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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

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 Sept. 21, 2004 /6 Tishrei, 5765

Momentous moments

By Rabbi Avi Shafran


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http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Who'd have imagined that the "Days of Repentance" between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur would conjure thoughts of Howard Dean?


Even with memories as short as so many are these days, most of us can still pretty vividly recall the Vermont governor and unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. He was, for a time, the focus of quite a media feeding frenzy; his photograph graced the covers of newsmagazines and his every pronouncement was prominently reported.


As was his crash and burn, precipitated by what some have dubbed his "I Have a Scream" speech. After an unexpectedly weak showing in the Iowa caucus, the candidate declared his undeterred determination to forge on, in a rousing address that culminated in a vocalization that fell somewhere between a Zulu war cry and a locomotive horn. It proved to be his political undoing. That single moment's decision to let loose in that way at that juncture spelled the end of Mr. Dean's road to the highest office in the land.


Decisively dooming moments seem almost endemic to presidential candidates: Edmund Muskie's tears of pain, Gary Hart's infelicitous mugging for his "Monkey Business" snapshot, Michael Dukakis's donning of an ill-fitting combat helmet. Each, deservedly or not, brought a national campaign to a screeching halt.


But every of us, too, comes face to face from time to time with opportunities of our own that, wrongly handled, can likewise lead to places we don't want to go.


And we, in fact, are vying for something infinitely more important than a mere nomination for President. We're in the running, hopefully, for the achievement of worth, racing to achieve meaning in our lives.

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In the bustle and haste of everyday existence, it is alarmingly easy to forget that the decisions we make, sometimes almost unthinkingly, can be crucial; that seemingly insignificant forks in the roads of our lives can lead to achievement and holiness, or, G-d forbid, to setbacks, even ruin.


Every single decision we make, of course, is important. Each day of our lives presents occasions for choices, chances to seize meaningful things — a mitzvah, a heartfelt prayer, an act of charity — or to forgo them. Every opportunity to be morose or angry is a chance to hurt others, and ourselves — and a chance, too, to do neither, and achieve something priceless.


But there are also truly momentous opportunities, when we are presented with roads that diverge in entirely different directions. The Talmud teaches that "one can acquire his universe" — the one that counts: the world-to-come — or "destroy" it "in a single moment."


Potentially transformative decisions are more common to our lives than we may realize. When we decide things like where to live or what synagogue to attend — not to mention more obviously critical decisions like whom to marry or how to raise and educate our children — we are defining our futures, and others'. And it is of great importance that we recognize the import of our decisions, and accord the gravity due them.


We can even, through sheer determination, create our own critical moments. Consider the Talmudic case of the "conditional husband."


In Jewish law, a marriage is effected by the proposal of a man to a woman — the declaration of the woman's kiddushin, or "specialness" to her husband, followed by the acceptance by the woman of a coin or item of worth from her suitor. If the declaration is made on the condition that an assertion is true, the marriage is valid only if the assertion is. Thus, if a man betroths a woman on the condition that he owns a car, or still has his own teeth, unless he does, they aren't married.


What if a man offers a woman a coin or item and makes the kiddushin-declaration "on the condition that I am a tzaddik," a totally righteous person? The Talmud informs us that even if the man in question has no such flawless reputation the marriage must be assumed to be valid (and only a divorce can dissolve it).


Why? Because, the Talmud explains, the man "may have contemplated repentance" just before his proposal.


That determined choice of a moment, in other words, if sincere, would have transformed the man completely, placed him on an entirely new life-road. The lesson is obvious: Each of us can transform himself or herself through sheer, sincere will.


This season of the Jewish year, our tradition teaches, is particularly fertile for making choices, for embarking on new roads. All we need are the sensitivity and wisdom to be open to crucial opportunities, and the determination to craft some of our own - to make choices that will change our lives and our futures for the holier.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America. To comment, please click here.

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