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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 Sept. 29, 2009 / 11 Tishrei 5770

Who Needs Religion?

By Mona Charen




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Well, that's one way to look at it. Writing in Haaretz, Orna Coussin praised Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement that began Sunday night and ended Monday night) as the ultimate green holiday. Coussin is a secular Israeli and was expressing her appreciation for the fact that everyone is obliged to travel by foot on Yom Kippur. All traffic stops in Israel. No cars, busses, trains, or taxis clog the streets on that day. The shops and offices are closed and the city is given over to pedestrians. "Last year, on Yom Kippur," she exults, "carbon monoxide levels fell from 205 parts per billion, on the day prior to the holiday, to just 2 parts per billion at its height — a phenomenon unmatched anywhere in the world."


That's nice. But for millions of Jews worldwide the Day of Atonement continues to exert its traditional power. Coussin may see it as a day for walking the city; religious Jews are trying to walk with G-d. But even non-religious Jews can find uplift in the Yom Kippur service.


Fierce secularists like Christopher Hitchens deny that religion is necessary for morality. In any particular case, this is impossible to deny. Many highly moral people are non-religious (though, I would venture, less often anti-religious). But people being the way they are — rationalizing, lazy, self-satisfied, absent-minded, and evasive (to list only some of our milder shortcomings) — the religious tradition, with its weekly (or in some cases only yearly) kicks in the backside, prods us toward virtue, or perhaps even righteousness.


Yom Kippur is a day of fasting and repentance. This is well known. But the fast — though severe (it lasts 25 hours and requires abstention from food and water) — is not the substance of repentance, only a symbol. The whole High Holiday season, which begins with Rosh Hashana, is a period of prayer, self-examination, and repentance. This is a time to give generously to charity — both for its own sake (the Hebrew word for charity is "justice") and to demonstrate our sincere repentance. We are encouraged to pay our debts during this time, and to ask forgiveness from those we have wronged. If we are rebuffed, we're expected to ask again … twice. Offenses against our fellow human beings are not forgiven on Yom Kippur unless the wronged party has extended forgiveness. As for offenses against G-d, worshippers are reminded that G-d is not interested in fasting alone, only in genuine repentance. The measure of sincerity is altered behavior.


The confession of sin is communal — and quite exhaustive. For those who might have thought they had a pretty good year, the Al Cheyt prayer makes them think again. The offenses listed include, as one might expect, lust, gluttony, envy, cruelty, gossip, and dishonesty. But the liturgy also requires confession of impertinence, foul language, being stiff-necked, and "haughty looks." We ask forgiveness for sins of commission and sins of omission, and for sins committed knowingly and unknowingly. Come to think of it, considering its breadth and comprehensiveness, the Al Cheyt could have been drafted by a lawyer. In any case, it stands in stark contrast to the narcissistic spirit of our age.


The concept of communal confession may seem odd to Christians whose traditions tend to stress individual repentance and reconciliation with G-d. One explanation frequently advanced for this practice is that the entire Jewish community is expected to take responsibility for the sins of all of its members. Peoplehood and nation remain key features of the Jewish faith. But it is also the case, I think, that when reciting that long list of offenses, only the most self-deluded sinner could fail to recognize that he had committed more sins that he cared to acknowledge during the preceding period of self-examination. The ancient catalogue of wrongdoing remains as fresh today as ever — because however much the outward world has changed, the human soul remains what it has always been.


Even with the best will in the world, we are inclined to backsliding. If we haven't been reminded lately to give generously to those in need, or to visit the sick or bereaved, or to extend ourselves to the handicapped, or to thank a member of the armed services, or in other ways to try to please G-d, we will fall short.

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© 2006, Creators Syndicate

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