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 April 1, 2004 / 11 Nissan, 5764

Tenth Plague Revisited

By Jonathan Tobin

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

The Angel of Death that mercilessly passes among the homes of Israel's contemporary foes needs no signposts

https://www.jewishworldreview.com | For good or for ill, all parents have the chance to inculcate their children in their own beliefs. Though none of us can be certain what ideas they will wind up accepting as adults, one inalienable right of every father and mother is to start getting inside their kid's head as soon as possible.

Proving this thesis is the fact that although my daughter Moriah is not yet 3, my wife and I are doing our best to teach her to recite at least the first line of the Four Questions for Passover.

We were encouraged in this quest by her own spontaneous recitation of the Sh'ma while playing with the small figures who live in her dollhouse.

Since she regularly joins us in singing the prayer that she has heard every night of her young life before bed, she assumed that the same routine applied to her dolls. When they are put to bed (something that can happen quite a lot when the dollhouse has got her attention), she sings them the Sh'ma before kissing them and assuring them that they will get to "go see the party tomorrow."

Hearing her small voice chant the prayer is not only a profoundly moving experience, it also serves as incitement to further educational efforts, though there's no way of knowing how long she'll continue to humor us. So the refrain of Mah nishtanah continues to ring out in our home, and we hope for the best.


These precious moments are the stuff every parent cherishes. Yet even on this simple level, the beginning of Moriah's Jewish education with these lines from the Hagaddah must also be recognized as the first step in her own voyage into Jewish history. Because to ask the question about why that night is different from all others is to initiate her, albeit on an elementary level, into the constant struggle for life and liberty of the Jewish people that the seder represents.

Donate to JWR

At the core of this voyage is a desire to preserve her and all Jewish children from the suffering that befell the Children of Israel in Egypt, and in so many other stops along the way in our people's long journey. As much as we enjoy Passover and make it a joyous festival, this celebration of our freedom is also a tacit acknowledgement that a darker side to life lurks in the shadows.

It will be some time before she understands the meaning of the line: "For not only one enemy has risen against us; in every generation men rise against us to destroy us, but the Holy One saves us from their hand." But that day of understanding will come, and then, like all other parents, we will be faced with the dilemma of how to explain to her about evil and suffering that's not simply the stuff of Disney villains.

And not far from our minds is the fact that other children, who are not so fortunate as ours, are learning about the consequences of evil firsthand. While we sit down at our family seder, other kids, some the same age as Moriah, will come to their tables still dressed in the bandages that cover grievous wounds caused by terrorist bombs and bullets.

Still other Jewish children will look around their tables and seek in vain the faces of beloved parents and relatives who are no longer there, thanks to the mindless hatred of terrorists sent forth by present-day Islamic Pharaohs. These creatures with hardened hearts from Hamas and Fatah send Palestinians forth to kill and be killed in an endless war, whose purpose seems no different from that of the Egyptians of the Exodus saga.

Even worse is the knowledge that, as we hopefully sing of our gratitude for all that G-d has done for our ancestors and for us, other youngsters will be learning different lessons.

What, for example, was young Hussam Abdu, age 16 (or 14, according to the boy himself), taught? Abdu was the teenager from Nablus who was stopped last week at an Israeli checkpoint near his hometown. When challenged by soldiers who thought his bulky sweater looked suspicious, he lost his nerve and revealed a bomb.

I cannot imagine what sort of education or faith can lead an adult to strap 20 pounds of explosives to a child, and then point him in the direction of the nearest Jew with instructions to press the button.

Abdu was not the first example of this barbarous sacrifice of a child for a cause; earlier last month, another even younger Palestinian child — an 11-year-old boy — was similarly given a few shekels and then wrapped in a suicide-bomber's kit. Arab armies and adult terrorists have failed to break the will of the Jews of Israel to survive. So now, these cowards send forth their children to explode themselves.


The story of the Exodus lists the 10th and last plague visited upon the obdurate slavemasters as the slaying of the first-born sons of Egypt. The Jewish slaves were instructed to mark their homes with the blood of a lamb and so be spared.

But today, the Angel of Death that mercilessly passes among the homes of Israel's contemporary foes needs no signposts. The Palestinians have chosen to deliver their children into the hands of the Angel themselves.

This is a modern-day revival of the ancient Near Eastern practice of human sacrifice, which monotheistic religions were supposed to have rejected.

Ironically, just as Jews around the world try to foster feelings of identification with the past through their seders, Israel's opponents have taken their own trip back into the time machine, and conjured up a vision of the horrors that preceded what we call modern civilization.

Those who struggle for a peace settlement to this bloody war are loathe to confront the ugliness of such tactics. We are all more comfortable with the language of moral relativism, which allows us to rationalize even the most barbaric of crimes.

Incidents such as the exploitation of Hussam Abdu and other Palestinian kids like him are routinely swept aside by the makers of world opinion. For the moral pygmies of the United Nations, it is Israel's willingness to use force to strike down the leaders of terrorist organizations — such as Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin — that is the crime, not the sacrifice of children in the name of Palestinian nationalism.

In the face of such depravity and hypocrisy, all we can do is to embrace our own children and hold fast to the message of Pesach, which promises us that as long as faith exists, evil will not be allowed to triumph indefinitely. And to that hopeful prayer, let us all say: Amen.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Let him know what you think by clicking here. In June, Mr. Tobin won first places honors in the American Jewish Press Association's Louis Rapaport Award for Excellence in Commentary as well as the Philadelphia Press Association's Media Award for top weekly columnist. Both competitions were for articles written in the year 2002.

Jonathan Tobin Archives

© 2004, Jonathan Tobin