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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

Contrasting cultures

By Rabbi Dov Fischer


11th Siyum of Daf Yomi, Madison Square Garden



Mitt Romney's comments in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, complimenting Jewish culture have brought condemnation. A global ceremony tonight should give his critics pause



JewishWorldReview.com | Tonight will be a most incredible night for Orthodox Jews and, more, for a massive expression of the culture of all the Jewish people.

The single largest gathering in American history in honor of Torah study will take place at the New Jersey Meadowlands ("MetLife Stadium"), home of the New York Giants football team and the New York Jets. It will be beamed by satellite to local gatherings the world over.

(New Jersey is a suburb of New York City although, for some reason, it has a governor, two U.S. senators, and some electoral votes.)


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After our studying a page a day of Talmud for the past seven and a half years, the study of the entire Talmud now is wrapping up with the final folios of Tractate Nidah, the last Tractate of the Babylonian Talmud. To mark the moment, more than 93,000 seats have been sold out at MetLife Stadium for tonight.

Over the past 24 hours, there has been some discussion about Mitt Romney's comments in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, complimenting Jewish culture. Democrats have found reasons to attack what he said, and Republicans have found reasons to love what he said. That is all politics. If it had been Obama who had said that (which it decidedly was not), then it would be the Republicans attacking it, and the Democrats applauding it. That is the cynicism of politics. But the reality is that there is no other people on earth, no other culture in all of human history, that ever has made the Study of Law, the Study of a Book or Books of Law and History and Religion and Culture and Geography and Ethnography so uniquely central to its existence, its very raison d'etre.

The reality is — and Saeb Erekat and all his "Palestinians" know it — that no Arab society is going to fill a stadium to celebrate the national enterprise of having learned a book or an encyclopedic compendium. Nor will — or has — any European society. Or African or Asian society. Nor any other society or peoples in the Western hemisphere, other than the Jews.

I guess our study of Talmud is somewhat a journey into "intellectual history" or "legal history" or "comparative law" or "legislative history." On the one hand, we always have wondered ever-since we or any family members or friends became religious (either by birth or by becoming ba'al teshuvah later in life) "why" Jews do all these strange things. On the simplest level, we do them because our parents or rabbis taught us that these are the things we must do to serve G-d, and we believed them as children or came to believe them as we grew older. For lack of our own study or personally acquired knowledge, we eagerly accepted that they know, that they are right, and we all have come to see enough other people doing these things that we assume it is not a Nigerian-email scam or an April Fool's goof. But we never learn the deeper "how it all came about" and "why we do it."

Talmud study gives us a window into the "how" and the "why." Why does the day start at night? Why do we recite the prayers in Maariv that the Siddur tells us to recite? Why do some recite those extra two pages before the night the central Amidah prayer, while others skip them? Why, for that matter, is there a Maariv service? And, while we are at it, why does the night start when there are stars? Why three? Why not some other demarcation? And why are we told that, if we do daven Maariv, sometimes it is acceptable to pray "too early," but we therefore need to repeat Sh'ma at home? That is Talmud Study.

Meantime, Talmud Study is about history: I heard of Kohanim, descendants of the priestly class, and I know they get the first Aliyah to the Torah, and they bless us on the holidays. But I did not know they ate this unique donated food, which no one else was allowed to eat, and which the impure among them could not eat until they went to the city's outskirts and spent the day there after immersing in a mikvah ritualarium. Who could imagine such a thing? What a spectacle it must have been every day to watch several hundred or thousand Kohanim crossing back into the city at nightfall! No one ever told me that such a thing used to go on. Gee, in a time without clocks and wrist watches, they could almost have known it was nighttime just by their massive entry into the City's gates as the stars came out. That, too, is Talmud Study. In fact, that is among the subjects in the first day of the new cycle.

So there is some of this and some of that. It is the blend of history of people, history of ideas, sociology, conversations and anecdotes, narratives about great historical figures and their failings and successes. Along the way, we gain a window of understanding into why we do so many of the things that encompass our lives and how those practices came about.

As for those who study the Talmud each and every day, a folio a day for seven and a half years, be assured that perhaps the two greatest records of consecutive achievement ever recorded — Lou Gehrig not missing a single baseball game from 1925 to 1939, playing 2130 consecutive games over fifteen years until he was stopped by the horrible ALS disease, and Cal Ripken's record-breaking 17-year streak of playing in 2,632 games between May 1982 and September 1998 — pale in comparison to learning a Folio (Daf) a day (Yomi), with no off-season, no break in the action, no travel dates, for seven and a half years. It is a remarkable thing, and any culture that can make that undertaking a source of unique greatness to be attained by its medical doctors, attorneys, scientists, pharmacists, philosophers, accountants, university professors, entrepreneurs, mailroom clerks, information technology professionals, investment brokers, and delivery boys is a culture whose admiration rightfully is a source of great pride for those who live it.

Transcending all politics, it is a uniquely treasured culture of which we have every reason to take enormous pride as MetLife fills up tonight.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dov Fischer, a legal affairs consultant and adjunct professor of the law of civil procedure and advanced torts, is rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California. He was formerly Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review and writes extensively on political, cultural, and religious issues.


Previously:


Misunderstanding Moses' misfeasance and the nature of true leadership

Of course Zuckerberg didn't 'like' Judaism --- why should he?
Why — and whose — Jerusalem?
Despite Obama's Speech, Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria Will Outlive Us All
Reaching our Creator in every generation
Always the Jews --- not: Give the maniac credit for what he is
In the end, it will all finally make perfect sense
When will justice come for the Justice?
On gin joints and Divine destiny
To be alone
Give Your Rabbi a Break

© 2012, Rabbi Dov Fischer