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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 Feb. 21, 2008 / 15 Adar I 5768

Lessons from a hummingbird

By Amy H. Lederman


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Judaism's view of how to treat animals has been 'progressive' for millennia. More importantly, it's sensible


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It had been going on for several weeks before I finally mustered up the courage to tell my husband about it. We were sitting on our front porch eating breakfast, enjoying the tranquility of a beautiful spring morning.

"Honey, I think I'm being stalked," I said, breaking the serenity.

He looked at me, not certain if he should be concerned or amused.

"Are you kidding me or what?"

My answer came about 30 seconds later when the predator came into sight.

A tiny hummingbird flitted over my head, darting back and forth near my shoulders.

"I'm totally serious," I said, tilting my head toward the hummer to emphasize the gravity of the situation.

"Maybe we should call 911, or better yet, you could dress up as a hawk and give it a real scare," he said, clearly not taking my plight seriously.

I am not an alarmist but I knew something significant was going on. I couldn't be on my porch for more than a minute without the hummer hovering overhead. I began to wonder: Is this a visitor from the "other side"— perhaps my grandmother or aunt wanting to tell me something? Should I do anything about it?

I became obsessed, consulting friends and reading books about the meaning of the hummingbird. I learned that it is the tiniest of all birds and is the only creature that can stop dead while traveling at full speed. It can hover or fly forward, backward, up, or down, its wings moving in the configuration of an eight, the sign for infinity.

But one morning everything changed. As I was drinking my coffee, I noticed something that resembled half of a walnut shell on a branch of the potted fichus tree next to our front door. There, camouflaged amidst the leaves, was the tiniest, most compact nest I have ever seen. Suddenly I understood. My hummer was not a stalker; she was a lovely little mother protecting her eggs. I was the predator!


The magic and the miracle of having a hummingbird nest on my porch overwhelmed me. I stopped several times each day to watch her — a bird whose wings normally flap 50 times per second — sit perfectly still atop her nest. I marveled at the complexity of the nest, made of moss, fiber, and plant down, and how smart she was to choose a shaded place on my porch. I witnessed her commitment to her eggs and honored her maternal instincts.

One evening I went out on the porch and turned on the front light. My hummer became frantic, flying around in circles, bumping into the ceiling, and hitting up against the window. I raced to turn off the light and realized that not only had I nearly scared her to death but had disturbed the night-time cycle of her nesting. I felt terrible and apologized profusely to her as my husband shook his head and began paging through the yellow pages, searching for mental health care providers.

I have always loved animals and have been accused of favoring my dog over my teenage children at times. But not until the hummer made her nest on my porch, have I experienced such compassion for them.

The Jewish commandment to treat animals with compassion is articulated on numerous occasions throughout the Torah and the Talmud. In Deuteronomy, we are commanded not to work on the Sabbath and we must not require our animals to do so. We are told how to avoid causing suffering (Tza'ar ba'alei chaim) by not muzzling an animal when it is working so that it can eat when it needs to, or plowing with an ox and mule together because their unequal size and strength will cause them both to suffer. My personal favorite is the prohibition of taking baby birds from the nest while the mother is present because of the pain that she would experience. How amazing to think that more than 2,500 years ago, our Jewish ancestors were concerned with protecting the feelings of animals.

There is an exception to the prohibition of causing pain to animals, however. Jewish tradition permits the use of animals for the purpose of benefiting mankind — in such areas as medical research, for example, where the intention is to use animals in furtherance of finding a life-saving cure or other treatment that would benefit humanity.

I read that hummingbirds do not re-use the same nest, but return to the same location to build a new nest, often on top of the old one. I take this as a sign that my home has been blessed with the joy and wonder of this tiny creature and a reminder that in all of life, we are commanded to act with compassion and tenderness, not only to each other but to the animal kingdom as well.

JewishWorldReview.com regularly publishes uplifting articles. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Amy Hirshberg Lederman is a nationally syndicated columnist, educator, public speaker and attorney. Comment by clicking here.



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© 2007, Amy Hirshberg Lederman