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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 April 20, 2007 / 2 Iyar 5767

Judaism abhors extremism, as tempting as it may be

By Rabbi Berel Wein


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Why 'by any means necessary' isn't kosher


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | All rumors and actions to the contrary notwithstanding, Judaism abhors extremism. The great rabbis and sages have always preached moderation and the golden mean of staying in the middle.


The Jerusalem Talmud compares human choices in life and behavior, attitudes and philosophy, to a person who has a choice between two roads. One road is sunlit but burning hot like a desert at high noon. The other road is snow covered and freezing cold.


If the person travels the sunlit road he may die of heat prostration and sunstroke. If the person goes on the snow covered road, than frostbite and even death may eventually occur. What then should the person do? The person should carve out for one's self a third road, one that is warm but not hot, moderate in temperature and condition and not extreme. The Jerusalem Talmud uses this as a metaphor for life generally — and for Jewish life, particularly.


Extremes of behavior and of religious fervor are ultimately negative and harmful. One may feel that one's extremism serves G-d's purposes here on earth. But the Torah teaches us that this is not true. The middle road in life and manners, character traits and lifestyle, is the preferred choice of the Torah and rabbinic tradition. Maimonides called the middle way "the golden path" in life. Extremism, in his opinion, was allowed only in order to achieve a return to the golden middle way.


Extremism negates tolerance, increases hatreds and brings about verbal and physical abuse and inevitability violence as well. It is counterproductive to its own goals and eventually, usually after a heavy price is extracted in human feelings, reputations and even human lives, it collapses of its own weight and misdeeds. But instead of learning this clear lesson of history, extremism on many fronts remains alive and well in our world.


There is a great attraction to extremism. It provides certainty in a very uncertain world and gives one's hatreds, prejudices and frustrations a moral underpinning. Extremism is therefore very popular. Moderation is much more difficult to maintain and popularize for it promises no certain, easy answers to the complexities of life that we face. Extremism in religion is especially appealing for then one is convinced that one is accomplishing G-d 's purposes in life in a super fashion. Extremism in religion also breeds, as a byproduct, the rationale of exclusivity. Thus everyone else in the world is wrong, culpable and doomed except for the extremist who knows exactly what G-d's will on this particular matter is.


Anyone who sees things differently, even slightly differently, is a doomed heretic. And as the Moslem extremists prove to us daily, such doomed heretics are fair game to be maimed and murdered. Extremism allows for the worst crimes to be justified and exalted because it skews any sort of proportion in human life and subverts common sense, rational thought and acceptable behavior.


Senator Barry Goldwater in his acceptance speech of the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in 1964 destroyed any hope of actually being elected when he stated that "extremism in the cause of democracy is a virtue." That statement sufficed to frighten away many a potential voter. The tragic truth is that extremism in defense of a just cause often causes unjust means to be employed.


This is the import of the rabbis' disapproval of mitzvah habah b'aveira — a positive commandment of the Torah that was fulfilled through the commission of a sin or an immoral act. The Torah taught us that righteousness as an end goal is ultimately only achieved through righteous means. Zealots and extremists shun such Torah principles and thus poison the atmosphere of life for all of us. Witness the recent debacle of extremist Jews at the Teheran Holocaust denial conference.


Maimonides permits extremism in two areas of life. One is humility. There is no limit to humility for arrogance and false pride creates monstrous people and situations. Moses is complimented in the Torah not for his strength, intellect or even leadership abilities, only for his humility — for being a true servant of G-d. And a second area where extremism is permitted is in the control of anger. The rabbis taught us that when a person loses one's temper and becomes raging angry he "has no G-d." Words spoken and actions committed in anger are lethal to relationships, families, communities and even nations. Therefore one must be extreme in avoiding such angry outbursts. But otherwise in life one must be extreme in avoiding extremism.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Berel Wein --- Jewish historian, author and international lecturer offers a complete selection of CDs, audio tapes, video tapes, DVDs, and books on Jewish history at www.rabbiwein.com Comment by clicking here.


© 2007, Rabbi Berel Wein