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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 Jan. 31, 2005 / 21 Shevat, 5765

What Bush understands
about ‘tikkun olam

By Lloyd M. Green

Few noticed that key portion of President's second inaugural address borrowed from Jewish liturgy, philosophy


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | President George W. Bush's second Inaugural Address was certainly ecumenical. As he honored Christianity, Judaism and Islam, he recalled the "truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people." But the 43rd President went far beyond that.



President delivering inagural address
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The speech used the language of the traditional Jewish liturgy to outline a breathtaking vision for the future of the world. The President and his speech writer, Michael Gerson, appear to have infused the text and tone of the speech with language from the High Holiday liturgy, and the message of the Aleinu   —   the concluding daily prayer of traditional Jewish worship that is also given a central role during the High Holiday service. How do I know that? Because, as a product of a Jewish Day School, the Yeshivah of Flatbush, who is still observant, I have been saying almost-identical words all my life.


In his speech, Bush contended that the "great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations." In the High Holiday prayers, the congregation explicitly and literally prays for the vanquishing of evil and the "passing of the rule of tyranny", which is then immediately followed by praying for the exclusive rule of G-d over all of His creation from Mount Zion.


And so when Bush declared that America's policies were aimed at the "ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world", I kept thinking about how that would sound in Hebrew   —   I could hear my ears ring with the text of the High Holiday liturgy   —   "ta'avir memsheles zadon min ha'aretz". This same religious ideal also finds voice in the second stanza of the Aleinu prayer, which begins "Al ken nekaveh" (literally, "therefore we put our hope in You"). At the core of the Al ken nekaveh is tikkun olam, the "perfection of the world through the Almighty's sovereignty." In other words, tikkun olam is not about "Kumbayah," holding hands, taking a village, or even leaving no child behind.


Rather, liturgically and traditionally tikkun olam is about all of humanity calling G-d's name, and literally and metaphorically eradicating idolatry and G-d's willing "every knee to bend" before Him and "every tongue swearing" allegiance to Him.


Thus, without ever using the actual words "tikkun olam", George W. Bush, the Methodist scion of Greenwich and Midland, demonstrated a better grasp of the original intent and meaning of tikkun olam than either Michael Lerner or Bill Clinton. And that is what made the Bush Second Inaugural memorable, and worthy of both attention and pause. Namely, tikkun olam is about making G-d's dominion felt in both its majesty and force in the here and now on Earth.


For Jews, that is heady stuff. Unfortunately as our tragic history shows, it rarely works out that way. But Bush, President of the United States, commander-in-chief of an armed force many times mightier than Joshua's, Saul's and David's combined, is a different story. If Bush decides to bring the blessings of heaven to earth, if in fact, "America's vital interests and deepest beliefs are now one," he needs to be taken seriously. Although of course, that doesn't mean he will necessarily prevail, as my mighty Jewish ancestors discovered in their time.


For America, the Speech marks the political fusion of the Evangelical and the Orthodox.


Regardless, the President's expressions are definitely religious orthodoxies, and many may find them to be noble sentiments. But is the pursuit of the eradication of tyranny, as opposed to the pursuit of happiness, a viable policy and goal for government?


History suggests that, no matter how well intentioned, mankind has a bad record when it comes to establishing G-d's Kingdom on this earth, or in pursuing a Utopian ideal. It is not simply that men fail. Rather, more often than not failure is accompanied by carnage and ruin, and an actual result that may bear no relation to the initial or stated ideal.


Our time has witnessed the savagery of Utopianism   —   Stalin's Russia, Hitler's Germany, Mao's China, Khomeini's Iran, and the Taliban's Afghanistan. Which leads me to believe that Utopianism as a policy can have horrible consequences. Indeed, the Aleinu prayer, which is traditionally ascribed as dating back to Joshua's conquest of Jericho, became the final prayer of choice for medieval martyrs. Over time, a prayer in the time of victory became the prayer for the bowed, if not for the vanquished.


After hearing the President's speech and looking back at history, I wonder if we might be better off with an Inaugural Address that simply reminded Americans to "fight for your right to party", offered another tax cut and left liturgy to the prayer book. Discerning G-d's will in the here and now is too difficult, and Utopias are not built to last. Camelot was the stuff of myth and music. Nothing else.

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

JWR contributor Lloyd M. Green served in the administration of President George H.W. Bush. Comment by clicking here.


© 2005, Lloyd M. Green