The Rabbi Who Tried to Cancel Maimonides—and Then Repented

The author of a much-studied, psychologically penetrating exposition on repentance, as well as important talmudic commentaries, Jonah ben Abraham of Girona (ca. 1200–1263) is known to posterity as Rabbeinu Yonah—not simply Rabbi Jonah, but our teacher Jonah. Tamar Marvin describes his legacy:

Rabbeinu Yonah is known for two seemingly contradictory habits of mind: the zeal of his public activity and the sincerity of his piety⁠. Often fêted with the appellation he-ḥasid, “the pious,” generally reserved in his period for the rare ascetic, mystic, or other such spiritually disciplined individual, Rabbeinu Yonah reversed his own highly public criticisms of Moses Maimonides with great humility. At the same time, he was an advocate of involvement in public affairs, exhorting householders to greater religious observance and railing against rampant sexual impropriety.

[As a young man], Yonah pursued a unique course of education. Despite his proud Sephardi lineage, a tradition in which he would largely work halachically, Rabbeinu Yonah sought his education in France. . . . While in Provence, Rabbeinu Yonah seems to have become involved in the currents of Kabbalah washing through the region. . . . The cross-pollination of tosafistic [i.e., of the French talmudic dialecticians of the school of Rashi] and kabbalistic modes of learning with Rabbeinu Yonah’s Sephardi background apparently encouraged his [own] creativity.

[Later in his life], Yonah was impelled to enter the contentious debate over Moses Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed at the behest of his teacher Rabbi Solomon of Montpellier. Often portrayed as a reactionary, Rabbi Solomon was in actuality, like most Provençal Jews, a moderate who displays great respect for Maimonides generally. Rabbeinu Yonah [proved] a worthy opponent for the Maimonidean loyalists.

This controversy over Maimonidean rationalism and Judaism’s proper relationship with Islamic and Greek philosophy would embroil much of Provençal (and Spanish) Jewry during the 13th century. According to some contemporary sources, Jonah would later regret his harsh condemnations of the Maimonideans, an experience that led him to produce his monumental study of repentance.

Read more at Stories from Jewish History

More about: Judaism, Moses Maimonides, Repentance, Sephardim

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