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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 Oct. 20, 2006 / 28 Tishrei, 5767

Just how Divine are you?

By Rabbi David Aaron


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Your ultimate self-worth


Adam and Eve were living a carefree life in the Garden of Eden. They had only one restriction. G-d commanded them not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad. However, forbidden fruits tend to seem more tasty to people. In addition, having a seductive snake around encouraging them to eat it made the challenge all the more difficult.


This part of the story most people are familiar with. However a little less familiar is what the snake really said to them to lure them into the sin. The snake did not say, "Hey, you know what? G-d doesn't want you to eat from that tree because He knows that the day you eat from it, you'll be rich." The snake knew that deep down inside, people are not really motivated by wealth; it's not money they want. The snake also did not seduce them by telling them that they would become famous. Fame does not attract people either. And the snake did not even use sex as bait. He did not claim that the forbidden fruit would give them a great sex life.


According to the Torah sex really has no appeal to human beings. In other words, this story is teaching us that wealth, fame, or sex cannot really seduce people into doing wrong. They are just counterfeits to what we really want to accomplish. The snake knew what was the true desire of human beings. The snake said, "G-d does not want you to eat of that tree because if you do, then you too will be like G-d." Now, that is appealing!


The snake knew the human secret, but he was seducing Adam and Eve into a counterfeit of the real thing.


According to the Torah, the root of all drives and ambitions of humanity is to be divine. Wealth, fame, and sexual pleasure appeal to us only as accoutrements of this most basic drive to be all-powerful and G-dlike. But they do not fulfill our genuine inner desires.


This story is teaching us that in the depths of our souls we want to be who we are. Because our true inner selves are actually a manifestation of divine immanence, we want to achieve the status of being a G-d. Therefore, even when we do wrong, it is in an effort to claim our right to be our own G-d. That's what's wrong about it. We are created in the image of G-d, but we are not gods.


All we want to achieve in our lives is to be who we are. True freedom is the freedom to be true to ourselves. I want to be free to be me. The manifestation of divine immanence is bursting forth from within me, seeking to be expressed.


This was the underlying dilemma of Adam and Eve. In effect, they had to ask themselves: "Do we surrender our freedom and obey G-d, or do we affirm ourselves and do what we want?" They didn't realize that the answer is not either/or — it is yes and yes.


Our challenge is to realize that the very power within us is completely one with the power beyond us. When we obey and surrender to the voice of G-d commanding us from without, we actually give expression and affirmation to the voice of G-d within us. This is the irony, mystery, and ecstasy of divine oneness. Suddenly we experience our surrender of self as an affirmation of self. Our surrender to G-d beyond us actually reveals that aspect of G-d within us — the soul.

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It is like running your finger along a Möbius strip — a continuous one-sided surface that can be formed from a rectangular strip by rotating one end 180 degrees and attaching it to the other end. At first you are on the outside, and then you mysteriously find yourself on the inside. But when you continue forward, you again find yourself on the outside.


Adam and Eve did not understand this. They thought that they could establish and affirm their true selves by defying the command of G-d. However, when they boldly defied the will of G-d, rather than feeling empowered by this courageous affirmation of self, they suddenly felt weak and scared. Before this act of defiance, they felt comfortable in the presence of G-d, but afterward they hid. In other words, their affirmation of self in defiance of the will of G-d actually ended up as a surrender of self — a loss of self.


Kabbalah explains that Adam and Eve separated the Shechinah (the manifestation of Divine immanence) from the "Holy One, Blessed Be He" (the manifestation of divine transcendence). This is the dynamic of all wrongdoing. When we divorce the Divine "within" from the Divine "beyond," then our innermost self is dwarfed. It is severed from its source and uprooted from its ground. Not only can we not face G-d, but our self-esteem is severely diminished.


According to the metaphor of Kabbalah, when the manifestation of divine immanence is disconnected from the manifestation of divine transcendence, the Shechinah no longer faces and reflects the greatness of divine transcendence — the Holy One, Blessed Be He — and thereby shrinks in stature.


Kabbalah teaches that the light of the moon symbolizes the light of divine immanence, and the light of the sun symbolizes the light of divine transcendence. The ideal relationship, figuratively speaking, is when the sun and the moon are face to face. Then the light of the moon is a bright and full reflection of the light of the sun. However, when the moon is not face to face with the sun, then its light is diminished down to a fraction.


Kabbalah teaches that originally the light of the moon was as bright as the sun. However, after Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge in defiance of G-d's commandment, the light of the moon was diminished. In the messianic age the light of the moon will be restored and will shine as full and bright as the sun. This will happen when humanity returns to G-d and the consciousness of G-d will fill the earth as the water fills the oceans. In other words, the mysterious oneness of G-d that is beyond and within time, space, and humanity will be experienced and consciously realized by all.


Until Abraham, people were stuck in the either/or mode of thinking. They either believed that they were gods or believed they were nothing. In other words, they believed either that Divinity was completely within them and they were divine, or that Divinity was completely beyond them and they were nothing. Divine immanence and Divine transcendence were mutually exclusive terms.


This seems to be the story of all religious and political philosophies. Humanity is on a seesaw, bouncing up and down from one extreme to another. Either the Divine is perceived to be within us, and therefore the individual is all that matters and is free to do as he or she pleases; or the Divine is beyond humanity, and the individual must sacrifice everything for the greater whole.


Abraham, however, set the cornerstone for a new way — beyond either/or — the way of oneness and love.

               — For more on this topic, get Rabbi Aaron's latest book: The Secret Life of G-d: Discovering the Divine within You


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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, Inviting G-d In, 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