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In this issue

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

Choose Good, Feel Great: Secrets to Living Your Best Life

By Rabbi David Aaron





“I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that you may live, you and your seed.”

                       — Deuteronomy 30:19

Goodness that isn't chosen is not complete goodness. If we didn't choose goodness — if we were just naturally good, or if goodness was the only option available — how could that be the highest expression of goodness?

I know a fellow that has dozens of guests over at his home every weekend. When I complimented him on his hospitality, he said, "What are you talking about? It comes naturally to me. It's not a struggle for me. I love to do this!"

Is he really choosing goodness? If it comes naturally, is it complete goodness? Goodness that wasn't chosen is not the greatest good. Only after you struggle with evil and chose goodness will you accomplish true and complete goodness.

Does G-d struggle with evil? Can G-d experience complete goodness through overcoming evil and choosing the good?

Yes, through you and me. G-d participates in complete goodness through our choices. Our service to G-d is to choose goodness. That's why we're in a world so full of allurements to do evil — so that we can rise to the challenge and choose good. That's our service to G-d. For there to be choice, evil has to be pretty attractive. There is no choice if we're not interested in one of the alternatives. In other words, if somebody puts in front of me a gorgeous, delicious meal, and next to it a plate of (forgive me) vomit, would it be a tremendous choice that I opted for the meal and not the vomit?

Therefore, in order for there to be the optimal opportunity to choose goodness, evil has to be extremely attractive. People think the Devil is an independent character who has a red ugly face, horns on his head, and a pitchfork in his hand. Kabbalah teaches that the forces of evil were created by G-d and the strongest ones are a counterfeit of good. They look just like goodness. That's why they present such a great challenge. Evil and good are not always like black and white. High-grade, superclassy evil looks just like good, but it's counterfeit nevertheless. Counterfeit means that it looks like the real thing but isn't.

I walk into a store. I hand the cashier a bill. The cashier says, "Thank you, sir. Oh, wait a second! … Sir, I'm sorry, this hundred-dollar bill is worthless; it's counterfeit." I then begin to argue, "What are you talking about? This is a hundred-dollar bill! Do you see the number 100 in the corner?"

The cashier shrugs. "No, I'm sorry, sir, this bill is a worthless piece of paper. President Washington's right eyeball is slightly off."

"No, no, this is one hundred dollars. What's an eyeball got to do with it?"

"Sir, just because it looks, smells, and feels like a hundred-dollar bill doesn't make it a hundred-dollar bill. Unless it's printed at the U.S. Mint, it's worthless."

So, too, the choices for goodness in real life are often much more subtle than most people recognize. There is a subtle but real difference between "looking good" and "being good."

RABBI AARON'S NEW BOOK IS OUT

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


Torah and Kabbalah teach that G-d created the world in order to facilitate the possibility for ultimate goodness, which means goodness that has been chosen. Our service to G-d is to choose goodness.

Life is all about choices. There are always choices to be made. Every day we are all handed choices. Every day we all get different challenges. No one can expect life to be a piece of cake in a world of choices.

But don't worry. Try your best, and if you make a mistake, you can do teshuvah. You can be forgiven. Remember, G-d knew the stakes were high, and G-d is with you in your pain and struggle.

In fact, the Talmud tells us that before G-d created the world, He created the power of teshuvah, because the likelihood of our making mistakes was so great that we couldn't even last a moment without the possibility of teshuvah already available.

Teshuvah is amazing. The Talmud teaches that if we transgress but later on change because we fear punishment, then our offense is considered null and void. But if we transgress but later on mend our ways because of our love for G-d, then our offense is counted as a merit in the spiritual realm.

Imagine a person who spent their whole life choosing evil and darkness. But moments before they die, they do teshuvah for the love of G-d. They are able to take all their offenses and turn them into merits and light. How is this possible?

When we do teshuvah out of fear, it means we're afraid of the pain that is the likely consequence of our choices. When fear motivates our personal transformation, it is because we want to protect ourselves. And that's a noble move.

However, when we do teshuvah out of our love for G-d, the underlying motivation is that we acknowledge the pain and disappointment we have caused G-d. We realize that G-d was counting on us to beat evil and choose good, and we failed Him. And we are so sorry for the missed opportunity to reveal this great goodness born out of choice.

Teshuvah done out of love arises from the realization that we are here on earth to perform a divine service — to choose goodness for G-d's sake. G-d wants to participate in complete goodness through our struggle against evil and our choice to do the good, but we have failed Him. We do teshuvah not because we fear punishment but because we love G-d and know that we have, so to speak, let G-d down. This realization itself brings us closer to G-d, even closer than we were before we made the mistakes. Therefore, all our offenses turn into merits. The darkness is converted into light.

If G-d is absolutely good, why did He create a world that has so much evil? Ultimate goodness, which is the goodness achieved through choice, requires the possibility for evil. Once you understand this, you will appreciate how central a role evil plays in this world. What's so good about this world is the evil in it. This world offers the opportunity to beat evil and choose good.

In other words, Kabbalah is teaching that the main feature and advantage of this world is the evil in it. This world was not created for what is already good in it. This world was created to be a forum for a new and higher kind of goodness — the goodness born out of overcoming evil and choosing to do good.

Imagine you walk into a factory and you see them trucking in tons and tons of garbage. You then find out that they actually buy this garbage and that it is their most valued raw material. This all sounds crazy to you until you find out that this factory is actually a recycling plant. They take garbage and turn it into usable products. Welcome to World, Inc.!

Yes, this world is really a recycling plant. This is why it is filled with so much garbage. All the trash around us and within us is here for us to recycle into usable products — lessons and realizations, growth and accomplishments. Before I learned this lesson from Kabbalah, I always wondered why there was so much evil in the world. However, after this secret was revealed to me, I asked: Why isn't there more evil in this world? The answer, of course, is that there is less evil because we are working so hard and succeeding in our mission on earth to choose good.

               — 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