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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

We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident --- or do we?

By Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald





There are many elementary things, true basics of life, that are perfectly clear and self-evident. Though we see and hear these ideas and concepts all the time, we often fail to recognize them. In fact, each time we hear them, we often react with surprise and excitement as though we are hearing them for the first time.

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | On July 4th 1776, the Continental Congress adopted a statement written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, known as the United States Declaration of Independence. This document announced that the thirteen American colonies were now at war with King George III of Great Britain, and no longer wished to be part of the British Empire.

One of the best known sentences in the English language, and among the most "potent and consequential words in American history," is the sweeping statement of individual rights contained in the second sentence of the Declaration: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

Of course, not everybody in the Thirteen Colonies believed that all people were created equal. In fact, less than a hundred years later, the "United" States was engaged in the terrible Civil War, fought over whether slavery should be forbidden throughout the country. Notwithstanding, the uniqueness of the Declaration of Independence, the idea that certain concepts and ideas are truly "self-evident," is not an original Jeffersonian concept.

The Torah is filled with concepts and ideas that are considered self-evident. Perhaps the earliest of the "self-evident" concepts found in the Torah is the pronouncement that all human beings are created in the image of the Divine and that all are created equal. In Genesis 1:27 we read: "G0d created the human being in His image, in the image of the Divine, He created him [the human being]."

The Mishnah, in Sanhedrin 37a, commenting on the story of creation, states: "Therefore was the first human being created alone, to promote peace among men, that one might not be able to say to his fellow, 'My father was greater than your father.'"

We hold these truths to be self-evident.

Another "self-evident" idea, is articulated boldly in our holy Scriptures in a portion of the Torah that is recited at least twice a day by observant Jews. The words in Deuteronomy 6:7 read: "And you shall teach your children."

The Torah dramatically declares that every parent is obligated to teach their children. It is primarily the parents' responsibility to teach their children --- not the nanny, not the tutor, not the hired teacher. Of course, if the parent is not qualified to teach certain cognitive skills, a professional may be hired to do so. But, still, the ultimate responsibility rests upon the parent. Thus, if the teachers fail to fulfill their obligations properly, it is the failure of the parents, not the teachers, not the principal, not the school. Judaism boldly declares, that the buck stops with the parents.

It is, therefore, little wonder then, that because of the obsessive value they place on education, Jews have always been among the most highly educated people on Earth.

We hold these truths to be self-evident.


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Another revolutionary concept that Judaism introduced to the world is the idea of a "day of rest," the Shabbat. Just as the Almighty rested on the seventh day after working for six days, so must the human being. Just as the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt and were released, so does every person need to be released from their own personal "servitude," their frenetic life-routines, in order to taste the spiritual side of life, and restore their spent souls. Long before contemporary society started speaking about "quality time," Judaism knew that there is really no substitute for the "quantity time," which makes "quality time" possible. Human beings need "sacred time" in order to provide balance to their lives. In order to maintain the proper equilibrium, families must celebrate together and have mandated meals together without outside interruptions from the internet, iPods, iPads, Twitter and Facebook.

As I have often stated (half in jest, of course), if I had an opportunity to speak with President Obama, I would tell our President that if he truly wishes to address 85% of the ills that afflict our country, he should instruct Congress to legislate Sabbat:h Friday for the Muslims, Saturday for the Jews, Sunday for the Christians. Families must have sacred time. Each of us needs to rid our minds and bodies of the physical and spiritual waste that collects during the week, to begin afresh, without the mercenary and material motives that frequently drive us. We need to regenerate our souls with pure love, for the sake of love and nothing else.

We hold these truths to be self-evident.

Rabbi Shimshon Dovid Pincus (1944-2001, an American born rabbinic scholar who served as the Chief Rabbi and head of the Yeshiva of Ofakim, Israel) in his brilliant exposition on the Torah, titled Tiferes Shimshon, explains how "self-evident" is the concept of Lashon Harah, of not speaking evil, that is found in this week's Bible reading. The Torah, in Leviticus 14:2 states: "This shall be the law of the person who is stricken with tzaraas (leprosy)."

Through a deft play on words, the Midrash in Vayikra Rabba 16:2 explains that the Torah speaks, not of a physical dermatological ailment, but rather of a spiritual malady. When interpreting the verse: "And this shall be the law of the m'tzorah," the Midrash regards the word "m'tzorah" as an acronym for "motzee shaym rah," speaking evil, which is the cause of the skin ailment.

The Midrash tells of a merchant who traveled from city to city, who constantly declared: "Come, purchase the potion of life!" Rabbi Yanai called out to the merchant, declaring his intention to buy some of the "potion of life." The merchant said to him, "You (a man of such great stature), does not require this potion." Rabbi Yanai persisted. The merchant then took out the Book of Psalms and showed Rabbi Yanai the verses (Psalms 34:13-15): "Who is the man who truly desires life, loving each day to see good? Guard your tongue from speaking evil…, desist from evil and do good."

The rabbis note, that after the encounter between Rabbi Yanai and the merchant, Rabbi Yanai said to his learned friends, "All my life, I have been reading this verse, and never understood its basic meaning, until this merchant came to me and told me what 'Who is the man who truly desires life?' really means."

There are many elementary things, true basics of life, that are perfectly clear and self-evident. Though we see and hear these ideas and concepts all the time, we often fail to recognize them. In fact, each time we hear them, we often react with surprise and excitement as though we are hearing them for the first time. Of course, Rabbi Yanai was familiar with the verses, but he was so excited to hear this unique interpretation.

The failure to recognize well-known concepts is not limited to those who have never had the opportunity to learn. Even great scholars, perhaps because they are filled with wisdom, often display genuine excitement when they hear the basics explained to them in a unique way.

It is these feelings of excitement and exhilaration that Jews attempt to achieve on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Even though we have been through the Teshuva (repentance) experience many times, we seek to create an emotional revolution in our lives. The same should be true, not only for all Jewish holidays, but also for the feelings that we experience every Sabbath, and every time we read the central Shema prayer. We must seek to create a revolution in our own selves, a revolution of understanding and of spiritual awareness. After each Sabbath experience we must ask ourselves if we properly appreciated the Sabbath as much as we should have? After reciting the "Shema," we must carefully examine whether we truly realized that the Lord is really One, and make certain that all our deeds have been for the sake of Heaven. When the Torah declares, "this is the law of the m'tzorah," of not speaking evil, it is in effect a Declaration of Jewish Independence. It is our declaration that "these truths are self-evident," that we must care about the next person as much as we care about ourselves, that we must desist from hurting others with our tongues, with our actions, with our words, and with our deeds.

The Jewish revolution took place, not three hundred years ago, but over thirty three hundred years ago, and continues every single day of our lives. It is up to us to remain forever faithful to this vital movement.

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Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald heads the National Jewish Outreach Program.


Previously:


Bringing the Divine Home

To change a world






© 2011, National Jewish Outreach Program