An oft cited talmudic adage states that, “in the place where those who have repented of their sins (ba’aley t’shuvah) stand, even the completely righteous do not stand.” In a 1969 lecture, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik explains why this is so, drawing on another talmudic anecdote, about a student who—after the death of his teacher—performs the ritual rending of his garments (kri’ah) twice: once at the funeral, and the other after he realizes he can no longer ask his mentor a simple question about saying the blessing (b’rakhah) over bread. (Yiddish with English subtitles. Audio, 17 minutes.)
Why One Who Repents Can Be Greater Than One Who Never Sinned in the First Place
To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran
Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:
American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.
Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:
The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.
Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.
Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.