Reality Check


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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

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

Human beings do not have to apologize for their existence

By Jonathan Rosenblum



How the interrelationship between religious belief and socio-political views forms us --- or at least should


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I'm always fascinated by the interrelationship between religious belief and socio-political views. One area in which the relationship manifests itself most clearly is with respect to issues of scarcity.

Religious believers tend to be much more confident that the world's resources will not simply run out leaving human existence unsustainable. We assume that the Divine created the world in order for it to be inhabited by human beings. That does not entitle us to be profligate with nature's bounty — the Torah explicitly prohibits such waste — but human beings do not have to apologize for their existence, as many Greens seem to feel.

Thomas Malthus famously predicted that human population would increase geometrically while food supplies would do so arithmetically, eventually resulting in mass starvation. (Ironically, Malthus was a clergyman, but his enduring allure has been among secular elites.) One of his chief modern disciples Stanford professor Thomas Erlich predicted in his 1968 best-seller The Population Bomb that hundreds of millions of people would starve to death in the 1970s. Nothing of the kind occurred.

About one thing Malthusians remain consistently optimistic: Despite between disproven by events in every generation since Malthus promulgated his theory in 1798, one day the theory will be confirmed and apocalyptic disaster will ensue. Doomsayers, like Erlich, never give up. Last November, he was in Israel for an academic conference to tell Israelis that overpopulation constitutes a much greater threat than the "security issues" that Israel faces. I certainly hope he is right.


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Actually a dearth of people is currently a bigger threat to world stability than too many. Ninety-seven percent of the world's population lives today in countries with declining fertility. Fertility rates in much of Europe and Japan are little above half of replacement levels, which renders those countries' social welfare benefits for the elderly unsustainable in the near future, and insures an Islamic future for Europe, with all the benefits that entails. Most recent projections show world population beginning to decline well before the end of the century.

Malthus has generated one nightmare, end-of-the-world scenario after another. Early 19th century statisticians, for instance, predicted that the manure produced by London's cart horses would soon pile so deep as to render the city's streets unpassable.

The Malthusians, Walter Russell Mead notes, have usually had the best science of their time on their side. Yet their projections have never been borne out for three reasons — human beings' capability to adjust their behavior, technological advance, and the discovery of new resources. Nowhere has the impact of technological advance had a greater impact than on food production. A recent U.N. Report prepared by Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University predicts a 10% decrease in cultivated land around the globe by 2060 due to increased farmer productivity.

Genetically modified foods (GMOs) have proven a game-changer. Brazil will soon be the world's largest soybean producer due to the cultivation of a vast area once thought to be non-arable scrubland with new types of soybeans. Mark Lynas, who led the Green campaign of horrors against GMOs in the 1990s, which succeeded in having them banned in Europe and large parts of Asia, confessed at a recent Oxford Farming Conference that his anti-science stance had deprived the world of an important technological option to feed hungry people.

A young Canadian inventor has invented a commercially viable greenhouse system, in which temperature is regulated by focusing sunlight on salt water. Potable water is one of the by-products of the system.

Desalinization has dramatically changed Israel's water deficit, and will do so for other countries. Similarly, fracking and horizontal drilling have made huge new deposits of natural gas available in the United States and in many countries thought to be completely lacking in energy resources. The ability to extract oil from shale has led to a huge jump in the world's oil reserves.

Vast new oil and gas reserves are being discovered all the time off-shore. And recently geologists discovered fresh water acquifiers under Africa containing 100 times the water on the surface, which will turn deserts into fertile farmland.

All in all, score the debate: The Almighty — 10; Malthus — 0.

TORAH JEWS TRY NOT TO VIEW the world as a limited pie, in which every other person's slice takes away from the size of our own. For one thing, our focus is on the spiritual world, which by definition is infinite. In that world, every time another Jew elevates him or herself in any way, I too am elevated, not diminished.

Nor do we view the material world as inherently limited. The Divine recreates the world every day, and can infuse it with as much blessing as He wants.

The alternative to viewing the world as one with the potential to grow is a world in which the animating impulse is envy of those with more.

Contemporary democratic politics throughout the West often come down to two conflicting visions — a choice between growth and redistribution. President Obama's election campaign was based on a vision of a zero-sum society. His economic proposals consisted almost solely of making millionaires and billionaires pay their fare share (though the President did not expend too much philosophical energy defining what might constitute a fair share.)

In 2008, he admitted candidly that if given the choice between greater income equality and more economic growth, he prefers the former. He has no idea of the factors that foster economic growth and those that impede it, and has shown no interest in learning. Hiring more government workers is his preferred response to unemployment.

The President's campaign rhetoric appealed exclusively to envy — "You didn't build that." P.J. O'Rourke described the campaign's philosophical premise: "The people who have money are hogging it. The way for the rest of us to get money is to turn the hogs into bacon." Never mind that all the new taxes amount to about 6% of the current budget deficit.

But O'Rourke's primary complaint is against the moral ugliness of this zero-sum world view: "In a zero-sum universe there is only so much happiness. . . [But] if we wipe the smile off the faces of people with prosperous businesses . . . that will make the rest of us grin." "The evil," he writes, in explicitly moral terms, "lies in denying people the right, the means, and indeed the duty to make more things."

We create our own World-to-Come, Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler ( d. 1953) teaches. Those who do not attach themselves in life to the Source of Life have no World-to-Come — only emptiness. And in the same way, those who view the world in zero-sum terms, i.e., as a limited pizza pie, get exactly that -- a world of economic stagnation. Europe has already experienced decades of stagnation, as a consequence of the redistributionist impulse, and it's now come to America.

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JWR contributor Jonathan Rosenblum is founder of the Jerusalem-based Jewish Media Resources. A respected commentator on Israeli politics, society, culture and the Israeli legal system, who speaks frequently on these topics in the United States, Europe, and Israel, his articles appear regularly in numerous Jewish periodicals in the United States and Israel. Rosenblum is also the author of seven biographies of major modern Jewish figures. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Yale Law School.


© 2012, Jonathan Rosenblum

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