In this issue
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 Oct. 24, 2003 / 28 Tishrei, 5764

The Book of Genesis: The book of — and for — mankind

By Rabbi Berel Wein

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http://www.jewishworldreview.com | The first book of the Torah (Bible), which will begin being read publicly this Sabbath, is a perplexing compilation of stories about people. No apparent master plan or blueprint of morality is readily discernible from its contents. It does not prescribe a set of rules to live by. There are no "Ten Commandments" within its pages. It's almost completely devoid of mitzvas — divine ritual commandments — and the narrative details of the lives of its heroes are incomplete and sometimes cryptic. As such, who needs the book? What does it come to teach us? What is its purpose?

Rashi, the foremost biblical commentator, raises all of these questions in the opening paragraph to his immortal commentary on Torah.

"Said Rabbi Yitzchak: The Torah should have begun from the first commandment regarding the mitzvah of the New Moon!" Rashi presents the answer that the Torah begins with creation in order to impress upon us G-d's control over the world's events and property and that He parcels out land to whomever He desires and has assigned the Land of Israel to the people of Israel.

But that does not answer why all of the other narratives and stories appear in this holy book. In fact, the entire book of Bereshis, Genesis, is an enigma. It tells us much but not all about the founders of our people; it records historical events that shape world civilization but does not really place them in a true historical perspective; and it certainly reveals almost nothing to us about the nature of the G-d of creation and Israel. So, again we ask: Why the book?

My rabbinic teachers taught me over a half-century ago that the secret of the entire book of Bereshis lay in the simple understanding of the verse: "This is the book of the generations of mankind." The Torah does not come to define G-d; it leaves that to the theologians. The Torah does not explain creation; it leaves that to the astrophysicists and geneticists. The Torah comes to direct, counsel, guide and strengthen each and every individual human being in that person's journey through life and its vicissitudes.

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Therefore, the Torah is devoted to personal detail about people's lives. It tells of human heroism and greatness, as well as to record the petty, violent and dark side of our nature. But most importantly, it provides us with role models, real heroes who inspire and challenge us to live up to our humanity and to the service of our Creator. Each of the heroes, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebbeca, Rachel, Leah, Josef, Judah, etc., illustrates the unique path in life that a Torah believer should follow. We become aware how to overcome adversity, how to accept defeat and even tragedy, how to be positive in a negative society, and how to be G-d-centered in an earth-bound mortal body.

It is no wonder that the rabbis of the Talmud demanded that Jews ask of themselves: "When will my actions in life reach the level of faith and performance of my original (Book of Bereshis) forbearers?" I may never be able to achieve or accomplish what Abraham and Sarah did, but I am duty bound to measure my goals and attitudes in life according to the goals and standards that they established for their descendants- the people of Israel, many millennia ago.

And the establishment and explanation of those attitudes and standards, as actually lived by these heroes, is the basic message of the Book of Bereshis.

In a world where standards and morality change swiftly, where there are no fixed definitions of right and wrong behavior, the example of the people of Bereshis remains vital, perhaps even more vital than in previous eras.

The evil people bring destruction to civilization, no matter how enticing the momentary enjoyment of that evil appears to society.

The righteous person preserves all humanity and brings eternal blessing to generations yet unborn. Therefore each of us should write our own book of Bereshis, through our behavior, our loyalty to Torah and its standards, our learning the lessons of the original book of Bereshis. Then we will appreciate the true greatness of this first book of the Torah.

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Rabbi Berel Wein is one of Jewry's foremost historians and founder of the Destiny Foundation. He has authored over 650 tapes, books and videos which you can purchase at RabbiWein.com. Comment by clicking here or calling 1-800-499-WEIN (9346).

© 2003, Rabbi Berel Wein