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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

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 April 25, 2008 / 20 Nissan 5768

Schadenfreude isn't kosher for Passover — or at any other time

By Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg


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How Judaism is different


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | There is a popular ditty that tells us that all Jewish festivals boil down to: "They tried to destroy us, we won let's eat!" But you know what? That's not true! What we celebrate on Passover is our exodus from Egypt, not the defeat of the Egyptians.

Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, a great Biblical commentator, writes in his book, "Meshech Chochmah," that because of the concept of "binfol oyevecha al tismach — that you should not rejoice when your enemy falls" — no Jewish holiday celebrates the defeat of others. And he goes on to point out that this is why, right at the time of the Exodus, we were told that the festival of Passover was to be a seven day holiday.

Why seven days when the Exodus took only one? Explains the Meshech Chochmah, because it was destined that on the seventh day the Jews would cross the Reed Sea and the Egyptians be destroyed. But if it was only then when we are told that the seventh day was to be a holiday, we would think it was because of the destruction of our enemies. So the seventh day was declared a holiday, even before this took place!

Similarly says the Meshech Chochmah, on Chanukah we commemorate not the defeat of the Greeks, but the miracle of the oil. And on Purim the celebration of Purim takes place not on the day Haman and our enemies were destroyed, but on the following day when all was quiet.

This concept of "Thou shall not schadenfreude," — thou shall not rejoice in the falling of your enemy — is codified as part of Jewish law during this holiday of Passover.

Whereas we recite the full Hallel, the Psalms of praise and thanksgiving to the Almighty on the first days of Passover, we recite the abbreviated Hallel on the last days, because those were the days on which they Egyptians were killed and our joy must be limited. But do you know what this means? Do you know how far this is taken?

Because we don't say the full Hallel on the last days of Passover it was considered inappropriate to recite them during the intermediate days of Passover. After all, how does it look on the day of the full holiday we don't say the full Hallel how can we say the full Hallel on those days that are not a full holiday? And so it ends up that on six of the eight days of Passover we don't sing a full praise to G-d, because "binfol oyevcha al tishmach — when your enemy falls, do not celebrate."

These words in the book of Proverbs are underscored in importance by the words in the verse that follows: "Pen yireh Hashem v'ra b'einav — lest the Lord see it and it displeases Him."

THEM AND US
Yes, the Lord is watching when you rejoice over the fall of your enemy, and it displeases Him. So how do you think G-d felt last month when He saw the people in Gaza dancing in the streets, giving out candies and celebrating the murders, shooting and killing of eight Yeshiva students in Jerusalem? That the shooting was as despicable an act of violence as one can imagine, there is no question think of it: innocent civilians, unarmed, students in a theological school, teenagers it can't get worse than that!

Sure, war is hell. But even in war, there are certain rules of conduct you just don't go killing innocent civilians and most certainly not women and children. And to add inhumanity to inhumanity, to rejoice over this? As one op-ed writer put it, "The attack at the Yeshiva was a barbaric murder of eight children who were engaged in religious study. This odious and inhuman terror attack exemplifies the extremist and inhuman path of the terror organizations Hamas and Hezbollah. The terror must prompt the free world to comprehend the magnitude of terrorism and its threats and to realize that a clear and unequivocal stance must be assumed against it. There can be no negotiations with terrorism that indiscriminately aims itself at students, women and babies, without any consideration for the means and the targets."

You know where that op-ed appeared? In a Kuwaiti newspaper! These are the murderers that Jimmy Carter can't wait to meet! It should be obvious to any civilized human being what an act of barbarity it was. But that didn't stop many Arab newspapers as referring to it as a "heroic operation," and the Palestinians celebrating in the streets because their enemies had fallen.

DREAMERS FORCED TO FACE REALITY
I know that many will say that it wasn't all the Palestinians. We always hear something like that it's not all the Muslims, it's not all the Arabs, it's not all the Palestinians it's just a small minority. Fuhgedaboudit!

Now we know! Now we know the truth for sure! A poll taken by the respected Palestinian pollster, Kahlil Shikaki, right after the incident revealed that 85% of the Palestinians applauded the slaughter. 85%! Mr. Shikaki said he was shocked by the results! I don't know why! Let me just remind you: this isn't the first time we've seen such barbarism by a collective people. You remember a few years ago when two Israeli soldiers mistakenly drove in to the Palestinian city of Ramallah? They were lynched dragged through the streets torn to pieces with their murderers marching through the streets showing their blood covered hands to the cheers of the masses.

