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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 Nov. 23, 2005 / 21 Mar-Cheshvan, 5765

Schadenfreude or Thanksgiving

By Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg

A warped perspective on life is on the rise and spreading fast


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Question number one: What do Terrill Owens, France and the Palestinians have in common? Answer: They provide an opportunity for schadenfreude. Question number two: What is schadenfreude? It is spelled s-c-h-a-d-e-n-f-r-e-u-d-e. It's a German word that us Brooklyn guys don't throw around lightly. You rarely hear this word being used but recently it was featured in two editorial pieces across the country, one in the Wall Street Journal and the other in the Los Angeles Jewish Observer.


The German word "schadenfreude" takes seven English words to define it. It means: "malicious satisfaction in the misfortune of others." In recent weeks it has become popular amongst Jews because of an article written by Si Frumkin, a journalist and Jewish activist in Los Angeles. He wrote about the sense of schadenfreude he know feels when looking at the situation in Gaza. At least 6 people emailed me a copy of the article! Internet surfers have surfed it, bloggers have blogged it … and us non-geeks have just read it.


Frumkin starts off by citing a famous historian, Peter Gaye, a Jew in Germany during the Nazi era, who experienced schadenfreude when he watched the Germans lose gold medals in 1936. Watching the German lose, Gaye wrote, "can be one of the great joys of life."


Frumkin goes on to tell about the schadenfreude he felt when Israel was disengaging from Gaza and there was a disagreement over what should be done with the "hot houses" which the Israeli farmers had used to grow flowers and vegetables. Should they be destroyed, or should they be left for the Palestinians to cultivate? And along came a group of wealthy American Jews and paid the Israeli farmers $14 million to leave the hot houses for the Palestinians. You remember what happened next? The Israelis left … the Palestinians come in and burnt the synagogues down and then trashed and vandalized many of the hot houses which the American Jews had paid for. Frumkin writes: "And so I have schadenfreude. The Palestinians will not export flowers to Holland or food to France. The greenhouses will not be rebuilt. The Palestinian economy, such as it is, will continue to be mired in corruption, hatred and violence. They will suffer — schadenfreude — but still they'll never admit that it was their own fault. And I have schadenfreude toward the naοve rich Jews who thought the Arab reaction to their gift would be based on logic and not on inbred hatred. You silly people! Didn't you hear that this is the Middle East, where scorpions sting even if this means their own destruction? You lost $14 million and you know, I am glad you did."


That's a classic example of schadenfreude. And who can better understand that feeling than we Baltimoreans — citizens of "Charm City," in watching what has happened to Terrill Owens. Do you remember two years ago when the Baltimore Ravens were a professional football team? They felt that they were one wide receiver away from getting to the Super Bowl, and so they signed Terrill Owens, acknowledged as one of the best football players in the league. And what happened? Owens turned them down! Owens said he didn't want to play for Baltimore. Owens was known to be a bit of a non-conformist and one who spoke his mind. And he told everyone loud and clear: he would not play for the Ravens. And he never did. We had to trade him to Philadelphia, where he went on last year to help lead them to the Super Bowl, bad foot and all! This year, time and again, he has put his foot in his mouth, alienating all of his teammates and management. And now the Eagles want to dump him. Tell the truth … as a Raven fan, didn't Owens' troubles give you a little feeling of schadenfreude?


Now all this pales in comparison to the sense of schadenfreude many of us feel these days when hearing what is taking place in France. The rioting in France provides a double-barreled sense of schadenfreude; one for us as Americans and one for us as Jews. On Sept. 5th the Wall Street Journal had an editorial entitled, "The World's schadenfreude." It described the gloating of many countries around the world in seeing how America was struggling to deal with the havoc brought about by Hurricane Katrina. And no country seemed to be enjoying America's nightmare more than France.


For years now — for decades — France has thumbed its nose and maintained a holier-than-thou approach both to the American people and to the Jewish state. No country on the European continent was more antagonistic toward America than France. No country on the European continent has been more antagonistic toward Israel than France. And it certainly shouldn't have been this way. Just go to Normandy — as I did — and see the American cemetery there, and you'll understand France's debt to America.


Indeed, France had been a friend to Israel, fought side by side with Israel in 1956 but then sold Israel down the drain for barrels of Arab oil. In recent years, whatever Israel did to combat the Palestinian Intifada, France criticized. And as for America, France in recent years has prided itself in poking America in the eye whenever it could. Hurricane Katrina provided a marvelous opportunity.


