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

To change a world

By Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald

The difference between Noah and today's spiritual warriors

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In introducing Noah, the primary focus of this week's reading, the Torah describes him as a "righteous man, perfect in his generations."

At first blush, the description "in his generations" appears to be extraneous. Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, 1040-1105, foremost commentator on the Bible) notes that its inclusion is meant to give us pause in considering who Noah really was.

Some argue, Rashi observes, that the fact Noah was righteous in his wicked generation implies that he would have been even more righteous in a righteous generation. Others, however, view Noah as righteous only in comparison to those of his wicked generation. In fact, they maintain, had Noah lived in a righteous generation he likely would not have been considered righteous at all.

This difference of opinion, initially between the sages Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish, is recorded in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 108a). But it is not merely a dispute between two ancient scholars over even more ancient words. Rather, it's a fundamental debate about the nature of man.

Rabbi Yochanan sees the supremacy of the environment over the individual. No matter how righteous, pious or moral the individual is, he argues, the blandishments of a corrupt environment will eventually prevail. Resh Lakish, in contrast, deems that individuals have the power to fight back, and that people of great moral fiber can indeed influence their societies, no matter how wicked. They can change the course of human nature. (It's interesting to note that Resh Lakish himself started as a brigand and became a great rabbi!)

As the story of Noah evolves, the Bible informs us (Genesis 6:11), "And the earth became corrupt before G-d." Here the Bible provides us with a great insight into human nature. True, the people became corrupt before G-d in G-d's eyes, but in their own eyes, they always saw themselves as righteous. They were certain that nothing that they were doing was wrong or immoral. As immorality and corruption increased, it became increasingly acceptable, until it became impossible for anybody to speak up on behalf of morality. Indeed, this may very well be the first allusion in recorded literature to the human's capacity for self-justification and rationalization.

The Torah continues to describe the progressive evil of humankind in those days, by saying, "And the earth became filled with violence." Rashi, in a fascinating observation in the Jerusalem Talmud (Bava Metzia 4:2), understands "violence" as lawlessness. He maintains that people cheated each other of very small sums, making it impossible for the courts of law to charge those who were corrupt. As a result, the people saw the courts as ineffective. Slowly, more people challenged the authority of the courts, until anarchy reigned.

As sin and immorality began to prevail, all existence, even the inanimate elements of the surroundings, became tainted. That is why Rashi (Genesis 6:12) notes, that even the animals began to cohabit with other species. By providing a corrupt human model, the rest of creation was corrupted.

The story of Noah should frighten those who read it. Learning of the constant escalation of corruption in the time of Noah should give us pause to consider our own reality.

We had hoped that with the astonishing advances of technology, our world would become a more equitable and moral place. Now that so many have access to electricity, running water, telephones and the Internet, we might think that many of the problems of the world have been solved, and that all that is needed for peace to prevail is to eliminate the small pockets of evil and violence.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. It seems as if those who seek good in this world are in the distinct minority, and that even this minority is being rapidly corrupted by the evolving societal values that increasingly promote sex and violence as the most elevated forms of entertainment.

Noah was the person whom G-d chose to serve as an exemplar to the world. He and his family were selected to convey the message that no one need die and that future floods could be avoided if only people would heed G-d's message. Not only did Noah fail as a messenger to the world, he was a failed messenger to his own family as well. His own son, Ham, betrays him, and reintroduces many destructive elements to the world that the flood was intended to eliminate.

Nobel laureate Elie Weisel tells the story of the prophet who came to Sodom and began to call to the people to repent. At first, the people were amused that any prophet would dare enter the gates of Sodom and rebuke them for their actions. After a while, they tired of the prophet's ranting and raving, and began to pelt him with garbage and curses.

After a year of prophesying, the prophet, covered with wounds from head to foot, bruised and battered, wandered aimlessly through the streets of Sodom, when a little boy approached him and said: "Mr. Prophet, of all the places on earth, why did you come to Sodom?" The prophet meekly told the child that at first he had truly hoped that his words and his pleading would impact upon the residents of Sodom and that they would repent. "But you see that your words haven't made any impact at all. Why do you continue to prophesy?" The prophet replied: "When I first came to Sodom I hoped that my words would have impact on the people and that the people would change. Now I continue to prophesy so that the actions of the people of Sodom will not change me!"

Perhaps this is the role that we modern-day Noahs must play. Rather than seeking to aggressively stop corruption and immorality, we need to circle the wagons and maintain our own sense of morality and sanctity. Only then, can we hope to influence others.

The jury is still out on the debate between Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish. Will the environment impact on us and overwhelm us, or can the individual impact on the environment? But, at least one message is clear: we need to maintain our own personal morality in order for the rest of the world to be impacted by our example.

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Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald heads the National Jewish Outreach Program.

© 2010, National Jewish Outreach Program