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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

Religiosity: The Greatest Chess Game on Earth

By Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo




The great contemporary Jewish thinker brilliantly addresses those who mock observance of religious canon as "legalistic". He employs a metaphor even sophisticates will grasp


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | There is probably no game as difficult and captivating as chess. Millions of people break their heads over strategies to win this game and spend years learning its ins and outs. It holds them captive as nothing else does. They dream about it and discuss the move of one single pawn as if their lives depend on it. They will follow the most famous chess tournaments and discuss every move of a world champion, for days and even years. They replay famous, mind-boggling games of the past, even those that took place as long ago as 70 years. These chess aficionados try to improve on those games of the distant past, often getting into heated arguments about a brilliant or foolish move that took place 50 years earlier. Thousands of books, tens of thousands of essays have been published on how to get better at the game.

The rules are set up in the World Chess Federation's FIDE Handbook. Strategies are developed and tactics suggested; countless combinations have been tried to the point that some typical patterns have their own names, such as the Boden's Mate and the Lasker-Bauer combination. Mikhail Botvinnik revolutionized the opening theory, which was considered nothing less than a Copernican breakthrough. Famous chess studies such as the one published by Richard Reti (1921) are revelations of tremendous depth. (He depicted a situation in which it seems impossible for the white king to catch the advanced black pawn while the white pawn can be easily stopped by the black king.)



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The rules are ruthless. There are no compromises, no flexibility. Zero rachmanuth (mercy). It is all about midath hadin (harsh rendering). The rules are rigid, as is nothing else. And they can make players mad to the point of possibly considering suicide. But is chess rigid? The rules seem easy until you start playing. The entire game takes place on a chessboard smaller than the size of a side table, but the game is larger than the universe. Each party has 16 pieces, which are played on 64 squares, but they become so large in one's psyche that they dazzle the eyes of the spectator. Some of the pieces can move in any direction; others can move any number of squares along any rank or file but may not leap over other pieces. There are those that can only move diagonally and others that are allowed to move two squares horizontally and one square vertically, or two squares vertically and one square horizontally, thus making the complete move look like the letter 'L'.

It all sounds very easy. But what any player soon realizes is that these basic rules allow for thousands of combinations, maneuvers and sub-rules, depending on the position of a pawn, a rook, or a knight. These rules sometimes become so complicated and cause such major obstacles that one prefers to take on higher mathematics, which looks easy in comparison. (It is not!) There is good reason why the most famous chess players are considered not only brilliant people but geniuses with advanced mathematical minds.

But again: Is chess rigid? Does it "constrain"? Is it "fundamentalist," or perhaps "dogmatic"? Does it deny the player his freedom of thought or action? In one sense, it does. The player cannot move the pieces as he would like to. There are rules that make the game incredibly difficult. But that fact is exactly what makes this game so exiting. It leads to an unprecedented outburst of creativity. In der Beschränkung zeigt sich erst der Meister. Und das Gesetz nur kann uns Freiheit geben said Goethe. (1) The chessboard becomes the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are the laws of nature, and man roams freely on this board once he applies the rules in a way that will deepen their impact to such an extent that a whole new world is revealed.

But let us never forget! He who knows all the rules is not automatically a good player. What makes him a great player is his ability to use these rules to unleash an outburst of creativity, which resides deep within him and emerges only because of the "unbearable" limitations. He then strikes! One small move forces everything to shift around, creating total upheaval and causing the opponent to panic as he never did before. And all this without ever violating one chess rule. This is mental torture. But it is also the height of beauty. It is the poetry of the game, like a melody is to music. Like one gentle brushstroke of Rembrandt on a colorful canvas, making everything look radically different, or like the genius musician playing her Stradivarius, re-creating the whole of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 5. It transports the chess player to heaven. His body must be in top form because his playing ability deteriorates when his body does. Body and mind are inseparable. An entire world of feelings, images, ideas, emotions and passions come to the forefront.

But most important is that there so many options for how to apply the rules. And all of them are authentic. There are hundreds of opening moves and endgames. The Talmudic concept of eilu ve-eilu divrei elokim chayim (these and those are the words of the living G0D) is fully applicable. There are Rishonim (early authorities) and acharonim (later authorities). There are commentaries, sub-commentaries, major differences of opinion, fiery clashes and even mistakes that carry dimensions of truth.

Chess is like a Halachic discussion. It is a clash of the minds. Sometimes, "the passed pawn is a criminal, who should be kept under lock and key. Mild measures, such as police surveillance, are not sufficient." (Aaron Nimzovich) Its position is treif (totally non-kosher) by all standards. Certain maneuvers are possible in the opinion of some, while others have their doubts. But above all, "chess is so inspiring that I do not believe a good player is capable of having an evil thought during the game." (Wilhelm Steinitz)

Halacha, Jewish cannon, is the greatest chess game on earth. It is the Jewish game par excellence. (2) For the man who wants to live a life of great meaning and depth, nothing is more demanding and torturous while simultaneously uplifting and mind-broadening. He loves the rules because they are the way to freedom. All he wants is to play chess. He recognizes that others wish to play with less complicated rules. And that is fine. But the chess player smiles. That is not chess. That is nothing but dominoes played by kids. The serious chess player embraces this greatest game of all because these impossible rules give him the thrill of life as nothing else does. They make him divinely insane. On top of that, he has to make a choice from among many options, whether they were articulated by Maimonides, Rabbi Joseph Karo or other authentic and genius chess players.

Surely chess is just a game, while Halacha, if properly understood and lived, deals with real life, deep religiosity, moral dilemmas, emotions and intuitions far more significant in man's life than a chess game.

But the man who plays chess in real life as suggested by Halacha will realize that if he "plays" well he is on the track to drawing closer and closer to the King, until he is checkmated and, unlike in a chess game, falls into the arms of the King.



(1) "It is in limitation that the master proves himself. And law alone brings us freedom." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's sonnet "Natur und Kunst, sie scheinen sich zu fliehen" ("Nature and Art, they go their separate ways") in Was wir bringen (1802).

(2) Jews make up 0.2 percent of the world population, but 54 percent of the world chess champions. (David Brooks, "The Tel Aviv Cluster," The New York Times, January 11, 2010). The Israeli city Beersheba has the most chess grand masters per capita in the world. (Gavin Rabinowitz, "Beersheba Masters Kings, Knights, Pawns," LA Times, January 30, 2005).

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

© 2012, Rabbi Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo