The Tikvah Podcast

Shmuel Yosef Agnon is one of the masters of modern Hebrew fiction, who helped to spark the revival of modern Hebrew literature in Israel and around the world. His work is not only beloved, but also profound, laden with many allusions to the vast canon of traditional Jewish text that shaped his literary imagination: one hears in Agnon’s work echoes of the siddur, the Hebrew Bible, and an astonishing array of rabbinic literature. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1966.

 

Yesterday, Tikvah released a five-part, online video course introducing students to S.Y. Agnon’s short stories, novels, and anthologieswriting that strengthened the Jewish people in those pivotal 20th-century years when the state of Israel was reborn. The course is taught by Rabbi Jeffrey Saks, director of research at the Agnon House in Jerusalem, series editor of the S.Y. Agnon Library at the Toby Press, editor of the journal Tradition, and the founding director of the Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions in Jewish Education – ATID. This week, we bring you the audio from the first episode of Rabbi Saks’s forthcoming video course on the writings of Shay Agnon. To register for the course, go to tikvahfund.org/agnon.

 

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_Agnon_Final_MM2_4.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:18pm EDT

Last month, host Jonathan Silver spoke with the rabbi Shlomo Brody about Jewish military ethics. They spoke, in particular, about the Jewish ethical tradition’s conception of right conduct once a war has begun: how one ought to calibrate the force of a maneuver to the threat it is meant to neutralize, how one ought to balance collateral damage and civilian casualties with force protection, and other related questions. This week, Brody joins Silver once again to discuss the reasons nations go to war—that is, to discern in Jewish history, Jewish text, and the drama of modern Zionism, the ethical parameters of thinking about going to war in the first place. As with their previous conversation, this conversation is informed by Brody’s recently published book, Ethics of Our Fighters. 

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_Brody2_Final.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 2:58pm EDT

Jewish communities have just concluded the celebration of Shavuot, a pilgrimage festival in times of the Temple and the moment when, fifty days after the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt, God revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses. Those commandments form the foundation of the many rules and obligations inflected throughout the Jewish tradition. Indeed, after thousands of years of Jewish history, observant Jewish lives continue to be structured by what is known as halakhah, Jewish law.

What is halakhah? In 2018, the rabbi Mark Gottlieb sat down to answer that question with Chaim Saiman, one of the world’s foremost scholars of Jewish law and the author of a then newly published book called Halakhah: The Rabbinic Idea of Law. This week, in honor of the Jewish holiday that celebrates lawgiving, we bring you a rebroadcast of their discussion.

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_Saiman_Rebroadcast_Final_-_MM.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:10pm EDT

Since the attacks of October 7 and since the Gaza war began, a small but vocal segment of American Jews have joined in with the anti-Israel protests convulsing American cities and campuses. What are their ideas and where do they come from?

Elliott Abrams is the author of If You Will It, a book coming this fall on Jewish peoplehood. Also the chairman of Tikvah and a regular Mosaic writer, he’s been an observer of American Jewish life for a long time. In his view, the Jewish turn against Israel in America today is vastly different than the usual critiques one hears every Shabbat in every synagogue across the country. In other words, it’s not that these Jews don’t like the Israeli prime minister or other members of his governing coalition, or certain policies of the government or trends in Israeli culture. It's that they see Israel as a moral encumbrance on the Jewish conscience, and imagine that the Jews would be better off without statehood altogether. He recently developed this argument in an essay in Fathom called “American Jewish Anti-Zionist Diasporism: A Critique,” and here elaborates on it with host 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_Abrams_2024_Final.mp3
Category:Great Jewish Essays and Ideas -- posted at: 11:03pm EDT

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