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 January 18, 2008 / 11 Shevat 5768

Harmonizing to live a life of song and poetry

By Rabbi David Gutterman

Printer Friendly Version

Email this article

Our role in making sure the music never ends

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In part one of his memoirs, All Rivers Run to the Sea, the famed Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel writes poignantly about his grandfather and father. His grandfather, Dodya Feig, was a Chassidic Jew and his father, Shlomo was a more modern and secular sort. Writes Wiesel, "From my father I learned to speak, from my grandfather I learned to sing."

And isn't it true? Are these not the two tributaries of our lives?

To my mind, the latter notion bespeaks the poetry of life — our noblest desires and deepest aspirations; the former, on the other hand, bespeaks more the prose of life — the sheer quiddity and facticity of the everyday and the mundane. (Lest you think that political campaigns are exempted from this duality — recall Mario Cuomo's famous quip that candidates often run in poetry and end up governing in prose.)

But it is the song of life, indeed, the song of this Sabbath upon which I would like to focus. This week is a special Sabbath. It is called, "Shabbes Shira — the Sabbath of Song. What is its source?

This week's Torah reading recounts that as the Jews were leaving the burden of the oppressive and repressive Egyptian regime marching toward freedom, we are now confounded — caught, as it were in a vice. In front of us is the Sea of Reeds, and behind us is Pharaoh's chariot cavalry, the Egyptian equivalent of a squadron of T-55 tanks. Ultimately, G-d parts the waters and passage is assured. Upon crossing to safety the Jewish people gather and sing a special song honoring this event. Hence, Shabbes Shira, the Sabbath of Song.

But, notes our Tradition, it was only after one person stuck his toe into the water, waded his way into the sea and coaxed — better, inspired others to follow, that G-d was willing to perform what only G-d can. Or to put another way: It was only after this leader made his 'strike' that G-d made His 'split.'

The name of this person was Nachshon ben-Aminadav. And it his name which fascinates me and to my mind is the source for an extraordinary teaching.

Essentially you need to know that when the Torah adds full genealogy, (so and so, the son of so and so) the latter part becomes, as it were, a last name. And so, I am fascinated with this aspect of his name. "Aminadav" literally means, "my people who volunteer." There is an interesting lesson about leadership and followership here. One cannot simply and cavalierly sit back and demand — at worse, expect — at best, for things to happen. One has to put a toe in, wade in, and sometimes even dive in, in order for there to be an outcome.

There is an aspect of this Song that seems particularly relevant and modern. Allow me to share with you a brilliant insight from our illustrious teacher, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. The crescendo phrase of the song at the sea is: "Zeh Keili v'anveihu, — This is my G-d and I will glorify Him, Elokei avi va'a'rom'menhu — the G-d of My father and I will exalt Him." Rabbi Soloveitchik deduces that the verse is speaking about two aspects of Jewishness.

"The G-d of my father" means that I am a Jew because I was born a Jew. I am part of the same people as my father and mother. It bespeaks a fact, an ontological condition. The former expression, "this is my G-d," (emphasis on "my") is not so much a description of an inherent condition, but it suggests an act of ownership. It is an existential statement, that is, a way for me to be in the world.

Or to put this in more pedestrian terms: It's one thing to be born into the Chosen People, it's quite another to model behavior and fashion a life in which one becomes a choosing member of that people. When asked what part of speech the word "Jew" is, the philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel suggested that it is more a verb than anything else. "Belonging," he writes, "is no substitute for being." And how thoroughly modern.

On this Shabbes Shira, let us take to heart the notion that it is by owning our Jewish journey, engaging in the symphony of Jewish values and harmonizing with the wit and wisdom of our people and her tradition that we, too, can merit to live a life of song and poetry. Though our Jewish narrative was taught to us by our mothers and fathers, and theirs before them, it is now — only through us and with us — that the Jewish story will be "the song that never ends."

Partners in Torah

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

Comment by clicking here.

Rabbi and Scholar-In -Residence: Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and Executive Director of VAAD: Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia.

© 2008, Rabbi David Gutterman