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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

No tears for religious Jew booted from ‘Big Brother’

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson


The Captain Goes Down, Ship Still Afloat: This speech didn't save Dr. Andrew Gordon from being thrown overboard




The rise and fall of "Kosher Captain" --- but mainly, the fall

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Refinement. Poise. Modesty. Graciousness. Integrity. Once upon a time, these were the attributes with which parents hoped to imbue their children, that they might lead rewarding lives and develop healthy emotional relationships.

But consider the cultural icons we hold up before our children to emulate today: they have Michael Vick as their model of refinement; Lindsay Lohan as their model of poise; Lady Gaga as their model of modesty; Donald Trump as their model of graciousness; and a myriad of chief executive officers around the globe as their models of integrity. Our children learn from these instructors every day, unsupervised, through television and the internet. Could anyone in any previous generation have seen all this coming?

As a matter of fact, someone did.

Superficially, the excesses of modern society may bear little resemblance to the colorless culture of oppression visualized by George Orwell in his dystopian classic 1984. But Orwell's masterpiece was itself a warning against the insidious threat of superficiality, whether political, social, or economic. Today, Orwell might be dismayed, but not surprised, at how eagerly we have divorced ourselves from reality in every aspect of our lives.

Unsustainable spiraling profits, unsupported by genuine production or service, sounded not a single warning bell until the inevitable bursting bubble caused billions of dollars to vanish in a heartbeat and left millions saddled with crushing debt. The nomination of a photogenic candidate with no experience and no credentials sounded no warning bells to the majority of the electorate who swept him into high office, precipitating the greatest ideological rift in the United States since the Civil War. Most significant of all, the cognitive and social disintegration spurred on by the ubiquitous virtual ports of the computer and television screens suggests a cultural crisis that is already upon us. Time and time again, we choose dreams over substance and learn nothing from our mistakes.

WE HAVE SEEN THE ENEMY…
I still remember vividly how I reacted twelve years ago when I first learned about the new phenomenon called "reality television." I had just taken my seat on a plane home from New York City, delighted that a departing passenger had left behind a copy of the New York Times Magazine. The cover caption caught my interest, and I turned to the lead story about a new British television show called "Big Brother." Before I was half-way finished my hands were trembling, and I could stop myself from looking over my shoulder to see if George Orwell was reading the story from the row behind me.

Even for those of us who remember 1984, our overfamiliarity with instant visual communication has diluted the once-nightmarish connotations of the iconic Orwellian telescreen. We don't value privacy, we can't cope with isolation, and we dissolve into near-hysteria whenever we find ourselves cut off from our social networks even for a moment. Access means more than substance. Bandwidth means more than content. And Big Brother, the erstwhile symbol of Stalinist totalitarianism, now finds himself transformed into a pop-icon enjoying a successful dozen-year run in Britain, the backdrop for Orwell's prophetic novel.

Last month, however, the kulturkamph deepened as the producers of the American version of the show announced two new wrinkles for the new season. First was the introduction of "The Mole," a saboteur placed among the Houseguests to wreak havoc upon every social dynamic. Not only will the sole contestant to survive the season win half a million dollars; now, one of them gets a payoff for stirring up dissension.

…AND IT IS US
Second, and even more disturbing, was the announcement that one of the guests was to be an Orthodox Jew who, by his own account, "will practice all aspects of his religion while living in the Big Brother house."

No he didn't. (He was quickly booted). And here is why:

Rabbi Israel Ba'al Shem Tov, the illustrious founder of the 18th century Chassidic movement, once remarked that a pious companion of his youth had been blessed with a life of anonymity, while he, Rabbi Israel, had been condemned to fame. If the rabbi's disdain for notoriety leave us bewildered, that itself is a symptom of how the superficial values of Western culture have rendered us incapable of understanding that personal privacy is both a virtue to be admired and a treasure to be jealously guarded. Conversely, fame is both a vice and a curse, although one wouldn't know it from the electronic media's most successful innovations — the seductive screen of television, the virtual gateway of the internet, and the reinvention of Big Brother.

The way private lives have gone out of fashion today is a blight upon the human condition and a corruption of all that is noble within human potential. To invite anyone who will listen into the deepest corners of our lives constitutes no less a violation than inviting a stranger into one's bed. And the sale of our souls for 15 minutes of fame leaves us every bit as poor as the sale of one's body for a few moments of carnal pleasure.

Of course, it's not hard to understand how we arrived at this point. Our regard for privacy is continually eroded by the inescapable message that renown is the ultimate measure of success. But consider: if private lives were not so dear, why is everyone else trying so hard to steal ours away from us?

So can one uphold the precepts of Jewish Law while pandering for public adulation on international TV? For anyone who one remains sensitive to the Torah's prescription with regard to fame, most certainly not. Any contestant that sells his personal privacy may be superficially in compliance with the letter of the law and the technical restrictions of the Sabbath and a kosher diet. But he has lost touch with the spirit of the law and has compromised the underpinnings of his faith. Even were he to have won that half a million, he will have paid out far more than he gained, in the cost of his personal dignity and in the sacrifice of his most precious commodity — the priceless gift of intimacy with the Divine.


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JWR contributor Rabbi Yonason Goldson teaches at Block Yeshiva High School in St. Louis, MO, where he also writes and lectures. He is author of Dawn to Destiny: Exploring Jewish History and its Hidden Wisdom, an overview of Jewish philosophy and history from Creation through the compilation of the Talmud, now available from Judaica Press. Visit him at http://torahideals.com .






© 2010, Rabbi Yonason Goldson