In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
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

Love is my Religion

By Rabbi David Aaron

Finding Your Ulti-Mate Lover

“Now, Israel, what is it that the Lord your G-d requests of you, only to revere the Lord your G-d, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him and serve the Lord your G-d with all your heart and soul.”

                       — Deuteronomy 10:12

I often hear people say that Judaism is a religion of law but not of love. They claim that it is more about fearing G-d and feeling guilty rather than loving G-d and feeling joy. They conclude that it leads us to a life of weakness and submission and robs us of our power and freedom to be our true selves.

This is what the famous German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche believed. He taught that there are two types of people in the world: the weak and the strong. The strong do what they want, when they want and where they want. But the weak are frightened. Therefore, to protect themselves, they invented morality to make the strong feel guilty about their freedom and strength. According to Nietzsche the weak ones are the Jews. They are the inventors of morality and they are responsible for the phenomena of guilt in the world.

Judaism, however, is quite the opposite of these misconceptions. Judaism is the true religion of love. It is founded upon love and its purpose is love. Its teachings encourage us to be strong and its laws empower us to achieve true freedom, choose love and experience the ecstatic joy of being in love.

Nietzsche once said, "If there were a G-d, how could I bear not being G-d?" Judaism teaches that we can achieve something much more fulfilling than being G-d and that is: loving G-d. The teachings, laws and rituals of Judaism enable us to achieve this goal. They lead us to love G-d and by doing so empower us to be godly.

In fact, Judaism can best be described as the art of being in love.

There are very few who understand that revering G-d is the meager, yet necessary prerequisite in order for G-d to safely and completely share Himself and His power with humanity. Imagine the dangers of Godly status in the hands of the irreverent. Reverence is the essential condition for all relationships of intense love. The closer you come to people and intimately share yourself with them, the more you need to be sure that they respect and revere the distinction that still distinguishes you as other than them. Otherwise, this profound state of identification can lead to dangerous assumptions and abuse. Your beloved may over step his/her boundaries by thinking "your will and my will are one and the same." This is what the Talmud means when it warns: "Love damages borders" (1)

The Hebrew word for "reverence" is yira. This word is also related to the verb "to see." What is the connection between seeing and revering? People often wonder, "Why can't I see G-d?" Generally, the assumed answer is that G-d is too far. However, this is not so. The real reason that we cannot see G-d is because He is too close. In fact, our ultimate struggle is to establish and maintain a healthy sense of distance from G-d, lest our profoundly close and intimate identification with the Divine lead to dangerous and reckless misconceptions and transgression of borders. To revere G-d really means: seeing clearly the boundaries that distinguish us from G-d and, thereby, recognizing who we are relative to Him.


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This is the same sort of distance that is essential in human relationships. The distance we maintain between our selves and our beloved creates the necessary space for meeting. Meeting and love can only happen within the context of space — only then can love happen in a genuine way without destroying borders. The clarity yira provides is the essential safeguard against transgression. This is its sole purpose.

However, this understanding of yira is unfortunately unknown to the masses and sometimes even to their religious leaders. Too often, people assume that yira is fear and meant to be a form of Divine threat in order to weaken humanity. Many may accept this approach as good and right. However, others simply conclude that yira is a gross and unhealthy torment, causing only senseless guilt and leading to neurotic behavior. The distorted understanding of yira as "threat" causes people to view G-d as vengeful and frightening — that G-d is out to get them. This attitude often leads to denial of the existence of G-d or the pursuit of religious philosophies that stress transcendence and loss of self into the One.

Moses teaches:(2)

Now, Israel, what is it that the Lord your G-d requests of you, only to revere the Lord your G-d, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him and serve the Lord your G-d with all your heart and soul.

The Talmud(3) deduces from this verse the following principle:

"All is in the hands of heaven except the reverence for heaven."

It is strange that the Talmud does not say 'except the reverence and love of heaven' since Moses also mentions, "and to love G-d." Why is only reverence in our hands?

According to Jewish tradition love is the natural condition of our beings. We feel a natural thirst for G-d and sense of identification with G-d. Our real challenge is yira, to step back from the Divine, acknowledge and clearly see the borders that distinguish us as other than G-d. The stepping back and self-withdrawal implicit in yira creates the space for the love. This reflects the process of tzimtzum (self withdrawal) performed by G-d in order to create the world.

The ability to see the borders and revere G-d is a great gift from G-d. Without it we could not experience true love. Therefore, the Talmud(4) states: "G-d has in His hidden vault only a treasury of yira."

King Solomon in Ecclesiastes(5) teaches: "G-d made it as such so that man would revere Him".

The Talmud (6) explains this to means: "G-d only created this world in order that man could revere Him."

The Hebrew word for "world" is Olam. This word is also related to the verb meaning "to conceal." What is the connection? The Kabbalah teaches that there are four worlds or dimensions. Each world, in descending order, is an increased degree of concealment, hiding G-d all pervasive oneness.

In this lower world, G-d's oneness is concealed the most; allowing us to mistakenly think that we are independent beings, separate of G-d. However, the purpose of this concealment of G-d's oneness is in order to allow for the emergence of borders and human self-consciousness as being other than G-d. This is essential for the ultimate revelation of the underlying oneness of love. Only then can we experience ourselves as distinct beings. Without the olam and the graduating degrees of concealment, our sense of distinct self and personal boundaries would be obliterated by the intensity of G-d's presence. Therefore, G-d created this world only to allow us the possibility for getting perspective on who we are relative to G-d, so that we can revere G-d and not transgress the boundaries between us and Him. However, all this is for the sake of love.

Imagine how horrible all this talk about reverence would sound to a person who did not know that G-d lovingly desires to empower humanity and share Himself. G-d's mere request of us is that we revere G-d so that His incredible gift of love will not be abused. Yira — seeing the boundaries and fearing transgression — is the essential prerequisite before we can experience the awesome love of our Ulti-Mate Soul-Mate — G-d.

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(1) Sanhedrin 105b

(2) Deut. 10:12

(3) Talmud, Berachos 33b

(4) Talmud, Berachos 33b

(5) Ecclesiastes 3:14

(6) Talmud, Berachos 33b

               — For more on this topic, please see: The Secret Life of G-d: discovering the divine within you


To comment on this article, please click here.

JWR contributor Rabbi David Aaron is the founder and dean of Isralight, an international organization with programming in Israel, New York South Florida, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Toronto. He has taught and inspired thousands of Jews who are seeking meaning in their lives and a positive connection to their Jewish roots.

He is the author of the newly released, The Secret Life of G-d, and Endless Light: The Ancient Path of Kabbalah to Love, Spiritual Growth and Personal Power , Seeing G-d and Love is my religion. (Click on links to purchase books. Sales help fund JWR.) He lives in the old City of Jerusalem with his wife and their seven children.

© 2006, Rabbi David Aaron