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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 Oct. 3, 2007 / 21 Tishrei, 5768

Simchas Torah's role in guaranteeing a living Judaism

By Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo


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The call to fresh thinking is fundamental to securing the eternal message


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | For hundred and hundreds of years, the Jews have the custom to complete the reading of the Torah scroll in the synagogue on the day of Simchas Torah and, within seconds, start reading it again from its beginning. This custom deserves our special attention; Why the hurry? There is nearly no time to contemplate what one has read last year! Why don't we read a small section and discuss it as part of the synagogue service? What is the point in reading something, which, for lack of time, cannot even be contemplated? Why not take a year off to re-examine what we have just read? What in fact is the meaning of this repetitious reading?


There is a must to re-examine what one has read the year before and this is indeed part of the commandment to study Torah. There is a need to repeat and learn till one fully understands what one has learned. Yet there is a danger involved in doing so. Once a text is studied and repeated in a particular way, it often results in dogmatic reading. It imprisons the mind and blocks new ways to interpret the text. The possibility of finding a chidush, a novel interpretation, in the same text is thereby lost. The call to new understandings and not just repeating what others (or ourselves) have said is essential to genuine Torah learning. Surely only intensive Torah learning can guarantee an authentic new interpretation and will save it for eternity. Without it Judaism will not be able to survive.


Rabbi Eliezer Ashkenazi (1531-1586), disciple of Rabbi Yosef Karo, the author of the authoritative Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law), and of the famous Torah commentator Rabbi Moshe Alshich (1508-1600), write a very unusual text (Parashas Balak):


Concerning the faith in the (contemporary) human being, it is said in (Deuteromony 29:13) "And not with you alone did I establish a covenant, but with those who are here with us and with those who are not here today". Therefore each and everyone of us, our children and grandchildren until the conclusion of all the generations who have entered the covenant, are duty bound to examine the secrets of the Torah and to straighten out our faith concerning it by accepting the Truth from whomever says it. Neither ought we be concerned about the logic of others even if they preceded us preventing our own individual investigation. Much to the contrary. Just as (our forebears) did not wish to indiscriminately accept the Truth from those who preceded them, and that which they did not choose (to accept), they rejected, so it is fitting for us to do... Only on the basis of the gathering of many different opinions will the Truth be tested. Thus it is valuable to us to complete the views (of our predecessors) and to investigate (the meaning of the Torah) in accordance with our own minds understanding. And even if in the course of investigation into the secrets of the Torah through our love for it, we err, it will not be accounted for us even as an unwitting thing because our intent was for the sake of Heaven. But we shall be guilty if we desist from investigating the secrets of our Torah by declaring: The lions have already established supremacy, so let us accept their words as they are... Rather it is proper for us to investigate and analyze in according with our understanding and to write our interpretations for the good of those who come after us, whether they will agree or not

You must struggle to scale the heights and to understand our Torah and do not be dismayed by the names of the great personalities when you find them in disagreement with your belief; you must investigate and choose, because for this purpose were you created, and wisdom was granted you from Above, and this will benefit you...


This great wisdom is often forgotten in certain religious circles and has been detrimental to the future of a living Judaism. Of course there are rules of interpretation of the Halachic foundations of Judaism, yet the call to fresh thinking is fundamental to guarantee the Torah's eternal message.


We believe this is the reason behind the need to read the Torah every year without leaving any time between completing it and starting all over again, without giving the listener time to carefully contemplate its meaning.


The hurry is to forestall the text to settle down in our minds in a particular fashion. It needs to function as a kind of first reading in the sense that it should have the impact of something totally new. Often a first encounter is the most exiting one. It keeps all possibilities open, nothing has yet been fixed or determined and if man would just take notice of that moment he will see things, which a second reading will not allow him any longer. Like seeing something new, man gets suddenly enlightened with an overwhelming insight, which may outdo all his earlier insights. Getting used to a text is often killing the text as familiarity breeds contempt.


Delving into a text is no doubt a very important part of Jewish Tradition and without it, it could not have become what it is today. Still, and in spite of the fact that fast reading often leads to superficiality, it holds the possibility of total novelty.


However, there is another element to all this. Focusing on one or two verses at one time may often result in getting a too narrow view of the narrative or even of the commandments. The sequence of a biblical narrative or the order in which the commandments appear is of crucial importance. One must see the forest beyond the trees. In getting a global overview in which complete stories are being told in one go is a guarantee that the whole grand picture is seen and not just it details. The same is true about the commandments. Like a complicated and nearly indiscoverable structure, the commandments appear in a masterful order in which random does not play a role.


This we believe is the function of the Torah reading in the synagogue. It is not conventional Torah learning but somehow a wake up call. It has a therapeutic function in which man needs to get shocked by the text before he even gets a chance to get used to its deeper contents. And although he has read it the years before, the fact that the whole story appears again a year later — and not earlier — gives him a chance to forget so as to discover it again as never before. As such it stays fresh and keeps on amazing its reader with its multiple possibilities and its grand image.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo is a world-renowned lecturer and ambassador for Judaism, the Jewish people, the State of Israel and Sephardic Heritage. Comment by clicking here.


© 2007, Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo