Around the year 200 CE, Rabbi Judah, the head of the Sanhedrin or rabbinic high court, compiled a vast number of rabbinic teachings into a work known as the Mishnah. The Talmud, composed centuries later, is structured as a commentary on this text. As Shaye Cohen explains in conversation with J.J. Kimche, the Mishnah lacks any sort of introduction, is impenetrable to anyone not already familiar with the rudiments of Jewish law, and cannot be understood as history, theology, or even as a legal code. Cohen discusses what can be known about this work, and why it was without precedent in the history of Judaism. (Audio, 68 minutes.)
In the 3rd Century, Rabbis Composed the Text That Would Become the Basis of the Talmud. Why?
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.