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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

Spiritual Impressionism

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson





Taking notice of the brushstrokes of creation reminds us of the masterpiece we can paint in our own lives

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | 210 years as slaves in Egypt. 40 years wandering in the desert. 70 years of suffering in Babylon. 1,931 years scattered to the far ends of the earth… and counting.

Exile has defined most of the history of Jewish people, always as a response to our failure to value our relationship with the Almighty. When we turn our backs on Him (or on one another), He responds by allowing us to experience the consequences of separation through the loneliness of exile.

How remarkable, then, that at times extraordinarily pious have undertaken journeys of self-imposed exile, wandering anonymously from place to place, begging for bread and lodging, concealing their true character and brilliance, and never knowing what awaited them around the next corner. There was nothing remotely romantic about these adventures. They were intended to inure budding Torah leaders against attachment to material comforts, and also to teach them humility as a safeguard against the reverence and adulation showered upon the learned. During the days of the Chassidic masters of the 18th and 19th centuries, stories of the tribulations of exile abounded.

I knew nothing of this when I embarked upon the most foolhardy undertaking of my life and set off to hitchhike across the United States after I finished college. What I did know was that my existence had become too comfortable and too easy. I had never had to overcome serious obstacles or grapple with substantial challenges. I had spent five years acquiring a degree that prepared me for nothing, and I lacked even the faintest outline of a plan for the future.

As I had approached the culmination of my college career, I found myself disconcerted — not because I had no idea what I would do next, but because my lack of prospects didn't seem to bother me at all. I had been carried by the current along the River of Least Resistance, without ever learning to navigate or deciding upon a destination. Now the river was about to empty into the Sea of Countless Possibilities, and my boat was not seaworthy.

So I slung a pack over my back and hit the road. I didn't think of it as exile, but as escape. Escape from too much comfort and too much security; escape from too little responsibility and too little accountability. And as much as I tried to make it sound romantic, all such illusions were swept away my first night on the road clambering out into the cold to stake out my tent as it buckled before the November wind that swept out of a still evening sky.


STIMULATION AND INSPIRATION

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I wasn't Jack Kerouac — indeed, I was already old enough to see through Kerouac, whose revelations had lost their drama by the early eighties and who, when he ran out of money the first time out, caught a bus back home to his mother.

I wasn't Christopher McCandless, who walked away from his prospects and possessions to go off into the wild. After all, I had $500 in traveler's checks, carried two credit cards, and I was never far from a phone in case of emergency. On the other hand, I didn't die of exposure after eating poison berries.

And I certainly wasn't Rabbi Zusia of Annipoli, whose secret acts of piety in the face of astonishing adversity have become legend.

But I did learn to look at myself and at the world around me through different eyes. And one of the most powerful lessons came, albeit inadvertently, from a most unlikely teacher.

I met Steve at a youth hostel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from where he agreed to drive me as far as Fort Worth, Texas. I remember the blue desert sky and dazzling sun that morning, and I remember going out in shirt sleeves as I would have in California, only to be driven back inside by an air temperature ten degrees below freezing. I was already starting to learn.

Steve was in no hurry. He was taking the two weeks before starting a new job to see the country, but he was on a budget and insisted upon driving 50 miles per hour to save on gas. Having begged my ride I was in no position to argue. I certainly wasn't in a hurry myself, except to keep pace with the advancing cold front as I headed south.

Nevertheless, I gritted my teeth in frustration as we crawled along the highway. Cars, trucks, and trailers sped past us, each a blur of motion, as did birds and tumbleweeds — or so I imagined. But it was going to be a long trip, and as I forced myself to make peace with the inevitable, I began to notice something completely unexpected:

Detail.

By slowing down a mere fifteen miles per hour, the world beyond the roadside changed from a blur into a sharply defined landscape; trees and shrubs transformed from shapeless, green masses into a nuanced tapestries of leaves reflecting sunlight in infinite combinations as they rippled softly in the breeze; every lonely farmhouse acquired a unique character, whether from weathered paint or strewn tractor parts or kitschy statuary or slung hammocks and yard swings. Even the gray asphalt of the highway and the painted white lines took on texture and depth.

Stripped completely of any control over our rate of progress, I relaxed enough to recognize the view beyond my window not as a continuously rolling panorama but as a carefully fashioned composition of myriad parts and variegated pieces. Like an impressionist masterpiece, the apparent randomness of details up close belied the order of design revealed by distance, and the holism achieved at a distance belied the attention to detail that only became recognizable up close.

The wise man's eyes are in his head, says King Solomon. Well, where else would they be? As the wisest of all men, Solomon never wasted time stating the obvious. Rather, he was commenting on the Creator's placement of the eyes, upon which we rely most for sensory input, adjacent to the brain, which enables us to process and interpret the information we acquire.

A wise may does not merely look, nor does he merely see. He perceives. And he understands that perception requires looking at the world in many different ways, from different directions, and in different environments. As the great impressionists demonstrated through an innovative style that was originally derided by traditionalists, the appearance of any object or phenomenon can change dramatically depending on how we view them. Things do not look the same at morning as they do in the afternoon, nor in the afternoon as they do at evening. Light, shadow, angle, context — these are the elements that create perspective, which is the key to genuine understanding.

It might seem logical to race through the exile of this world in order to more quickly escape its travails and come out on the other side. But only by paying attention to where we are can we chart a course toward where we need to go. As we race through our lives, too busy to notice the subtleties that make our world a place of limitless fascination, too preoccupied to take revel in the development of our own children and the maturing of our own relationships, too distracted by the blur of ephemeral attractions to contemplate the eternal complexion of our souls, we cheat ourselves of the opportunity to learn the lessons of exile. And it is only by learning those lessons that we can truly shorten the road that leads us home.


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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