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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

A Revolutionary Redefining of Parenthood

By Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald


Family holding hands together from Bigstock




The gift of a child is something that has to be earned

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | by This week's Torah reading, Toldos, opens with a genealogy of the family of Isaac and his wife Rebecca, and the birth of their twin sons, Esau and Jacob.

In Genesis 25:19, the Torah states, "V'ay'leh toledos Yitzchak ben Avraham, Avraham ho'leed es Yitzchak," and these are the offspring of Isaac, son of Abraham, Abraham begot Isaac. The foremost commentator, Rashi (d. 1105), notes that it was not at all a coincidence that Isaac was born immediately after the Holy One, blessed be He, changed Abram's name to "Abraham." By adding the letter the extra letter, Hey, to his previous name, says Rashi, the Divine indicated that Abraham would now be the father of many great nations, rather than the father of a single nation.

The name change, however, was not simply a semantic change of a single letter, but rather a truly ontological change. So important is this "little" change, that the Talmud in tractate Brachos 13a, commenting on the Biblical verse (Genesis 17:5), "You shall no longer be named Abram," states that anyone who henceforth refers to Abraham as "Abram," will have violated a positive commandment.

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (d. 1993), expounding on these verses, introduces a bold and extraordinarily novel concept regarding parenthood.

Rabbi Soloveitchik argues that prior to the changing of Abraham's name, it was assumed that parenthood (fatherhood as well as motherhood), was a condition derived entirely from nature. A seed is planted, a woman becomes pregnant, a child is born, and man and woman automatically assume the role of "parents." While the biological facts cannot be denied, this definition of parenthood has little or no spiritual or emotional implication. On the contrary, it underscores the commonality that humans have with animals, who also have a biological relationship with their offspring.


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Rabbi Soloveitchik argues that now, with the introduction of the new name "Abraham," the concept of parenthood is entirely transformed. For the first time there is not only a biological link, but a new understanding of parenthood, one which acknowledges a spiritual connection between parents and children. In addition to their previously understood role as biological parents, fathers and mothers are now ascribed the role of "teacher," whose responsibility it is to expose their offspring to vital moral and educational messages.

Declares, Rabbi Soloveitchik, "When a child is born into a family, the child does not yet belong entirely to the family. Parents must 'reacquire' the child." This, argues Rabbi Soloveitchik, was the reason for the Akeidah (the binding of Isaac). By offering his child as a sacrifice to G-d, Abraham demonstrated that the gift of a child was something he had earned, and had not merely been given. So, too, must all parents make evident that they are worthy of the gift of their offspring. Parents may never assume that they are entitled to children, nor may they issue a demand for them. To the contrary, a child is always a gift from the Divine Himself.

While it is true that G-d does not demand of parents today to subject their children to an Akeidah, parents are still expected to make "sacrifices" of their time and wherewithal. They are, declares Rabbi Soloveitchik, required to "educate the infant, to fashion the child, and to pass on the message of the Mesorah (Jewish tradition)." The true measure of a parent is revealed by how they shape and guide the child.

Rabbi Soloveitchik astutely notes the similarity between a parent's role in the development of a child, and G-d's role in fashioning the universe.



When the Torah states, in Genesis 2:4, "These are the generations of the heaven and earth, when they were created," it uses an unusual construct of the Hebrew word for creating, "b'hee'bah'r'ahm." Therefore, the sages (Bereshith Rabba 12:10) conclude that G-d created the heavens and the earth with the letter "Hey", the same letter added to Abram's name.

The sages explain that the letter, "Hey," "was chosen as a metaphor for the world --- in that three sides of the letter are closed and the fourth is open. (See image)

The Hebrew Letter "Hey"

One may, if they choose, wander and stray by "descending" to the depths as if through the opening on the bottom of the "Hey." However, for those seeking repentance, re-entry is possible through the small window represented by the opening that is on the side of the letter.

Similarly, the letter "Hey," was added to Abraham's name. Before this, teaching was not specifically seen as part of the role of parenting. In addition to his future as the father of many nations, Abraham became the first to assume the role of teacher to his biological children.

We find a similar message in Genesis 14:14, where scripture states that, when preparing to do battle against the four great kings, Abraham mobilized those whom he had "educated." Rabbi Manny Forman, the spiritual leader emeritus of Young Israel of Brookline, Ma., indicated, that Abraham was not called "Ivree," the Jew, when he recognized G-d or performed religious acts, but only when he went forth and reached out to others, mobilizing them and educating them. His soldiers are therefore called "those whom he educated."

A similar message is communicated by the fact that, surprisingly, there is no mitzvah (religious duty) in the Torah mandating personal Torah study. Sefer Ha'Chinuch, the classic work on the 613 commandments, their rationale and their regulations, by an anonymous author in 13th century Spain, indicates that the proof-text for studying Torah is found in the verse of the central Shemah prayer (Deuteronomy 6:7) "and you shall teach your children". A Jew does not have a personal obligation to study Torah. An individual's obligation to study Torah is only in order to have sufficient knowledge to teach one's children.

The revolutionary concept of the "teaching parent" that is introduced in this week's reading, is an invaluable lesson for all of humankind.

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


Previously:


Achieving immortality

Dead Read Heifers and the Sanctity of Human Life

The big 'IF': The Question of Free Choice

We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident --- or do we?

Bringing the Divine Home

To change a world






© 2013, National Jewish Outreach Program