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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

Fed Up!

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson





Shortcuts to a healthy body or soul?

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Ask any editor or publisher: two kinds of books guarantee success. Cook books and diet books.

In other words, our culture is simultaneously obsessed with eating and with slenderizing, hopelessly fixated on food and convinced that we can eat to our hearts' content without gaining weight.

A classmate in college once remarked candidly, "I could be ten pounds lighter, but I don't want to give up what I need to give up to get there." Such self-awareness is refreshing, but rare. More commonly, we not only want to have our cake and eat it too — we want to eat cake and have it turn into bran muffin before it reaches our digestive system.

The consequences of impulse gratification, however, cannot be simply wished out of existence. The sages of the Talmud found a poignant way of articulating this truism when they observed, "One who eats the fat tail will have to hide in the attic, whereas one who eats cress will rest easy upon the town dunghill."

Once the most coveted and — and costly — part of an ox, the fat tail was a luxury few could afford. As indulgence begets overindulgence, the sages explain that a person who acquires a taste for the fat tail will ultimately exhaust his income and his savings until forced to seek refuge from his creditors in the least accessible — and most uncomfortable — part of his house. In contrast, a person able to content himself with the most humble of foods will always manage to get by, so that even in the most publicly vulnerable of situations he will suffer no anxiety over being hounded for payment.

Nevertheless, like the Holy Grail, the Fountain of Youth, and the Philosopher's Stone, we of Western Culture persist in the irrational pursuit of any magical, mystical recipe that promises to let us indulge our appetites without accumulating the inevitable poundage of that indulgence.

PLEASURE-SEEKERS WITHOUT BORDERS
Neither do our fantastic flirtations end when at last we push ourselves away from the dining table. We want to spend money without restraint, maxing out our credit cards on sophisticated toys that beguile us but contribute little to our quality of life. We devote countless hours of our lives to the entertainment industry, bemused by the athletic prowess of others without exerting the least physical effort, enthralled by the fantasies of cinematic technology without taxing the powers of our own imaginations. Indeed, according to one study, our minds register less activity watching television than they do when we are asleep. And our bodies register hardly any activity whatsoever.

Perhaps the silver lining in diet- and cook-book craze is that people are still reading books at all. But our obsession with impossible fantasies masquerading as reality is hardly cause for celebration, even when it forces us to read words in a row. Just as fast food and junk food have dulled our appreciation for quality cuisine, intravenous entertainment has murdered our patience for quality literature. Just as we can't be bothered with the subtle stimulations of our palates, we don't want to invest the slightest effort to stimulate our minds.

It's too bad, especially when a smorgasbord of extraordinary writing lines the stacks at every public library. I've tried to get my teenagers to read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, but they find the surrealism of a Holocaust story narrated by Death befuddling, and they lack the gumption to rise to the challenge. I wouldn't even try to suggest that they tackle The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, without a doubt the most elegant and stirring novel I have read in years, as the lack of any evident plot throughout the first half of the book would surely frustrate them to rebellion. I did succeed in convincing my oldest daughter to read The Help, and was gratified that she found Kathryn Stockett's compelling narrative of southern racism as spellbinding as I did. Then again, my daughter doesn't like to cook.

I suppose that inspired literature has always been underappreciated and overlooked. The English poet John Keats died penniless at age 25, with most of his works unpublished or critically thrashed. Herman Melville, although having achieved renown early in his career, was later scorned by the critics and died amidst debt, alcoholism, and rumors of insanity. Few of Emily Dickinson's poems saw publication in her lifetime, and most of those suffered invasive editorial tampering.

But despite all that, there were always great writers who produced great writing that found the approval of popular readers. And today? Books about food — how to eat better, how to eat less, how to eat and not suffer the consequences of eating.

THE CONFLICT OVER CHARACTER
Among writing worth reading, the Talmud has no equal in human literature, although proper appreciation requires considerable training. Relating to a topic similar to our own, the sage Rabbi Iloi offers the alliterative comment that, "You can recognize a person's true character by his cup (koso), his purse (kiso), and his anger (ka'aso)." In other words, as hard one might try to conceal himself behind the mask of his public persona, genuine quality reveals itself (or betrays its absence) when moral conduct comes into conflict with human impulse.

Does a person have the self-control to limit his intake of alcohol (or, more generally, his physical appetites), and does he transform into an entirely different person when the effects of alcohol assert themselves upon his personality? Do financial pressures drive a person to withhold assistance from the desperately needy or resort to unscrupulous practices to increase his fortune? Is a person's composure shattered by affronts to his ego that impel him to lash out at the nearest target? In short, a person of authentic character is one possessing the self-mastery to meet life's challenges without turning aside to travel the road of least resistance.

No man departs from this world with half his cravings satisfied, the sages warn. The secret of good living, therefore, is to cultivate cravings for that which is physically, intellectually, and spiritually healthy. Indeed, against all intuition, when we slow down to savor more nuanced pleasures, our bodies, minds, and spirits respond with an energy that revitalizes the quality of our existence.

So put away the remote control and stop surfing the net. Take some time to stop thinking about eating and start thinking about thinking. Stop worrying about your waistline and start worrying about the flat-lining of your imagination. And when you plan out the diet for your soul, consider that Jewish literature serves up plenty of courses of well-written and compelling works, including the tantalizing delicacies of Rabbi Akiva Tatz, Tziporah Heller, Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, Sara Yocheved Rigler, and Rabbi Abraham Twersky. To paraphrase an iconic television advertisement: Try them; you'll like them.


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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 .






© 2010, Rabbi Yonason Goldson