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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 June 11, 2004 / 22 Sivan, 5764

The modest giant

By Jeff Jacoby


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http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Ronald Reagan was the first president I was old enough to vote for, and the only one I have ever voted for with enthusiasm. He was the pre-eminent influence on my political coming of age — so much so that to this day, "Reaganite" is the label that best sums up my political world view.

For those of us who so admired Reagan during his presidency — and who remember the mockery and disdain to which he was so often subjected — the tributes that have been pouring forth since Saturday help make the sorrow of his death, and of the awful sickness that preceded it, more bearable. History, as he always knew it would, has vindicated him. The man once dismissed as an "amiable dunce" and reviled as a warmonger is now acknowledged as a courageous visionary, an apostle of decency and liberty who left the world far better than he found it.

"The American sound," Reagan said in his second inaugural address, "is hopeful, big-hearted, idealistic, daring, decent, and fair." Much the same could be said of Reagan himself. All week long, the accolades have emphasized the character and values that made him the man he was — his optimism, his patriotism, his self-deprecating humor, his moral clarity, his rocklike belief that freedom is the birthright of every human being, his willingness to call evil by its name, his faith in G-d, his sheer guts.

But one trait has gone largely unmentioned: His remarkable humility.

In her moving and affectionate account of the 40th president's life, "When Character Was King," Peggy Noonan says that when she really wants to convey what Reagan was like, she tells the "bathroom story."

It occurred in 1981, shortly after the assassination attempt. Reagan was still in the hospital and one night, feeling unwell, he got out of bed to go to the bathroom. "He slapped water on his face, and water slopped out of the sink," Noonan relates. "He got some paper towels and got down on the floor to clean it up. An aide came in and said, 'Mr. President, what are you doing? We have people for that.' And Reagan said oh, no, he was just cleaning up his mess, he didn't want a nurse to have to do it."

That was Reagan: On his say-so armies would march and fighter jets scramble, but he hated to trouble a hospital orderly to mop up his spill. That humbleness, it seems to me, is a mark of Reagan's greatness, too — and a key to understanding the outpouring of affection his death has unleashed.

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Though he came from nothing — poor family, alcoholic father, no status, nothing to boast about — Reagan considered himself no less entitled to respect and a chance to prove himself than those who had much more. But if no man was his better, neither was he the better of any man. That instinctive sense of the equality of all Americans never left him — not even when he was the one with fame and power.

I don't think I have ever heard a story about Reagan in which he came across as arrogant or supercilious. In a number of reminiscences this week, former staffers have described what it was like to work for the president. Several have recalled how, even when they were at the bottom of the pecking order, he never made them feel small or unworthy of notice. To the contrary: He noticed them, talked to them, made them feel special.

Reagan climbed as high as anyone in our age can climb. But it wasn't ego or a craving for honor and status that drove him, and he never lost his empathy for ordinary Americans — or his connection with them, as we now know from his private correspondence.

He was a lifelong letter-writer — perhaps the most prolific correspondent of any president since Jefferson. A collection of his letters was published last year in "Reagan: A Life in Letters" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and it is striking to see how many of them were written — by hand, usually — to angry or disappointed critics, many of them unimportant people he had never met. He is unfailingly polite and respectful; often he is touchingly earnest in his attempt to get them to see his side of an issue.

And why would the president of the United States devote so much time to answering mail from complete nobodies? In part because he never forgot his own modest roots. He was a genuinely humble man, one who didn't scorn others as "complete nobodies." For who knew better than he just how far a "nobody" from nowhere might someday go?

On June 3, 1984, Reagan visited Ballyporeen, the County Tipperary hamlet where his great-grandfather was born in 1828.

"Today I come back to you as a descendant of people who are buried here in paupers' graves," he said. "Perhaps this is G-d's way of reminding us that we must always treat every individual, no matter what his or her station in life, with dignity and respect. And who knows? Someday that person's child or grandchild might grow up to become the prime minister of Ireland — or president of the United States."

In his first inaugural address, Reagan described George Washington as both "a monumental man" and "a man of humility." The two qualities merged in the nation's first president. They merged again in the 40th. May he rest in peace.

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Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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