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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 Dec. 14, 2007 // 4 Teves 5768

It is not enough to identify with good if we cannot embrace it with the power of well-reasoned and strongly felt conviction

By Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein



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These days it seems the only crime worse than believing is attempting to get others to believe. We have become so tentative, so unsure of ourselves, that we think it best to raise our children with love and self-confidence, but not any single set of values; that we ought not to force our views on anyone, least of all our children.

Sadly, this moral uncertainty is also being embraced by our political leaders with little outcry


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If there is one Biblical notion that all the monotheistic religions hold in common, it is the triumph of Good over Evil.


Actually, the Bible predicts the opposite.


Don't look too hard. It is pretty much right at the beginning. There is something profoundly disturbing about the story of Cain and Abel. It is the Bible's first story about the encounter of the good guy and the bad guy. But it doesn't end like it is supposed to. When the dust settles, the good guy is dead, and the bad guy cops a plea. Is that a message for all times? Shouldn't the guys in white triumph over their counterparts in black?


A late 16th century rabbi provides a chilling explanation. Cain, explains Rabbi Judah Loewe of Prague, represents the person in the throes of his yetzer Hora, his evil inclination. Abel is true to the Hebrew meaning of his name — hevel, which means emptiness, vacuousness. Even when Abel performs some good deed, such as in bringing the offering to which G-d responds favorably, it does not flow from some internal font of goodness. His actions — even his good actions — are superficial, not an expression of his essential self. (Seth, the brother yet to be born, represents the actualization of yetzer Tov, the inclination to good; his descendants would inherit the new world after the Flood.)


Put simply, Cain represents strong-willed evil, while Abel represents wimpy, irresolute good. When they clash, it is not even a close match. Sure-footed evil will forever triumph over good that stumbles and falters. One of the first messages of the Bible is that it is not enough to identify with good, if we cannot embrace it with the power of well-reasoned and strongly felt conviction.


This is a sobering conclusion in a world in which we are often derided for holding firm to personally held values. One of the few certainties that have survived to our day was eloquently stated by Oliver Wendel Holmes, often seen as a champion of moral relativism: "Certitude is not the test of certainty." We have come to mistrust any claim to have discovered a universal truth.


Perhaps the only crime worse than believing, in many circles, is attempting to get others to believe. We have become so tentative, so unsure of ourselves, that we think it best to raise our children with love and self-confidence, but not any single set of values. We ought not to force our views on anyone, least of all our children. Let them choose their values when they grow up.


This is tragic. At worst, we will produce amoral offspring. At best, they will often become a generation of Abels, incapable of standing up to the Cains that will certainly share their world.


At the Dartmouth presidential debate in late September, the candidates were asked what they thought about a Lexington, Mass. teacher who read a story to second graders about a prince who married a prince, i.e. about same-sex marriage. Senator Edwards supported the notion:


Second grade might be a little tough, but even in second grade to be exposed to all ... to all of those possibilities because I don't want to impose my view. Nobody made me G-d. I don't get to decide on behalf of my family or my children, as my wife, Elizabeth, who's spoken her own mind on this issue. I don't get to impose on them what it is that I believe is right.


Despite Suha Arafat's absence from the room, Hillary made no attempt to protest, to distance herself from the remark. Neither, for that matter, did any of the other candidates. The point was subtle enough that perhaps the rest of them should probably not be blamed. May G-d save us, however, from the moral vision of John Edwards.


One does not have to be G-d to forcefully teach children the difference between right and wrong, and a set of strongly-held values. It does, however, usually help to believe in G-d, and several of the Democratic candidates have been going out of their way to stress their belief. Believing in G-d, among other things, allows parents to view their task as fulfilling a Divine mission, not just providing gametes and game boys. Believing in G-d allows — often forces — believers to embrace some values as better, not just different.


Part of the challenge of parenting is to be clear enough in one's own values to be able to impart them to the next generation. The values that make a difference — the ones that require sacrifice and effort — compete with many counter-values. They are not so likely to survive if they are either unclear and conflicted, or "imposed" (to use Senator Edwards' word) by force and coercion. The trick is to understand them well enough to be able to demonstrate their value to children. This involves different lessons appropriate to children at different ages, and protecting them against exposure to harmful experiences and examples. If children come into their world with a tabula rasa, it does not stay empty very long. If we will not inscribe something of value on it, it does not stay blank. Many other pens wait to furiously scribble their dark messages.


Put more simply, there is a world of difference between education and imposition. But letting children chose from competing systems like sampling the dishes at a smorgasbord is a dereliction of parental duty. It will also spell the end of America.


Until the end of days, there will be no shortage of evil, much of it focused and determined. Good doesn't have a fighting chance if values are picked like choosing between different rolls of wallpaper. Good needs to be conveyed with passion and conviction. The parenting ethic of John Edwards will likely lead to a country not very sure of what it stands for, or where it is going.


Cain, unfortunately, is alive and well. Abel just won't make the cut. The story of the struggle between the two brothers is crucial at the dawn of humanity, because it underscores the need for G-d's guidance — the rest of the Bible. Having benefited from that guidance, we can find the mandate and the confidence necessary to be parents unashamed of making choices for our children. That doesn't make us G-d, it makes us G-d's partners.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein holds the Irmas Chair in Jewish Law and Ethics at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

© 2007, http://www.JewishWorldReview.com