The Death of Moses and the Limits of Human Perfectibility

In conversation with Mark Gerson, William Kristol—after reminiscing about the golden age of New York City sports—discusses Deuteronomy 34:10, the antepenultimate verse of the Torah: “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” Among much else, Kristol finds therein wisdom about the limits of human perfectibility: even Moses, this incomparably great man, died disappointed, unable due to his own failings to enter the promised land. The two also discuss as Moses’ singular act the smashing of the tablets, traditionally commemorated today, on the fast of the seventeenth of the month Tammuz. (Audio, 29 minutes.)


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Read more at The Rabbi's Husband

More about: Deuteronomy, Hebrew Bible, Moses, Sports

 

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform