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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 March 12, 2004 /19 Adar, 5764

The world is not the Divine's place

By Rabbi Hillel Goldberg

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A requisite to understanding basic theology


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | There's a distinction between jokes and humor. Picture, for example, a young and zealous high school student instructing an absent-minded old man sitting next to him on a park bench to watch his arithmetic. It turns out that the elder with the mathematical scribbles on his lap is . . . Albert Einstein.


Humor is the last thing one would associate with Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1903-1993), a towering intellect, a proponent of an existential philosophy of loneliness and a pedagogue who struck fear in his students.


Memories of a Giant, a series of eulogies on the late rabbi published last year, had one unexpected moment.(Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)


The necessary background:


Whether twilight is day or night is a topic in Rabbi Soloveitchik's lexicon, the Talmud. The Torah says to recite the Shema (the declaration of faith) twice a day, "when you get up" and "when you lie down." When is the time for "lying down?" It may be obvious when night is — when it is pitch black — but it is not clear when night begins. If the Shema is recited during twilight, has one discharged the obligation to recite it at "night"?


The need to consider this is partly sociological. It is not always easy to gather a minyan when it is pitch black. To secure a minyan twice a day is difficult; to do so three times a day is, in many communities, impossible. Jewish law allows the following compromise:


The minyan may gather late in the afternoon, pray the afternoon service, then wait for a short time into twilight for the evening service. The Shema is recited as part of the evening prayers, but then repeated later, when it is definitely dark. While the evening prayers may be recited before it is black out, the bar is higher for the recitation of the Shema. One discharges the obligation to recite it only when it is definitely night. So one repeats it a second time. Alone. At home. At night.


All this was the bread and butter of Rabbi Soloveitchik's life. He had Talmudic reasoning and laws on his fingertips. Therefore, consider:


"One evening the Rav [Rabbi Soloveitchik] was looking for an early minyan for ma'ariv [the evening service]," begins an anecdote in one of the eulogies in Memories of a Giant. "One of the boys he approached was newly observant and clearly had no idea who the Rav was. The boy told the Rav that his rabbi had said that it was too early to daven. The Rav did not mention who he was and simply replied that it is all right, 'I think we can daven now.' The boy was adamant that it was too early and agreed on condition that the Rav promise that he would repeat Shema."


Our young student didn't know he was talking to one of the greatest scholars of his time. He shouldn't feel bad. When all of us talk to G-d, none of us really knows Him, either. It's basic Jewish theology.



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"The Holy One, Blessed is He, is the place of the world, but His world is not His place."


This poetic yet mystifying statement is by Rashi, the foremost commentator. It says so much in so few words — precisely Rashi's genius.


It means this:


G-d envelops the world, yet the world does not exhaust Him.


G-d envelops our lives, yet our lives do not and cannot exhaust G-d.


Where is G-d? Everywhere in the universe. If we so choose, we may perceive Him in everything from a pebble to events in our lives to the course of history to the farthest astral straits. However, even if our spiritual perception reaches this exalted spiritual level, we hardly know G-d. Even if we know the entire Torah, our knowledge of G-d remains limited. The world is not His place.


Moses yearns to know G-d. Nowhere in the Torah is this expressed more passionately than in this week's Torah portion.


Exodus 33:11: "And the L-rd spoke to Moses face to face, as a person would speak to his friend." Not enough. Moses wants more. He wants to see G-d or, as Moses puts it, to see G-d's glory. He veritably begs G-d to let him know Him. "You said, 'I shall know you by name, and you have also found favor in My eyes.' And now, if I have found favor in Your eyes, make Your way known to me . . . " (33:12-13).


Moses repeats the request, varying it:


"How, then, will it be known that I have found favor in Your eyes — I and Your people — unless You accompany us, and I and Your people are made distinct from every people on the face of the earth?" (33:15).


Moses persists:


"Show me now Your glory" (33:19).
This is not a human negotiation. One party cannot throw in the cards. G-d cannot violate either His own nature or the human being's.


G-d will let Moses know only what a human being is capable of knowing. As Eliezer Berkovits pointed out in G-d, Man and History (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.), no human being could withstand the full presence of G-d. The human being would die in the full presence of G-d. G-d's holiness would consume him, so radical is the difference between G-d and man.


Kabbalists made much of this, conceiving materiality as the "husk" that contains and restrains G-d's "light." The Divine "light" needs to be diluted by materiality if any person is ever to have any knowledge of G-d.


Therefore, even to Moses, G-d can make known only His "goodness" or His "name": "I shall pass all My Goodness before you, and I shall call out with the Name of the L-rd before you . . . You will not be able to see My face, for no human can see My face and live" (33:20).


What, then, can the human being — even the most exalted human being, Moses — see?


"The L-rd said, Behold! there is a place near Me; you may stand on the rock. When My glory passes by, I shall place you in a cleft of the rock; I shall shield you with My hand until I have passed. Then I shall remove My hand and you will see My back, but My face may not be seen" (33:21-23).


G-d has neither hand nor glory, neither face nor back — of course. We need not belabor the obvious, the use of anthropomorphism. Nor need we reiterate that anthropomorphism is necessary because the human being is limited, unable to withstand the full revelation of G-d.


We do need to focus on the metaphor: "There is a place near Me; you may stand on the rock."


Note the word: place. It is on this word that Rashi, drawing on midrash, comments: The place is near Me, but not of Me.


"The verse says that the place is with Me, but not that I am in the place. For the Holy One, Blessed is He, is the place of the world, but His world is not His place."

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JWR contributor Rabbi Hillel Goldberg is executive editor of the Intermountain Jewish News. To comment, please click here.

© 2004, Rabbi Hillel Goldberg