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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 May 30, 2008 / 15 Iyar 5768,

Man: The Crowning Glory of Creation

By Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz


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As mortal human beings, we sometimes view ourselves as mere cogs in the vast machinery of the universe. Constrained by both our spiritual shortcomings and our physical limitations, we feel that we cannot effect any meaningful change in the world, in the lives of others, and, at times, even in our own lives. The Talmud opens up an entirely new perspective


“And the Divine said: "I have forgiven, according to your words.”

                        —   Numbers 14:20


After the spies returned from Canaan with a pessimistic report, Jewry despaired of their ability to conquer the land. As a punishment for their lack of total trust and faith, the Divine intended to wipe out the nation. Immediately, Moses began to plead Jewry's case before the Divine.


The Talmud (Berachos 32a) records the conversation:


If You destroy the Children of Israel, the other nations of the world will claim that Your strength is not supreme. They will argue that You don't possess the power to conquer the thirty-one kings of Canaan.

The Divine assented to Moses' argument and told him, 'Moses, your words have given Me life.'


Rav Nissim Gaon explains the Divine's cryptic reply. The Divine was telling Moses that He agreed with Moses' view of the situation and as a result of Moses' prayers, the Divine's power and greatness would continue to become known to the entire world.


The Divine's words, "You have given Me life," seem to credit Moses with the achievement of having the Divine's Omnipotence accepted by all mankind. What did Moses do to deserve this?


Moses did not have the physical ability to accomplish this astounding feat. He merely prayed that The Divine not take action against Jewry and that He simply continue revealing His might as before. Is it correct to say that Moses gave the Divine "life" in the eyes of the world?


Our sages tell us (Bamidbar Rabbah 9:35) that someone who causes his friend to sin is punished as if he himself has sinned. Similarly, someone who prompts another to perform a mitzvah (religious duty, act of kindness) is rewarded for the performance of that mitzvah. In our case, Moses' prayers were a pivotal factor in the Divine's decision to lead His people into Canaan, thereby revealing His supreme might to the world. Therefore Moses is credited with the entire result, and is considered as having given the Divine "life" — i.e., eternal power and omnipotence in the eyes of all mankind — a feat far beyond Moses' actual abilities.


As mortal human beings, we sometimes view ourselves as mere cogs in the vast machinery of the universe. Constrained by both our spiritual shortcomings and our physical limitations, we feel that we cannot effect any meaningful change in the world, in the lives of others, and, at times, even in our own lives. The Talmud opens up an entirely new perspective. Any action we take that even indirectly contributes to the benefit of another individual — even a prayer that merely preserves the status quo — is considered to have directly accomplished that benefit and all the repercussions that result from it.


Who knows which kindness, which prayer, or what act of self-control may be the one that tips the Heavenly scale to the side of merit? Can we predict which small gesture will be the deciding factor that may influence the outcome of world events? Like the operator of a huge nuclear power plant, we can be credited with benefiting millions of people with an action as simple as pressing a button. On the other hand, with an equally simple improper action, we can be held accountable for widespread misery and suffering.


If we appreciate the potential that every single deed has — to be the crucial force that changes the lives of others and the entire world — our role in the cosmos takes on an entirely new significance. This realization will motivate us to live up to the Torah's expectation of man as the crowning glory of creation.

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One of America's senior Torah sages, Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz has been the dean of the Rabbinical Seminary of America, in Queens, New York for more than 50 years. The institution has branches and affiliates all across North America and Israel.

This article was prepared by two of the sage's disciples, Rabbi Aryeh Striks and Rabbi Shimon Zehnwirth, and excerpted from the just released book, "Pinnacle of Creation: Torah insights into human nature".


Previously:

The Divine's eternal, unconditional love
Perverting sincerity
Do 'clothes make the man'?
Divine vindictiveness?

© 2007, Mesorah Publications, Ltd.