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December 2, 2014

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

Redemption

By Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb




It was from a gentile psychotherapy patient 30 years ago that I fully understood the significance of why the Divine took the role He did at Sinai


She was a psychotherapy patient of mine about thirty years ago. I learned many things from her, including an answer to a question which arises in this week's Torah portion, Yisro (Exodus 18:1-20:23).

The question appears in the commentary of Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra(d. 1164) on the very first verse of the Ten Commandments. The verse begins, "I am the Lord thy G0D who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage: you shall have no other G0Ds besides Me."

In his commentary, Ibn Ezra cites as the source of this question his famous predecessor, Rabbi Yehuda Halevi, perhaps the greatest poet in all of Hebrew literature and the author of one of the most indispensable works of philosophy in our tradition, the Kuzari.


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The question is simply this: "Why would the Divine, about to reveal the very basis of the Torah, introduce Himself to those assembled at the foot of Mount Sinai as the one who 'brought you out of the land of Egypt?' Wouldn't it be more appropriate and more awe inspiring for Him to proclaim, 'I am the Lord thy G0D who created heaven and earth?' " Does not the creation of the entire universe precede the Exodus from Egypt chronologically, and does it not supersede the Exodus as a wondrous and marvelous event? Would not people be more moved to obey the commandments of a G0D who created the entire world than they would be motivated to obey the commandments of He who merely freed a group of slaves?

There have been several attempts to answer this question. Traditional Jewish commentators have struggled with it, and Christian students of the Bible have been hard put to justify the relevance of the Ten Commandments to all humanity, when it was addressed by G0D only to those whom He delivered from the land of Egypt.

Whatever forms these many answers take, one thing is undeniable. Two aspects of G0D pervade the first two books of the Bible. One is the aspect of G0D as Creator, and the other is the aspect of G0D as Redeemer. Genesis emphasizes that G0D is the Lord over Nature, while Exodus stresses His role as the Lord of History.

This column is not the place to discuss the central dynamic of the world of nature. But it is the place to identify the central dynamic of human history: the concept of redemption, or in Hebrew, geulah.

But what is "redemption?" It is a common word in the religious lexicon not just of Judaism, but also of Christianity and Islam. But what does it mean?

It was from my psychotherapy patient; let's call her Catherine, that I first fully understood the significance of the word "redemption," and why it was in His role as Redeemer that G0D chose to begin the Ten Commandments, and not in His role as Creator.

It was during a particularly emotionally charged psychotherapy session. Catherine was recounting the tragedy of her father's life. He had been a prominent attorney in pre-war Poland. He had been interned in Auschwitz as a political prisoner because of his participation in the Polish resistance against the Nazis. After the war, he returned to his hometown, but instead of being given a hero's welcome, he was shunned as a traitor for saving Jews. He was unable to return to his former prestigious position and chose instead to emigrate to the United States. But here he found himself unable to master a new language and was compelled to earn his livelihood as a janitor. He lived the rest of his life vicariously through his children, whom he helped obtain advanced professional educations.

As she recounted the story with great sadness, I expressed my empathy for her and spoke of individuals within my family who had had similar stories to tell after the Holocaust—to which she retorted sharply, "For you Jews, it was different. You have had a redemptive experience. You have rebuilt your culture, your religious communities, your educational institutions. My father had no such redemptive experience. He regained nothing of his glorious past. He died unredeemed."

Ever since that conversation, the word "redemption" has been replete with meaning for me. It is a process by which a slave becomes free, individuals become a nation, and those who were condemned to lives of emptiness become enabled to live lives of immense significance. If G0D the Creator brought forth yesh me'ayin, something from nothing, then G0D the Redeemer brought forth a people from the depths of the 49th level of degradation to the exalted summit of freedom and faith.

Hence, my personal response to Yehuda Halevi's question. The Almighty prefaced the Ten Commandments with the assurance that personal redemption is a real possibility—a possibility, though, only for those who absorb the ethical and moral lessons He was about to teach in those Ten Commandments. He redeemed us once from the land of bondage, and He offered us the tools to redeem ourselves again and again throughout our lives.


Previously:



When the utopian idealist met the hardnosed realist in the park
Worrying about idolatry
What Moses knew about motivation
Commuting and Commenting: Conversations of a Life in Motion
Unanswered prayers force unlearning lessons
Dogs, too, have pedigrees
Count Me In
Open Eyes, and an Open Heart

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Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, PhD is currently the Executive Vice President, Emeritus of the Orthodox Union.


© 2012, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

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