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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

The Girl with the X-Ray Eyes

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson


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If we could see our inner selves, we might be shocked at what we find


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Natasha Demkina has x-ray vision. At least, that's what the twenty-one year old Russian woman claims. Since the age of ten, Ms. Demkina has reported an ability to see inside people, not figuratively or psychically, but visually, with her eyes wide open.


A test several years ago, in collaboration with the Discovery Channel, concluded that the young woman's mysterious talent for correctly diagnosing medical conditions did not derive from paranormal ability but from a sensitivity that enabled her to interpret external clues from subjects who came before her for examination. Ms. Demkina's defenders claim the test was flawed.


Irrespective of the authenticity of these or other paranormal claims, all of us who grew up with a knowledge of Superman have x-ray vision indelibly imprinted in our cultural lexicon. What child hasn't imagined himself possessed of the Man of Steel's power to look through walls and inside sealed containers? To see inside the human body is merely a new variation on an old theme.

STRANGER THAN FICTION?
Or is it? From a purely medical perspective, such innovations as x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs have provided huge advances in diagnoses and preventative treatments. From tooth decay to broken bones to lung disease to tumor growth, the equipment that allows us to see inside our skin has saved countless lives and been an invaluable boon to public health.


Even to the untrained eye, images produced by modern technology showing the effects of unhealthy living may prove shocking. The blackened lungs of a lifetime smoker, the cauterized liver of a heavy drinker, the clogged arteries resulting from a high-fat diet, and the impaired brain activity caused by drug abuse, are all concrete images of the effects of a careless or overindulgent lifestyle. Before we could look inside and see the effects of our behaviors, it was easy to deny that the vices we embraced were truly harmful; but now, the machines of modern medicine confront us with physical evidence that is truly irrefutable.


But what of behaviors that produce no physical evidence and leave no physical imprint? The Torah prohibits us from eating animals that do not have split-hooves and chew their cud. If the consumption of fatty foods deposits fat throughout our system, is it difficult to imagine that that ingesting the flesh of predatory animals may subtly influence us to develop a more violent nature? Conversely, is it not possible that consuming only animals characterized by rumination will gradually influence us to become more thoughtful and find more satisfaction in the simple pleasures life has to offer?


And what of the prohibition against mixing milk and meat? If the former characterizes our more passive, nurturing dimension, and the latter reflects our more active and aggressive side, is it inconceivable that the intermingling of the two might not lead us to lose some of our capacity for delineating when one response is called for and not the other? If we fail to respect some of life's natural boundaries, will we not place ourselves in danger of violating others?

WE ARE WHAT WE EAT … AND HOW WE ACT
Not is it only what we take inside our bodies that may cause us harm. Is immorality less self-destructive than smoking or an unhealthy diet? Do stinginess and anger and arrogance have any less effect upon us than cigarette tar and high cholesterol? What if we had x-ray vision that enabled us to see not blackened lungs and hardened arteries but the effect of an unholy life upon the neshoma - the supernal soul that defines our spiritual identity?


Just as the endless shelves of diet books promise to instruct us in maintaining our physical health, the Torah is the one genuine guide to spiritual well-being. Each positive commandment is a prescription for spiritual health, just as each prohibition is a warning against behavior that is spiritually harmful.


The kabbalists offer a frightening description of the effect of actions inconsistent with the Divine Will. Because our souls are essentially sparks of the Infinite G-d that reside within us, we cannot truly cause them damage. However, the radiance of the neshoma that illuminates our lives with spiritual joy and enables us to illuminate the world around us with spiritual energy can become diminished.


Every action that contradicts the Torah's code of conduct and ethics deposits a film of impurity over the around the exterior of our souls. The effect of a single spiritual indiscretion may be indiscernible. But if it is compounded, if layer after layer of impurity is added, the neshoma may become encased in a shroud of spiritual defilement that prevents its divine light from shining through.

PRESCRIPTION FOR THE SOUL
Ultimately, despite the complete absence of physical evidence, a person will find himself incapable of any true spiritual fulfillment. Over time, a person may become incapable of such feelings as love, kindness, mercy, gratitude, and self-sacrifice, without which it is impossible to live a life of true happiness and satisfaction. As the layers of impurity coalesce around his neshoma, a person finds himself pulled down by the inexorable weight of his material existence. Life becomes a burden, and the light of true joy gives way to a perpetually gray sky of spiritual melancholy.


Conversely, by directing our lives according to the spiritual prescription of Torah, we polish the exteriors of our neshomas to an extraordinary luster, so that the radiance of our souls permeates every corner of our world, bringing light and hope and elation to the darkest places and circumstances.


These conditions describe the extremes. Most of us, however, grapple with life somewhere in the middle, battling our way toward good and against evil, reaching up toward the spiritual against the constant downward pull of the physical. Sometimes we succeed; other times we fail. Too often we lose sight of the true consequences of our actions as we focus on trappings of earthly existence.


How do we train ourselves to keep our focus? How do we develop the clarity of x-ray vision to look beneath the surface and recognize how our spiritual health benefits when we take responsibility for ourselves and suffers when we indulge our impulses with abandon?


Just as technology has enabled us to look beneath the body's exterior and diagnose its true condition, similarly is the diagnosis of the neshoma a matter of employing the proper equipment. If the commandments in the Torah are indeed the prescription for a good life, then our quality of life itself is the measure of how well we are following the Almighty's prescription. For they are our life and the length of our days. If we find ourselves bitter, self-absorbed, discontented, and unfulfilled, then we are certainly not following the prescription for the soul. This is not to say that the Torah life produces instant happiness. But it does provide us with the guidance and the direction to clean and polish our neshomas, to restore the luster and radiance to our lives by returning meaning to our existence.


No one needs x-ray vision for that.

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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. Visit him at http://torahideals.wordpress.com .






© 2009, Rabbi Yonason Goldson