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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 23, 2010 / 13 Elul, 5770

Let There Be Peace

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The continuing foofaraw over construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan illustrates, among a number of things, the crucial difference between the letter and spirit of the law.

As was observed long ago, the letter of the law killeth, while its spirit lets live. It's no simple task to follow even the simplest principle in the American scheme of things, including the separation of church and state. Or in this case, the separation of mosque and state.

Just because we have a right to do something under the law, like build a mosque in close proximity to what has become hallowed ground in our shared history, doesn't make it the right thing to do. Blindly following the letter of the law may produce only an on-going provocation and its surest result, on-going resentment. And so defeat an essential purpose of law: to let us all of us live in peace and with mutual respect.

And with respect for what can only be called the ineffable. There are certain places in this country that are hallowed ground, where a haunting presence stills us, humbles us, and makes us think of something besides ourselves and our own rights. The Lincoln Memorial at midnight. Gettysburg as the day lengthens and yellows in the last rays of a setting sun. That field outside Shanksville, Pa., where United Flight 93 finally went down after its passengers refused to be passive victims of terror that fateful day, September 11, 2001.

Another such site is Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers once stood. It, too, is holy ground. And it makes certain demands of us. Those demands aren't easy to spell out in so many words, but all of us know that we must tread carefully at such places. And even around them.

There are other sites around the world hallowed by what took place there. And other controversies have swirled around them, too, conflicts remarkably similar to the one now erupting over the location of a projected mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero.

A convent of Carmelite nuns once occupied a building at the site of the Auschwitz death camp. There was nothing wrong with the convent itself. But to have a symbol of another faith so dominate a scene where so many Jews were gassed in one of the great crimes of that or any other century ... it would not have been right. There should be no need to explain why; even to attempt to do so somehow demeans the memory of the dead. As none other than John Paul II, that blessed man, understood. His decision to move the convent did not go down well with the nuns who had served there so long, but the pope understood not just the letter but the spirit of the law, and that the law of love of our fellow man is above all others.

How right would it be if, God forbid, the Dome of the Rock that now crowns the Temple Mount in Jerusalem were to be destroyed and the ancient Jewish temple rebuilt nearby? The sight would be not only a casus belli but also surely a violation of the command to love thy neighbor -- not deeply offend him. Yet you can bet that Israeli police have to keep tabs on the kind of Jewish fanatics who harbor just such hateful delusions.

Both the Japanese and Germans have long and interesting histories, with cultures to match. But surely no one would want to erect a museum of Japanese culture at Pearl Harbor, say, or in the main square of Nanking, as in Rape of. Nor would a towering monument to German contributions to Western civilization be appropriate on the site of the concentration camp at Dachau. No matter what the zoning laws permitted. Or what rights the current German constitution protects. There is law and there is an unwritten law. There is the letter and the spirit.

If this 15-story structure planned near Ground Zero is truly to be a center of interfaith understanding, surely those planning it could find a place for it where its purpose would not be obscured by its very location. For its presence so close to the scene of that monstrous crime would inevitably be seen as a thumb in America's eye. It would serve as a constant provocation, attracting protests and making still more work for New York's already stressed police force. However legal such a location might be.

Only the literal-minded could view this controversy as just a matter of what the First Amendment says on paper and nothing more, including the historical context in which the rights it guarantees would be exercised. And the effect that exercising them would have on others. That kind of tone-deafness might qualify those who exhibit it as sharp lawyers, but not as serious thinkers.

Lest we forget, even black-letter law comes surrounded by white space in which there is plenty of room for commentary, nuance and reflection. Space in which reasonable men may differ over whether it is responsible to exercise a legally unquestionable, but ethically debatable, right.

All those dimensions were missing from Professor/President Barack Obama's cut-and-dried law-school lecture on the subject delivered at a dinner marking the beginning of Ramadan -- followed by a clarification that didn't much clarify. Where does the president come down on this issue? Who knows? As best one can tell, he favors building the mosque but not necessarily.

Seldom has President Cool's distance from the feelings of his fellow Americans been so clear as in this legal brief and later addendum on what he treated as purely a question of law rather than one that touches Americans to the quick. The most impressive quality of this president is the unfeeling distance he manages to put between himself and We the People. He doesn't so much lead us as lecture us from some abstract plane where emotional reality never intrudes.

The letter of the law is no substitute for the understanding spirit that softens and raises it to the level of ethics and morality, a law above the law. John Adams said it: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people; it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Without an inner light, and an inner sense of restraint, the law becomes just a playing field for a Hobbesian war of all against all, a confused struggle in which all are so intent on exercising their own rights they forget the rights, and feelings, of others.

The Constitution of the United States rightly protects the free exercise of religion. But like any other right, it comes with an unspoken responsibility: to exercise that most effective form of restraint, self-restraint. Call it manners, as John Fletcher Moulton did in his famous address, "Law and Manners." And manners maketh not only the man but the nation. Without manners, that self-enforcing law, a society cannot hope to remain both free and orderly. In such a society, there is a responsibility to be more than legal. There is a responsibility to be generous, kind, considerate, self-denying -- to be right in more than a limited legal sense, to practice and invite reciprocity. That way lies peace. As in Salaam Aleikem -- peace unto you. And to all of us.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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