In this issue
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 hallmark of a person

By Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

In an era when when 'spirituality' — as opposed to religion — is on the rise, how can one tell what's authentic and not?

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Talmud gives the characteristics of the disciples of Abraham: a benevolent eye, a humble spirit and a meek soul. The traits of disciples of Balaam, who is discussed in this week's Torah reading, are: an evil eye, an arrogant spirit and a greedy soul. The Talmud then says, ''How are the disciples of Abraham different than the disciples of Balaam?'' (Ethics of the Fathers 5:22).

Why does the Talmud focus on ''the disciples'' of Abraham and Balaam? Why not cite the differences between Abraham and Balaam themselves?

The answer is that anyone looking at Abraham and Balaam might not be able to distinguish between the two. After all, did not Balaam subjugate himself totally to G-d?

''If Balak will give me his houseful of silver and gold, I cannot transgress the word of G-d'' (Numbers 22:18). ''Balaam spoke up and said, 'Whatever G-d puts in my mouth, that I must take heed to speak'' (ibid. 23:12). ''I cannot transgress the word of G-d to do good or bad on my own. Whatever G-d speaks, that I will speak'' (ibid. 24:13). Are these not the words of a tzaddik, a truly saintly person? Anyone hearing Balaam might conclude that he is a very G-d-fearing person.

Appearances can be deceptive. There were people who were Torah scholars and who were even fulfilled their religious duties, yet all their disciples deviated from Torah and mitzvos.

On the other hand, if one looks at the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov, who founded the Chassidic movement, or the great ethicist Rabbi Yisroel of Salant, one can understand the greatness of their masters.

If you wish to know the true mettle of a person, look at his disciples. The true nature of a person is revealed in those whom he taught. Their character, their behavior and their belief reflect that of the teacher.

Of course, the finest parents have had an errant child, and the finest teachers have had an errant student. However, if one looks at the body of students, one can get a fair idea of what the teacher was like.

This is an important concept in moral and ethical education. The character of the mathematician does not necessarily impact the subject he teaches. It is different when the subject is human behavior.

In the secular world, one may find books on guidelines in life written by people whose ethical and moral principles may leave much to be desired. In the Torah world this is untenable. The sixth chapter of Ethics of the Fathers begins with ''Blessed is He Who chose them (the sages) and their teaching.'' Them is a prerequisite for teaching. Only those whose character is such that they deserve to be chosen are acceptable as teachers.

Before accepting anyone as authoritative on how one should live, check into how he has lived his life.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D. is a psychiatrist and ordained rabbi. He is the founder of the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh, a leading center for addiction treatment. An Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, he is a prolific author, with some 30 books to his credit, including, "Twerski on Chumash" (Bible), from which this was excerpted (Sales of this book help fund JWR). Comment by clicking here.

© 2009, Mesorah Publications, Ltd.