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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 June 27, 2007 / 11 Tamuz, 5767

The other ‘Three R's’

By Rabbi Avi Shafran



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Some commencement speakers actually speak about topics that matter in the real world


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | [I was recently privileged to address the commencement ceremony of Bais Yaakov of Baltimore, an Orthodox girls school founded in 1942. Below is an edited version of my remarks to the more than 100 high school graduates, their families and friends.]


Back in the day — the day when I was in grade school, that is — we were taught the "3 R's" — Reading, 'Riting and 'Rithmetic (that's math to you, and yes, we didn't spell so good back then). Of course, you've all learned those things and more. And as students of a school like Bais Yaakov, you have also learned the really important things for meaningful life.


Among them, I think, are another "3 R's." At this special moment in your lives, please permit me to briefly review them.


The first one is Recognizing — specifically, recognizing the good, the precise translation of the Hebrew phrase hakaras hatov. Its simple sense — gratitude — is something you graduates surely feel this evening — toward your parents, your teachers and your classmates, for all that they have given you. But the term's deeper meaning is to recognize — with a capital "R" — the good that is always present in our lives, all the things with which we are constantly blessed. Because everything we have is a Divine gift. We're called Jews after Judah — so named by our matriarch Leah because of her gratitude — hoda'ah — that G-d had given her "more than her share" of sons. We Jews are always to see what we have — whatever it may be — as "more than our share."


Many have a rather different ethic. An advertisement recently asked me "Don't you deserve a new Lexus?" Well, no, I don't particularly. I'm not at all sure I even deserve my used Saturn with the manual roll-up windows either. In fact, every morning when I open its door, I thank G-d for granting it to me. There is a contemporary social disease one might call eskumptmir-itis — from the Yiddish phrase "It's coming to me." We have to try mightily not to contract it.


As it happens, there is a vaccine for the disease of entitlement: the blessings we say throughout every day. Each is an expression of hakaras hatov, a recognition of a gift, and of its Source. We do well to say them carefully, and think of what we are saying.


The second "R" is Relating — trying to feel what others are feeling, empathizing. Here, too, a very different atmosphere envelops the world around us. Maybe it's different in Baltimore, but in New York the roads teach much about empathy — about how things are when there isn't any. Obviously each of us cares most about himself — that's why "Love your neighbor like yourself" takes "yourself" as the given — but the law of the jungle is not our law. We are charged to try to see the world through the eyes of the other.


You've heard, no doubt, about the new father-to-be who paced the waiting room for hours while his wife was in labor, about how the process went very slowly and he became more and more agitated, until, an eternity later, the nurse finally came in to tell him his wife had delivered a little girl.


"Thank heaven!" he burst out. "A girl! She'll never have to go through what I just did!"


You will meet people like that, I assure you — although, with G-d's help, not your future husbands — and they exemplify the self-centeredness we have to strive mightily to shun.


The third "R" is perhaps the most important, since it touches on a Torah [Biblical] commandment and concept of singular status: Kiddush Hashem, or "Sanctifying G-d's Name." That imperative, of course, requires a Jew to die rather than commit certain sins, or any sin in certain circumstances. But we're charged not only with dying, if necessary, in sanctification of G-d's name but also with living in a state of such sanctification. This "R" is thus "Reflecting" — for, as observant Jews, our actions reflect not only on ourselves, our parents and teachers and schools, but on our Torah — in fact, on our Creator.


Today, perhaps, more than ever. Waiting at a bus stop once, I was approached by a young mother whose little boy was cowering behind her. She approached me and asked politely if I might assure the child that I was not Osama bin Laden. Turban, black hat, whatever, we do both have beards. I managed to convince the young man who I wasn't, but was struck by the realization that Mr. Bin Laden not only has the blood of countless innocents on his soul but the sin of desecrating G-d's name. We must counter with the opposite.


What an incredible obligation — and what an incredible opportunity.


Maimonides, in his laws about sanctification of G-d's name, adds that great Torah-scholars have a particular mandate to act in an exemplary way — for they are perceived as the most powerful reflections of the Torah. I don't think it's a stretch to understand those words to apply today to all who are perceived to be reflections of Torah. In a world like ours, all identifiably Jewish Jews are "great Torah scholars" regarding this law — and we must all endeavor to act the part.


The opportunities are ubiquitous. Receiving change from a cashier, a smile — not to mention a "thank you" — leaves an impression. On the road, where politeness is at a premium, driving politely leaves an impression. The way we speak, the way we interact with others, all leave an impression. We must leave the right one.


So, dear graduates, remember always, above all else, just who you are: reflections of G-d on earth.


Reflect well.


And may your reflections be clear and brilliant, and help merit a fourth "R" — the ultimate Redemption.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.




© 2007, Am Echad Resources