What Jewish Marriage Laws Teach about the Meaning of Holiness

Last week, thousands of Jews around the world following the daily regimen of Talmud study known as daf yomi completed the tractate of Kiddushin, whose name means “betrothals,” or, more literally, “sanctifications.” Dovid Bashevkin explains the ritual—perhaps better described as a legal transaction—that is the tractate’s focus, and why the Talmud devotes so much space to it while ignoring the actual marriage ceremony almost entirely:

The very name kiddushin, the Talmud explains, derives from the term k’dushah, [sanctity]. Marriage is an act of holiness, and the source of the holiness is from the preparation, the designation, the sanctification prior to the actual marriage. . . .

The first occurrence of the word holy in the Torah is in reference to Shabbat. And the holiness of Shabbat itself is an exercise in preparation. “Whoever prepares before Shabbat, eats on Shabbat,” the Talmud reminds. Holiness means to be set apart, removed, deliberate. Profane means uncared for, careless, and messy. A commitment to holiness is a commitment to the deliberate, intentional, routinized acts that ultimately pave the way for the experience of holiness itself. Moments of spirituality, ecstasy, even intimacy, do not provide long-lasting holiness without the preparation for those experiences.

Spirituality without religious preparation will never yield a life of sustained holiness.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Jewish marriage, Judaism, Talmud

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.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy