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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 Oct. 18, 2004 / 3 Mar-Cheshvan 5765

Super powers

By Rabbi Avi Shafran


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Some are using Christopher Reeve as a political prop. In actuality, his life epitomized a Truth that more of us should recognize and internalize


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | There was always a poignant irony in the fact that someone famed for portraying a man with superhuman strength became, in a tragic instant, utterly dependent on others for his every need. But it's even more strikingly ironic that Christopher Reeve's most formidable accomplishments, what he will undoubtedly be remembered for above all else, came after he became a quadriplegic. An important and timely message, that, for a world that seems, increasingly, crazily, to define life in terms of agility.


Mr. Reeve, the actor who played Superman in a movie twenty-five years ago, worked tirelessly for nearly a decade on behalf of the disabled before he died on October 10. He educated the public, raised tens of millions of dollars for medical research, wrote two books and inspired millions — including disabled Israeli children on a trip he made last year — with his example.


It's hard to imagine that his life would have been fuller had he remained the avid skier, sailor, pilot, scuba diver and equestrian he was before he was thrown from a horse in 1995 and broke two vertebrae in his neck. More active, yes; but fuller, no.

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To be sure, Mr. Reeve's accident left him setting radically different goals for physical accomplishment, like learning to operate his wheelchair by puffing into a tube. But that's precisely the point: physical movement was no longer how he assessed achievement. His accident had forced him to realize that life's meaning isn't measured in miles, nautical, air or otherwise.


While he always maintained hope that physical rehabilitation and scientific advances might one day allow him to again move his limbs, he did not consider even that modest desideratum to define his worth. Asked in an interview mere weeks before his death what would happen if in fact he never walked again, he responded straightforwardly "Then I won't walk again." Walking, he was clearly saying, would be wonderful, but it isn't life.


And yet, in the immediate wake of his accident, he had felt so hopeless that he had seriously contemplated suicide. There seemed so little possibility that he might live a meaningful life that even his own mother, as Mr. Reeve recounted in his 1998 memoir, urged doctors to remove him from equipment keeping him alive.


Such a reaction, in the throes of shock and fear, is not beyond comprehension. But it is deeply misguided all the same. Like many an emotional reflex, it came with time to yield to something more reasoned and sublime. Confronted with what he chose to perceive as a new reality and new challenges, Mr. Reeve decided that a broken neck needn't yield a broken will.


The thought is an urgent one these days, when the willingness to consider lives unworthy because they lack the "quality" that comes with physical dexterity (or mental acuity, or natural freedom from pain) is unfortunately on the upswing.


There are, unfortunately, many suffering people in the world, and they — or others — may feel that life in a state of illness, dejection or despair is simply not worth the trouble. But when Christopher Reeve found himself in a hospital bed, paralyzed and despairing, he chose to live, and to accomplish.


And even if as public and active a life as Mr. Reeve's after his accident seems, well, superhuman, we would all do well to recognize that meaning resides in many different places, and — more important still — that every one of us, in the end, has super powers.


What else to call the ability to think, to pray, to resolve, to regret, to love, to forgive? Not one of which aptitudes requires good health or physical movement.


No one likes to contemplate his or her final moments in this world. But the rabbis of the Talmud taught that, especially faced with the temptation to do something wrong, it is a most important thing to do. And it's unlikely that any of us who take that wise advice would picture ourselves focused in extremis on ski slopes or regattas. What will matter as we prepare to take our leave will be things considerably less physical.


Which is why Judaism teaches that every moment of life, no matter its "quality," is infinitely precious. Would that more of us recognized, and internalized, that truth.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


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