France's widely read LeMonde Newspaper wrote: "Despite its military and economic potential, which it is quick to deploy abroad, the hyper-power is incapable of dealing with an internal catastrophe of this dimension. Is it reasonable to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fight in Iraq when America is incapable of protecting its own citizens?" Oh, there was plenty of schadenfreude in France just two months ago when it came to America. But now, who is "schadenfreuding?"


Now, when France finds itself having to deal with its own Intifada, with its own underclass, with those who would seek to undermine and destroy it.


Yes, there is enough going on in this world for schadenfreude to take hold. But it shouldn't. Getting satisfaction from the troubles of others is no way to live. It gives you a warped perspective on life. After all, think about it … should we as Americans feel good about France's troubles with its Muslim youth? Should we as Jews feel good about the Palestinians finding it difficult — if not impossible — to establish a civilized society? There may be some instant gratification in all that, but in the long run we will all be the losers.


If France can't overcome its Islamic problems then such problems have the potential of sweeping across Europe with its rising Muslim population. Will that make us feel good? The Palestinians, in their inability to put down their terrorists and establish law and order is a danger not just to them but for Israel as well. These people are right next door! Would we feel good if Hamas — which calls for Israel's destruction — takes control of the Palestinians? No! schadenfreude is like smoking and drinking … it may feel good while you're experiencing it, but the long term effects can be dangerous to your health.


Perhaps that's why Jewish law forbids it. In The Ethics of the Fathers we are taught that Shmuel Ha-katan taught: "Binfol oyevacha al tismach — when your enemy falls do not rejoice." In other words: Thou shalt not schadenfreude.


This lesson regarding schadenfreude is an important one for us as Americans to keep in mind on this Thanksgiving weekend because, unfortunately, in recent months I have seen a spirit of schadenfreude taking hold within our country in regard to our country. The war in Iraq has taken a toll that no one could have anticipated. Every day the body count rises. Every day we hear more things that are cause for concern, from questionable intelligence to torture of prisoners. Whether one supported the war as I did, or opposed it … whether one is pro-Bush or anti-Bush … should make no difference. Our country faces a difficult road ahead.


Can anyone feel good about that? Some do! Look at the headlines on some articles across the Internet: "The Neocons are Losing." Another writer writes, "The United States has lost the war in Iraq and that's a good thing," and goes on to write, "As a U.S. citizen I welcome the U.S. defeat for a simple reason: it isn't the defeat of the United States, but of that empire. And it is essential the American empire be defeated and dismantled."


Let me ask you: If, in fact, America is an empire … has it been such a terrible empire? The same Ethics of the Fathers which teaches us "when your enemy falls do not rejoice," also teaches, "al t'hi rosho bifnei atzmecha — do not be wicked in your own sight."


America is not the evil empire!


In the past, America was criticized for supporting dictators. Now we are criticized for advocating democracy. But the reality is the people in the Middle East are closer to tasting democracy than ever before because of America! America is depicted as being the "bad guy" in Iraq, but have you noticed the behavior of those we are seeking to defeat? They are people who blow up cafes, behead civil servants, murder women and children and send suicide bombers into mosques.


Certainly America has made mistakes and has its problems, but don't make us out to be worse than we are just so that you can have a sense of schadenfreude. It's one thing to be against a war your country is fighting, another to hope that your country, G-d forbid, is defeated!


The fact of the matter is, no country debates its flaws more publicly than ours does. No country spends more blood and money to uphold the freedom of complete strangers than America. No country rushes to the aid of international victims of disasters more than America does. No country has welcomed more immigrants fleeing oppression than America has done. And, on this Thanksgiving weekend, let us as Jews remember … no country has been more accepting, more supportive, of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than the United States of America.


Around the world, people still read and accept the canard of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which describes how the Jews are conspiring to control the world's economy. Here in America the person who controls our economy is the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. That person, Alan Greenspan, is now retiring. Greenspan is a Jew. He is to be replaced by Ben S. Bernanke … Ben Bernanke, whose father was a kosher butcher and whose middle initial stands for "Shalom." As Harry Golden would put it, "Only in America!"


G-d bless America!

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg is Senior Rabbi of Baltimore's Beth Tfiloh Congregation. Let him know what you think by clicking here.


Previously:

An Orthodox rabbi's Christmas sermon
Thanksgiving: Let us not be warped in our perspective



© 2005, Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg