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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 August 9, 2004 / 22 Menachem-Av, 5764

Shmoozin' with shamayim (Heaven)

By Bob Alper


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | It was unintentional. Scout's honor. I never, ever watch The Maury Povich Show, but on this particular morning my VCR malfunctioned, and I had to stare at something while taking a long walk on a short NordicTrack.



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The guest was James Van Praagh, author of the mega-selling, "Talking to Heaven." Van Praagh is a psychic, a medium, a man with powers far greater than the rest of us mortals. He sees angels and ghosties and other spirits that, apparently, flap around but are visible only to certain psychically anointed. Like James.


The producers lined the stage with ten ready-to-weep panelists wallowing in their moments of national fame. A rather unspectacular and corpulent "regular guy," the guru of the beyond began by addressing a woman: "Someone you loved died of cancer."


YES!


My heart began to beat faster. Because I was astounded by his gifts of illumination? No. I was picking up the pace on my NordicTrack. As for Van Praagh, well, I figured, this guy did his math. Ten middle age people…gee, what are the odds any of these folks will have lost someone to cancer?


Later, he spoke to a woman whose teenage son had died. "I see statues," he said. Ha! I knew just where he was going. A teenage boy. Statues. Trophies! He wants the mother to say her son had trophies in his room. Alas, Van Praagh received only a blank stare.


Ooops.


But Van Praagh made a partial recovery. "Did someone give you a plaque?" "Yes. My sister did!" "I see it near pictures," Van Praagh proclaimed, and the woman, appropriately amazed, confirmed that "near pictures" was the precise location of the plaque. The audience read the flashing APPLAUSE sign and dutifully complied.


Um. Excuse me, but don't most people hang plaques near other pictures? Again, what are the odds?


Van Praagh concluded each personal encounter by discerning a hovering presence, a deceased spirit who inevitably acted as a loving guardian angel, protecting and nurturing the gullible survivor.


Whereupon the audience sniffled. On cue.


All of which started me thinking. What would happen if this guy were to address a Jewish crowd?


"I see a truck, an eighteen wheeler. It's…it's a Mack Truck. The name Mack…Mack…why do I keep seeing the name Mack?"


A slightly sardonic voice from the rear suggests, "Maybe you mean Max?"


"Precisely!" Van Praagh declares, and nearly every person in the room leaps up in an eager frenzy. "My great-grandfather was named Max!" "I had an Uncle Max!" "Max was my grandpop!" Later, it is determined that fully 35% of the audience also have a dog, cat, or gerbil named Max.

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And what of those looming spooks, those apparitions that inhabit Van Praagh's shows? With a Jewish audience he'll reveal that hovering behind many a participant is a deceased former business colleague, dedicated to providing his living ex-partner with an eternal supply of acid indigestion.


Years ago, on a Saturday night, a college sophomore called me at home. He and some friends were preparing to visit a psychic that evening, and he wanted to know the Jewish attitude towards such practitioners. I shared some history with him about false prophets and stoning, but added, "Look, you never know for sure. I propose a test: ask the psychic to reveal your rabbi's maternal grandmother's maiden name. If she's right, she may even make me into a believer."


Late that night, my phone rang, and an excited male voice nearly shouted, "Rabbi! Was it Cohen?"


Nice try. Yup, it's all in the math. It's all in how you play the odds. Only this time, it didn't work. That psychic didn't convince Robert A. Alper.


Grandson of Etta Lewensohn Katzenstein.

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.

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.



JWR contributor Rabbi Bob Alper, the world's only practicing clergyman doing stand-up comedy . . . intentionally, is the author of Life Doesn't Get Any Better Than This: The Holiness of Little Daily Dramas and A rabbi confesses. To go to his web site, click here. Comment by clicking here.

© 2004, Rabbi Bob Alper