In the 20th century, the Jewish people once again found themselves battling for survival and control of the land of Israel. In this podcast episode, the final part of this four-part series on Great Battles in Jewish History, David examines two military episodes from the past century – the Battle of Latrun in 1948 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973. In doing so, he explores the background, geo-political considerations, key personalities, and implications of these decisive moments from modern Jewish history.
For listeners of the podcast, we have provided a series of maps in pdf (below as jpegs) as a substitute for David’s illustrations on the whiteboard.
This Jewish history lecture includes discussions on the:
Battle of Latrun and the Yom Kippur War
key personalities from the time like Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, and Ariel Sharon
historical context of the conflicts, including the Cold War and its focus on the Middle East
failings and success in leadership
continued importance of geography and intelligence
importance of counter-offensives
role played by these battles for future peace agreements.
Find more of David Solomon’s podcast, with dozens of lectures on Jewish history, the Bible, Jewish philosophy, and Kabbalah here.
The earliest detailed accounts we have of military contests between the Jewish people and their enemies are found in the Bible. In this podcast episode, the first in a four-part series on great battles of Jewish History, David examines three events from the books of Judges and Samuel in which the Jewish people experience war. Beginning with an in-depth exploration of the fundamental role played by the geography and topography of the land, David explains how an understanding of these details can transform our historical picture of the tactics, leadership, and circumstances of those involved. He also discusses other significant elements that led to the success or failure of each military test and how figures like Devorah and Barak, Gidon, and Saul each fared in these critical moments of individual and national survival.
For listeners to the podcast who can not see the maps David draws in this lecture, we have provided a series of graphics that capture the information provided on the whiteboard. In order to gain the most from this lecture, we recommend referring to these maps as you listen.
Kefitzat haderech, roughly translated as instant travel, is an idea in Judaism that a person can travel from one location to another in a moment – a type of Jewish teleportation. In this podcast episode, David discusses this fascinating concept and its place in Jewish life and texts. He explains four methods for achieving instant travel and the place teleportation will have in messianic times. David also describes several intriguing episodes in Jewish history in which this extraordinary mode of movement is said to have occurred.
The 1400s in Jewish history was a time of turbulence and uncertainty while also a period of tremendous Jewish intellectual and mystical exploration. In this podcast episode, the last of the three-part series ‘Hope in Darkness: Jewish History of the 14th and 15th Centuries’, David examines the lives of several fascinating figures and their contributions to Jewish and world thinking. However, it is the enormity of the historical events that shaped the Jewish experience of the time, particularly in Europe, that dominates much of the material discussed in this episode. David explores the impact of printing on Jewish life and learning; the increasing interest in Hebrew and Jewish texts among Christian scholars; and the devastating consequences arising from the union of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, leading to the unrelenting cruelty of the Inquisition and the eventual cataclysmic expulsion of the Jews of Spain.
Chassidism marked a moment of revolutionary change in Jewish life and spiritual engagement of the 18th century. Heavily influenced by the teachings of the Ari, early Chassidic thinkers explored and contributed to the development of Jewish mysticism.
While the roots of Jewish mysticism can be found in the Torah, the past millennia have contributed numerous extraordinary developments and revelations in the field of Kabbalah. In particular, the teachings and ideas of 16th century kabbalist, Rabbi Isaac Luria, also known as the Ari, have been profoundly influential on Jewish mystical thinking, literature, and life. In this podcast episode, David provides historical context to the emergence of the Kabbalah of the Ari and then explores the two primary paths that disseminated his monumental ideas, through the works of rabbis Chayim Vital and Israel Sarug.
The concept of teshuva – usually translated in English as “repentance” but literally meaning “return” – is, as David discusses in this episode, a phenomenal idea in Judaism that a person can be defined, not simply by what they do, but by their ability to change. This podcast episode, coming in advance of Yom Kippur, is unusual in that it brings together segments of lectures David has given over the years on the subject of teshuva. Starting with an in-depth examination of the Book of Yonah (Jonah), which we read on Yom Kippur, he explores Biblical and Talmudic stories that raise discussions about what we can do – and what we should do – when our behaviour is found wanting. David also explores 20th-century Jewish philosophical ideas on the meaning of teshuva for us as individuals and for the world.
A Podcast on the Prophets of Israel in Tanach (Hebrew Bible)
The Trei Asar, known in English as the twelve ‘minor’ prophets, have been fundamental to the transmission of ideas and moral perspectives through the past two and a half millennia. In this podcast episode, the final instalment of this four-part series on the prophets of Israel for Elul, David explores the fascinating lives, historical context, and profound messages of these spiritual giants. In dynamic succinctness, David marches through the short but canonical texts of Hosea, Yoel, and Amos; Ovadiah, Yonah, and Micah; Nachum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah; Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. David explains the importance of each book and their contributions to Jewish and world spirituality.
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A Podcast on the Prophet Isaiah in Tanach (Hebrew Bible)
The Prophets of Israel were a unique and revolutionary spiritual phenomenon with profound impact across the ages. In this podcast episode, the first of a four-part series on the prophets scheduled for Elul, David examines the context, character, and inspirational message of the Prophet Isaiah (Yeshayahu), the first of the ‘major prophets’. In doing so, David discusses how relevant the words and influence of this remarkable biblical figure – and particularly, his insight into the concept of teshuva – remain for us today.
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