity. Jon D. Levenson explores these ambiguities in conversation with Rony Kozman and Will Kynes. They then turn to the remainder of Deuteronomy 6, and then to Deuteronomy 10. (Video, 68 minutes. To listen on the web or in podcast form, click on the link below.)

Read more at Two Testaments

More about: Deuteronomy, Hebrew Bible, Sh'ma


Israel Can’t Stake Its Fate on “Ironclad” Promises from Allies

Israeli tanks reportedly reached the center of the Gazan city of Rafah yesterday, suggesting that the campaign there is progressing swiftly. And despite repeatedly warning Jerusalem not to undertake an operation in Rafah, Washington has not indicated any displeasure, nor is it following through on its threat to withhold arms. Even after an IDF airstrike led to the deaths of Gazan civilians on Sunday night, the White House refrained from outright condemnation.

What caused this apparent American change of heart is unclear. But the temporary suspension of arms shipments, the threat of a complete embargo if Israel continued the war, and comments like the president’s assertion in February that the Israeli military response has been “over the top” all call into question the reliability of Joe Biden’s earlier promises of an “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security. Douglas Feith and Ze’ev Jabotinsky write:

There’s a lesson here: the promises of foreign officials are never entirely trustworthy. Moreover, those officials cannot always be counted on to protect even their own country’s interests, let alone those of others.

Israelis, like Americans, often have excessive faith in the trustworthiness of promises from abroad. This applies to arms-control and peacekeeping arrangements, diplomatic accords, mutual-defense agreements, and membership in multilateral organizations. There can be value in such things—and countries do have interests in their reputations for reliability—but one should be realistic. Commitments from foreign powers are never “ironclad.”

Israel should, of course, maintain and cultivate connections with the United States and other powers. But Zionism is, in essence, about the Jewish people taking responsibility for their own fate.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship