The Code of Jewish Law Celebrates a Milestone

Next year will mark the 450th anniversary of the death of Joseph Karo (1488–1575), author of the code of Jewish law known as the Shulhan Arukh (literally, “The Set Table”). Prior to its publication, there were several important works that tried to systematize the unwieldly corpus of talmudic jurisprudence, and there have been many more since. But this book carefully synthesizes its predecessors, and every one of its successors is on some level a commentary on the Shulhan Arukh, conferring upon it a uniquely authoritative status. Menachem Wecker writes:

Karo, whose name is variously spelled in English, was born in Spain. Four years after his birth year, Spain expelled its Jewish population, and Karo’s family fled to Turkey. Some 34 years later, he moved to Israel, settling in Safed, the city associated with Jewish mysticism and the Kabbalah.

Like other major Sephardi rabbis, Karo had his feet planted firmly in both Jewish ritual law—halakhah—and Kabbalah.

Karo’s work has been cited in multiple amicus curiae briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. Edward Fram, a professor of history at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev . . . told JNS that Karo’s work remains timely “due to his scholarship, which is not to be underestimated, but no less significantly, because his work became a springboard for further discussion of the law, much of it in the margins of the printed text.”

Read more at JNS

More about: Halakhah, Judaism, Shulhan Arukh

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy