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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

Who's holding all the cards?

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson





Talmudic logic explains why the nation of Qatar just paid $250 million for a second-tier masterpiece --- and what this has to do with our moral refinement

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Would you bid a quarter of a billion dollars for a pair of face cards?

That's what the nation of Qatar has done, shelling out a cool $250 million to purchase Paul Cezanne's post-impressionist painting The Card Players. Although hardly in the league of a Degas or a Van Gogh, the second-tier masterpiece sent tremors through the art world when it obliterated the record for a public sale. The previous high mark, set last year at Christie's for Picasso's portrait of his mistress Marie-Therese, was a paltry $106 million.

Given that Qatar controls the largest oil reserves on the planet and had the world's highest per capita GDP in 2010, it goes without saying that its royal family can afford just about anything it wants. But even considering the rulers' goal of establishing their little desert nation as a center of world culture, a lot of experts find it hard to understand what made this particular painting worth so much to them.


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Writing for Vanity Fair, Alexander Peers reports that the painting is one of five Cezannes in the Card Players series. With this acquisition, Qatar elevates its National Museum instantaneously into the elite company of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, London's Courtauld Institute, Philadelphia's Barnes Foundation, and the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. That alone could explain why the work was worth any price in the eyes of the royals.

But there may be another, more intriguing, explanation. Recently counted by Artnews magazine among the most prominent masterpieces still in private hands, the Qatari's latest acquisition had resided in the protective custody of Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos for years, during which time it was one of the most inaccessible paintings in the world. And nothing generates passion as much as that which we cannot have.

HOW SWEET IT IS
The Talmud records the peculiar case of a suspected adulterer who, while hiding in his presumed paramour's bedroom, happens to see a viper crawl up onto the dresser and lower its head into a pitcher of water before slithering off. Moments later, the husband enters the room and pours himself a drink from the pitcher. The intruder, fearing that the snake has deposited its venom into the water, shouts for the husband to stop so that he won't poison himself.

The case came before the court, which had to determine whether the intruder was in fact an adulterer, in which case the wife would be subject to divorce by her husband. Upon reviewing the evidence, the court ruled that no adultery had taken place. They reasoned that if the intruder and the wife had indeed been having an affair, the adulterer would have allowed the husband to drink from the pitcher so that he could then have the woman for himself. Since he called out to save the husband's life, it was clear that no act of adultery had been committed.

The Talmud then questions the need for teaching this case at all, since the logic is so self-evident that any competent judge would arrive at the same conclusion. The Talmud goes on to answer its own question, asserting that an incorrect ruling might well have been reached based on the following psychological observation: stolen waters taste sweet.

What makes people cheat on their spouses? The same thing that makes people with plenty of money shoplift or lie on their income tax returns — namely, the thrill of breaking rules, whether the law of the land or the vows of marriage; the exhilaration of crossing lines into forbidden territory and risking discovery can transform even the simplest act into an intense experience of primal pleasure. It is basic human nature that anything permitted may quickly become unfulfilling, and that anything forbidden easily becomes tantalizing, often to the point of irresistibility.

It is with this in mind that the Talmud teaches the case of the suspected adulterer. Since stolen waters taste sweeter, it might be assumed that the intruder wants to keep the husband alive in order to continue his illicit relationship with the wife, realizing that if the woman became permitted to him he would no longer find her as attractive or the relationship as stimulating. By teaching this case, the Talmud rules that the judge should not make such a presumption in rendering his decision.

THE HIDDEN WORKINGS OF THE MIND
But why not? That is the question posed by the medieval commentators known as the Ba'alei Tosfos, who wonder why we don't suspect the intruder of precisely the line of reasoning that the Talmud instructs us to disregard. The answer, they explain, is that when it comes to the workings of our own minds we invariably lose the ability to see objectively. No matter how well we understand the seductive attraction of crime, when faced with temptation we refuse to question whether it is the object of our desire that drives us to break the law or the prospect of attaining the unattainable that makes the object of our desire so enticing.

So too this passing obsession with Cezanne's Card Players. The painting may be masterful, but more than likely it is the history of inaccessibility that inflated its price beyond all reason. And even if the Qatari royal family can afford it, their wild disregard for its true worth provides us with a dramatic example of the disproportional value human beings can attribute to whatever prizes appear at the limit of their reach, be they wealth, status, power, or pleasure.

On the other hand, if we contemplate the higher virtues of the human soul — kindness, loyalty, integrity, and moral refinement — and if we appreciate these as the world's rarest and most elusive treasures, then we will arouse our own passion for prizes of authentic spiritual value and find ourselves inspired to rise above the trivial pursuits of the material world.


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JWR contributor Rabbi Yonason Goldson teaches at Block Yeshiva High School in St. Louis, MO, where he also writes and lectures. He is author of Dawn to Destiny: Exploring Jewish History and its Hidden Wisdom, an overview of Jewish philosophy and history from Creation through the compilation of the Talmud, now available from Judaica Press. Visit him at http://torahideals.com .






© 2011, Rabbi Yonason Goldson