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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 Sept. 22, 2006 / 29 Elul, 5766

Spare Change? The Power of Personal Change for a Blessed New Year

By Rabbi David Aaron


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Teshuva (repentance), tefilah (prayer), and tzedakah (charity) annul (even the most) severe decree.”

                       — From the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur prayers


She calls out to the man on the street
"Sir, can you help me?


He walks on, doesn't look back
He pretends he can't hear her
Starts to whistle as he crosses the street
Seems embarrassed to be there


Oh think twice, it's another day for
You and me in paradise
Oh think twice, it's just another day for you,
You and me in paradise

                       — Phil Collins, Singer/Composer

The Talmud teaches: "Tzedaka saves from death." When we need an incredible influx of life force — because we are facing impending physical death or impending spiritual death, the act of giving to charity can be one of the most powerful antidotes.


As proof for the statement, the Talmud tells the incredible story of the daughter of the famous Rabbi Akiva, who lived some 2,000 years ago. A star-gazer told Rabbi Akiva that his daughter would die on the day of her wedding. Rabbi Akiva replied that just because it is written in the stars does not mean it has to happen, because we can make choices which overturn our destinies.


As it turned out however, on the day of her wedding, the young bride was getting ready when, unbeknown to her, a poisonous snake slithered into the room and crawled up the back of her dress. Meanwhile, unaware she continued to put on her wedding bonnet. In those days, brides wore elaborate headdresses affixed by large hat pins. The snake was ready to bite her just as she inserted one pin and pierced an eye of the snake. Then she put in the other pin and it pierced the other eye of the snake and killed it.


Still unaware of what had happened, she went out to greet her father, who was shocked to see a dead snake dangling from her hair. Realizing the narrowness of her escape, he asked, "What did you do that you succeeded in saving yourself from death?"


She thought for a moment and then remembered that earlier in the day as everyone in the house was busy preparing for the wedding she heard a knock at the door. All the others were too preoccupied with their duties, but she, the bride, in the midst of beautifying herself, heard the knock at the door and took the time to answer. Standing there was a person asking for money. So she gave him a few coins.


Rabbi Akiva nodded knowingly, "Tzedaka saves a person from death."


Why should giving a few coins have the power to save a person's life? Why is Tzedaka such an incredible connector to life, blessing and abundance?


To begin with Tzedaka is really not charity. Charity is doing something you don't have to do because you are being nice. You don't feel an obligation to give, but you want to be nice, so you'll give a few coins. That's what charity is, but that's not really Tzedaka.


Tzedaka really means "justice." According to justice, you must help someone who has less than you. It's not giving because you feel like giving, and want to think of yourself as sweet and generous. Tzedaka is an obligation.


By giving out of Tzedaka, out of justice, we justify our existence. Without giving, there's no reason to exist. Only by being contributing members of a community do we acquire worth. Tzedaka justifies our existence by demonstrating that we are a part of a community in service of a greater reality. At the same time, we recognize that what we are giving is not really our own. It's all G-d's wealth. We're just passing it on.


Torah teaches that we are responsible to acknowledge — in thought, speech and action — the blessings of life's spiritual wealth and pass them on to the world. And Tzedaka fulfills that function. We give each to each, because we are all members of a community. Our higher purpose in being part of a community is to acknowledge G-d as the source of all life and goodness and thereby enjoy the opportunity of being a channel for the presence of G-d into this world. The simple act of giving Tzedaka accomplishes that in an instant.

RABBI AARON'S NEW BOOK IS OUT

You can buy the book at a discount by clicking HERE. (Sales help fund JWR.).


Winston Churchill once said, "We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." Tzedaka is not being nice. Tzedaka is being honest. You are saying, in effect, "It's not my money. It's for me to pass it on. And the more I give away, the more I'm going to get."


Now, if you can't give it away, it's because you think it's yours and you are the source of your wealth. When you know that it's not yours, that it's only entrusted to you, you have no difficulty in passing it on.


A stingy person is like a wire trying to hold on to electricity. But isn't that crazy? Why would a wire want to hold onto electricity? Its whole purpose is to pass it on, to be a conductor of electricity. That's why a wealthy person is not a person who has a lot. A wealthy person is a person who gives a lot. A person who gives a lot understands that he is plugged into the source of all wealth. G-d is the source of blessing and wealth. The more conscious a person is of G-d as the source of wealth, the more he can become a vehicle to channel wealth into the world. But when a person holds onto money, thinking, "It's my money. It's just for me," eventually he will lose his wealth. Maybe he won't lose his money literally, but he will lose the blessing of that money. That's why when people who are experiencing financial difficulties seek the advice of a rabbi, often he will tell them, "Give more Tzedaka." It may sound odd. Here a person is struggling, unable to make ends meet, and the solution is to give what little he has away? But it works, because by letting it flow out one end, new resources flow in the other end.


A wealthy, very generous man named Joe Berman once told me something which made a deep impression on me. He said, "Very often, when people go through bad times, they ask, 'Why me?' Well, why don't people, when they go through good times, ask, 'Why me?' My whole life, I've been blessed with good times, and I've always asked, 'Why did it come to me? What am I supposed to do with it?' Because I could see that it certainly wasn't coming in just to make me rich."


Very wise advice. We all have to ask ourselves this same question especially now before Rosh Hashanna : "Why me? If I have money, talent, power to influence…. why me?"

               — Don't miss Rabbi's Aaron new book: Inviting G-d In: Celebrating the Soul-Meaning of the Jewish Holy Days

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JWR contributor Rabbi David Aaron is the founder and dean of Isralight, an international organization with programming in Israel, New York South Florida, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Toronto. He has taught and inspired thousands of Jews who are seeking meaning in their lives and a positive connection to their Jewish roots.

He is the author of the newly released, Inviting G-d In, The Secret Life of G-d, and Endless Light: The Ancient Path of Kabbalah to Love, Spiritual Growth and Personal Power , Seeing G-d and Love is my religion. (Click on links to purchase books. Sales help fund JWR.) He lives in the old City of Jerusalem with his wife and their seven children.



© 2006, Rabbi David Aaron