How the Prophets Understood the Relationship between Ritual and Ethics

“‘What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?’ says the Lord, . . . . ‘I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats,’” states the opening chapter of Isaiah—expressing a sentiment also echoed by the prophets Jeremiah and Amos. To some, such passages express a worldview that elevates ethics while giving little consideration to ritual. But, argues Jeremiah Unterman, this reading constitutes a fundamental misunderstading of the text, employing a distinction that meant little to biblical authors. The prophets, as Unterman explains, rejected not ritual or sacrifice, but a pagan view of a deity who could easily be bought off with gifts of “food.” (Video, one hour. To listen in podcast form, click here.)

Read more at Uri L'Tzedek

More about: Hebrew Bible, Jewish ethics, Prophets, Sacrifice

Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria