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Israel at War

From the February 2024 Print Edition

In reading this intelligent, useful, and timely book, I was reminded of the challenges I and some of my fellow students encountered back in the Vietnam era. Our intention was to get invited to various synagogues where we could present Jewish law perspectives on the morality and practice of war. The . . . . Continue Reading »

Calendar as Catechism

From the April 2022 Print Edition

The Jewish calendar is the Jewish catechism: So said the -nineteenth-century German champion of Jewish Orthodoxy, Samson R. Hirsch, and with good reason. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Passover: Despite differences in theology and observance, most Jews, even those who are not well-versed in the entire . . . . Continue Reading »

Food For Two Meals

From the December 2021 Print Edition

Philosophers are supposed to be doubters. When we think of ­Socrates, the patron saint and martyr of philosophy, we usually fix on the early Platonic dialogues, which depict him as a man who defended no positive doctrine but was such a nuisance with his doubt-inducing questions that the guardians . . . . Continue Reading »

Storming the Barricades

From the May 2021 Print Edition

As the bicentennial of the United States Constitution was approaching in 1989, Michael Kammen published a book about its place in American culture—A Machine That Would Go of Itself. At the time, proud Americans passionately embraced their faith in the perfection of the country’s founding . . . . Continue Reading »

Bread of Poverty

From the April 2021 Print Edition

In the Bible, the week-long holiday of Passover is ­usually called the festival of unleavened bread (matzot). During those seven days (eight, outside of Israel) Jews refrain from leavened bread and divest themselves of it. Clear as this obligation may be, the basis of these laws is presented . . . . Continue Reading »

Passionate Men

From the February 2021 Print Edition

Among Christians, anger is one of the seven deadly sins. For Jews, too, it is a major vice. Contemporary secular culture also takes a negative view. It commonly views anger as something to be controlled if not extirpated, if only because it disrupts social life and interferes with the smooth . . . . Continue Reading »