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

The Mystery of Goodness

By David Hazony

A profound biblical lesson from a seeming Scriptural omission

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Nearing the end of his farewell address to the Israelites, Moses describes a peculiar ceremony they are to perform after entering Canaan.

Two great mountains, separated by a giant valley, dominate the promised land. Six tribes of the twelve tribes are to stand atop Mount Grizim "to bless the people," while the other six will climb Mount Eval "to curse" them. On the slopes of the latter, the Israelites are also to build a monumental altar and sacrifice to the Lord, placing there great stones covered with plaster and inscribed with the laws. All this will serve as a permanent witness to the Israelite covenant with the Lord and the founding of a new nation with a divine constitution of its own.

Two things are odd here. The first has to do with the list of the twelve tribes. Elsewhere in the Torah, Levi, named like the other tribes after one of Jacob's twelve sons, is for the most part not counted, for, as the priestly tribe, it contributes no soldiers to the war effort and receives no inheritance in the promised land (instead, "the Lord is their inheritance"). Meanwhile, the tribe of Joseph is usually counted as two, one each for Joseph's sons Ephraim and Menashe. Yet here both Levi and Joseph are on the list, while Ephraim and Menashe are not.

The children of Israel, we understand, are being addressed not so much in their present military-political reality as in their more ancient incarnation as the heirs of the patriarchs. This ceremony, in other words, is ultimately more about Israel as the carrier of a moral message to humanity, a message of right and wrong, than about Israel as a specific political community in a specific land.

But the second and less easily explained oddity concerns the text of what exactly is to be pronounced on the mountains. "Cursed be the man who makes any carved or molten idol. . . . Cursed be he who dishonors his father or mother. . . . Cursed be he who removes his neighbor's landmark. . . ." And so on. After each curse, the people are instructed to say, "Amen." The list—of twelve seriously bad things a person can do—is fairly reasonable in itself, emphasizing the qualities that make us moral men and women by stigmatizing what we should shun. But where are the blessings?

Well, they're not listed at all. Either the text, for some reason, has left them out deliberately, or—still more baffling—they were to be left out of the actual ceremony as well. Either way, the omission is glaring.

The rabbis taught that the Torah's commandments are divisible between negative and positive ones—and that all are necessary for earning G0d's blessing. But this text seems to suggest the opposite: that in addressing the foundations of morality, it is more important to prevent badness than to foster goodness. On this reading, goodness is so obvious that it doesn't require positive and specific injunctions. If you want to earn G0d's blessing, just refrain from the items on the curse list.

But that doesn't seem right. We all know people who spend their lives avoiding violations of the moral law while still finding ways to be dastardly creeps. By contrast, we intuit that there's something about a good person that is unique, special and positive in itself and not just the negation or avoidance of evil. "You shall be holy," the Torah tells us explicitly, "for I, the Lord your G0d, am holy."

There is another possibility—namely, that, in its nature, goodness defies easy delineation in the form of rules or laws. While we can put our finger on the red lines that separate the unacceptable from the minimally acceptable, it's much harder to say in black and white terms what makes a person positively good. Instead of rules, we tend to think in terms of character traits: kindness, boldness, self-confidence, responsibility, creativity, humility, integrity, and a slew of other virtues, in a balance that defies codification and that varies from one individual to the next. And we think of acts: of spontaneous kindness, of steadfast dedication to others, of inner harmony.

Our image of goodness, moreover, changes as we mature and build on our experiences, learning something about the real range of human possibility and the baffling complexities of real life. To understand goodness, we need exemplars and stories—stories like those that fill the Bible—rather than rules of thumb. Without them, general principles like "you shall be holy" become meaningless.

There is no mirror opposite to the list of ironclad laws associated with the curses of Mount Eval—not because goodness is easy to understand or self-explanatory but, on the contrary, because it can be as hard to navigate as anything else we encounter in our voyage through life.

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David Hazony's first book, The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life, will be published by Scribner in September.


Forget Me not
Answering WWMD --- What Would Moses Do?

© 2010, David Hazony. From Jewish Ideas Daily