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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

When the inexplicable must be explained

By Rabbi Yakov Horowitz



A veteran educator reflects on tragedy and resulting doubt. Advice for dealing with children --- and their faithful parents


JewishWorldReview.com | Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (1895 -1986), one of the leading rabbinic sages of this generation, posed the following question: Why is it that upon learning of an individual's passing a Jew is required to recite a blessing acknowledging that the Divine's act is one whose "judgment is just". Are we not obligated always to believe that everything the Almighty does is for our ultimate good?

Rabbi Moshe gently explained that our sages, in their wisdom, crafted the blessing to inform the mourners that it is perfectly understandable and theologically appropriate for there to be a deep chasm between what they know intellectually to be our Torah's perspective on tragedy and the raw pain they currently feel due to their searing loss.

My dear friends, I share this with you in the hope that Reb Moshe's timeless words will help us come to grips with the unspeakable tragedy of the heinous murder of our beloved brothers Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. Hashem Yikom Damam (May G-d Avenge Their Blood).

We know what we are supposed to think. We know that our Torah expects us to process tragedy through its lens and accept His decision as just and ultimately for the good. But we also know the searing pain that our human, broken hearts are feeling now.

Reb Moshe informs us that this is OK, and is part and parcel of our spiritual experience in this world as we do our best to see and feel the Divine's presence in a place where it is so often hidden from us.

How do we process tragedies through a Torah lens, and how do we respond to the questions that our children pose in trying to understand them?

As this is such a difficult subject, let's start with the do not's before the do's, as it is far easier place to begin.

1) Do not suppress the questions of your children --- about this topic or any other. Always keep in mind that you never solve anything by taking that easy route.

An unasked question is an unresolved one. Creating an environment where your children can freely ask you anything that is on their minds means that you are positioned to properly guide them.

2) Do not be intimidated or frightened to admit that you don't have 'all the answers,' especially to questions as difficult as these. It will be very refreshing for your child to see that you are finding this difficult.

In fact, you will have the opportunity to model appropriate behavior when you are stumped or find yourself looking for answers that are over your pay grade ---- by posing the question to someone more knowledgeable in these areas.

3) Do not verbalize or even imply that respectfully asking for answers to questions like these is disrespectful or represent a lack of faith in the Divine. Quite to the contrary; you ought to explain that looking to gain insight into the workings of the Almighty is really a sign of closeness to Him.

It might not be a bad idea to mention that the question of, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" is one that has been asked by our greatest leaders and nevi'im (prophets) over the centuries.


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According to the Talmud (Brachos 7a), when Moses asked the Almighty to "Hodiani noh es drochecha --- Please make Your ways known to me," (Exodus 33:13) he wanted to understand the age-old question of why so many righteous people suffer while it often seems that the wicked are prospering.

The Divine responds, "Lo suchal liros es ponai --- You shall not be able to see My face (Exodus 33:20)." Several verses later, the Divine decides that He would permit Moses to see His 'back'. To see one's face is to examine every detail of their being. Moses wanted a clear understanding of what transpires in this world. He was denied his request, not because the Divine did not wish to grant it. Rather it is simply impossible for a human to understand all the details of His world.

The Divine was explaining to Moses that humans have a limited life span, and cannot always understand His world. We cannot see the 'face' of the Divine --- as we are unable to see the larger picture. Just as flying in an airplane affords people a different view of the earth, so too, He, in His infinite wisdom and His global view, sees things in a way that we humans cannot. He, however, did grant Moses the ability to see things in retrospect --- to see His 'back'.


Perhaps the most simple way of explaining 'tzadik v'ra lo,' loosely translated as, "Why (seemingly) Bad Things Happen to Good People," is to frame things as many Jewish philosophical works do in terms of a linear timeline.

The underlying theme is that one cannot properly comprehend events unless they can view the entire time frame associated with that occurrence. There are many variations of a common analogy used by our Sages to drive home this concept. A well-known one tells the story of a city dweller who needed to spend time in the fresh-air environment of a farm while convalescing from an illness. As he had no understanding of the farming cycle, he was shocked and distraught to see a beautiful field plowed.

"Why are you making this grass into mud," he asks? The farmer told him to be patient if he wants to understand things.

Things really turned south when he saw the farmer throwing wheat seeds into the ground. More waste and insanity, he thinks.

Again, the farmer told him to be patient. The city dweller felt better when he saw beautiful sheaves growing, but that quickly dissipated when he saw the threshing and grinding.

On and on the story goes until the city dweller finally saw freshly baked bread. At that point, it finally made sense to him.

The lesson is simple but profound. In order to understand things, we need to see a 'full story.' In the case of the farmer, it was a six month event. In the case of making a scrambled egg, it is a 5-minute timeline (Why did you break those perfectly good eggs?). However, His world is timeless and mere humans cannot understand events in this world as the timeline of our lives in so short compared to the Divine's eternity.

