First Person

In this issue

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

Jews are obsessed

By Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

There is no denying it --- nor should there be | The popular media often accuses the Jewish people of an obsession. Some accuse us good-humoredly of an obsession with food. Others maliciously accuse us of being obsessed with money. I agree that there is a Jewish obsession. I maintain that it is justice with which we are obsessed.

I define an obsession as an idea which dominates our thinking even when there are other important concerns that we need to address. Thus, the person who is truly obsessed with a particular idea cannot ignore that idea even when he is busy working, playing, or attending to other personal needs. Naturally, this can reach the stage where the obsession is pathological and actually interferes with the necessary functions of life. But the Jewish obsession with justice is not at all pathological.

One example of a Jew obsessed with justice is Rabbi Moshe Rivkish, who lived in the late 17th century. His name is certainly not a “household name,” even among individuals who are familiar with the heroes of Jewish history. Students of the codes of Jewish law, may know the name of his major work because it adorns the margins of every edition of the Shulchan Aruch. The name of his work is Be’er HaGolah, but not everyone who consults his work regularly knows the author’s identity. Many more are likely to be familiar with the name of his distinguished grandson, Rabbi Elijah, the Gaon of Vilna.

Be’er HaGolah is not a commentary in the usual sense of the word. It is a reference tool, in which the author supplies the sources in the Talmud for the statements found in the code. Occasionally, but rarely, the author allows himself a phrase or brief sentence of commentary. Inevitably, these few comments express Rabbi Moshe’s “obsession” with justice.

Here is one example of such a comment: “I write this for all future generations, because I have seen people who have grown wealthy from monies they derived from cheating non-Jews in business. Ultimately, they were unsuccessful and their properties deteriorated so that they left no blessing behind. On the other hand, I have seen many who have sanctified God’s name and returned profits derived from non-Jewish customers who mistakenly overpaid for merchandise. Ultimately, they were successful, became materially wealthy, and left a significant inheritance to their offspring.”

What do we know about the personal concerns of this individual who was “obsessed” with justice for non-Jews? Based upon the preface to his work, we learn that he was driven, not once but several times, from his hometown of Vilna in Lithuania. Each time, he was a victim of fanatically anti-Semitic non-Jews, and each time he left with just the clothes on his back and his personal diary, forced to abandon all of his possessions, including his painstakingly accumulated library of holy books.

His critical personal concerns did not interfere with his fundamental obsession: justice for all human beings, even those at the hands of whom he suffered greatly.


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This late 17th-century Moshe learned to be obsessed with justice from the first Moshe, Moses our Teacher, and from the words he speaks in this week’s Torah portion, Devarim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22).

Moses begins his lengthy and eloquent valedictory to the Jewish people with his predominant concern. He is nearing the end of his life and his duty was to prepare the people to enter the Promised Land. But instead of instructing them about the methods to be used in entering the land, conquering it and settling it, we find him addressing the people with these words:

“So I took…wise and experienced men, and appointed them heads over you… I charged your magistrates at that time as follows, ‘Hear out your fellow man, and decide justly between any man and a fellow Israelite or a stranger…You shall not be partial in judgment: hear out low and high alike…’”

Moses too is obsessed with justice, to the extent that he interrupted his final instructions to the Jewish people and prefaced them with his plea that they establish a fair and equitable judiciary that would mete out justice to all, even the “stranger,” the non-Jew.

This week is a special Sabbath. It is the one that precedes the major fast day of Tisha B’Av. We follow the reading from the Torah portion with a selection from the very first chapter of the Book of Isaiah. It is called the Sabbath of the “prophetic vision” of Isaiah.

Here, too, the prophet has numerous concerns, not the least of which is his critique of the sinfulness of the Jewish people. But he does not fail to express his obsession, which like the biblical Moses and the 17th-century Moshe Rivkish, was the cause of justice. So he concludes his vision of what the final redemption will look like: “I will restore your magistrates as of old…After that you shall be called City of Righteousness…Zion shall be saved by justice.”

I write these words in the midst of a great and challenging crisis for the Jewish people. We are at war against a vicious and treacherous enemy. Yet, even in the midst of our valiant efforts to defend ourselves, we remain obsessed with the cause of justice, and we strive in every way possible to wage a just war, even risking our own lives as we attempt to spare the lives of innocent civilians.

We are confident that Zion will indeed be saved, imminently and gloriously, and that the justice we practice will be acknowledged by all mankind, thereby resulting in the universal blessing of the Almighty G0D of Justice and Mercy.

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, PhD is currently the Executive Vice President, Emeritus of the Orthodox Union.

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© 2013, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb