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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 Oct. 17, 2008 / 18 Tishrei 5769

Sukkos and the Great Meltdown

By Jonathan Rosenblum


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | All the Jewish holidays are times of rejoicing, but only Sukkos is specifically known as "the time of our rejoicing." The special joy of Sukkos is connected to the extra measure of closeness to G-d we feel as we leave our fixed, permanent dwellings to spend a week in an impermanent structure, with no fixed roof over our heads.

That miniature exile, explains Rabbi Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler, leads to a negation of the material world (bitul hayesh) and paves the way for a greater closeness to G-d. The sukkah booth is a reminder of the Clouds of Glory that protected our ancestors in a howling wilderness, and helps us feel G-d's enveloping love.


THE ENTIRE WORLD is currently experiencing its own form of negation of the material, though few have been heard rejoicing. World stock exchanges are crashing, and the retirement nests that millions had squirreled away in "safe" pension plans are disappearing. The only question according to many economists is whether we are on the cusp of a worldwide recession or depression.

Already the meltdown in financial markets has had major consequences. Two of the world's leading investment banks have bit the dust, and the rest are being reorganized on a completely new footing. The American presidential election, which was a dead heat three weeks ago, increasingly looks like an Obama rout, though he has given no indication that he knows anything of economics and even though one of the causes of the crisis was the pressure placed on banks by Democratic legislators to offer mortgages to non-creditworthy home purchasers. (By speaking more frequently and impulsively, McCain has removed any doubts about his own grasp of economics.)

Whatever slim chance remained that President Bush might act to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions prior to leaving office have been reduced to zero. The global economy could not bear another such shock at present.

In my own community, the social safety net based on private philanthropy from abroad has been removed from under thousands of families, as much of the massive wealth which supported thousands of chesed organizations has disappeared.


ECONOMISTS WILL STUDY and debate the causes of the meltdown for years. But it is clear that the crisis has a moral component — in particular the severing of the relationship between productive activity and wealth. Decades ago, I read that the economic future of a society can be judged by the ratio of engineers to lawyers (and, we might add, financiers.) For the last fifteen years, too many of the brightest (if not the best) in the United States have been drawn to Wall Street and affiliated hedge funds. Rather than inventing better widgets or finding a cure for cancer, they opted for the quickest way to earn millions.

Financial institutions are an indispensable part of the grease that makes a global economy possible and play an indispensable role in wealth production. But the only thing that the twenty-somethings in big Wall Street firms could take pride in was the size of their annual bonuses, which were often in the millions and based almost entirely on short-term profits. Money became the measure of all things.

No wonder the young hotshots ended up, in the prescient words of a 2007 British comedy skit, bundling thousands of mortgages pushed upon "unemployed . . . men in string vests" sitting on the porches of tumbledown shanties, into investment packages sold to other investment firms around the world, in which neither buyer or seller had any idea of the value of the mortgages comprising the package. If the underlying real estate turned out to be worthless, well, the bonuses would have already been paid and someone else left holding the bag.

As long as these young men and women were pulling down million dollar bonuses, they were sure that their success owed directly to their superior brains and talents. "They were infused," writes David Brooks, "with a sense that they have it all figured out." But the complex risk-allocation instruments they developed failed to take into account the markets' herd psychology, and their risk-sharing swaps only served only to link financial institutions around the world in one death grip, like a drowning swimmer pulling down his would be rescuer.

Hundreds of thousands who viewed their million dollar bonuses as the just measure of their talents are now out of jobs. And the fingers of blame are pointed elsewhere - at dim-witted politicians, failed bosses, and all manner of forces beyond their control.

Not only on Wall Street and other world financial centers was the relationship between productive activity and the enjoyment of the fruits of such activity severed. Americans have been living well beyond their means, unwilling to postpone enjoyment of those things money can buy until that money was earned. Household debt swelled to 100% of GNP in 2006 from 50% in 1980.


IN THE MIDST of the worldwide depression beginning in 1929, Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman, who would be martyred in the Kovno ghetto, wrote a piece that applies no less to today's crisis. The problem, he wrote, is not that there is no more money, but that all trust had broken down. The credit upon which any modern economy is based had dried up. Those with money refuse to lend it (check the current interbank overnight lending rates), suppliers will not sell on credit.

Reb Elchonon saw a Divine lesson in that loss of trust. He attributed the loss of trust between people to a loss of emunah (belief) in G-d.

The sukkah beckons us to leave behind our false sense of security in the physical world and to enter into a different realm, the realm described in the central Shemoneh Esrai of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, in which awareness of G-d fills the world. The move from our fixed abode to the sukkah allows us to contemplate the world of Spirit, a world without limit because its Source is infinite, a world of peace and unity in which men are not set against one another in competition over a limited pie.

The Talmud interprets the verse, "I caused the Children of Israel to dwell in booths when I took them out of Egypt," to mean that only by throwing off our bondage to the physical world do we escape the spiritual depravity of Egypt.

Sukkos will not return all the trillions that have been lost. But it can help us recognize that true joy does not come from the things money can buy and that our ultimate security does not rest in the size of our retirement fund.

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JWR contributor Jonathan Rosenblum is founder of Jewish Media Resources and a widely-read columnist for the Jerusalem Post's domestic and international editions and for the Hebrew daily Maariv. He is also 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 the author of seven biographies of major modern Jewish figures. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Yale Law School. Rosenblum lives in Jerusalem with his wife and eight children.






© 2008, Jonathan Rosenblum