Allan Bloom On Modesty and What It Means to Be Human

In the past half-century, the subject of modesty (in Hebrew, tsni’ut), and, in particular, feminine modesty, has become a major preoccupation in some Orthodox circles, and a major flashpoint for intra-Orthodox debate. Reviewing a collection of writings on the subject, Sarah Rindner turns to an unlikely source: the scholar of political theory Allan Bloom:

For Bloom modesty does not erase sexuality but quite the opposite. It relates to the life force, to our potential as human beings to procreate and generate life. By extending the existence of sexual differentiation to every aspect of life, tsni’ut reminds both men and women of their ultimate purpose in relation to one another. A woman wearing a skirt in an environment where everyone else is wearing slacks is not necessarily expressing her interiority, her dignity, or her commitment to Judaism, [as various apologists for tsni’ut contend]. She is also simply reminding herself and others that she is a woman, and there are some things that are more important than productivity in the marketplace.

The fact that modesty in practice is uncomfortable, unfair, and imbalanced is not a quirk of the system but a feature. While a complete absence of modesty might make sexual gratification easier to attain in the short term, it ultimately serves to deflate eros and desire. In a world that seeks to reduce our sexual interactions to the most banal transactions, the strictures of modesty remind us of their potency and power.

Read more at Tradition

More about: Allan Bloom, Modesty, Orthodoxy

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7