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 Jan. 22, 2007 / 3 Shevat, 5767

When to do the “right thing”

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir

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Reproving wrongdoers

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: There are some street youths in my neighborhood who really create a nuisance. If everybody would stand up and insist that they behave it might have an effect, but sometimes I think it's safest just not to get involved. Don't wrongdoers have responsibility for their own acts?

A: Fundamentally, Judaism instructs us to take responsibility for instructing others. The Torah commands us, "Surely reprove your fellow, and don't bear sin towards him" (Leviticus 19:17). Of course our sages emphasize that this commandment has to be fulfilled in a gentle and thoughtful manner — to improve, rather than to reprove. Maimonides writes, "You should reprove him in private, and speak to him gently and in a soft voice, explaining that you only intend for his own benefit". (1)

And the Talmud tells us that when we refrain from doing so, we share in responsibility for wrongdoing: "Anyone who is able to protest the members of his household and doesn't protest, is liable for the members of his household; the people of his city, he is liable for the people of his city; the whole world, he is liable for the whole world." (2)

This approach is based on two basic axioms of Judaism: first of all, we believe that human beings are basically good and susceptible of improvement. We don't believe that a wrongdoer is incorrigible or inherently wicked or antisocial. Scripture tells us that "G-d created man straight" (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Furthermore, we recognize that each person has responsibility for his fellow man's well being; thus, if we are able to help our fellow improve his ways we are responsible for doing so. The Talmud asserts that "All Israel are responsible for each other", (3), and the quote above shows that this responsibility extends ultimately to all mankind.

But we also find many cases in which our sages advised us that a passive approach is the wisest. Sometimes it is wisest because reproof is counterproductive; it is first necessarily to establish friendly relations with someone before your advice has any impact. The Talmud tells the story of Rebbe Zeira who befriended the toughs of his neighborhood, instead of fighting them. Rebbe Zeira's colleagues were opposed to his approach, but in the end it was vindicated when they repented of their ways due to his heartfelt concern. (4) A similar story is told of the great sage Rebbe Meir, who wanted to oppose the bullies of his neighborhood but was persuaded by his wife to take a gentler approach. (5)

This is really a corollary of the quote above. A person is responsible for others behavior only if he "is able to protest" in an effective way.

In other cases a cautious approach is required because of danger. The Shulchan Aruch (comprehensive Code of Jewish Law) tells us: "Even though a person is obligated to reprove wrongdoers, and anyone who refrains from protesting shares responsibility for the sin, one is not obligated to suffer a loss for this. Therefore, it is customary to avoid protesting wrongdoers when we are afraid they may harm our selves or our possessions." (6)

If you are able to politely approach some of these youngsters and explain your concern, then you should certainly do so. If you think that this will be counterproductive, you should do your best to maintain a pleasant demeanor and hope that you will be having a constructive influence. But if you are worried that any criticism on your part will expose you to hostility, then you are justified in refraining from acting alone. Perhaps there is a possibility of working within the framework of community groups, or through civil servants such as police, social workers, or youth counselors.

SOURCES: (1) Maimonides' Code, Deos 6:7. (2) Babylonian Talmud, Shabbes 54b. (3) Babylonian Talmud, Shavuos 39a. (4) Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a (5) Babylonian Talmud, Berachos 10a. (6) Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 334:48 in Rema


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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.


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