A British Jew Finds Law and Spirit in Beekeeping

Sept. 19 2023

During the recent festival of Rosh Hashanah, Jews dipped bread and apples in honey to usher in a sweet year; some continue to eat bread with honey until the end of the fall cycle of holidays. A London Jew named David Roth has, since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, been cultivating the substance himself, and has come to see his hobby in religious terms. Honey and its production also have a unique place in Jewish law. For instance, it  is the only kosher food derived from a non-kosher animal. Cnaan Lidor writes:

“I’m a religious person; I don’t believe that the world was created by accident. And when you see the wonders of how bees work and operate, it makes you feel good about God,” [said] Roth, who uses the beeswax candles for Havdalah, the prayer ritual performed at the end of Shabbat.

As a religion with deep agricultural roots, Judaism has a well-documented approach to apiculture, encompassing both the keeper’s responsibility toward their bees and detailing the legal complications that can occur when a swarm leaves its hive. Beekeeping is one of the few situations when children can serve as witnesses according to halakhah: . . . if a child testifies that a swarm originated in an owner’s beehive, then the swarm can be returned to the owner based on his testimony.

Another rare exception, which attests to the significance that beekeeping had before humans learned to mass-produce sugar: bee owners may trespass—a big deal in Judaism—to retrieve escaped or errant bee swarms. They may even cut down branches of other people’s trees—another big deal—but are obliged to compensate the land’s owner for any damage they cause.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: British Jewry, Halakhah, Judaism, Rosh Hashanah

Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy