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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

The Other Face of Tragedy

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson





What the faithful must believe -- and not just remember -- when confronting the incomprehensible and that which defies all semblance of rhyme or reason

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Twenty-something years ago, a resident of one of Jerusalem's devoutly religious neighborhoods left his apartment one Friday morning to go shopping for the approaching Sabbath. He was just out the door when his wife heard on the radio that a terrorist bomb had exploded in the midst of the marketplace where he was headed.

After a brief moment of panic, the women relaxed. A quick glance at the clock reassured her that her husband was not in danger. There was no way in the world he could have reached the target area in the few minutes since he had left.

As it happened, her husband was there. He was caught in the blast and fatally injured.

Despite his injuries, the man lived long enough to tell the medics how he had gotten there. The bus had pulled up the instant he arrived at the stop, then proceeded to make every single green light. Traffic along the normally congested boulevard had parted like the Red Sea, and he arrived at his destination after an impossibly short ride — just in time for the bomb to explode beside him.

"It was min hashomayim" he said right before he died. Directed by Heaven.

When everything goes our way, we eagerly acknowledge the helpful hand of fate or providence or the Almighty. When events conspire against us, we are more likely to cry out against the perceived injustice of the universe. But for those who believe that there is a Master of Creation, these are merely two faces of the same coin; if an all-powerful Deity runs the universe, there can be no accidents.

If so, what are we to make of those incomprehensible tragedies that defy all semblance of rhyme or reason? How are we to interpret acts of such wanton or random evil that we can only shake our heads in confusion and despair? What of the senseless suffering of innocents and the anguish of those left to mourn them?

What of poor Leiby Kletzky, a nine-year-old boy who only wanted to feel a little more grown up by walking home alone on the crimeless streets of Chassidic Boro Park, Brooklyn, who had the misfortune of asking directions from the one person for miles around who might want to do him harm?


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For Leiby's parents, we offer no explanations, no platitudes, no philosophy. We can only try to imagine their pain and, in some small way, let them know that we mourn and weep together with them. Their sorrow is our sorrow. Their grief is our grief.

But what do we tell ourselves? Where do we begin to reconcile such a monstrous act with the divine justice of a Supreme Being?

How Leiby's fate figures into the Divine Plan is not for us to conjecture… certainly not while his parents and his community still grieve. But the immediate lesson for the rest of us to draw relates more to ourselves than to the crime or the tragedy itself.

What was the reaction when Leiby went missing? Synagogues around the world began reciting Psalms and supplications on his behalf. We were too far away to contribute to the search on the ground, so we offered up our hearts on the altar of prayer.

Those who lived closer descended on Boro Park. Three busloads of volunteers came in from Lakewood, New Jersey. A command center sprang up organizing thousands of Jews, religious and non-religious, together with members of the Pakistani, Asian, and Catholic communities. The reward for information soared from $5000 to $100,000, and donations of food and water arrived, unsolicited, to sustain the searchers through the dark of night and the scorching summer heat.

All the issues that divide us disappeared. Something far more important was at stake. And all the little problems that steal so much of our attention paled to insignificance. As we did in the aftermath of September 11th, of Katrina, of Haiti, of the Tsunami, we all came together, first in hope of rescue, then in lamentation.

But it was neither numbers nor the scope of devastation that touched us this time. It was the all-too-personal tragedy that, because of its tiny scale, did not numb our senses like previous disasters but plucked our heartstrings and forced us to contemplate our own vulnerability to the insanity of the world we live in.

Today, the Jewish people begin the observance of the "three weeks," the period commemorating the collective insanity that led our ancestors to exchange their intimate relationship with their Creator for the blandishments of the material world, to reject their spiritual mission, and to forfeit the privilege of living securely in their land under the wings of the Divine Presence. Only by allowing the destruction of His holy Temple and the exile of His nation could the Almighty drive home the lesson that we dare take nothing for granted.

Twenty-four centuries later, it is a lesson we are still struggling to learn.

This most recent tragedy demands that we do more than shake our heads and sigh. We cannot hope to understand the death of a small child. We can, however, try to better understand ourselves by confronting our own insanity, by reevaluating the misguided priorities that distract us from what is genuinely important, and by reconsidering the petty differences that divide us from one another. Rather than waiting for yet another tragedy to remind of the precariousness of our lives, we can turn from despair toward the beginnings of hope by reaffirming our common values as the first step toward achieving true peace, true security, and true redemption.


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JWR contributor Rabbi Yonason Goldson teaches at Block Yeshiva High School in St. Louis, MO, where he also writes and lectures. He is author of Dawn to Destiny: Exploring Jewish History and its Hidden Wisdom, an overview of Jewish philosophy and history from Creation through the compilation of the Talmud, now available from Judaica Press. Visit him at http://torahideals.com .






© 2011, Rabbi Yonason Goldson