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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Living with ideals --- in reality

By Chief Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein





Man, by definition and nature, cannot be an angel. A careful reading of the narratives in the Bible outlines His expectations of us

South Africa's Chief Rabbi on achieving greatness by recognizing our true mission

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | . At the beginning of this week's reading, Beshalach, we find one of the most bitter, cynical complaints in history. The parsha begins with the Jewish people leaving Egypt. They get to the edge of the Red Sea and by this stage Pharaoh regrets having begged them to leave after the tenth plague, and he and his army are in hot pursuit to bring them back to Egypt. On the one side they see Pharaoh approaching them and on the other side they see the Red Sea. They are caught, literally, between the devil and the deep blue sea. Their reaction is cynical: "were there were no graves in Egypt you have brought us to die in the desert?"

Complaining is a natural human reaction to problems. They are stuck and frightened, Pharaoh is on the one side, the sea is on the other side and they don't know how it's going to end. They see no way out. Yet after everything they have seen — the ten plagues and all the miracles — it's surprising that they would say something so cynical to Moses. Indeed, this was a terrible, bitter and cynical complaint on their part.

THE TORAH IS A BOOK OF TRUTH AND IMPLEMENTABLE IDEALS
The fact that the Torah records this complaint shows that it's a book of truth; it's not a legend or fairytale, but a recounting of the historical events which took place. If we were writing a happily-ever-after fairytale, we would describe the ten plagues, how the Jews came out victoriously, happy and confident; how they came to the Red Sea, how they had faith in the Divine and how the sea split. But the Torah is not a fairytale, and so it records even this bitter cynicism because that is what actually happened. Throughout the Torah we find records of our great ancestors' sins in full detail, because the Torah is a book of truth, not fables.

The Torah is also a book about living with ideals in the real world, with all its difficulties. On the one hand, the Torah is about the Lord's vision for us — the ideals, mitzvos (religious duties), principles and values with which we are meant to live; on the other hand, we are real people, flesh and blood, and we make mistakes. The challenge is to translate the Divine's lofty ideals into the reality of our lives. This is why Torah law is called Halacha, which comes from the Hebrew word laleches, "to walk." It's about taking those ideals and walking through life with them, making them a part of our life — literally "walking the talk." The Divine gave the Torah so that it will be implemented, and that is why all the "messy" details — the failures and sins of the people — are recorded. These are testimony to the fact that G0d gave us the Torah fully aware of our frailties, vulnerabilities and shortcomings. Despite our human limitations, He gave us the Torah because we are capable of living up to the ideals that He has given us.

LEADING AN IDEAL LIFE IN A LESS-THAN-IDEAL WORLD
This week's reading records that when they left Egypt, Moses took the bones of Joseph with him. They carried Joseph's coffin throughout their forty-year journey in the desert and buried him once they got to the Land of Israel. When Jacob died, he had left instructions to be buried in Israel and so when he died his body was moved immediately from Egypt to Israel. Josef's instructions were a bit different: he said "G0d will remember you," and when you are eventually redeemed, take me with you and bury me in the Land of Israel. He didn't ask to be buried immediately in Israel, only when they left Egypt.


STIMULATION AND INSPIRATION

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The Midrash says that as they traveled in the desert, two things walked in front of them: the Holy Ark which contained the Tablets on which the Ten Commandments were engraved, and Josef's coffin. It seems strange to have a coffin alongside the Holy Ark. But the Midrash explains that the reason for this was because Josef had fulfilled the whole Torah, and so his coffin went alongside the Ark which contained the Tablets. The two went together — the Holy Ark, representing the ideal, and Josef's coffin, because Josef exemplified how the ideal can be practiced and lived by in the real world.

Sometimes we wonder, can it really be done? We think, maybe it can be done in a perfect, ideal world but not in the imperfect world in which we live. But Josef reminds us that it is indeed possible. Josef lived in the real, imperfect and difficult world. He was sold at the age of 17; he had to find his way in the house of Potifar, overcome the temptation of committing adultery with Potifar's wife and overcome the struggles of being in an Egyptian dungeon. And then, possibly his greatest test was that he went from the dungeon to becoming the viceroy, the second-in-command, of all of Egypt. He then had all the power, fame and fortune and yet he still remained loyal to the values of his father's house. He lived under extremely challenging circumstances and proved that living with ideals in a less-than-ideal world is possible.

Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin (1881-1966), in his Hebrew-language commentary, Oznayim LaTorah, discusses how the two aronos -- the Ark and the coffin — went next to each other, to show the people that Torah is doable. They mustn't think it is something for the heavens and that it cannot be achieved here on earth. Josef is the proof of that and that is why his coffin goes in front of the people, next to the Ark: to inspire the people and show them that it is possible to live the ideals of Torah, whatever the circumstances.

