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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 April 5, 2004 /14 Nissan, 5764

The search

By Paul Greenberg

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Walker Percy and Passover


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Pass the word to the other slaves. We leave Egypt tonight.

Walker Percy called it the search. Or at least his alter ego in "The Moviegoer" did. Outwardly, John Bickerson Bolling, or Binx to his friends, was just another stockbroker. Inwardly, he was a vacuum. Strangely enough, he was aware of it at certain moments. It was at those moments that he became real. As he explained it:

"What is the nature of the search, you ask. The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. This morning, for example, I felt as if I had come to myself on a strange island. And what does such a castaway do? Why, he pokes around the neighborhood and he doesn't miss a trick. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair."

When it comes to explaining the nature of faith and despair, I think ol' Binx has it all over old Kierkegaard with his "Fear and Trembling." Like some other fictional characters, Binx is more alive than the rest of us most of the time. That's because he's in on the search.

Binx would understand why tonight is different from all other nights. Tonight, the first night of Passover, we quit Egypt. Not as if for the first time, but for the first time. That is what ritual accomplishes when it is rightly understood, that is, as not just ritual. All things become new. As in the search.

The search breaks the tyranny of time. It take us into the Ever Present, doing away with past and future. It shatters what Binx called everydayness. Binx had a name for being so sunk in everydayness that we're unaware of it: the malaise. The search clears away the malaise. We awaken.

This is what ritual does — before it has become stale custom. It sets us free. Tonight is the watchnight, the night every slave people waits for. It is the full moon, the 14th of Nissan, Juneteenth, the start of the search.

Binx was in on the search only intermittently, when something would catch his eye, when some piece of flotsam in the tide of the everyday would start him off. Some clue. Then he would come awake.

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What kind of clue? Why, us. The Jews. Here is Binx waking up: "An odd thing. Ever since Wednesday I have become acutely aware of Jews. There is a clue here, but of what I cannot say. How do I know? Because whenever I approach a Jew, the Geiger counter in my head starts rattling away like a machine gun; and as I go past with the utmost circumspection and every sense alert — the Geiger counter subsides. When a man is in despair and does not in his heart of hearts allow that a search is possible and when such a man passes a Jew in the street, he notices nothing. But when such a man passes a Jew in the street for the first time, he is like Robinson Crusoe seeing the footprint on the beach."

It is a terrible thing to be a clue, and perhaps more terrible not to know it, to be so sunk in despair we don't notice. And how, after all, could a clue be aware of what it signifies? We are witnesses despite our unknowing selves.

Binx has noticed our unknowingness: "The fact is, however, I am more Jewish than the Jews I know. They are more at home than I am. I accept my exile." I think the word Binx is searching for to describe his Jewish friends is clueless.

We're clues and don't know it. Well, some of us do. Queen Victoria, long in mourning for her prince consort, asked Disraeli in her despair if he knew of any proof, any proof at all, of the existence of a G-d. And all he said was, "The Jews, ma'am."

By all the laws of history, we should have disappeared centuries, aeons ago, with the Canaanites and Jebusites and all those now so safe from the pain of history that even their names have to be made up by the archaeologists on the basis of the slimmest leavings, and sometimes just speculation.

That's why Toynbee hated us, of course, because we spoiled his life's work, his learned theory about the inevitable rise and fall of every civilization. He didn't know how to fit us into his historical taxonomy, and so in the end classified us as a "living fossil."

Well, Dr. Toynbee, tonight the fossil leaves Egypt. We enter the wilderness and begin the search anew. Pass it on.

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.


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