TRADITION QUESTIONS breaks from its usual format this week so Chaim Strauchler, reporting on his recent visit to Israel as part of an OU and RCA Rabbinic Mission, can focus on one of the biggest questions facing the Jewish world: In light of the crisis facing the State of Israel, and the apparent flourishing of Jewish unity—what is the most authentic form of such national unity that will most likely be long lasting?
Writing from the Gaza front, Rabbi Avraham Stav considers words that lead men into battle from the Bible and Maimonides to Tolkien and Churchill. The charge to the troops must animate their fighting spirit and offer faith and trust in the ideals for which they risk their lives. In the current war, what gives Stav strength is not so much the knowledge that God is fighting for us, but that we are fighting for Him. In this war we are aware that there are values greater and higher than life itself.
The family of R. Benny Kalmanzon, Rosh Yeshiva at Otniel, has known far too much loss, tragedy, and suffering—in the years leading up to this war and especially in the past month. After his son was killed in battle on Simhat Torah, R. Benny spoke with Makor Rishon, and what he says from within his mourning is noteworthy, impressive, and instructive. Yitzchak Blau shares what he learned from R. Benny’s quiet, heroic response.
In the aftermath of the 5784 Simhat Torah pogrom, a religious thinker cannot help but ask “Where was God?” Aton Holzer outlines the problem, rejects popular approaches, and demonstrates that ancient Jewish sources validate and even encourage the question. A second, related matter: How can we be assured that our own religious tradition never could perpetrate what radical Islam has wrought upon us?