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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 Oct. 11, 2007 / 29 Tishrei 5768

‘Is’ is Dangerous

By Dr. Debby Schwarz Hirschhorn


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It took me years to realize the potency — and destructiveness — of the word


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "I swear," he said to me, shaking his head, "she is so stupid!"


I cut him off quickly with, "Stupid? Is she stupid? Didn't she graduate college?"


"Well, yes," he stammered, "but please, how could someone do something like that?"


"Okay," I answered, "that's a different question. To figure out what was in her head, we have to ask her, but before we do that, I'm still interested in your use of the word, 'stupid.' Is she or isn't she stupid?"


"No, she isn't ordinarily stupid," he concluded with a deep sigh, slinking into the cushions as if wishing he wouldn't have to get out of them and start dealing with the mess in his life.


"You see," I point out, "the problem is not so much with the word 'stupid,' as it is with the word, 'is.' For example, if you said, "She is acting as if she were stupid, which is really strange since I know she is smart," you'd have a whole different meaning, one which really expresses how you feel without sounding like you know everything and you're passing judgment on her. I'm not crazy about the word 'stupid' in any case, but the word 'is' makes it sound like you've come down from Mount Sinai with The Answers. You don't want to do that, I'm sure."


As Peter looked at me, I could see a little ray of light in his eyes, the dawn of a certain awareness.


"Is that why she has told me so many times, 'You think you know it all' and 'You're not G-d, you know'?"


"Could be," I answered. Beware of the word 'is.'"


It took me years to realize the potency — and destructiveness — of the word, "is." Once one person utters any sentence with the word "is" in it, you don't even realize that you can question it; it sounds so final. For example, "That dress is not attractive."


"Ahem. To whom, may I ask? To you, maybe, but not to someone else."


"You've got the wrong marketing strategy." Sez who? As you can see, all the close relatives of the verb "to be" fall into the same no-no category. Here we have a "have" that sounds once again like a pronouncement of the ultimate truth. "Do" is another one in the category.


"You're an introvert."


"You'll just keep repeating the same mistakes."


"I am not successful."


"I don't make friends easily."


"This project will fail."


Pronouncements. Certainty. A crystal ball. That's the most obvious common element in all of the above statements. But there is another factor, more subtle, that makes them so toxic: The suggestion that the speaker somehow "has the goods," is more aware, is stronger, better, smarter, and more capable than the one who is being labeled, and as such, the one who is labeled has no voice with which to rebut.


It is the rendering of the listener to the position of inferior because the speaker seems to "know" that makes the use of the word "is" toxic. This is even true of statements in which the speaker puts himself down. Those statements, clearly, are echoes of judgments made against him by others, long ago, and then made his own. When a person says he is not successful or does not make friends easily, it is not the result of an objective look at his life, but rather simply the regurgitating of old put-downs that he has absorbed only too well — probably because the person who said them to him used the word "is" so many times that the idea got drilled into him without his even realizing what was happening.


"So," you're going to ask me, "Are you saying I can't make the comment 'It is raining outside'?" Obviously, the word "is" has its place. If all concerned would readily agree, just by looking out the window that it, indeed, is raining outside, then the verb "to be" is a helpful statement of shared reality. It's only when not everyone would agree on what "is" and — perhaps most significant — in the process of doing that labeling, someone has been put down or lost his or her "voice" that we better be really cautious before using any form of the verb "to be."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspirational material. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Dr. Debby Schwarz Hirschhorn is an Orthodox Marriage & Family Therapist. To comment, please click here. To visit her website, please click here.

Are the High Holy Days About Guilt?
Confessions of a religious feminist
Kindliness and Blood: A Passover Thought
Arguing: It's a Jewish thing

© 2007, Dr. Debby Schwarz Hirschhorn