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 May 21, 2007 / 4 Sivan, 5767

Observant Jews as robots?

By Jonathan Rosenblum

Why so many mitzvos?

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Fulfilling Judaism's religious duties does much more than provide self-discipline. It make us constantly aware of G-d's presence

Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetzky, then the dean of American Rabbinical seminary heads, once found himself seated on a flight next to Yeruham Meshel, the secretary-general of the Histadrut political party. Throughout the flight, Reb Yaakov's son and granddaughter kept coming to speak to him and to ask him whether there was anything they could do for him. Near the end of the flight, Meshel expressed his amazement at the warmth of Reb Yaakov's relationship with his offspring. He confessed that he only rarely saw his children, and his grandchildren, almost never.

Reb Yaakov explained to him that the difference in their relationships to their children and grandchildren was a natural outgrowth of their differing worldviews. "You believe in a Darwinian universe of random, purposeless events. In your children's eyes, you are just one generation closer to the apes than they are.

"But for us, the central event in human history was the moment when the Jewish people stood at Sinai and heard G-d speak. The generations immediately after the Revelation lived in awe of their parents as people to whom G-d spoke...

"My children and grandchildren honor me as one who had contact with spiritual giants beyond their comprehension, and therefore attribute to me a wisdom and spiritual sensitivity they lack."

Tomorrow night Jews all over the world celebrate that Revelation. We attempt to reconnect on Shavuos to the same spiritual energy that our ancestors experienced over 3,000 years ago — the ever-present voice from Sinai. At Sinai, we became a people by virtue of our receipt of the Law. Both in our own eyes and in the eyes of those who hate us, we are defined as the people of the Law.

No religion has so many rules governing every aspect of life: about how and what to eat, even detailed laws of proper and improper speech. We recite blessings upon rising in the morning and before going to sleep at night, blessings before and after eating. To many Jews today the myriad details of Jewish observance seem incomprehensible, even absurd. Why do we need so many mitzvos? Don't they turn people into mindless automatons? they ask. Without at least some partial answers to those questions, we cannot join ourselves to the giving of the Law at Sinai.

MAN, in Jewish thought, is born imperfect, and his task in life is to perfect himself. When G-d said, "Let us create man," writes one of the great medieval commentators, he was addressing man. You and I together are necessary to create you, He told Adam. The perfection for which we are always striving but never attain encompasses thought, word and action.

Of the three, the last is most easily controlled, and our quest begins there. Through the discipline of mitzvos, we experience ourselves as human beings capable of choice. Every time we confront a mitzva, we simultaneously confront our yetzer hara, usually manifest in the urge to say no and to assert our independence. Judaism demands that we become aware of the choice involved in everything we do. Sometimes we win the struggle, sometimes we lose.

And when we begin to win consistently on one level, we find ourselves confronted with new challenges higher up the ladder. If, for instance, we stop trying to win popularity by always having a juicy piece of gossip ready for consumption, we next confront the even harder challenge of not using our spouses to ventilate our negative feelings about others.

At one level, the discipline of mitzvos is a kind of spiritual gym. One does not enter the gym and start bench-pressing 200 pounds. Only through endless repetition at much lower weights does one reach that level. Similarly, only by accustoming ourselves to conquering our small desires can we hope to prevail when confronted by larger challenges later on. A child whining at a supermarket checkout for his mother to buy him a certain candy who falls silent when told that the candy is not kosher has a better chance of saying no to bigger temptations later in life.

No guarantees, of course; just a better chance.

But the mitzvos do much more than simply provide self-discipline. They make us constantly aware of G-d's presence. Every time we stop to make a blessing, every time we ask ourselves whether this word or this food is permitted, we are made aware of the One Who spoke and the world came into being. The Hebrew word "mitzva," commandment, derives from a root signifying joining or connection. The mitzvos connect us to G-d.

Mitzva, of course, also implies a commander and a commanded. Every time we perform a mitzva, we are forced to admit that the world did not begin with us and is more than our playground. A perfect G-d, Who was complete unto Himself, did not bring the world into existence for His own amusement, to see what a mess we could make. He created the world with a purpose — a purpose that depends entirely on man, and particularly on the Jewish people, fulfilling our tasks.

Rather than feeling the mitzvos as a burden, the observant Jew cannot imagine life without them. They reinforce every moment that view that life has purpose and that everything we do is meaningful. For a Jew, there is no such thing as standing still: At any given moment, we are either ascending the ladder towards perfection, or descending. Time, for us, is not something to be killed. Every moment is a priceless opportunity. Kill time and you kill yourself.

The ubiquity of the Law distinguishes Judaism from every other religion. Indeed, Judaism is not, properly speaking, a religion at all. Rather it is an all-encompassing way of life. Everything we do is equally before G-d. May we all merit to reconnect this Shavuot to the giving of the Law.

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JWR contributor Jonathan Rosenblum is founder of Jewish Media Resources and a widely-read columnist for the Jerusalem Post's domestic and international editions and for the Hebrew daily Maariv. He is also a respected commentator on Israeli politics, society, culture and the Israeli legal system, who speaks frequently on these topics in the United States, Europe, and Israel. His articles appear regularly in numerous Jewish periodicals in the United States and Israel. Rosenblum is the author of seven biographies of major modern Jewish figures. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Yale Law School. Rosenblum lives in Jerusalem with his wife and eight children.

© 2007, Jonathan Rosenblum