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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

The Pint-Sized Divinity Duo

By Ted Roberts





How my buddy Herbie and I mastered comparative religion at age 12


JewishWorldReview.com | What a great childhood I had. Me and my good friend, Herbie, had an inflexible Saturday routine. First, Sabbath morning services, then lunch at his grandfather's kosher restaurant (closed to the public) where we were served by the Shabbos goy. This was already a treat. Little boys -- we were twelve -- were rarely freed from mama's kitchen. And then the cherry on top of the Shabbos sundae, we went to the downtown library. That was the only library --- the one downtown. Who knew about branch libraries in 1942? You wanted a book --- you went downtown.

Herbie and I had an uncommon interest in reading. Other kids by noon Saturday would be in the vacant neighborhood lots playing baseball -- whatever sports were in season -- wherever young colts could run off their excess energy. We would be there, too, but first our visit to dreamland --- the library.

The point of this dull recitation of our Saturday schedule was to get to our common interest in Norse mythology, of all things. How it crept into our miniature, twelve year old heads I don't know. But from services -- in which we worshipped the one and only G-d of Israel -- we walked into the pantheon of Norse divinities who loved, ate, and fought like their worshippers below.

Maimonides would have hated their anthropomorphism. Me and Herbie didn't worry about that --- we just loved their adventure stories.

We didn't know we were taking a lesson in comparative religion and eventually, I'm sure, could have qualified as professors of Comparative Religion.

There was Odin, Thor, and Loki and they were sexual creatures with consorts that puzzled two twelve year olds who had just left services with a Jewish "G-d" -- an asexual Creator -- who ruled in single splendor. He must be lonesome, we thought. But we did get a dramatic contrast between our Creator and these misbehaving reflections of humans. Especially Loki, who was the personification of evil.

Even in pagan heaven there were castes. Odin was the King. The gradations in earth below were reflected in their pantheon.



There were books full of their adventures, which usually sought to explain nature. How one of the gods was challenged to wrestle an old, ragged bag of bones --- a crone. Thor, I think, accepts the challenge. This is well before the days of fixed matches. Well, if you put your money on young, muscular Thor vs. this old hag, you'd have gone home with a skinny wallet. She wins. Guess why.

The wrinkled old lady was time, itself. And who can take down time? Then there's the pagan explanation of Spring -- almost universal in the pagan world where a favorite god, kidnapped by the god of the underworld, who must annually spend six months in Hades.

Nature mourns; therefore, Fall and Winter.

There were countless stories by the Norse culture to explain the miraculous world that enveloped them. And as in all primitive beliefs, there was a strong element of strife and barely a whiff of morality.

Their society of gods was a reflection of the one on earth below. Why would they imagine differently? They had no Torah to light their path.

This as the theological world the pagans lived in.


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Every society from Canaan to Briton has a pantheon of gods, though not named Odin, Thor, and Loki. They contended with each other, lustfully chased their female counterparts and amassed power just like the earthly tyrants. Goodness and mercy were unknown to them.

Subsequently humankind below reflected their vices. They would have laughed at Torah.

The Jewish discovery of monotheism eliminated all strife in the heavens above. It did not disconnect us from the G-d above, who had a strangely different voice than the Norse pantheon. He talked and urged morality. We didn't discover monotheism, we discovered ethics, morality.

So me and my good friend, Herbie, who thought we were idling away our day reading adventure stories were taking a course in comparative religion and becoming more appreciative of Judaism in the process.

JWR's very own Ted Roberts, Jewry's sentry of the South, is a humorist based in Huntsville, Alabama. He reads -- and answers -- all of his e-mail himself.

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© 2013, Ted Roberts