Abraham’s Quarrel with God

In this week’s Torah reading of Vayera, Abraham forcefully expresses his objections to God’s plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Their extended negotiation is, by the standards of the Hebrew Bible, a lengthy piece of dialogue. Through a close reading of the passage, Sruli Fruchter tries to uncover some of its significance. He also notes the interpretive problem that stems from Rabbi Abraham Isaac ha-Kohen Kook’s comment, echoed by other important sages, that “it is necessary that prayer be clean of any idea of changing will and affecting response in God’s law.”

What Rabbi Kook writes . . . unequivocally contradicts the story of Sodom. Abraham prayed for Sodom. He explicitly sought to change God’s will. He hoped to change God’s decree. Kook’s words apparently attribute his actions to the “destruction of the order of man’s perfection.” For Kook, to suggest that one can “better” God by proposing new suggestions or demanding new realities is tantamount to heresy, for it essentially depends on denying God’s omniscience: if one’s argument and plea is “new information” to God, then He cannot be all-knowing, and if God already knows one’s forthcoming words, then God already accounted for them. The first case denies God, and the second case denies prayer.

Prayer, then, as Samson Raphael Hirsch, Kook, and others write elsewhere, is an exercise of self-transformation, the realization of God’s highest ideals within the praying human.

While the face of Sodom’s trial appears a parry of equals, of God and human, its reality conveys a truth of human prayer. To face injustice and open the siddur is to yearn for God’s ideals of righteousness, compassion, and justice. Abraham’s grappling with God—his outrage over collective punishment, his indignation at divine wrongdoing, his recusal to humility, and his concession to reality—can be likened to the inner currents of one’s mind during prayer.

Read more at Lehrhaus

More about: Abraham, Abraham Isaac Kook, Genesis, Prayer, Sodom


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security