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December 2, 2014

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 1 Elul

Reprise at Sinai

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Jewish holiday of Shavuos (Pentecost), commemorating G-d's revelation at Mount Sinai and the giving of the Torah, is observed each year in early summer, on the sixth day of the month of Sivan. Amidst this annual celebration, however, one of Jewish tradition's greatest conundrums often goes overlooked — the curious fact that the Jews received neither G-d's tablets nor G-d's law on that profound and glorious day, nor would they receive them until four months later.


Indeed, it was Moses alone who ascended the mountain on the sixth of Sivan to receive the Torah and spent the next 40 days and 40 nights learning the Divine law from the mouth of the Almighty. When he descended on the 17th day of the month of Tammuz and found the Jews worshiping the Golden Calf, he smashed the tablets in history's most dramatic display of national leadership and moral reproof.


The following day, Moses ascended Sinai once again, this time to implore the Almighty to forgive the Jewish people. After 40 more days, on the last day of the month of Av, Moses descended from Sinai to report that G-d had accepted his supplications and granted the people forgiveness. It was therefore on the first day of the month of Elul, in late summer, that Moses ascended Sinai for the third time to receive the second tablets, which he would finally present to the Jewish people on the tenth day of Tishrei, on the Jews' first Yom Kippur.


Whereas the Almighty had both carved out and engraved the first tablets Himself, only after Moses carved out the second tablets did G-d etch His commandments into stone a second time. And in the currents and patterns of Jewish history, we find that the difference between the first and second tablets parallels the difference between the first and second Temples, and that this dichotomy parallels the two states of Mankind — before and after the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden.

THE QUEST FOR PERFECTION
The Creator fashioned the first man and woman to be perfect, without defect, and placed them in a perfect world to serve Him. However, since the essence of divine service is self-perfection, Man's condition in Eden poses a logical contradiction: if Man was created perfect, how could he strive for self-perfection?


The condition of Adam in Eden was fundamentally different from the condition of mankind today. Adam's service was not to become perfect but to remain perfect: had he upheld the Creator's single command only for the remainder of the sixth day, the day of his own Creation, until the arrival of the seventh day — the first Sabbath — Adam would have completed his mission on earth. Unable to resist the temptation of the serpent, however, he ate from the fruit of the forbidden Tree, thereby violating the word of G-d and condemning himself and his progeny to a life of service wholly different from what he had known before.


"By the sweat of your brow shall you toil," declared the Almighty after Adam's sin. Before the sin, the earth gave up its bounty with no physical effort, perfect climate made clothing and shelter unnecessary, and G-d revealed Himself fully to Man, who had no desire other than to serve Him. Now, after the sin, only through hard labor would Adam and his descendants manage to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves. Now, G-d would hide His presence, so that man would have to struggle against his yeitzer hara — his evil inclination — to come close to His Creator once again.

WITH ONE HEART
When the Jewish people stood together at Sinai, as one man with one heart, in absolute unity and commitment to G-d, they recaptured the lofty spiritual level Adam had possessed in Eden. And because they had reached the highest spiritual level possible for human beings, the Almighty carved out and engraved the tablets, providing for all their spiritual needs just as He had provided for all the material needs of Adam. G-d required nothing more from them but to receive His Torah and uphold it in purity.


Had the fledgling Jewish nation retained that level, they would have entered the land of Israel with Moses, built the Temple in Jerusalem, and ushered in the messianic era. Instead, the awe and grandeur of their divine mission overwhelmed them, the fear of failure panicked them, and the yeitzer hara seduced them into committing the sin of the Golden Calf. Consequently, the Almighty engraved the second tablets only after Moses had carved them, symbolizing the new order in which G-d would withhold His blessing until the Jewish people labored to reclaim the spiritual heights from which they had fallen. Like Adam, they would have to toil to earn the blessing that they had not sufficiently appreciated when it had been freely given.

REBUILDING THE TEMPLE — DAY BY DAY
During the reign of King Solomon, the Jewish people achieved once more the level of Adam with the completion of the great Temple in Jerusalem. Every day ten miracles occurred there, reflecting the Jews' state of spiritual perfection, and the nature of their service required only that they retain that level long enough to bring the Messiah. Tragically, the Jews grew complacent in their accomplishments and slipped away from purity of service. Although the Almighty did not raze the Temple immediately, the political division of the kingdom in the days of Solomon's son and the persistent influence of idolatrous practices resulted in the first Temple's ultimate destruction.


With the return from Babylon after 70 years of exile and the construction of the second Temple, the Jews found another chance to attain self-perfection. But the second Temple was an inadequate replacement for the first, and those elders who remembered the era of the kings wept in despair at its inauguration. Five of the miracles did not return, for the sh'chinah — the divine presence — had itself departed. Like the second tablets, the second Temple served a Jewish nation that had fallen from its former spiritual heights and would have to work its way slowly back to recover what was lost.


We no longer possess the second Temple, and the second tablets are hidden away until the days when the Temple will be rebuilt. But as we enter the month of Elul, the month before the awe and judgment of Rosh Hashanah, history reminds us that the second tablets are our tablets, that only by toiling to observe the commandments inscribed upon them can we find our way out of our spiritual darkness and rekindle the light of the Messiah.


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JWR contributor Rabbi Yonason Goldson teaches at Block Yeshiva High School in St. Louis. Comment by clicking here.


Previously:

Tu B'Av: Repentance and the foundations of love
Sin of the Golden Calf: Understanding the how and why and resulting Divine punishment
The day the sun stood still
Nemirov massacres and the Chmielnicki uprising
Independent Judea under Shimon HaMaccabee
The Great Revolt begins
Dedication of new walls of Jerusalem

© 2006, Rabbi Yonason Goldson