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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 May 2, 2008 / 27 Nissan 5768

Rote religiosity

By Rabbi Berel Wein


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How the discipline of mitzvos -- commandments -- creates an opportunity for spiritual growth and greatness


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The Torah's demand this week to be kdoshim — holy, pious, dedicated and sanctified — seems at first glance to be quite a tall order. Is it not unrealistic for the Bible to ask people immersed in trying to get through the day, make a living for themselves and their families, fight illnesses and the difficulties of society and life generally, to raise themselves somehow to a level of being kdoshim?


This week's reading contains many varied and different mitzvos (religious duties) which deal with all areas of human life and experience. In fact, the portion contains the greatest number of mitzvos in the Torah. It is not coincidental that this plethora of mitzvos occurs in the parsha of kdoshim.


The Torah intends to point out to us that mitzvos are the building blocks -- the stepping stones to achieving the goal of kdoshim. However, the mitzvos therefore are not to be seen as being an end in themselves.


The true and intended end and goal is kdoshim. The mitzvos are the Torah's description of the means available to achieve that end goal. We pay great attention to the mitzvos, their Halacha and minutiae, and correctly and necessarily so.


But many times people become bogged down in the mitzvos without realizing the goal of kdoshim that lies at the heart and purpose of mitzvos. The Talmud compares mitzvos to silver, money, wealth. Just as wealth is only a means to do good and achieve a better life and should never be viewed as the end and final goal itself, so too the mitzvos are the beginning of the process of human elevation and not the end goal all in itself.


Judaism emphasizes the means and not just the goal. Both the means and goal are prescribed to us by heavenly fiat. For Jews, attainment of kdoshim is an elusive target.


All of Jewish history has shown that those who attempted to achieve kdoshim without the means of mitzvos, in the main have failed. But even punctilious observance of mitzvos does not always guarantee kdoshim.


Ramban in his famous comment states that one can be a 'naval' — an objectionable, obnoxious, even obscene person — within the parameters of seeming Torah observance.


The entire thrust of the famed Mussar movement in nineteenth century Lithuania and of the Chassidic revolution was to rectify this matter. G-d wants not only our mechanical observance of mitzvos, as important as that is, but also our heartfelt commitment to be a morally better person.


Thus the Torah's demand is not an unreasonable one for it describes the only way to achieve true humanity and immortality. By using the mitzvos as our guide in life's behavior and by remembering that behind the mitzvos, so to speak, stands G-d to Whom we are eventually responsible for our actions, thoughts and deeds, we have an opportunity to reach that sublime goal of being kdoshim.


The discipline of mitzvos creates an opportunity for spiritual growth and greatness. But it is up to us to truly exploit that opportunity to its fullest.

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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