The Tikvah Podcast

In this podcast Eric Cohen and Rabbi Meir Soloveichik speak about two artistic geniuses whose works highlight Jews’ humanity, on the one hand, and other-worldliness, on the other. These two sides of the Jewish people—at once part of the human race and God’s chosen people—comprise Jews’ inherently dialectical nature, Soloveichik argues.

Framed by Soloveichik’s recent essay, “Rembrandt’s Great Jewish Painting” (Mosaic, June 2016), the discussion begins with an exploration of the great Dutch painter’s beautiful efforts to depict the humanity of Jews and the Jewishness of biblical scenes. Particular attention is given to Rembrandt’s great painting of Moses receiving the Luchot, which answers and corrects Michaelangelo’s Moses.

In contrast, it is the miraculous nature of the Jewish people, rather than their humanity, that J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings brings out, as Soloveichik argues in “The Secret Jews of the Hobbit” (Commentary, August 2016). Secular and American Jews are uncomfortable with this side of their identity and Soloveichik thinks they can learn something important from the Catholic author’s presentation of the Jewish people as a miraculous people—a trait that remains true today.

The discussion culminates in an exploration of the unique role art can play in understanding and presenting the divine.

Direct download: Meir_Soloveichik_Podcast_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:21pm EDT

Britain’s June 23 referendum on independence was the most important vote in a democratic nation in a generation, Yoram Hazony argues in “Nationalism and the Future of Western Freedom,” his September 2016 Mosaic essay. Its outcome, in favor of an exit from the EU, provoked fear, outrage, and despair in elite opinion in both Europe and the United States. At the same time, however, the re-emergence of an independent Britain has rallied profound admiration and enthusiasm among millions of others who still hold fast to the old understanding that the independence and self-determination of one’s nation hold the key to a life of honor and freedom.

In this podcast, Hazony speaks with Eric Cohen about his essay. Their discussion touches on the biblical roots of the nation-state, which combines national self-determination with a moral minimum; liberalism as the great rival of nationalism; and three reactions against the new liberal condition—neo-nationalism, neo-Catholicism, and classical nationalism. It is this latter alternative that Hazony finds most promising, inspired by the Hebrew Bible and informing the nationalism of Great Britain and the United States.