The Strange History of Meir the Miracle Maker

Today, on the Jewish calendar, is Pesach Sheni, which in the times of the Temples was the make-up date for those unable to bring the paschal sacrifice a month earlier. It is also, traditionally, the anniversary of the death of a legendary wonderworker named Rabbi Meir Ba’al ha-Nes, Meir the Master of the Miracle. Tamar Marvin writes:

Rabbi Meir Ba’al ha-Nes has become a popular, saintly figure, thought to be an intercessor on behalf of the needy, particularly for the finding of lost belongings.

Beginning in the 18th century, various hasidic groups established charitable foundations, some of which continue to the present, to raise funds on behalf of those in need in the Land of Israel; their collection boxes became near-ubiquitous in the later 19th century. Today you can buy a portrait of Rabbi Meir Ba’al ha-Nes on; read a graphic novel about him; or visit [a] semi-official website dedicated to Rabbi Meir or another devoted to his tomb. In times of need, giving charity and calling upon the God of Rabbi Meir to answer you three times is always a possibility; should one need to find a lost item, there is a special formula to say before invoking Rabbi Meir’s memory.

Who, then, is Rabbi Meir Ba’al ha-Nes? He is strongly and most commonly identified with the great, storied [2nd-century] Rabbi Meir, mentioned thousands of times on the pages of the Talmuds, the consummate sage, disciple of Rabbi Ishmael and especially Rabbi Akiva, ordained under threat of death, . . . as well as the descendant of the late-converted Roman emperor Nero, the student of the notorious talmudic heretic Elisha ben Avuyah, and the husband of the exceptionally learned Bruriah.

Read more at Stories from Jewish History

More about: Hasidism, Judaism, Rabbis

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