Home
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

Good. Better. Best

By Rabbi Reuven Drucker



Who should we — and the Divine — regard as a truly noble person?


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Dear Rabbi,

In your opinion, who is a better person: an individual who is honest, pleasant, and nice to others, but not ritually observant, or an individual who is scrupulously observant, but is unpleasant in character and tries to take advantage of others? I've had this argument with my father many times, but I'm now rethinking my position. Could you offer any help?


Thank you,
Todd F.

Dear Todd,

Many years ago, one of the greatest rabbis in America, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein of blessed memory, was asked a very similar question. His response is most noteworthy. When G-d gave the 10 Commandments to the Jewish people, He divided them on two stone tablets, not because all of them were unable to fit on one stone, but because the Commandments are fundamentally divided into two groupings.


The laws on the first tablet center on our relationship with G-d, not man. The laws on the second tablet, however, focus on our relationship with our fellow men, not G-d. (Even though the fifth commandment of honoring one's parents seems to deal with our relationship with others, our Sages interpret it otherwise. I hope to explore this issue in a future correspondence) Rabbi Feinstein explained that adherence to the laws governing both relationships are equally important. One who zealously keeps the Sabbath, but is unscrupulous in business is as equally irreligious as one who is honest and kind, but does not develop his relationship with G-d by observing His Sabbath and other mitzvos (religious duties) . The objective of Torah observance is to develop the complete Jew, and the complete Jew is one who works on both of these fundamental relationships.


The truth of the matter is that for many people, being a kind-hearted and generous person of integrity comes easily. After all, special qualities have been bequeathed to us by our forefathers. Our Sages teach us that our Patriarch Abraham excelled in chesed, kind and charitable acts. We find in the Torah portion of VaYeira that Abraham was so motivated to help others that he waited at the door of his tent to see if he could provide hospitality to wayfarers, despite the fact that he was recuperating from the circumcision he had just undergone at his elderly age of 99. Many in his position may have justifiably found reasons why they should concentrate on their health at such a time. However, Abraham was more pained by the fact that he did not have an opportunity to help others than his own physical discomfort. A Jew's extraordinary urge to help others—either through charitable contributions or through physical acts of kindness—has its roots in the nature of Abraham.


It is interesting to point out that a detail from the narrative involving G-d's asks Abraham to take his beloved son Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice. For Abraham, whose entire essence was to shower others with kindness, as we see him portrayed, carrying out this act must have been excruciatingly difficult. Besides G-d's command opposing Abraham's deep-rooted nature of kindness, it also meant that Abraham's future as a people would never be realized, since he was told that the descendants who will follow in his path are the ones who will come from Isaac. With one slice of the knife, G-d was asking Abraham to sacrifice his own essence as well as his future.


Nevertheless, we see that Abraham willingly went to comply with G-d's word. Not until he was signaled from Heaven not to sacrifice his son did Abraham relent. And, specifically at that moment, G-d tells Abraham, "Now I know you are a person who truly is in awe of G-d." Only when Abraham showed his readiness to act contrary to his own nature of kindness was it evident that all the acts of kindness that he had performed until this point emanated, not from his nature to be kind towards others, but from his religious awareness that his display of kindness towards others was the performance of one of G-d's mitzvot and did not merely flow from his own personality. For Abraham, there was no dichotomy between G-d's laws that regulate our relationship with Him and with our fellow man. The very same motivation that propelled him to observe the Mitzvah of Circumcision was the very motivation that motivated him to help others. That is a perfect example of the complete Jew that we referred to above.


Therefore, Todd, let's not accept the premise of the original question, which assumes that one type of "half-complete Jew" could be better than the other. In addition, let's keep in mind that even the first person you describe as honest and pleasant needs to be guided, not by his natural instincts, but rather by the motivation to adhere to G-d's mitzvah to be honest and kind, as Abraham himself exemplified.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment by clicking here.

Rabbi Reuven Drucker is the spiritual leader of Congregation Agudath Israel in Highland Park, NJ.


© 2010, Partners in Torah