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December 2, 2014

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 Nov. 7, 2003 /12 Mar-Cheshvan, 5764

Was Abraham a generalist or a specialist?

By Rabbi Hillel Goldberg

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http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Just before Passover, 1969, I was sitting in the Beth Joseph yeshiva in Brooklyn. Sitting next to me was Rabbi Jechiel J. Perr. He was broken. His wife's grandfather, Rabbi Avraham Joffen, had died in Jerusalem the night before. Rabbi Joffen, the successor to the founder of the Novorodock branch of the Musar movement, was "the last link," Rabbi Perr was saying in mourning. Now the link was gone.


One reason for Rabbi Perr's description was the simple fact that so many of Rabbi Joffen's students had been killed by the Nazis. There was no remembrance of them — then.


In a few years, this changed. I went to Jerusalem in 1972 and was fortunate to study with another Novorodock master, Rabbi Eliezer Ben Zion Bruk. One day, in 1973 or so, he told me that quite by accident he had been shuffling through some old papers in a drawer one day. He had come upon notes that he had taken some 40 years earlier, back in Poland. These notes were transcriptions of Torah thoughts delivered by promising young students in the Novorodock yeshivas, all of whom were later killed.


Rabbi Bruk was intent on publishing these Torah thoughts. They would become the only memorial to snuffed out lives. Shortly after our discussion, Rabbi Bruk did refine and publish the notes he had found. He called the book "Parchments of Fire" after a Talmudic statement about the martyrs of Rabbi Akiva's time, "the parchments were consumed, but the letters floated upward." The bodies of the martyrs were consumed, but their teachings remained — because Rabbi Bruk published them.


In 1996, Meir Levin published a book that contained a translation of some of the teachings of these young, idealistic scholars. He called the book Novarodok: A Movement That Lived in Struggle, and, Its Unique Approach to the Problem of Man. The excerpt that I reprint from this book is by Rabbi Nisan Bobruisker, murdered by the Nazis in Vilna, Lithuania, in 1941.

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I apply Rabbi Bobruisker's Torah thought to Abraham the Patriarch, but it illuminates the ethical (Musar) approach of all the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Their ethical aspirations encompassed their entire lives; in this they were all generalists. But lofty vision must be applied in real life. The Patriarchs and Matriarchs specialized in applying ethics to their every act.


This point is brought out by the martyred Rabbi Bobruisker in a very charming way — so charming that one can miss his point.

The rabbi's use of a midrash about a dog and a baker's cart teaches us not to be satisfied merely with lofty visions — generalized accomplishments. Each act, no matter how small, is either an ethical victory or an ethical defeat. To overlook a small transgression is to imperil one's entire spirituality.


"Sin crouches by the entrance" (Gen. 4:7). On this Rabbi Tanchum commented: "There are crafty dogs in Rome who know how to obtain what they want. A dog goes and sits in front of a baker and pretends to be sleeping. The baker also falls asleep. The dog then upsets the baker's cart and scatters the breads all over on the ground. Before the baker can gather his loaves, the dog snatches one of them and carries it away" (Genesis Rabbah 22:12).


Why was this specific parable selected to illustrate the tricks of the Evil Inclination ("sin")?


Oftentimes a man who has stumbled and sinned is filled with remorse over his failure. At other times, however, he comes out with pride and satisfaction at his "victory."


For example, a person may be late for work. His Evil Inclination tells him not to put lay tefilin because he is running late. Of course, he doesn't succumb and does put them on, but he hurriedly mumbles the absolute minimum of the required prayers, tears off the precious mitzvah (religious duty) and then speeds off. This man rejoices in his supposed victory and he is proud of his righteousness.


Another example:


A man argues with a friend. The dispute grows and heats up until sharp words are exchanged. At the last moment, the two individuals draw back from the brink to which they have come. They do not say the insults that could have been said. These ones also take pride in their refinement and the purity of their character.


A wealthy man is tempted to keep his store open on Shabbes the Sabbath. He resists, but gradually the business begins to close later and later on Friday and to open earlier and earlier on Saturday night. This man is also proud for, he thinks, he has resisted the temptation of his Evil Inclination.


Similarly, there are those who do not stand up to the wicked but would much rather seek compromises. At the end, they pat themselves on the back for keeping these scoffers from an even greater apostasy through their tolerant attitude and their "ways of peace."


The Evil Urge is a very shrewd tactician and a master warrior. It leaves itself room to withdraw in order to pursue its grand design and to attack again. It is a seasoned negotiator; it demands more than it really wants. Above all, it wants its victims not to feel bad, to think they won, to remain smug and contented, not to regret the losses they have suffered. Then they will not gather strength to resist, to close the breaches, to go on the offensive.


The parable of the Sages is precise. The dog did not want all the breads. All he wanted was one loaf. By upsetting the whole cart, he led the baker to believe that everything was threatened. When only one loaf was lost, the baker felt a tremendous relief. He will not learn from this experience for he does not realize that he has been tricked. Next time the baker will be fooled again.


We can learn from this, each person according to his own level. We must learn not to compromise even as much as a hair's breadth. This is all that the Evil One wants — just a hair's breadth — and this is where the battle lines are drawn.

Abraham, like the dog, knew that each loaf, each sin, compromises the whole. Abraham specialized in remedying each of his transgressions in order to sustain his general spiritual stature.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Hillel Goldberg is executive editor of the Intermountain Jewish News. To comment, please click here.

© 2003, Rabbi Hillel Goldberg