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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
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

The Issue of Character

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson






http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I have a lot of admiration for Dennis Prager. His ability to articulate common sense conservative values and politics without resorting to dogma or hyperbole is refreshing; his passionate defense of Israel against the groupthink of Western academics and politicians is reassuring.

However, even the best and the brightest sometimes wander off the reservation.

Reflecting on the accusations of infidelity and sexual harassment that have scuttled Herman Cain's presidential aspirations, Mr. Prager suggests that we really shouldn't care. After all, JFK served as an effective chief executive despite his many peccadilloes, while Jimmy Carter possessed neither political aptitude nor moral clarity despite his faithfulness in marriage.

Both true. But then Mr. Prager invokes "G-d Himself, who apparently thought that King David deserved to remain king — and even have the Messiah descend from him — despite a particularly ugly form of adultery."

Mr. Prager's argument fails on two counts: first in his representation of biblical history, and second in his outlook on moral philosophy.

The subject of King David's involvement with Bathsheba is enormously complex, and requires far more attention than we can give it in this forum. Let it suffice to say that just as no self-respecting literary scholar would suggest that Shakespeare's King Lear can be appreciated by superficially skimming the surface of the play, similarly have three thousand years of Jewish scholars understood that scripture often presents an incomplete — and sometimes misleading — narrative that forces us to search for deeper meaning.


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In the same way that anomalies in the movement of the stars eventually convinced Copernicus that the earth is not the center of the universe, and that the peculiarities of Brownian motion provided Albert Einstein with the first empirical proof of subatomic particles, the Jewish Bible is written with stylistic inconsistencies that force the attentive reader to reconsider seemingly obvious but ultimately unfounded interpretations.

The narrative of King David's background provides much of the evidence. Unjustly hunted down as a criminal by King Saul, David rejects the chance to kill Saul and claim the kingship, then further risks his life to prove his innocence. Attracted to Abigail, whose husband David believes deserving of summary execution, David stays his own hand when the husband's guilt is called into question. Twice betrayed by his general, Joab, David nevertheless spares Joab's life rather than risk his own betrayal of the loyalty Joab had shown in the early days of David's rise to power.

Does this sound like a man who would go out of his mind with passion after catching sight of a pair of legs from his palace rooftop?

Furthermore (and contrary to Mr. Prager's assumptions), if David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, Jewish law would have considered their son Solomon an illegitimate mamzer and thus disqualified him from ascending the throne. That Solomon was accepted as king both by the Sanhedrin and by G-d, there must be another explanation of David's transgression.

And further still, when David was confronted by the prophet for having sinned, he immediately declared, "I have sinned before G-d." Had David truly been guilty of adultery, repentance to G-d for a sin committed against his fellow man would have been meaningless.

But these are technical points, mentioned here only to restore honor to the reputation of King David. Interested readers can find exhaustive essays based on classical Torah sources elucidating the true nature of David's sin and proving that he was guilty of a much more subtle and nuanced indiscretion.

It is Mr. Prager's more general assertion that deserves most of our attention. Are we truly wrong to believe that leadership is inseparable from character? Should we really overlook corruption in private if our leaders serve competently in office?

From a superficial and purely utilitarian perspective, this argument might seem sound. After all, the sexual misadventures of an airline pilot, a surgeon, a symphony conductor, or a platoon sergeant should have little effect upon their professional ability and performance. Why should it be otherwise with our Executive-in-Chief?

The simple answer is that the presidency is more than just a job. The office is a symbol, and the president is charged not only with piloting the ship of state but with upholding the standards personal integrity that lie at the core of American values. The French and the Italians may laugh at our intolerance of sexual misconduct, but we can only shake our heads at their disdain for the commitment to virtue that is woven into the fabric of American society.

The Roman Empire was, at its peak, the most powerful, far-ranging, and efficient political machine in the history of the world. But as it became riddled with moral corruption, when the culture of bread-and-circuses eroded the foundations of a civil and stable society, it began its rapid decline toward oblivion. And now, as we watch our own country founder on the cultural waves of entitlement and immediate gratification, it is not enough to hope for a president who is a skilled statesmen; it is equally important to find a leader who will inspire us to recover the individual and collective responsibility implied by e pluribus unum and the moral greatness implied by the motto In G-d We Trust. One without the other is not partial leadership. One without the other is no leadership at all. And so I say to Dennis Prager: Thank you for your candor and your insight, thank you for your political acuity and your moral clarity. Thank you for defending American values and the value of Israel. But please, Mr. Prager, please leave Jewish theology to those who have devoted their lives to studying the time-tested traditions of our people. And please consider that, although we may have to settle for imperfect leaders, we should never forget what leadership is supposed to be.


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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. He is author of Dawn to Destiny: Exploring Jewish History and its Hidden Wisdom, an overview of Jewish philosophy and history from Creation through the compilation of the Talmud, now available from Judaica Press. Visit him at http://torahideals.com .






© 2011, Rabbi Yonason Goldson