Home
In this issue
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

Achieving immortality

By Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald





Often described as a secret, living forever can, in fact, be easily mastered --- providing that you know how to read in-between the lines of a millennia-old text

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | One of the most heartrending and challenging juxtapositions in the Bible appears in this week's reading, Shelach.

The twelve scouts have returned from their visit to Canaan, and ten have come back with an evil report that the land (Numbers 13:32), " devours its inhabitants." Despite Caleb and Joshua's best efforts to restore a sense of balance to the report, panic spreads among the people. The people, who are in dread fear of the new "Promised Land," are convinced that they will be consumed by the giants who reside in Canaan. They cry through the night, blaming Moses and Aaron for their troubles, and express the wish that they had never left Egypt! They brazenly declare their preparedness to find a new leader and begin the return to Egypt that very moment.

The Almighty's wrath is kindled. He tells Moses that He wishes to destroy the entire nation, and rebuild a new one. Moses pleads on behalf of the people for mercy. The Divine yields, but vows that none of the men alive at the time of this rebellion will live to see the land of Canaan—they are all destined to die in the wilderness. For each of the 40 days that the scouts spent in Canaan, the Israelites are doomed to wander a year in the wilderness. To top off those grievous tidings, the 10 leaders who delivered the evil report die in a plague before the Almighty.


STIMULATION AND INSPIRATION

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes "must-reading". Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.


Imagine, if you will, the hysteria of the people following the decree that they will not enter Canaan. Some are so distraught that they attempt to immediately force their way up to Israel, and are beaten back in a savage attack by the Amalekites and the Canaanites. This final tragedy adds only more pain to the people.

The story of the scouts, and the resulting ban against entering Canaan, now concludes, and a new chapter, chapter 15, begins that appears to be unrelated to the previous story. The new chapter predicts that there will come a new day, when the people of Israel will enter into the land of their dwelling that the Divine gives them. The prediction is followed by a host of laws, replete with technical details regarding the amounts of meal offerings and wine libations that must accompany the sacrifices that will be brought by the nation, when they enter the land of Canaan.

How cruel! The Lord has just finished telling the people that they will not enter the promised land. Then, as if pouring salt on their wounds, the Almighty cites a series of laws that will apply to the sacrifices that will be brought 39 years later in the land of Israel! Isn't it simply enough to punish the people? Must the Almighty hurt the people even more by taunting them that: "You will never enter the land, and you will never be privileged to bring these sacrifices together with the meal offerings and wine libations!"? Is this a manifestation of His cruel cosmic sense of humor? To rub in the pain? Isn't the punishment—the ban from Canaan—sufficient?

The intriguing juxtaposition of these two chapters reveals to us one of the fundamental principals of Jewish philosophy. While the Almighty decrees that the generation that sinned with the scouts will never be allowed to enter the land of Israel, the Divine consoles them by promising them that while they will not make it, their children and their grandchildren surely will, and promises that their descendants will bring sacrifice libations and celebrate fully in the Promised Land.

As we all know, humans are mortal. No one lives forever. Furthermore, while we may hope, no human can ever actually accomplish and fulfill all their dreams and desires during their lifetime. But as Ernest Becker argues in his brilliant Pulitzer Prize winning volume, The Denial of Death, we humans can indeed achieve immortality by passing on our values to our children and having them perpetuate our dreams and our desires.

"While I am punishing you by not allowing you to enter into the land of Canaan," says the Divine to the stiff-necked generation, "You will not die! In fact, you will live on—through your children who will be loyal to the faith system of Israel and will joyously celebrate in the land of Israel."

Is this not true for us all? We all face the inevitable reality that our physical life is finite. And while we "have miles to go" we will all ultimately "sleep," some sooner, some later. But if we truly wish to achieve immortality, it is most crucial that we bear in mind that our life's priority must be to properly and effectively transmit our values to the next generation, so that our ultimate dreams will be fulfilled and maintained in the future.

This is one of the meanings of the Hebrew expression "To be bound up in the bond of eternal life." It is one of the greatest blessings the Divine has given us. Let us seize it, embrace it, and incorporate it into the essence of our being.

JewishWorldReview.com regularly publishes uplifting articles. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Interested in a private Judaic studies instructor — for free? Let us know by clicking here.

Comment by clicking here.

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


Previously:


Dead Read Heifers and the Sanctity of Human Life

The big 'IF': The Question of Free Choice

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

Bringing the Divine Home

To change a world






© 2012, National Jewish Outreach Program