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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

Misplaced mercy and the stifling of blessings

By Rabbi Avraham Pam


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Some profound — but practical — words for would-be parents from one of this generation's greatest Torah luminaries


“A man went from the house of Levi and he took the daughter of Levi.”

                        —   Exodus 2:1


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | From the Talmud (Sotah 12a) it is clear that as the leader of his generation, Moses' father, Amram, had vast influence over the Jewish people. When Pharaoh decreed that "every son that will be born — into the river shall you throw him" (1:22), Amram became greatly discouraged. He cried out, ''Our toil is in vain! What use is there to bring children into the world who will then be ruthlessly drowned in the river?''. He then divorced his wife, Yocheved.

When word of this spread, the other Jewish men did the same. Amram's daughter, Miriam, saw this and said, ''Father, your 'decree' is harsher than Pharaoh's. For Pharaoh has only decreed against the newborn males, but your 'decree' will mean that no Jewish males or females will be born. Furthermore, Pharaoh has decreed against life in this world, while your decree will affect life in this world as well as in the World to Come."

(Once a child is conceived, it is entitled to a share in the World to Come. This serves as great consolation to those who have suffered miscarriages or stillbirths. They can be heartened by the realization that the sin-free souls they have brought down from Above will enjoy life in the World to Come. See Rashi to Sanhedrin 110b and Igros Moses [Yoreh Deah 3:138]).

Miriam then added to her argument: "There is no guarantee that the wicked Pharaoh's decree will be observed, but you are a tzaddik [righteous man] and your decree will be observed.''

Amram accepted Miriam's argument and publicly remarried Yocheved. This served as an encouragement to the other separated couples to remarry, and they proceeded to do the same.

Amram felt the pain and tzaros (anguish) of his people. He came to the logical conclusion that it was purposeless to bring children into a world where they would be drowned shortly after birth. And, even if they somehow survived that ordeal, they would eventually be ruthlessly enslaved to Pharaoh and forced to do backbreaking, torturous labor all their lives. Amram's overwhelming feelings of compassion for his people told him that now was not the time to bring children into the world. Yet his mercy was misplaced — because by remarrying Yocheved, he had a son, the future Moses, who would lead the Jewish nation out of Egypt. Had Amram not heeded his daughter's advice, his act of ''kindness'' would have been an act of cruelty of monumental proportions.


A similar act of misplaced mercy is found in the Prophets (II Kings 20:1, Isaiah 38:1): In those days, Hezekiah became deathly ill, and Isaiah the son of Amos the Prophet came to him and said, ''Thus says the Divine: 'Instruct your household, for you shall die and you shall not live.' '' The Talmud (Berachos 10a) comments on this: ''You shall die'' — this refers to Hezekiah's impending death in this world, ''and you shall not live'' — he would be denied life in the World to Come. When Hezekiah heard this death sentence from the prophet Isaiah, he asked, ''What is the reason for all this? (What sin did I commit to deserve so severe a punishment?)'' Isaiah responded, ''It is because you did not get married and engage in procreation.'' Hezekiah told him, ''I did not marry because I saw with ruach hakodesh [holy spirit] that if I did I would have wicked children ...''

''Why do you concern yourself with the hidden secrets of the Divine?'' replied Isaiah. ''What you are commanded to do, you must do, and what is found to be good before the Divine, He will do!''

Hezekiah asked Isaiah for his daughter for a wife. They had a son, Menasheh, who succeeded him as king. Menasheh had the longest rule of any Jewish king, 55 years, but was a terribly evil and instituted a reign of terror in Jerusalem, filling its streets with the blood of innocent victims.

In fact, the Talmud (Yevamos 49b) says that Menasheh pursued and killed his own grandfather, Isaiah the Prophet. Hezekiah had correctly seen that he would have a wicked son. But he did not know that Menasheh would have a grandson, Josiah, who would epitomize the pentitent, as the Prophet says (II Kings 23:25, read as the haftarah of the second day of Passover): Before him, there had never been a king like him who returned to G-d with all his heart, with all his soul and with all his wealth, in accordance with the entire Torah of Moses, and after him no one arose like him.

Josiah uprooted the idols of his wicked grandfather and father and brought the people back to the service of the Divine. When he died in battle against Egypt, the Prophet Jeremiah mourned him with the words of Lamentations (4:20): '' the breath of our nostrils, the anointed of G-d'' (see Talmud, Taanis 22b). Josiah's tragic death was described as a disaster akin to the sun setting at midday (Amos 8:9, see Talmud, Mo'ed Katan 25b). Had his great-grandfather Hezekiah refrained from marrying, the Jewish people would have lost this great person whose mark was felt on the nation for generations to come.

THERE'S ONLY ONE KNOW-IT-ALL
What we learn from these two incidents is that a person cannot make his own calculations. As Isaiah told Hezekiah, You do what you are commanded to do and leave the calculations for G-d. Even well-intentioned decisions can lead to errors with catastrophic results. Therefore it is vitally important for a person to seek Torah guidance when faced with difficult questions in life. This will ensure that the issue will be dealt with properly.

In the first half of the 19th century, the Malthusian Theory espoused the dire prediction that the growing population of the world, coupled with the decrease in farmland available to produce crops, would lead to a great shortage of food and eventually to mass starvation. Since the earth is limited in its arable land, the theory held that the only way to deal with this growing danger was to encourage worldwide population control. This would ensure a sufficient food supply for all the world's inhabitants.

History has shown how utterly wrong the Malthusian Theory has proven to be. While about half of the population of the United States lived on food-producing farms at the turn of the 20th century, less than one-fifth that number still lives on farms a century later. Thus, less than 10 percent of America's population is producing enough food for the needs of the entire country, and the mass surpluses continue to make it possible to export food to many hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

Yet scientists and writers continue to warn of the dangers of population explosion and advise that the ideal family have no more than two children, which would keep the population stable and ensure that nobody starves. As ludicrous as this fear is, it has been adopted as fact by countless people worldwide. What they fail to recognize is that Hashem, the One Who nourishes, sustains and supports [all creations] from the horns of the re'eimim to the eggs of lice (i.e., from the greatest and largest creatures to the smallest ones) will certainly take care of every human being to provide him with his needs (see Talmud, Shabbos 107b).

As we have seen in our times, this can be manifested in many ways. It can be achieved with great advancements in science and technology which make it possible to produce vast quantities of food on small tracts of land. Additionally, technology has spawned the development of foods that can meet the nutritional requirements of people without the need for farmland altogether. Foods that are highly concentrated in both caloric and vitamin intake have been developed that can be mass produced cheaply enough to feed many times over the entire world's population. It is not necessary to concern ourselves with the age-old question of Mah nochal, "What will we eat?" (Leviticus 25:20).

Jewish families have also been affected by this ruach shtus, spirit of foolishness, of population control. The advertising blitz hits them in a more subtle manner, leading them to claim several fallacies:

The ideal family consists of two children because the larger the family is, the harder it is to raise each child properly. Additionally, there are livelihood difficulties with a large family, and the constant burden of pregnancy, birth and childrearing takes its toll on the health of the mother.

As Torah Jews we know that these beliefs are not true. A large family is a great blessing, not a liability. If anything, it is easier to raise children in a large family because the older ones assist in the task and thereby develop parenting skills themselves. As for the additional financial burden of a large family, the Talmud (Niddah 31b) states that G-d sends every child into this world with a source of livelihood (see Maharsha). Moreover, one really never knows which of his children will provide the most nachas (famial pride and joy). It often occurs that the little ben zekunim'l (youngest child born to older parents) whom nobody expected (or wanted) can be the one who achieves the greatest accomplishments.

Every child carries a unique blessing for his family and for Klal Yisrael. It is the supreme task of life to realize and develop that blessing.

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Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Pam (1913 - August 16, 2001) was the dean of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas in Brooklyn, New York and a member of the Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel. Recently, some of his public addresses have been rendered into English by a disciple, Rabbi Sholom Smith. One collection is "Rav Pam on Chumash (Bible)", from which this essay was excerpted.

© 2007, Mesorah Publications, Ltd.