LIVING WITH FAITH THROUGH ALL CIRCUMSTANCES
But there could be another reason, another message, behind why Josef's coffin had to accompany them. The people in the desert were not just struggling with keeping the mitzvos. They were struggling with faith in the Almighty.

Already when they left Egypt their faith was tested. They saw the Egyptians on the one side, the sea on the other and they thought, where is G0d ? He has abandoned us. Their complaining and cynicism reflected a crisis of faith. The message behind why Josef's coffin had to accompany the people is that Josef exemplified trust and faith in G0d even under difficult circumstances. It's one thing to have faith and trust in G0d when things are going well; it's another thing entirely when things are difficult. When you are seventeen years old and your own brothers turn against you and sell you into slavery and you land up in a foreign land where you can't speak the language, and then just when you think things are going well you end up in a dungeon — we can only imagine how difficult it must have been for him. And yet he pulled through, with his faith intact.

Our faith is often tested in challenging times. Part of our faith is to believe that G0d is in control and that whatever happens, gam zu letovah — this too is for the good, even if we don't always understand things and things don't always turn out the way we want them to.

The fact that Josef came through all his trials with his faith intact is seen very clearly when he reveals himself to his brothers and they are broken about what they had done to him, and he says to them, don't worry, you intended for the bad, but G0d intended for the good; He sent me here to save this whole region from famine. We see that Josef eventually figured out why everything had to happen. He understood why he had to go through all this pain and suffering — to save everyone from the famine.

And again, after their father's death, the brothers worried that Josef would bear a grudge against them and Josef says don't worry, I can see G0d 's hand in this. Josef knew all along that G0d is in control. And that is why he said to them pakod yifkod "G0d will remember you one day." He was so confident that G0d would redeem them that he said don't worry about burying me in Israel, I know I will get there eventually because G0d will redeem you from Egypt, and when he does, take my body with you. Josef's life exemplified faith and trust in G0d.

HIS MASTER PLAN
The remarkable irony is this: Josef thought he understood G-d's plan, but he actually didn't. The Gemara explains that Josef was buried in Shechem, the very place where he was kidnapped and sold by his brothers; he was taken from Shechem and he was buried in Shechem, showing the completion of G-d's plan, spanning a few hundred years. Josef thought he understood G0d's plan, but G0d's plans don't always work out in a matter of a few years. They can sometimes take decades and even centuries and longer. He thought G0d had sent him to Egypt because there was going to be a famine and he had to save the whole region from starvation.

But in fact, G0d brought the famine so that Jacob and his whole family would come down to Egypt. G0d wanted the whole family in Egypt so that we, as a people, would be born into the slavery of Egypt and then be liberated by G0d and witness the ten plagues and the splitting of the sea; He wanted us to be created as a nation through our freedom given by Him with miracles. For that to happen, we had to be in Egypt and so G0d brought a famine. Josef thought he understood that he was there to save them from the famine, but actually the famine was there to get them all down to Egypt, then to Mount Sinai to receive the Torah, and eventually to the Promised Land. Thus G0d's plan began and ended in Shechem; when they eventually re-enter the Land of Israel and Josef is buried in Shechem, the circle is complete.

G0d's plan works on a much larger scale than we can even begin to imagine. That's why our trust and faith in G0d is often tested — we see only a fraction of the picture, a blurred glimpse. G0d sees the full picture. To us, it's like looking at the back of a tapestry — it's a knotty mess. But when viewed from the front, the beautiful picture can be seen. The message of Josef's coffin traveling with the people was to say, remember, here was a man who lived with trust and faith in G0d even through terrible suffering. His life represents the Lord's incredible plan, that G0d is watching everything, even though His plan is sometimes brought to fruition not in a matter of weeks or months or even years, but decades and centuries and sometimes even longer.

The people traveling in the desert — ordinary people, flesh and blood — made all kinds of human mistakes and had many failures. And yet the Torah was given to them. G0d gave us the Torah knowing that we are mortals, because he wants us to live up to the greatest ideals. He wanted the people in that generation to live up to those ideals and the life story of Josef is what inspired them to do so. Josef showed that it can be done, that one can live a life of mitzvos and do the right thing and fulfill G0d's will despite the circumstances. He showed what it means to have real trust and faith in Hashem, even when things don't turn out the way we want. His life showed that there is a broader picture, a grander scale of history, that G0d is watching every detail and that He loves us and cares about us.

Let that be our inspiration to make the lofty ideals of the Torah a real part of our day-to-day lives.

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The author is the Chief Rabbi of South Africa and the author of "Defending the Human Spirit: Jewish Law's Vision for a Moral Society," which explores the Torah's legal system compared to Western law. In using real court cases he demonstrate the similarities and differences between Judaism's view of defending the vulnerable and Western legal practice.


Previously:


Expansion Of Spirit

Laughter And Destiny
Truth Stands the Test of Time







© 2012, Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein