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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 May 25, 2007 / 8 Sivan 5767

Does size matter?

By Rabbi David Gutterman


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The truth about the Jews


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Remember the Ronald Reagan-Walter Mondale presidential debates? There had been much speculation about the president's age — after all, 73 was a ripe age to start another term in a demanding job. But Reagan, with characteristic charm, disarmed his critics, and did so with precision.


When confronted with the "number" thing, Reagan said, "I am not going to exploit, for political reasons, my opponents relative youth and inexperience." I suppose it's true: Sometimes a number is just a number — how you count is what matters.


In the Book of B'midbar, a population census was taken. Again this week, we start with an enumeration of the priestly families. In rabbinic literature, this fourth Mosaic book is referred to as, chumash hapikudim, the book of counting.


You will more readily recognize its overarching title as the Book of Numbers. Allow me to share some of the richness of the Hebrew lexicon and, in turn, we will garner an essential truth about the Hebrew people.


There are several words for counting in Hebrew. For example, lachashov, limnos, lifkod and lispore. But the one that the Torah chooses regarding a census is also the one that gives the title to the Torah portion, Nasoh. Recall back to the global census in the previous Torah portion, the same verb was employed. Why this word? "Nasoh" really means "to lift up." Why, then, when counting the Jewish people, is this the more appropriate verb?


Because when the Jewish people are counted, their quantitative number is not going to be large — never was, never will be. Living in a world where demographic density drives an election, where a population survey can fashion a people's self-image, and where population studies can, and often do, fashion our communal agenda — perhaps even becoming our communal pathology — one could easily become disheartened.


After all, if size does matter, if there is strength in numbers, then the Jewish people are weak. We are less than one quarter of one percent of the world's population. And yet


"The Jewish contribution to the world is extravagantly out of proportion to the bulk of his size," observes Mark Twain. "He is as prominent on the planet as any other people. His contributions to the world's list of great names are also way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers."


The Torah and tradition are making it clear. You were, as S.Y. Agnon writes, "present at Sinai." You were, as our sages expounded, "standing under Sinai."


And you must be, as Judith Plaskow writes, "standing again at Sinai." You have deep and resonating standing in the world -intellectually, morally and spiritually, because you stood at Sinai. Your power does not emanate from numbers, but from a special purpose. It is not the bulk of your size that will be influential, but rather, it is the ennoblement of your spirit; it's not the largeness of your census, but the largesse of your soul.


The writer Milton Himmelfarb once remarked, "The number of Jews in the world is smaller than a statistical error in the Chinese census. Yet we remain bigger than our numbers. Big things seem to happen around and to us."


The eminent non-Jewish historian, Paul Johnson, has said this about the Jews: "To them we owe the idea of equality before the law, both divine and human; of the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person; of the individual conscience and so of personal redemption; of the collective conscience and so of social responsibility; of peace as an ideal and love as the foundation of justice."


Not bad for a people who are a statistical error. Indeed, sometimes numbers are just numbers — it's how and what you count that matters.

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Rabbi David Gutterman is the executive director of the Vaad: Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia. Comment by clicking here.


© 2007, Rabbi David Gutterman