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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 April 28, 2006 / 30 Nissan, 5766

A Dangerously Divine Love

By Rabbi David Aaron


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The circumstance of circumcision


“And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”

                       — Leviticus 12:3


“The secret of the Lord is to those who revere Him: He will reveal to them His covenant.”

                       — Psalms 25:14


“And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”

                       — Leviticus 12:3


“What is the secret that He will only reveal to those who revere Him? This refers to the circumcision. G-d revealed its mystery only to Abraham of whom it is written, 'You revere G-d.'.”

                       — Midrash Tanchuma, Lech Lecha 19


The truth that G-d lovingly makes a covenant with human beings is so dangerous that it must be kept a secret from anyone who does not properly revere G-d.


What's the danger? The Midrash states:


"G-d said to Abraham, 'Enough for the servant to become equal to his Master!' This is parable to a King whose beloved was very rich. The King said, 'What can I give him. He is already overly wealthy. Therefore, I will gird him with my own adornments.' So G-d said to Abraham, 'Suffice it that you be as Myself.' As it is written, 'I will place my covenant between you and Me.'"

— Tanchuma Yashan


In other words, G-d has created us as beings other than Himself, and then shares Himself with us empowering us with the status of being His partner and associate creator.


Indeed the snake in the Garden of Eden was right when he seduced Eve claiming, "And you shall be as G-d." This is not only a human inner yearning but the very intention of G-d, the purpose of creation, to give of His goodness to another — by sharing Himself with other. The only problem with the snake's claim is how to achieve that. The true way to godliness and immortality is not through setting yourself up as a god and rebelling against G-d's will. The way to godliness is by bonding with G-d through humble service and loving relationship.


How does G-d give of Himself to humanity? Through offering us the opportunity to serve Him and thereby partake of His eternity. Adam and Eve failed to realize the true path to godliness and immortality. Had they restrained themselves and not eaten the forbidden fruit, they would have fulfilled not only G-d's will, but also their own deepest aspirations. Only Abraham was worthy to know the secret of how a humble servant of G-d becomes His beloved partner. Only Abraham had the reverence essential to be entrusted with the dangerous secret of G-d's incredible love and the powerful status of covenant. Abraham was the first to enjoy direct relationship and identification with G-d. He experienced the ecstasy of love; the mysterious interface of humanity with Divinity.


G-d's desire to empower us and share with us His very own supreme status is the basic theme and message of the Torah. The Midrash states:


"The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory" (Psalms 26:7). Why did Solomon call G-d the "King of Glory"? Because He assigns glory to those who revere Him. The proof is that one must not ride on the horse or sit on the throne of a mortal king, yet G-d placed Solomon on His throne as it says: "Then Solomon was placed on the throne of the Lord as king" (1 Chron. 29:23). One must not make use of the scepter of a mortal king, but G-d handed His scepter to Moses, as it says: "And Moses took the rod of G-d in his hand" (Exodus 4:20). One must not wear the crown of a mortal king, but G-d will one day place His crown on Messiah, the King. Of what is the crown of G-d? Of very fine gold (Song of Songs 5:11), and it says, "You set a crown of fine gold on his head" (Psalms 21:4). One must not put on the robes of a mortal king, but Israel wears the mantle of G-d. What is the mantle of G-d? Strength, as it says: "The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace" (Psalms 29:11). One must not call himself by the name of a mortal king, Caesar or Augustus, for if one will assume His name he will be executed (for treason), yet G-d called Moses by His very own name, as it says: "Behold, I have set you in G-d's stead to Pharaoh" (Exodus 7:1).
— Exodus Rabbah 8:1


REVERENCE: THE PREREQUISITE FOR LOVE
There are very few who understand that revering G-d is the meager, yet necessary prerequisite in order for G-d to safely reveal the secret of covenant and lovingly share Himself and His power with us. Imagine the dangers of enjoying divine status in the hands of the irreverent. Reverence is the essential condition for all relationships of intense love. The closer you come to people and intimately share yourself with them, the more you need to be sure that they respect and revere the distinction that still distinguishes you as other than them. Otherwise, this profound state of identification can lead to dangerous assumptions and abuse. Your beloved may over step his/her boundaries by thinking "your will and my will are one and the same." This is what the Talmud means when it warns: "Love damages borders" (Sanhedrin 105b).

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The Hebrew word for "reverence" is yira. This word is also related to the verb "to see." What is the connection between seeing and revering? People often wonder, "Why can't I see G-d?" Generally, the assumed answer is that G-d is too far. However, this is not so. The real reason that we cannot see G-d is because He is too close. In fact, our ultimate struggle is to establish and maintain a healthy sense of distance from G-d, lest our profoundly close and intimate identification with the Divine lead to dangerous and reckless misconceptions and transgression of borders. To revere G-d really means: seeing clearly the boundaries that distinguish us from the Divine and, thereby, recognizing who we are relative to G-d.


This is the same sort of distance that is essential in all loving relationships. The distance we maintain between our selves and our beloved creates the necessary space for meeting. Meeting and love can only happen within the context of space — only then can love happen in a genuine way without destroying borders. The clarity and humility yira provides is the essential safeguard against transgression. This is its sole purpose.


Moses teaches:


"Now, Israel, what is it that the Lord your G-d requests of you, only to revere Lord your G-d, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him and serve Lord your G-d with all your heart and soul." — Deuteronomy 10:12


The Talmud deduces from this verse the following principle:


"All is in the hands of heaven except the reverence for heaven." — Talmud Berachot 33b


It is strange that the Talmud does not say 'except the reverence and love of heaven' since Moses also mentions, "and to love Lord your G-d." Why is only reverence in the hands of man?


According to Torah tradition love is the natural condition of our being. We feel a natural thirst for G-d and sense of intimate identification with G-d. Our real challenge is yira, to step back from the Divine, acknowledge and clearly see the borders that distinguish us as other than G-d. The stepping back and self-withdrawal implicit in yira creates the space for the love. This was the challenge of the first couple. They were called upon to establish their personal boundaries by accepting their otherness of G-d, revering Him and not transgressing His will.

FEELING STRONG AND CONFIDENT BEFORE G-D
The snake, while appealing to Adam and Eve's inner aspirations to become godlike, deceived them about the true meaning of G-d's oneness. He accused G-d of feeling threatened by the full actualization of human godliness. However, Abraham understood that G-d not only feels no threat or competition, He actually wants and encourages humanity to achieve a sense of personal empowerment and distinct self. When you truly love someone, you want to empower him/her to be your significant other so that there can be a relationship of mutual respect and love.


The Midrash Tanchuma Lech Lecha 20 explains:


When G-d would speak to Abraham prior to the circumcision, he would fall on his face. However, after the circumcision, not only was Abraham able to stand before G-d, as it says: "And he was still standing," he was even able to remain (comfortably) seated. "And G-d appeared to him at Aloney Mamrei and he was sitting'" (Gen.18.1).


Far be it from G-d to stifle our quest for Divine self worth and confidence. This is exactly G-d's gift to us. All of G-d's commandments are meant to help us achieve godly stature so that we can lovingly stand face to face with G-d. Reverence of G-d is only necessary to protect us from the dangers of love.

COVENANT AS A LESSON IN LOVE
Why is the sign of the covenant expressed by circumcising the male sexual organ? Behind the idea of covenant with G-d is the secret to reproduction. When couples decide that they do not want children, it is often because they fear that sharing their wealth, time and space with children will be self-diminishing and depriving. They may even have a subconscious anxiety that children present a possible threat or competition. However, those who understand the message of covenant realize that sharing is not only not depriving but deeply fulfilling.


The covenant is the lesson of love, the foundation of reproduction. Parenthood is an opportunity that reflects the profound truth of G-d's love. Bearing children means making a space in your life to include others, to help them come into their own identity, to give of yourself to them, yet in a manner that does not infringe upon their unique individuality nor your own, and finally to allow your children to make a space in their life for you and give of themselves to you. This last step is the hardest, but also the most critical aspect of the gift of love: to love and let love.


Abraham proved that the snake's case against G-d was a lie. The snake appealed to Adam and Eve's inner aspirations but deceived them regarding the true meaning of G-d's oneness. He accused G-d of feeling threatened by the possible ascension of humanity to the level of godliness. However, the covenant story of Abraham shows that G-d not only feels no such threat or competition, He promotes it. "Walk before Me," G-d said, "and become complete."


The Hebrew term for circumcision is LaMool. However, the word Mool also means to be "opposite" or "across." In other words, it suggests that we can come face to face with G-d. This level of mutual respect is the cornerstone of all love.


For more on this topic see "The Secret Life of G-d: Discovering the Divine within you"

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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, 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.



© 2005, Rabbi David Aaron