The picture on the front cover of Safta's Diaries (translated and edited by Shera Aranoff Tuchman, published by Ktav) is of a beautiful, strong woman. The photographer caught her in a quiet moment: she is sitting on a tall horse; the reins are in her right hand, the pommel of the saddle under her left hand; she appears ready to lead the charge against any challenge that might come.
Next month I am due to participate in a London debate on the question: Is it OK for Jews to criticize Israel? One of my opponents is a leader of the Peace Now movement who, in a previous debate about the UK's academic boycott, steered the discussion to his own army service (as an IDF spokesman, no less) and promptly branded Israeli border guards as "paramilitary thugs."
Last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedlyallowed about 800 Egyptian troops to deploy around Sharm el-Sheikh at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.
They all warned us. The geniuses at Peace Now. The brilliant diplomats. The think tanks. Even the Arab dictators warned us. For decades now, they have been warning us that if you want "peace in the Middle East," just fix the Palestinian problem. A recent variation on this theme has been: Just get the Jews in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to "freeze" their construction, and then, finally, Palestinian leaders might come to the table and peace might break out.
Several days ago, Hebron's police chief showed up at the home of Rabbi Dov Lior, chief rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba. The officer informed Rabbi Lior that an arrest warrant had been issued. Should the rabbi agree to be interrogated, the warrant would be cancelled. On the spot Rabbi Lior responded, telling him that such questioning represented a "disgrace to the honor of the Torah" and that he would not cooperate with such humiliation.
Is it not amazing that it's taken the news media this long to discover that Ronald Reagan was a role model? While he lived and even after he died, they shot every arrow and dropped every bomb they could on this man and his reputation.
The uprising in Egypt that looks like it may sweep away President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year-old regime threatens to deprive Israel of its most important strategic ally in the region.
Much has been said of the revelations known as "PaliLeaks" - the release to the public by Al Jazeera of thousands of confidential peace process-related Palestinian documents. The ensuing discourse has largely focused on the details of "this" or the ramifications of "that," and whether the alleged concessions offered by the Palestinian Authority to Israel in past negotiations - including its purported inclination to divide Jerusalem, forgo the Palestinian "right of return" and recognize Israel's legitimacy - were in fact genuine, a ploy, or altogether fabricated.
I once asked my parents why they had named me Chana Malka, and they responded: "We didn't, the rabbis named you." For the longest time, I chose to be content with that answer, but then again, for the longest time I chose to be content with my assumed religious identity, and never felt the need to examine either subject too closely. I am the daughter of two loving parents, a non-Jewish mother and a Jewish father.
It comes as no surprise that in a world where many neglect the importance of community, iPhones, iPods, and iPads constantly and consistently appear as the trendiest gadgets. These devices represent a culture that desires to deconstruct the power and purpose of community, placing all importance on the needs of the individual.
There has been a bizarre, unfortunate and hurtful conversation taking place in the public domain (including every imaginable forum) regarding the halachic viewpoint on brain death.
Shortly after Sarah Palin provoked a barrage of criticism for her use of the term "blood libel," a Democratic congressman named Steve Cohen compared Republican statements about the Obama health care reform to "the big lie" told by Joseph Goebbels, saying it's "like [a] blood libel. The same kind of thing."
In the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Tucson, "civility" is the word on everyone's lips. This is ironic when one considers that civility is nowhere to be found in anyone's actions. Each partisan faction is charging the other with hatred and violence.
The recent release of additional Nixon White House presidential documents and tapes produced the usual response. As has become customary, brief excerpts of the tapes - excerpts that invariably show President Nixon and members of his administration in the most unflattering light possible - are pulled from the reams of material and hours of conversations and given broad coverage in the media.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Yale Professor Amy Chua - "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" - has inflamed passions across the country. The blogosphere is ablaze while The New York Times, Newsweek, Time and hundreds of other news outlets have run articles and often angry opinion pieces debating the wisdom of Chua's authoritarian - some argue abusive - parenting tactics.
You will be excused if you have not been following the debate over proposals to demand that sources of funding for political parties and activist groups be revealed.
As I see it, in the current battle for public opinion Sarah Palin has defeated her harsh and unfair critics. After the January 8 shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of six others in Tucson, Arizona, some television talking heads and members of the blogosphere denounced her and held her in part responsible for creating a climate of hatred that resulted in the mass attacks.
The world likes to believe that threats to Israel's security by its neighbors are the country's greatest concern. The narrative of two ancient peoples in one Holy Land fighting for their place in the world is a great story and leads to an uncanny number of headlines, the expenditure of a relatively large percentage of the UN's energy and resources, and more divisive discussions and actions than are devoted to other - much bloodier - conflicts, such as those in the Congo and Sudan.
The White House was misled by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. And that does not surprise me. Publicly, the White House is saying that nothing in the relationship between Barak, who just this week left the Labor Party to form a new political faction, and the administration has changed. Privately, the White House is expressing disappointment, frustration and even anger.
"Whoeverhas mercy on cruel people will in the end act cruelly to merciful people." So the Midrash deduces from the story of Shaul HaMelech - King Saul. When commanded to kill out the wicked nation of Amalek, the king had mercy on its monarch, Agag, sparing his life. As evidence that Saul eventually acted with cruelty to merciful people, the Gemara quotes the Navi that years later Saul showed no such compassion when he killed out an entire city of Kohanim because they had given shelter to his nemesis David.