And you know what? To some degree, this explains the fence that Israel is erecting, separating itself from the Arabs on the West Bank. On one level — the physical level — that fence is meant to keep out suicide bombers and those who would randomly kill Israelis.

And it's been pretty successful at that! But I think that fence has a psychological purpose as well. After Oslo, many in Israel thought there was going to be a "new" Middle East; the walls separating Israel from its Arab neighbors — physically and psychologically — would come tumbling down; no different than the wall that divided Berlin and that divided East and West. But now we know that was all a dream. We talked of peace -but they planned for war. We spoke of friendship - but they taught hatred in their schools. We talked of our right to exist — but they insisted on their right to return. We talked of life — they talked of death.

Just this week the PLO announced that it was giving its highest medal to two terrorists who were involved in the Sbarro pizza store massacre. This at the discretion of Palestinian President Abbas, while negotiating peace with Israel! A few years ago, in viewing a video shown on television in which a Palestinian mob was seen mutilating the body parts of the six Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza, Israel's Major General Dan Harel, head of the Southern Command, said, "It made me sick to my stomach. It is unbelievable that human beings could reach such lows. The video I saw emphasizes the difference between us and them."

Similarly, Colonel Eyal Eisenberg, Commander of the Givati Brigade that saw eleven of its soldiers blown to bits was quoted in Israel's Maariv newspaper: "I haven't told this to anyone but in the midst of this operation, we assisted a baby being born and evacuated an elderly Palestinian woman who was injured and summoned a local ambulance for her.

Terrorists ran and fired from behind the ambulance. Therefore, I do not want to make any comparison between our scale of values and theirs. If my soldiers can assist a Palestinian woman giving birth when six of their comrades have been blown to bits in the street but, at the same time, they fire at us from behind an ambulance, you must understand that we are at opposite ends of the scales of values. They are at the very bottom." Yes, they have left us no choice but to build a wall to make sure that we never become like them. That their way will not become our way. We are building a fence not just to keep their murderers out, but to keep the mores of their society out as well.

WHEN WE RAISE OUR GLASSES
In the middle of the Haggadah — in a part I fear many skip — there is a rabbinic analysis of four sentences from the Torah that describe our Egyptian bondage. And for each phrase and each sentence there is a Midrashic interpretation. One of the phrases is: "Vayarehu osunu hamitzrim." The literal translation seems to be: "And the Egyptians were bad to us." "They mistreated us." Other translations are: "The Egyptians considered us bad." Or, "They suspected us of evil." But a most relevant translation is, "The Egyptians made us bad." We began to stoop to their level. There is always a danger and tendency during war to lash back at one's enemies enemies who blow up school buses and Passover Seders and Yeshivas. There is always a tendency to strike back measure for measure. But we don't do that. That's the challenge for us as Jews; never to be like them. The Torah tells us — the Torah commands us: "Do not emulate the abominable practices of the Egyptians."

We don't rejoice when an enemy falls. We get no satisfaction from the suffering of others. "Schadenfreude" is a German word. "Rachmanus", mercy, is a Jewish word. The whole purpose of Passover — the whole purpose of the Egyptian experience according to Rabbi Dr. J. B. Soleveitchik — was to teach us an ethical sensitivity to the suffering of others.

Our people do not perform acts of vengeance like others do. We've had every reason in the world to strike back and hurt others; instead, as reflected in the words we said at the Seder of Shefoch Chamascha; we left vengeance to G-d not for us!

Arab children, whose parents became refugees, are taught to become suicide bombers Jewish children whose parents became refugees were taught to write best selling books about the experience! We are different! While Islam and Christianity preach only their followers can be "saved," Judaism sees salvation being open to all good people. We pray for the salvation of others, not for their downfall.

At the Passover Seder we will do what every other people do — most every people at moments of joy, at moments of victory, lift their cup in celebration. We will do that as well. But we don't do it the way other cultures do it. Our cup are not be full we will take off drops of the wine. For us as Jews, our cup cannot be full when others have suffered.

We are different! Vive la difference! Let us raise our children to be knowledgeable of it and proud of it, as the Hagaddah puts it: "V'haya ki yishalacha bincha machar — when your child asks you on the morrow, 'What's this Judaism all about?'. . . let us be able to respond as Jewish parents have responded through the ages . . . with pride in our past and great hope for our future, with the hopes for nachas (pride) . . . genuine Yiddisha nachas, as we proclaim: "Ashreinu, mah tov chelkeinu u'ma yafa yerushaseinu . . . happy are we, how goodly is our portion, how pleasant our lot, how beautiful our Jewish heritage."

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Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg is Senior Rabbi of Baltimore's Beth Tfiloh Congregation.


© 2008, Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg