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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 21, 2009 / 27 Nissan 5769

The more given, the less earned

By Dennis Prager


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | One of the reasons for the ascendance of the English-speaking world has been that the English language is almost alone among major languages in having the word "earn."


Those of us whose native language is English assume that the phrase "to earn a living" is universal. It isn't. It is almost unique to English. Few languages have the ability to say this.


In the Romance languages, for example - a list that includes such major languages as Spanish, French, and Italian — the word used when saying someone "earns" money, is "ganar" in Spanish, "gagner" in French. The word literally means "to win." In Hebrew the word "marveach" means "profits." In German, the word "verdient" means "deserves."


Obviously, it is very different to "win" or to "deserve" or to "profit" than to "earn."


Since the 1960s-'70s, a concerted effort has been made to weed the word, and therefore the cultural value, of "earning" from American life. Increasingly little is earned. Instead of earning, we are increasingly owed, or we have more rights, or we are simply given.


Many American kids no longer earn awards or trophies for athletic success. They are given trophies and awards for showing up. These trophies are not earned, just granted — essentially for breathing.


Another increasingly widespread concept that undermines the notion of earning is "unconditional love." The term, which was barely used prior to the 1960s, is now ubiquitous. It is a prominent goal, a human ideal to strive for. The idea of having to earn love is more than unheard of today; it would strike most moderns as morally suspect.


We expect unconditional love not only from parents to babies and toddlers, but to children of any age, no matter how they act. Parental unconditional love means that all people, no matter how disgracefully they act —- even toward a parent — and no matter how old they are, must be shown infinite love from their parents. Parental love is never to be earned, always to be given.


We expect G-d to show unconditional love to all people, again no matter how they act. According to the doctrine of divine unconditional love, G-d loves sadists as much as He loves the kindest individuals. No one earns G-d's love; we receive it, like sports trophies, for breathing. Many fine people believe this about G-d, but I think it is religio-cultural-specific, and non-biblical. In 15 years of study in a yeshiva I had never heard the phrase, and it would have struck me, as it still does, as quite odd. It depicts G-d as a love machine who, like an air-conditioner that emits the same amount of cold air no matter how the inhabitants of a house act, emits the same amount of love no matter we act. It means that we in no way influence G-d's love for us. I don't find that comforting. And it is certainly no more likely to induce decent behavior in human beings than a G-d who does show conditional love based on human decency.


We expect unconditional love — meaning unearned love — from spouses. No matter how awfully you treat your wife or husband, as soon as you were married, you were owed unconditional love. While your spouse and you had to earn each other's love prior to marriage, the moment you got married, you no longer had to earn the other's love.


We also expect forgiveness to be given without being earned. Many people believe in what I call automatic forgiveness — the obligation to forgive anyone any crime, committed against anyone, no matter how many victims and no matter how removed from my life. Thus the pastor of a church attended by then-President Bill Clinton told the president and all others at a Sunday service that all Christians were obligated to forgive Timothy McVeigh, the terrorist murderer of 168 people. Did McVeigh earn this forgiveness? Of course not. So where did the notion of unearned forgiveness come from, especially unearned forgiveness from people who were not the victims of the evil being forgiven? It is one thing for me to forgive those who have hurt me; it is quite another for others to forgive those who have hurt me. G-d Himself demands that we earn forgiveness. The term for that is repentance. No repentance, no forgiveness.


Finally, the increasingly powerful culture of entitlement and rights further undermines the value of earning anything. The more the state gives to its citizens, the less they have to earn. That is the basic concept of the welfare state — you receive almost everything you need without having to earn any of it. About half of Americans now pay no federal income tax — but they receive all government benefits just as if they had paid for, i.e., earned, them.


America became a great civilization thanks to a culture based on the value of having to earn almost everything an American got in life. As it abandons this value, it will become a mediocre civilization. And eventually it will not be America. It will be a large Sweden, and just as influential as the smaller one.

JWR contributor Dennis Prager hosts a national daily radio show based in Los Angeles. He the author of, most recently, "Happiness is a Serious Problem". Click here to comment on this column.


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Dennis' Archives 8, Creators Syndicate

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