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December 2, 2014

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

On gin joints and Divine destiny

By Rabbi Dov Fischer




Interesting, how people journey -- almost aimlessly -- yet en route encounter their kismet


“And G-d said to Abram: 'Go forth, for your [best interest], from your land and from the place of your birth and from the house of your father to the land I will show you.'”

                        —   Gen. 12:1


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Our Torah reading this week begins with G-d bringing Abram to an unknown destination, leading him away from the security of his childhood home, family, and the community where he grew up. He will encounter people and a culture foreign to the core of his being. He will not have parents nearby to babysit. In admittedly anachronistic terms, his favorite corner candy store, the newspaper stand down the block, the neighborhood ice cream truck and its jingle will be gone. The friends with whom he played childhood games — gone. The streets and avenues, the architectural styles, the local landmarks — gone. His childhood — gone.

At G-d's direction, he is abandoning everything he knows, the anchor of his security. And he is proceeding, with only G-d as his GPS guide, to encounter his destiny.

Abram soon will plant new roots in the Promised Land, but he never will assimilate the locals or their culture. Although they will deem him a great man — the Canaanite Hittites will call him "a Prince of G-d in our midst" (Gen. 23:6) — Abra[ha]m ultimately will insist, years later, that he wants his son Isaac to marry a girl from the Old Country, back across the river, and definitely not a Canaanite. When he will send his manservant and major domo, Eliezer the Damascene, decades later to find a wife for Isaac, Abra[ha]m will instruct him: "[S]wear that . . . you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell. Rather, travel to my land and to my place of birth [to] take a wife for my son Isaac." (24:3-8)

And yet G-d set Abra[ha]m's destiny in Canaan, the Promised Land.

Abra[ha]m's experience is not unique. Throughout our generations, the Divine leads people on journeys that just-so-happen to bring them frontally facing their destiny. Thus, the manservant Eliezer just-so-happens to encounter Rebecca, an atypically kind, even altruistic, young lady eager to draw heavy buckets of water both for the thirsty traveling servant and, even more strikingly, for his camels. Eliezer rapidly discerns that Hashem has brought him face-to-face with precisely the woman he prayed he would find for Isaac. (24:12-27)

A generation later, Jacob will be compelled to flee for his life, avoiding a vengeful brother set on murdering him. Of all the watering holes in the Middle East, he will find himself at the well where, moments later, the young Rachel is about to arrive to quench her father's sheep. (29:9-11)

Generations later, it is young Moses of Egypt. Fleeing a Pharaoh determined to execute him for his having killed a murderous Egyptian taskmaster, Moses just-so-happens to arrive at a well where the daughters of Midian's High Priest are about to arrive with their flock. From the resulting encounter that ensues, he not only marries Tziporah but gains a father-in-law who is theologically renowned and skilled with managerial experience that will prove critical later for Moses' mission as teacher and judge. (Exodus 2:15-21; 18:17-24).

Interesting — how people journey, almost aimlessly, yet en route to encounter their Divine destiny. In fiction and film, we recall Humphrey Bogart's great movie tag-line, as Rick Blaine in "Casablanca" contemplates the unexpected return of Ingrid Bergman's Ilsa Lund into his life: "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine."

But the Torah is real life. And so is yours.

I look back on twists and turns in my life. I am a kid from Brooklyn and remain thoroughly a New Yorker. Though two decades in California, I still shamelessly root for the Yankees and Mets, football Giants and Jets, pronounce "Rhonda" with a Brooklyn "R" added to the end of the word, and compensate by deleting the "R' at the end of "sister." (Like any New Yawkuh in Califawnia, I note that our Govuhnuh speaks with an accent.) But my Brooklyn life took its unexpected turns, and California is the well where G-d brought me to chart a significant portion of my life and career. Looking back at each step that took me along that path, each turn could have led me instead to a different gin joint. But it was here, in California's Southland, that I heeded Yogi Berra's sage advice: "When you come to the fork in the road — take it." As a result, I found my wife here, helped found a yeshiva and two synagogues as a rabbi on the West Coast, became an attorney and practiced and still teach law here, and have been honored to touch and engage three Jewish communities throughout the Southland as their spiritual leader.

Are you sure that your life has been all that different? How did you end up in the community where you live? How did you encounter the one who most impacted your life? How did you meet your spouse? How did you end up working where you do?

In Greater Los Angeles, most L.A. Jews trace our and our parents' roots back elsewhere. Some of us came here from the East Coast or the Midwest for job opportunities. Some from Iran or the former Soviet Union fleeing persecution. Some from Israel. Some came here to connect with siblings or childhood friends. We had dreams, hopes — and we thought those motivators were the only reasons we came here. Yet, looking back, perhaps ten years later, perhaps half a century, we experience an awe that seizes us with a private and deep humility. It is the awe that one feels when he suddenly divines the Divine and His ways, realizing that something far deeper was unfolding in his life than he ever realized. Who knew, when Joseph's brothers sold him into ignominious slavery, that he was en route to becoming the Egyptian Viceroy who would save his family from a devastating famine? And did he himself fully realize, as Rabbi Avigdor Miller has noted, that his role as Viceroy was subtext to the greater purpose of bringing the entire Jewish people into Egypt so that the seeds could be planted for establishing the foundation that would lead to the miracles of the Exodus and the Divine Revelation at Mount Sinai?

In each of our respective lives and their unexpected turns, too, maybe — just maybe — there was higher purpose, the unanticipated destiny to which G-d Almighty was leading each of us, each on our respective journeys. Perhaps the job that drew us to move the family soon fell through. Maybe the relative who drew us to Chicago moved further West or back East. The friend with whom we partnered in business had a falling-out years ago, and the business floundered. And yet, having moved, we proceeded to chart some of our lives' greatest achievements. We met new friends, found new opportunities, saw our children flourish in ways we did not expect.

We did so, far away from our lands, birth places, and parents' homes. We walked with G-d, journeying towards a well He had prepared for us. From Abram's journey this week to our own, we have come to see — even through disappointments and setbacks along the way — that, when journeying to the well where G-d has set our destiny, all's well that ends well.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dov Fischer is an adjunct professor of law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and serves as the rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County. Comment by clicking here.

© 2010, Rabbi Dov Fischer