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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 Nov. 14, 2008 / 16 Mar-Cheshvan 5769

The Power of Spiritual Inertia

By Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz


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A lesson from Sodom about a psychological factor that affects our thinking and must be reckoned with when we try to make honest assessments and decisions


“He seemed like a jester in the eyes of his sons-in-law.”

                        —   Genesis 19:14


The angels, chronicles the Torah, warned Lot that Sodom would be destroyed and that he should escape to the hills with his family. When Lot told his sons-in-law the news and begged them to flee with him, they did not take him seriously, according to the Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 50:9).


"The city is filled with laughter, song and happiness; how can you say that it will be overturned?", is how they replied.


The sons-in-law's retort to Lot is bizarre, not so much for what they said, but for what they did not.


They did not mock Lot for believing that an all powerful G-d could utterly destroy their city in an instant. It seems from the Midrash that they did believe in the Almighty and they understood that it was within His power to overturn Sodom. They merely could not believe that such a merry city, its streets filled with the sounds of laughter and music, could ever be silenced.


But what difference did the merry atmosphere in the city make? Why did laughter in the air convince Lot's sons-in-law that the Divine would not destroy Sodom?


The Midrash is exposing a weakness inherent in all humans; we find it hard to believe that our status quo will ever change. Even though the sons-in-law believed that their destruction was theoretically possible — and even though their very lives were at stake — they rejected his life-saving advice because they could not believe that their wonderful situation would ever change.


This is an amazingly strong psychological factor that affects our thinking and must be reckoned with when we try to make honest assessments and decisions.


Too often we also trap ourselves in the cage of our present situation — both for good and for bad. When life is going well for us, when our families are healthy and we can pay our bills, we sometimes forget that the next minute we could receive a phone call from our doctor or a message from our employer that could suddenly turn our world upside-down. We sometimes forget that nothing is guaranteed to us. We must appreciate the Source of our success and realize that He is granting us these blessings anew, every second of the day.


Conversely, when things are not so rosy, we must constantly strengthen ourselves to turn to Him in prayer, firm in our belief that G-d can instantaneously change things for the better.


Every morning in their prayers Jews quote King David (Psalms 30:6), "In the evening one lies down weeping, but with the dawn — a cry of joy!" If we fail to focus on the fact that life can improve for us, we will drown in the quagmire of depression and despair — the lifeline just within reach, yet never seized.


Let us not allow the "static" of our situation to interfere with our reception of any messages broadcast to us from Above. Lot's sons-in-law were too absorbed in their merry status quo and could not tune in to receive the heavenly warning that would have saved their lives. We can learn from their fatal mistake: in good times, to be grateful and appreciative to the Divine for all He bestows upon us; in dark times, to be optimistic for a better future, hopeful for the Almighty's salvation that comes "in the blink of an eye."

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One of America's senior Torah sages, Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz has been the dean of the Rabbinical Seminary of America, in Queens, New York for more than 50 years. The institution has branches and affiliates all across North America and Israel.

This article was prepared by two of the sage's disciples, Rabbi Aryeh Striks and Rabbi Shimon Zehnwirth, and excerpted from the just released book, "Pinnacle of Creation: Torah insights into human nature".


Previously:

Our Immutable Noble Essence
The 'living dead' are all around us
We have the power to alter another's destiny — use it well
The Crowning Glory of Creation
The Divine's eternal, unconditional love
Perverting sincerity
Do 'clothes make the man'?
Divine vindictiveness?

© 2007, Mesorah Publications, Ltd.