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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 December 5, 2008 / 8 Kislev 5769

Truth — The Key to Gratitude

By Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz


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Ironies and attitudes in the pursuit of perfection


“And she [Leah] said, "This time I will praise G-d ...”

                        —   Genesis 29:35


The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 71:5) teaches us that with the above declaration Leah practiced the art of giving thanks or praise, and therefore she became the progenitor of others who had the same characteristic — Judah and King David. Judah, the Midrash explains, exemplified this trait with his statement regarding Tamar, "She is more righteous than I" (ibid. 38:26). King David exclaimed, "Give thanks to G-d because He is good" (Psalms 138).


While Leah and King David's statements clearly share a common thread of praise, Judah's admission of guilt appears to have no connection with this attribute. Tamar was being taken to be executed and Judah confessed that she was innocent — he was the father of Tamar's children. How does this have any bearing on Judah's characteristic of giving thanks?


The ability to give thanks and the ability to confess one's wrongdoing stem from a common source — the recognition of truth. Indeed, the Hebrew word for praise derives from the same root as the Hebrew word for admitting. A person who is truthful will recognize and acknowledge the bountiful blessings the Divine bestows upon him. By the same token, he will recognize and admit his shortcomings.


The same poison of haughtiness that drives a person to deny his dependency upon G-d, to blind himself to the constant goodness that sustains him, will also drive him to deny that he is fallible. Only a sincere and truthful heart can dispel this fog of arrogance, see through its falsehood, and recognize the sobering reality.


Had Leah not excelled in the attribute of truth — had she not admitted how much gratitude she owed G-d, then she would not have had a descendant such as Judah, who excelled in truthfulness and was therefore able to confess his mistake. Even though the birth of a child was clearly a gift from G-d, still Leah could have attributed it to some extent to her own might and power had she not reached such perfection in the characteristic of truth.




When we look at our own lives and see how fortunate we are, how comfortably we live with health and satisfaction, with family and friends, with freedom and security — we can fail to make the connection between these blessings and the Divine. Ironically, those same benefits that should motivate us to thank G-d can cause complacency and smug confidence in our own abilities.


If, however, we focus the penetrating spotlight of truth on the situation, the truth will stare us in the face — we are helpless on our own, and only through G-d's infinite kindness do we enjoy all this goodness. This "confession" of truth will not only enable us to admit our indebtedness; it will bring about an equally crucial honesty in dealing with our errors and sins.


The result — a healthy blend of gratitude and praise to G-d combined with a frank and candid view of our actions that will help us improve ourselves — will bring us eternal happiness both in this world and in the World-to-Come.

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One of America's senior Torah sages, the late Rabbi A. Henach Leibowitz was 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:

Money matters ... Or does it? Wise words to consider during trying times
The Power of Spiritual Inertia
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.