The Tikvah Podcast

It's sometimes argued that, as material and political and economic conditions improve in a society, that society tends to grow less religious. Polls have seemed to demonstrate for years the validity of this argument in America. Gallup, for instance, recently found that fewer than half of all Americans belong to a house of worship or religious congregation, down from about 70% at the turn of the century some 20 years ago.

But perhaps such polls show do not show that Americans are becoming less religious at all. Perhaps they suggest instead that Americans are simply less devoted to traditional forms of biblical faith. That's the background for the argument advanced in the cover story of the May 2023 issue of Commentary, called "The Return of Paganism." Written by Liel Leibovitz, the editor at large of Tablet, the essay argues that the diminution of traditional forms of Christian worship has not made Americans less religious but has instead opened up space for inescapable religious impulses to find expression in beliefs that are awfully similar to ancient forms of paganism. To talk about these ideas, their manifestations in American culture and politics, and their implications, Leibovitz joins Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

Direct download: Tikvah_Podcast_LL_Final.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 8:35pm EST

For patriots, patriotism, or one form of it at least, is a recognition of the obligations that flow when one recognizes all that one owes to previous generations and what they undertook and passed down.

And if one wanted to inculcate that form of patriotism, how would one do it? Rick Richman has a simple and powerful answer to that question. Richman recently published And None Shall Make Them Afraid: Eight Stories of the Modern State of Israel, a book that tries to foster connection to Israel and the Jewish people by telling stories from the past.

Rick’s answer: we have to teach them history. History, as he sees it, has a role to play in the formation of devotion to the Jewish people. It can help Jews see all that they owe by relaying the stories of all that their predecessors have accomplished, and by implication, what Jews now have an opportunity and obligation to pass on to their own descendants.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

Direct download: Tikvah_Podcast_Richman_Final.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 5:44pm EST

Earlier this month, Yuval Levin, the editor of National Affairs, published an op-ed in the New York Times entitled “The Solution to Israel’s Crisis Might Be in America’s Constitution.” That essay forms the point of departure for this week’s discussion with Levin himself.

 

Levin does not, of course, think that Israel should simply adopt the American constitution, or any of its particular features. Israel is a sovereign nation with its own history and its own destiny, and no foreign documents will suit it word for word. Yet the American constitution contains within it elemental concepts of democracy, equality, and representation—understandings that the women and men now called upon to establish judicious political structures in Israel might be able to learn from as they structure their own political order.

So here, in conversation with Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver, Levin expands on his essay and looks at the American constitution in search of those foundational ideas—and in particular of the ones that might be useful for Israelis at their current moment of political instability.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

Direct download: Tikvah_Podcast_Levin2_Final.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 10:16pm EST

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