In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
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 April 6, 2007 / 18 Nissan, 5767

The goal is not just to perform but, above all, to transform

By Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo

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Sefiras HaOmer: A Day Too Late

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | As has been explained by numerous commentators and philosophers, the biblical commandment to count 49 days (Leviticus 23:15) between Passover and Shavuos (Pentecost), is to encourage man not just to count these days but to use this time to take account of himself and to introspect. The Exodus from Egypt, which is the beginning of our forefathers' first encounter with liberty and its culmination with the giving of the Torah, the law of moral freedom, at Mount Sinai, should become ingrained in our personalities, inspiring a constant elevation of our very being. The purpose of the period between these two festivals is therefore to re-enact and relive these sublime moments so as to become elevated.

It is a major tragedy when Jews start to believe that these festivals are given just to remember what happened thousands of years ago. Instead, they should utilize these festivals to realize that the goal is not just to perform but above all to transform.

Nothing is more dangerous for man than to stay spiritually stale.

It is for this reason than one is required to count the 49 days of the Omer. To prepare ourselves for the upcoming celebration on Shavuos of the giving of the Torah we are asked to climb a ladder of 49 spiritual rungs in which each day will add another dimension to our souls.

Commentators are therefore surprised to notice that the actual counting of the Omer starts on the second day of Passover and not on the first (ibid.) If the purpose of the counting is indeed to re-enact the whole historical period between Passover and Shavuos why not start on the same day that the Exodus took place which was also the first day in which Jews started their journey to moral freedom? Why only start counting on the second day when in fact this period of transformation started one day earlier?

Carefully examining the condition of the Jews on the day of the actual Exodus (the first day of Passover) we become aware of a strange phenomenon. It is the astonishing passivity of the Jews that stands out. There is no action whatsoever and no initiative. Jews were told to stay inside their homes, and simply wait for Moses to give the sign to start leaving Egypt. There are no planned confrontations with the Egyptians, no speeches of national revival, no demonstrations, but only silence, absolute quiet and a spirit of inert waiting. Only after Moses calls on the Jews to move is there motion, and the Jews humbly leave Egypt.

What becomes increasingly clear is that it is only G-d who acts on this day. There is no human initiative. It is solely G-d who takes them out, and it is He who leads the way. It is a moment where there cannot be any misunderstanding about who is calling the shots. It is the day of G-d's unfathomable strength. While man stays utterly passive, it is G-d "who steals the show" and gives evidence of His absolute sovereignty. The only thing man is asked to do is to follow like a slave follows his master. G-d's protection is impervious.

But once they have left the borders of Egypt, we see a radical change. Suddenly the Israelites wake up from their imposed passivity and realize that they had better start preparing for a long road through the desert. It is now that they need to show courage and patience. The earlier divine protection is no longer watertight. Only a few days on the road, the Israelites learn that Pharaoh and his army are approaching with the intent to take revenge. He wants the Jews back home and if necessary will use all the forces at his disposal to accomplish this goal. Why, the Israelites must have wondered, does G-d not make sure that Pharaoh stays home? Yesterday he did not make any noise; he didn't even attempt to stop them from leaving! They even ask Moses why they have to die in the desert (Exodus 14:11). It all looked so great on that first day of the Exodus! Everything was taken care of. G-d's protection was complete and without deficiency. So why not continue this most comfortable situation?

Indeed, on the second day, it is no longer G-d who pulls all the strings. It is as if G-d has decided to move into the background, and man will have to become more active. Only after a lot of complaining and fervent prayers He is prepared to step in and provide them with a basic protection and decides to split the Sea of Reeds. Could G-d not have split the sea a little earlier to save the Jews unnecessary anguish?! Why not let things continue like the day before when everything was under control and nearly a messianic condition was prevailing?

The point is clear: It is man who has to carry his own responsibility. The option of sitting in one's armchair and passively relying on G-d and His benevolence does not exist. Man is brought into the world to take moral action, to grow spiritually and dignify himself through hardship and struggle. It is the desert that functions as the classroom where Jews learn to become a light to the nations and set a moral example. This is the purpose of life, and this is its condition.

But why, then, did He first create a day that resembled paradise only to plunge them the next day into worries and feelings of insecurity? Because without the knowledge and the experience that ultimately G-d is in total power, their obligation to be morally responsible would stand on quicksand. Why be moral when there is no unshakable foundation on which this morality depends? Man first has to learn that there is a purpose to his struggle for moral behavior, not just a utilitarian one, but, above all, an existential one. He first has to be convinced that there is more to life than meets the eye. First it has to become clear that G-d and only G-d is the ultimate source of everything. At such a moment, man has to stand in awe, overwhelmed by the grandeur of G-d's infinite power. Man needs to become completely powerless before he is able to take action and become responsible.

Because of this, the real struggle for moral liberty started the day after the Exodus from Egypt. The first day was a given. It was the day of G-d and not of man. It was the day of passivity and complete surrender. Only the next day the spiritual labor of man started. It is consequently the first day of his spiritual elevation.

It is for this reason that throughout all the generations we first have to learn what G-d's power is all about and that is what we celebrate on the first day of Passover and specifically when reading the Hagada. Only after we are totally overpowered by G-d's absolute omnipotence and spend a day in contemplative awe, are we able to take moral action on the second day.

This, we believe, is the reason why the counting of the Omer only starts on the second day. The first day does not count.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo is a world-renowned lecturer and ambassador for Judaism, the Jewish people, the State of Israel and Sephardic Heritage. Comment by clicking here.

© 2007, Rabbi Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo