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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

The Perfect Number

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson





There are no coincidences in Creation


“And on the seventh day G-d completed all His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done.”

                       — Genesis 2:2

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | At first glance, the Torah's narrative of creation appears self-contradictory. If the Almighty completed His work of creation on the seventh day, as the verse implies, why does Scripture not reveal what He created on that day? And if the Almighty set aside the seventh day, as the verse also implies, why does Scripture not record that He completed His work with Day Six, rather than Day Seven?

The answer, explain the sages, is that on the seventh day G-d created rest, without which the world would have remained forever incomplete.

But what does this mean? Why did the Almighty have to create rest, which is merely the abstention from creative activity? And why did the process of creation require a day of rest in order to attain completion?

In his philosophical masterpiece The Path of the Just, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto explains that the purpose of creation was to give man pleasure. To that end, the Creator fashioned a physical universe wherein man would have the opportunity to earn his eternal reward by choosing good and refraining from evil in accordance with divine law. Consequently, had the Almighty simply ended the process of creation at the close of the first six days, He would have left the world without any template for discerning the pattern and purpose underlying its very existence.

In short, the seventh day represents the goal toward which mankind should direct all worldly efforts. For this reason the Sabbath day is called mei'ein olam habah — a taste of the World to Come.

In the grand scheme of things, work for its own sake is as pointless as no work at all. As King Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, "What profit has man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?" The obsession with the accumulation of wealth and the illusion of material productivity in a temporal world blinds us to the true purpose of human existence. The seventh day provides a counterpoint, allowing us to recover our spiritual perspective. Without it, every day would stand alone. Because of it, every day acquires true meaning and significance as part of a greater, spiritual whole.

Based upon the design of Creation, we understand that the number seven itself represents perfection in nature. It is not coincidental that visible light comprises seven distinct bands that show themselves individually as the colors of the rainbow but combine to form the white light of illumination. Neither is it coincidence the musical scale comprises seven distinct notes, whereby white noise becomes blended into the most sublime music.

Similarly, the pattern of seven weaves itself into almost every aspect of Jewish life. The festival of Passover lasts seven days, echoing the creation of the world as it celebrates the birth of the Jewish nation and the earth's reemergence of from the dormancy of winter. The festival of Shavuos follows seven weeks later, commemorating the metamorphosis of the Jews into a spiritual nation through their reception of the Torah at Sinai. And the festival of Sukkos again lasts seven days, symbolizing the opportunity provided us by the Creator to begin the new year in a state of purity comparable to the perfection of Eden.

The Hebrew word for seven — sheva — shares its grammatical root with the word soveya, which means "satiety." The true rest of the Sabbath day derives from the satisfaction we take in a life well-lived, a life of toil not in pursuit of wealth, power, or temporal pleasure, but a life directed toward the fulfillment of spiritual ideals. For those unfortunate souls who labor only for the sake of material goals, there is no rest in this world and no rest in the World to Come.

Ironically, the greatest corruption of the symbolism of perfection and satisfaction presents itself in the form of the swastika, whose name derives from the same etymology as sheva and soveya. Originally a far-eastern symbol for abundance, the swastika takes its form from four sevens positioned around a common point, suggesting the abundance and satiety represented by the number seven cast forth to the four corners of the earth.

With their Aryan ideology of a master race, the Nazis twisted the ideal of striving toward spiritual perfection into a superficial caricature. Convinced of their own perfection, they committed themselves to the obliteration of all higher purpose and moral values.

Such thinking remains among human society to this day. However, the way we defend ourselves against this kind of distortion is by sanctifying the seventh day and experiencing it as the anniversary of creation, learning its lessons of humility and harmony, and appreciating it as the defining symbol of man's potential to become the Almighty's partner in the creation of a perfect world.

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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. Visit him at http://torahideals.wordpress.com .






© 2009, Rabbi Yonason Goldson