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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

The Word for Nothing Means Everything

By Rabbi David Gutterman



Word power is about more than vocabulary


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Were you to ask what our tradition attributes as the first thing created by G-d, you no doubt would be tempted to go to the first verse of the Torah, the road map of creation and our blueprint for Jewish life.


Bereshis bara Elokim es hashamayim v'es ha'aretz: "In the beginning of G-d's creating the heavens and the earth" would be a proper translation. So what was created first, heaven or earth? Or maybe, something else?


Listen to this fascinating rabbinic understanding based upon a careful read and an attentive ear to the verse. Notice that the word es is prominent in the verse. Es is comprised of two Hebrew letters, aleph and sav. In modern Hebrew, you can hardly make a move without confronting and bumping into this small, staccato word. It must always appear before a direct object, and it defies translation.


History records that David Ben-Gurion proposed to the Society of Hebrew Language the nullification of this small, two-lettered Hebrew word on the theory that it means nothing. But this Israeli founding father did not grasp an essential Jewish truth. When answering the question of what was created first, a challenging and intriguing rabbinic tradition replied with es. What was created first was the first Hebrew letter, aleph, with the last Hebrew letter, sav — and by extension, everything in between.


In a word, what G-d created first in our world was the alphabet. Through the commingling of letters, words were formed, and here's the punchline — words create worlds. Of course, the inverse of this equation must also be true: If words create, they can also destroy. If words have the innate ability to "raise up," they also have the inherent ability to "raze down."


It is, to me, no mystery that a 2000 edition of Time magazine determined that the most seminal event of the previous two millennia was the invention of the printing press. What is a printing press if not the ability to have words come together to be disseminated far and wide.


So it would seem that Ben-Gurion got this one wrong.


The word es does not mean "nothing"; it means everything.


Let me share with you a phenomenal story told by a professor of mine at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Benjamin Blech. You might recognize his name, as he is the author of the popular "Complete Idiot's Guide to Judaism" series. He was in the middle of a lecture when a woman knocked on the door and entered — not the everyday occurrence, to be sure.


She had to interrupt him then and there, as it was her first opportunity to find him and thank him. This woman had just been released from the hospital after a horrible car accident. It seems that she was listening to one of his popular lectures on Judaism when the accident occurred.


Apparently, the force of the accident jammed the tape into the cassette, and for the several long minutes that it took for the ambulance to arrive, she kept hearing the voice of this rabbi repeating, v'chai bahem: "You shall live by them." She said that it was the tone of his voice and the force of the message that made her struggle to remain conscious and fight for her life. Yes, she was grateful to her doctor, but she was even more grateful to this man.


This week, the Torah speaks of a manifestation called tza'ra' as, usually mistranslated as "leprosy." The Talmud declares that the root cause and etiology of this phenomenon was the sin of malicious speech — lashon hara.



STIMULATION AND INSPIRATION

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How brilliant and perspicacious were our rabbis in Pirkei Avos, "The Ethics of the Fathers," when they teach: "With 10 utterances was the world created." Words not only influence and inspire; they transform, fashion, create and heal. Indeed, Judaism is not only concerned with what we put into our mouths, but also what comes out of them.

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Rabbi David Gutterman is Senior Community Scholar at Rimon Center in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.


© 2014, Rabbi David Gutterman