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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 Jan. 18, 2011 / 13 Shevat, 5771

The Shattered Glass: On Lee's Birthday, 2011

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | By now successive generations of historians have set out to capture the uncapturable essence of the man -- the Real Robert E. Lee, they say. And yet, despite all their efforts, the mythic Lee remains, whole. And seems to call each generation to him, like a mountain peak in the distance.

The revisionists have left only a jagged, shattered image behind. Yet it is strangely fitting. For there is something almost unnatural about the portraits of the dashing young Lee, still untouched by time and what would prove his saving grace, defeat.

Just as the most moving picture of Lincoln may be the last one, his visage engraved with every sorrow and sacrifice of that terrible war, the crucible out of which a new birth of freedom would emerge. The final touch is the jagged line across the top of the old photographic plate, as broken as the old Union itself. Yet the image would not be complete without it, without that scar running across it, somehow binding it together, as the Union itself would be saved and recast, strongest where it had been broken. There, one feels, is the real Lincoln: Father Abraham, mourning his children yet still seeing clear as always.

As for the real Lee, there he is, pictured only after Appomattox, on the steps of a cottage, familiar as one's father, yet somehow more Lee than the Lee of either Chancellorsville or Gettysburg, his greatest victory and greatest defeat. He looks at the camera unmoved, unchanged within, forever serene, duty done. ("Duty is the most sublime word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less.") No more need be said. And wasn't. The Army of Northern Virginia had been dismissed, its arms stacked, its banners furled. Its commander looks straight ahead, never back. Gray as his uniform, gray as duty, he awaits only the final Reveille, worn as mortal time.

Imagine if his image were new, shiny, untarnished. What a counterfeit it would be. Instead, like an ancient coin, nicked and rubbed almost clean, Brady's photograph speaks of a different world, one we enter now to be astounded not by the resounding clash of arms, the smoke and fire of the futile Confederate batteries at Gettysburg, but by the utter stillness, the perfect peace within which The General moved, always. He still does.

But why should an ever upwardly mobile society like this one take note of him? Why take time this one day of the year to focus on an old man from an old war? Time is money, as everyone knows. Why waste it? And on a war he lost at that. It is success that counts, as every American who worships it knows. Yet he still speaks to us. The shattered glass of the old icon still glistens, obliterating any need for words. We pause, waiting to hear what the silence says. We have an idea it's important, that it may yet save us.

His birthday arrives like an unexpected sabbath. There comes a stillness. All stops. Perception returns. The daily cacophony of the new and the news ceases. A silence envelopes.

It happens every Jan. 19. The date always comes as a surprise, though it has been there on the calendar all along, held in reserve, like the federals in the center of the line that crucial day at Gettysburg, waiting, holding their fire, unperturbed, immovable. And once again we are caught unawares, unable to change the outcome, paralyzed by the immutable past.

It's like climbing a mountain every year, scrambling up the cliffs, past the shadows and thickets, finally reaching the top, and finding only the clear sky -- a lead-gray Southern sky in the depth of winter lit only by the yellowing, late-afternoon sun of memory. There are names for that view. Call it history, perspective, a sense of proportion. We can see now what is truly important, and what is not. From that coign of vantage, we spy features ordinarily obscured. They disturb. Rank upon rank the dead wait patiently. But as always, a single whispered word is enough to calm the soul: Lee.

The din of the year dissipates, pettiness vanishes, rancor departs, calculation and argumentation no longer matter. History itself fades into a series of sepia photographs pasted in a crumbling book. On this one day, we look down from the heights of history instead of forever trying to surmount them. We accept. Grant said it: Let us have peace.

We are like strangers just arrived on the scene from the future, looking about, trying to understand what happened here in this other country that is the past, searching for words to describe it, till we realize no words are necessary. It is silence, that rarest of modern qualities, that is called for. Words would only break the spell.

It's as if the day had become a cathedral, and we some heedless tourists who had chanced upon it, come to take needless photographs. For the vista is already ingrained within us. It is our birthright in these latitudes. It only waits to come to life in due season, like the ever fecund South itself.

Jan. 19. The date is somehow preserved intact among the flotsam of time, unaffected by all that comes by. Familiarity has bred not contempt but reverence. We begin to see what has always been there. And what remains ours.

Ever hear a couple of Southerners just passing the time, perhaps in a petty political quarrel, when the name Lee is thoughtlessly interjected? The air is stilled. Suddenly both are ashamed; neither wants to profane the name by taking it lightly, by using it to gain some stupid, fleeting advantage. There comes a pause in the conversation, as if light were breaking in. A stillness descends.

The stillness at Appomattox must have been like that. A stillness accompanied Lee wherever he went. Before or after Appomattox, it made no difference. He was the same Lee in defeat as in victory. Maybe that is what is meant by character, duty, honor, all the old words cheapened by hollow repetition. To look on him again is to bring back their original power, without needing to say them. They are just understood.

Stephen Vincent Benet understood:

We can lie about him.

Dress up a dummy in his uniform

And put our words into the dummy's mouth,

Say, 'Here Lee must have thought.' and 'There, no doubt,

By what we know of him, we may suppose

He felt, this pang or that --' but he remains

Beyond our stagecraft, reticent as ice,

Reticent as the fire within the stone.

What is missing from all the schematic explanations, the cheap debunks, the New Interpretations, is . . . everything. Everything inward that made him Lee. In the end it is not the victorious general nor the defeated one who speaks to us. It is not the Lee of Chancellorsville or of Appomattox that stills us, returning to lift us every year. It is not even the tragic Lee of Fredericksburg, full of passionate dispassion atop Marye's Heights as he watches the poor, trapped federals being destroyed below. "It is well that war is so terrible," he would murmur that day, looking down at the carnage he himself had engineered, "or we should grow too fond of it."

It is not even the Lee of Gettysburg who moves us today, the Lee who would meet Pickett after it was over, all over, and say only: "All this has been my fault." Politic leaders, with one eye on winning the next election and the other on writing their memoirs, don't say such things now. Nor did they then. Only Lee took responsibility. Only Lee did not write his memoirs.

It is not the storybook Lee who stills us this day every year, but the man who inspired the stories. Not the marble man on the pedestal, the sculpted Lee of statuary and a thousand Confederate Memorial Day speeches, but the solitary, singular Lee -- the Lee who would follow wherever Duty led. And we in turn would follow him. Because he was: Lee. And still is.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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