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December 2, 2014

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

Zimmerman was just doing His bidding?

By Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein






The theology of Trayvon Martin's death


JewishWorldReview.com | If bad theology is a crime, then George Zimmerman is guilty as sin. Using G-d to lighten the load of the moral decisions we make is a form of mugging Him.

Zimmerman's actions can be considered on three levels: legal, moral and theological. It is not likely that we will find out soon whether or not Zimmerman acted in self-defense. We may never find out whose screams were recorded, or even whether that was significant. The jury that acquitted Zimmerman did exactly what it was supposed to do. It weighed the evidence, and found that it could not sustain a finding of the commission of a second-degree murder.

But this does not mean that Zimmerman didn't commit such a crime. It only means that a group of responsible human beings, looking at whatever information was available, could not determine beyond cavil that Zimmerman was at fault.

We can find in this evidence only of our human limitations, not of racism.

It was always true, and will always be true, that if any person, black or white, commits a crime and leaves insufficient evidence of his guilt behind, he will be acquitted.

What about moral guilt? As Prof. Alan Dershowitz pointed out last week, a jury might have to find Zimmerman not-guilty, but that is not the same as finding him morally innocent. Did Zimmerman bait Trayvon Martin? Did he goad him into a confrontation? Did he throw the first punch?

In Jewish law, one who provokes another — or even affords another an opportunity — to sin, is himself complicit in the sin.


Zimmerman might not be guilty of second-degree murder, but he might have played a major role in the death of a human being. We will probably also not find out if Zimmerman is morally culpable or not.

Theology is usually no picnic, but in this case, it is easy to figure out. When talk show host and bestselling author Sean Hannity asked Zimmerman a year ago whether he had any regrets, whether he should have done anything differently, Zimmerman responded, "I feel it was all G-d's plan." Those who are familiar with medieval Jewish Bible commentary recognize this thinking as the Great Pharaohnic Error.

Jewish exegetes of the Middle Ages had a problem with the pique displayed by G-d towards the Pharaoh who enslaved the ancient Hebrews. Had G-d not foretold the impending enslavement of the Israelites to their forefather Abraham? Pharaoh had the perfect defense: He was simply acting according to "G-d's plan."

The defense apparently failed, and Pharaoh received his comeuppance, big time. The exegetes quickly point out why Pharaoh could have sued his attorneys for malpractice. Pharaoh did not play the role of oppressor and murderer out of slavish devotion to the Divine Will. He acted with malice and evil, and then sought cover by calling it all part of G-d's plan.



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Bottom line: We are responsible for our choices, not G-d. He gave us the freedom of will to make choices; in fact, making those choices is what life is all about. When the Bible speaks of creating Man in G-d's image, Jewish commentators write that this image is the freedom to choose.

Just as He can choose without restriction, we have a partial ability to choose. We are influenced by nature and nurture — but not determined by them. We become greater or lesser — closer to G-d or more distant from him — through a constant process of making choices, small and large, every day of our lives. Blaming Him for our poor choices is an assault on Him, a turning of His gift to us into an excuse to mess up.

A concomitant of this gift is the existence of much evil that is of human manufacture. We would not have much freedom to choose if every time we were prepared to make a bad or evil choice, G-d would strike us down with a bolt of lightning.

To give us freedom, G-d often has to restrict Himself to being a Judge after the fact, rather than a Divine Intercessor. We can choose evil, and He does not interfere.

Somehow, restricting our free will would do even greater harm to our autonomy as human beings, i.e. our entire purpose in living our lives. Our choices, post facto, should never be confused with G-d's plan.

Hopefully, George Zimmerman's words to Sean Hannity represented nothing more than a slip at the moment. If he really believed that he could take refuge in G-d's plan, he committed a crime against humanity.

His own.

JWR contributor Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein is the Director of Interfaith Affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

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© 2013, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein

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