May 13, 2013
David G. Savage:
Church-state, literally? Supreme Court weighing public school graduation in a church
May 10, 2013
Rabbi Berel Wein: Be all that you should be
May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
Obama administration quietly backs out of appeal over new contraceptive mandate
At Kerry-Putin meeting, US-Russia relations thaw --- a tad
The Kosher Gourmet by Leela Cyd Ross :
Almost too pretty to eat, this colorful salad with Sicilian inspiration will tickle the taste buds and delight your visual sensibility
May 6, 2013
May 3, 2013
Kids, kittens the Same?
With employee perks at struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! it's hard to tell
Artificial kidney offers hope to patients tethered to a dialysis machine
April 29, 2013
Poland's new Jewish museum celebrates life, doesn't revisit Holocaust
Terrorism in America: Is US missing a chance to learn from failed plots?
Boston Bomber's 'Svengali' Revealed
Tiny satellites + cellphones = cheaper 'eyes in the sky' for NASA
April 26, 2013
Clifford D. May:
Defense in the Age of Jihadist Terrorism
Sharon Palmer, R.D.:
How to feel your best -- with plenty of energy, a healthy weight and optimal mental and physical function -- without driving yourself batty
April 24, 2013
Admit it: No one has any idea what's going on
April 22, 2013
US man departing country arrested on terror charges
An unorthodox but growing treatment in a 9-year-old's battle against cancer
April 19, 2013
Caroline B. Glick:
Why Obama's visit to Israel had no impact on public opinion or government policy
Gold collapse: The start of something big?
Livable super-Earths? Two candidates among Kepler's latest finds
April 17, 2013
Too much of a good thing? 'Palestinians' realize downside of foreign aid boom
BAD NEWS: EVERYONE IS RIGHT!
April 15, 2013
Egyptian Christians respond with harsh words to attack -- rocks, Molotov cocktails, and gunfire -- against main cathedral
Marcy Darnovsky and Karuna Jaggar:
High Court to decide if you should own your DNA
US bracing for more Russian blowback after taking action against 18 more human rights violators
April 12, 2013
New cybersecurity bill: Privacy threat or crucial band-aid?
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom:
The Kosher Gourmet by Susan Russo:
Jackie Robinson's Friend, Hank Greenberg; CNN's Jake Tapper; Texas County in the News is named for 19thC. Jewish soldier and Congressman
FRUITY QUINOA STUFFED PEPPERS: A flavorful, colorful and edible vessel of delicately fluffy, mildly nutty filling combined with chewy apricots, tangy cherries, and crunchy pistachios
April 10, 2013
North Korean missiles: Could US shoot them down?
Warning: Don't waste your capital being fooled by profit prophets
Donald Hensrud, M.D.:
Mayo Clinic Medical Edge: Take vitamin supplements with caution --- even approved, they may actually do damage
74 DNA discoveries move cure closer for three cancers
April 8, 2013
Jonathan Tobin: What Part of No Preconditions Do American Jews Not Get?
Is Putin finally trading his own party for a new power base?
Jewish World Review
Dec. 9, 2005
/ 8 Kislev, 5766
The death of wonder?
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo
Blessings as a protest against the dulling of the human mind and heart
In our contemporary world it is difficult to continue being surprised. Our educational system (with exceptions) has been teaching us for several decades that everything must make sense and nothing can be left to intellectual random. Scientific knowledge with its emphasis on order and consistency, together with the study of human behavior and its insistence on universal psychological patterns, have confiscated our minds and convinced us that basically there is no place for astonishment.
While many of us still live with the notion of surprise, this, we have convinced ourselves, is nothing but the result of our limited understanding and knowledge of our world. If we would have complete knowledge and insight, every phenomenon would turn into a predictable and completely cohesive fact.
No doubt our willingness to accept this view relates to our fear of confronting the many metaphysical and moral-philosophical implications, once we recognize that such a view is unacceptable.
This attitude has assassinated our minds and hearts. Instead of realizing that with the evolution of scientific knowledge and its great explorers' and teachers' constant emphasis that how more we know, the greater the need to recognize the inescapable mysterium behind all existence, the average human being has convinced him/herself that all is "under control".
To a very great extent this has led to the secularization of our world view. The desire to escape the recognition of mysterium tremendum has played a trick on the minds of even the most intelligent people. Convincing themselves that the laws of nature explain "the above and beyond" in totally rational terms, they have lost the insight which shows that such laws are purely descriptive and lack all ultimate explanation in the existential sense of the word. Frequency, the basis for the establishment of the laws of nature, is never a final elucidation.
It is precisely such a powerful tool, because it is able to tell us what to expect. Much of our lives can be lived in a consistent way because of these laws, but they do not give us any insight into the ultimate "why".
As philosophers of science have constantly emphasized, science does not involve itself in ontology, epistemology or that which is beyond the experiential.
Religion in general and the Jewish Tradition in particular, have warned us that we must avoid the stagnancy of our minds. It teaches us that we must be able to grasp an insight before it is frozen into similarity and reduced to something else. No greater danger exists to man's spiritual condition than stereotyping views and insights. The art is to discover the unprecedented in that which is common. To stop in the middle of a thought before it
becomes ordinary and cold.
With this in mind our sages, we believe, introduced the notion of a bracha (blessing) before we eat, drink and involve ourselves in religious or even "common" deeds. All such human activities are dangerous once they no longer provoke astonishment.
With every morsel or sip we need to remind ourselves of the inscrutability of such deeds. We must capture them in their freshness before they become imprisoned.
A bracha is the Hebrew translation of the English phrase: "Wow!" Saying: "Baruch Ata Hashem ..." "Blessed are You G-d for providing us with …" we make it clear to G-d and ourselves that we have not fallen victim to the ordinary, and that our hearts are able to climb beyond the average.
As such it is a protest against the dullness of the human mind and heart.
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 Nathan Lopes Cardozo is a world-renowned lecturer and ambassador for
Judaism, the Jewish people, the State of Israel and Sephardic Heritage. Comment by clicking here.
© 2005, Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo