These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

June 30th – Missing Boys

Posted on June 30, 2014 by Leah Lesch

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

From my blog:
Dr. Michael Lesch

Dr. Michael Lesch

I’m dedicating this post to my father, Dr. Michael Lesch. He would be 75 years old today.

On the various occasions when I lived in Jerusalem, he never missed an opportunity to visit me. And I think he would have greatly enjoyed the lectures, discussion and learning at Pardes today.

I was sitting a beautiful Cafe about a 10 minute walk from my apartment when the news hit about the boys’ bodies being found. It was a lovely evening and the juxtaposition of this horrific news against the backdrop of my quaint dinning spot was surreal.

My heart pours out to the families of these young men. This tragedy resonates in every household across the country tonight. News blares from every living room TV. It is chilling. And I am getting all kinds of messages from friends and family to be on high alert as tensions escalate.

Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach

Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach

Pardes – Day 2.

I had much that I planned to write about the fabulous sessions I had the privilege of attending today. But my thoughts and enthusiasm have been eclipsed by the shocking news of the boys.

In brief, Pardes literally means orchard in Hebrew. And indeed I find myself an intellectual haven, heaven, a veritable orchard of learning. The line up today was intense; with the closing act being a session with Yossi Klein Halevi (journalist and author), whose book “Like Dreamers” was just recently published. In his book and in our session, Yossi Klein Halevi managed to connect the current situation in Israel today all the way back to time of Rav Kook and his son Rav Yehuda Tzvi Kook and make me feel like I was living the history as it was being told. Nothing dusty, ancient or inaccessible about this retelling. Rather, he brought to life and made relevant the current political and religious realities and traced them back through time to their inception, step by step to specific events in Jewish history. And made all of us in the room feel that we are part of this story, that is is timely and ongoing.

In his book he does this by telling the stories of 7 paratroopers who reunited Jerusalem, tracing the history of Israel and the divergent ideologies shaping it from the Six-Day War to the current day.

I am not doing justice to any of the speakers or sessions today. But will close with a few excerpts that caught my attention and you might find interesting.

  • Rav Kook was supposedly a believer in Darwinism. Rav Kook, the intense mystic, the archetypal religious Zionist and passionate humanist was alive during the Scopes trials and evidently it is said that he felt Darwinism was the scientific analog to Kabbalah.
  • Rav Kook helped craft decisions during the early 1900′s on how to handle the prohibition against milking cows on the Sabbath when the fledgling Israeli Yishuv movement was deeply dependent on its budding milk industry.
  • In 1909 Rav Kook got into a dispute with the Rabbi’s in Jerusalem over whether the production of Sesame Seed Oil was or was not Kosher for Passover due to a new technological process for extracting it. He stood by his kosher certification pushing an agenda for progress even in the face of staunch opposition of the Jerusalem Rabbinate.