What is noteworthy and perhaps worthwhile mentioning to your child is that a simple reading of those verses would indicate that even our greatest leader and prophet was told by the Divine that a full and complete understanding of His ways cannot be granted to humans during their lifetime.

You may worry that your child (and you) may be distressed to find out that there are no easy answers to these questions. But in all likelihood, the fact that our greatest saintly men were themselves preoccupied with these thoughts will be comforting and result in the belief that they are disconnected or on the outside looking in just because they are bothered by these questions.

Now, it is still very, very difficult to make sense of terrible tragedies even with this insight and there are various philosophical approaches to reconcile things. Mine is a straightforward one and one that I find to be honest and teachable when circumstances dictate that I need to explain the inexplicable to children.

I tell the children that the Talmud occasionally leaves a question unanswered. When it does, the passage ends with the word "Teiku", which basically means that we need to wait for Elijah to return before resolving this.

Some tragedies are simply a "Teiku" --- something I just do not understand. I share with my students, as an example of one, my father's death 50 years ago, when I was a youngster. This is still a Teiku to me. And it will likely remain so for the rest of my days.

I also often use a dating analogy to finish that point. When I married my wife, there was no way that I could be 100% sure that we were right for each other. We dated, we decided we were compatible and very much liked each other until we were 90% sure that it was right.

Ultimately, though, it took a leap of faith on the part of us both to close the last 10%. And we both did it based on the good feelings we had from the 90% we shared.


I strongly feel that whatever twists and turns this discussion takes, one theme that parents should stress to their children is that after all is said and done, we must have faith or trust in Him. I do not think that we ought to tell our children that, "We can explain everything," because ... we cannot.

There will always be "Teiku" questions, and that's when faith needs to kick in. The eternal truths of the Torah give us enough confidence in His personal relationship with us to empower usto have the faith to take the plunge and accept things we do not understand.

And since in the limited time we have in this world and with our limited understanding of His ways, it is impossible for us to understand 100% of events that happen; we must leave the last 10% to faith and lovingly accept things that are beyond our ability and keen.

I once gave my son directions that were in conflict with both GPS and MapQuest. Gasp!! I told my son to, "Trust me." And since I have given him good directions over a period of ten years, he did.

Ultimately, it all boils down to faith. And it may be helpful to explain to our children that just like we trust our parents because we have a reservoir of good faith, so too, we need to place our faith in the Divine who provides for our every need.

Unfortunately, dealing with challenging times is part and parcel of our people's history. From the initial sale of Josef that was so hard to understand at the time it occurred --- but eventually resulted in the salvation of the children of Jacob, and throughout the many generations, we have gone through very difficult times filled with seemingly inexplicable tragedies and what sustained us though all those difficult times was our faith in Him.

It is interesting to note that when He informed Moses that he cannot see His 'face,' our Sages tell us that He showed Moses the knot of the tefillin, the prayer gear Jewish men don at morning services

I would like to suggest that the image of a knot is one of two individual straps joining together. What happens is that the two straps become hidden from view at times, and actually reverse direction at times. But both straps emerge as a stronger and firmer unit. Perhaps this was the deep understanding that He shared with Moses --- that although humans cannot understand "Why (seemingly) Bad Things Happen to Good People," eventually we become stronger as a result of these events.



THE GRIEVING PROCESS

Some thoughts on the grieving process:

A. Grieving does not get better is any predictable pattern, but rather follows a random series of ups and downs depending on a host of factors

B. Not only does grieving go through ups and downs, but there are also distinct phases of grief codified by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Once you know what to look for, you can almost watch people transition between these phases. They are:

1. Denial

2. Anger

3. Bargaining

4. Depression

5. Acceptance

C. People grieve differently. I often use a sports analogy ask kids to reflect on how differently their teammates respond to hitting a home run, or winning/losing a game. Some take it in stride and show little emotion while others go way over the top. Just like there are different ways to celebrate, so too, are there different ways to mourn -- and they should feel free to just be themselves and allow their friends the space to do the same.

D. Carrying the sports analogy further, explain that joining a team means that you practice together and support each other over the entire season. You also celebrate victories and get upset over losses as a group. So too, families and communities celebrate and mourn together and support each other.

E. Finally, perhaps the most important point to understand is that one who is communicating with a grieving child (or adult for that matter) never really knows which of the countless facets of this tragedy is troubling him/her. And the only way to find out is by talking less and listening more.

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, NY., and founder and Director of Project Y.E.S. (Youth Enrichment Services). He is recognized throughout the Jewish community as an authority on raising children in these troubled times. His bold and insightful presentations, workshops, CDís, and articles have helped to mold a generation of parents and educators. He is the author of two books, Growing with the Parsha and Living and Parenting, and has produced a whole host of best-selling parenting audio-visual materials

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© 2014, Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

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