Jewish Thought and History

Jewish Thought and History

Is Liberal Zionism Dead?

Steven Gotlib reviews Shaul Magid’s new, provocative book about a contemplated “counter-Zionist” future for Israel.

Separation of Powers and Majority Rule: Insights from the Talmud, Maimonides, Spinoza, and Mendelssohn

This article was written and accepted for publication in the summer of 5783/2023 and scheduled to appear after the holidays. Because of the outbreak of Israel’s “Iron Swords” war with Ḥamas following the murderous attack on Israel on Shabbat/Simḥat Torah (7 October, 2023), we agreed that publication needed to be postponed. Now, five months into the war with no end in sight, we are nevertheless witness to renewed political tensions, public demonstrations, disagreements and paralysis in appointing judges and the President of the Supreme Court, together with resumption of talk of the “judicial reform.” Despite the continuing tragedy of the war in the south and warfare in the north, a review of how our sources treat the separation of powers and majority rule may help us avoid repeating some of the mistakes of the pre-war political and ideological divisions in Israel and contribute to a more reasoned consideration of the issues.

Insanity and Hope

Warren Zev Harvey reflects on the pain and fear of Israel’s current moment, finding unexpected hope in R. Joseph Kaspi’s anti-deterministic theory of history. The essay was originally published in Hebrew and translated by the author.

Character And Covenant

Ben Frogel reviews a new volume that introduces thirty-five different Jewish approaches to virtue ethics and attempts to link them into one continuous tradition.

Jewish Theology For a Neo-Traditional Age

Steven Gotlib reviews Yehuda (Jerome) Gellman’s book on neo-traditional Jewish theology.

Philo of Alexandria and the Soul of the Torah

Philo of Alexandria may rightly be called the first systematic Jewish philosopher, yet for many centuries his work was totally unknown to Jewish audiences. Dovid Cambpell argues for his continued relevance to modern Judaism.

Diaspora Identity in the Wake of October 7th

Historian Malka Simkovich explores ancient diasporic responses to collective trauma and what they can tell us about our responses to the aftermath of October 7th.

Letter To The Editor: Responses To Tzvi Goldstein On Centrist Orthodoxy And Haredi Orthodoxy

Tzvi Goldstein's recent piece on Centrist and Haredi Orthodoxy has generated many responses from our readers. Today we present two stimulating letters by R.A. Alpert and Yaakov Resnik, who examine Goldstein's analysis from the perspectives of Hirschian Torah im Derekh Eretz and his analysis of the underpinnings of the Haredi hashkafa, respectively.

“Lu Yehi”: Between Fragility and Hope

In this thoughtful essay, Cypess reflects on the melody that is carrying Israel in the wake of October 7th.

There Are No Lights in War: We Need a Different Religious Language

A growing list of dati le’umi leaders and thinkers frame war as a desirable state and even an opportunity for spiritual elevation. Religious Israeli activist Ariel Shwartz traces this trend with alarm and argues that it contradicts deep-rooted Torah values. Translated by Mordechai Blau.