A British Jew Finds Law and Spirit in Beekeeping

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

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy