Debating the Divine Origins of the Torah

In the anthology The Revelation at Sinai: What Does “Torah from Heaven” Mean?, the philosopher Yoram Hazony criticizes the attempts of some Jewish theologians to reconcile traditional notions of revelation with academic theories about the origins and composition of Scripture—including a doctrine sometimes called “unfolding” or “progressive” revelation. Tamar Ross responds to Hazony’s brief engagement with her own ideas of “cumulative revelation,” and explains what makes them distinct:

Although successive hearings of the Torah may appear to contradict the original message of Moses at Sinai, that message is never replaced. It always remains as the rock-bottom cultural-linguistic filter through which new “hearings” are understood. Thus, it is the potential meaning, rather than wording, of the Torah attributed to the original revelation at Sinai that is constantly being unfolded, via the changing cultural contexts to which it is exposed.

Jewish traditionalists following Maimonides and his interest in protecting the supremacy and inviolability of Mosaic law from the upheaval of further claims to prophetic inspiration have never denied the possibility of discovering new meanings in the text. They differ from the cumulativists simply in their preference for attributing recognition of the text’s manifold interpretive possibilities solely to the work of the scholars of every generation, who can and do uncover more of its original meaning without the benefit of divine intervention.

Thus . . . my preference for describing new ideas as “revealed” rather than “uncovered,” no less than earlier manifestations of this trend in the Talmud and in the tradition of the Tosafists and their followers, does not rest on differences of opinion regarding the centrality of Moses and Sinai, but rather on alternative religious sensibilities regarding the manner in which God interacts with the world, which—in ḥasidic writing and the thought of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook—are extended even further to notions regarding the spiritual significance of history and the development of the human spirit.

Read more at Lehrhaus

More about: Judaism, Torah


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