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

From Revelation to Rebellion

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson

How could the Jewish people fall from spiritual greatness at Sinai to the depths of idolatry in a mere 40 days?

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Only once in the history of the world did the Almighty reveal Himself openly to an entire people. As the Jews stood together at Sinai, G-d spoke to them as one people, with one voice: "I am the L-rd your G-d, Who has taken you out from the land of Egypt… You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:2-3).

The Talmud explains that the Almighty pronounced only the first two of the Ten Commandments to the Jewish nation as a whole; after that, Moses alone received the Divine Word, and he transmitted it to the rest of the people. Scripture alludes to this by presenting the first two Commandments with the first person "I," or "Me," then switching to the third person in the following Commandments, which begin, "You shall not take the Name of the L-rd, your G-d, in vain" (Ibid. 20:7).

What happened between the Second and the Third Commandments? The sages describe how, when G-d pronounced the First Commandment, the spiritual intensity of the moment produced such a profound connection between the Jewish people and the Almighty that their souls flew out from their physical bodies in an attempt to become one with their Creator. In short, the people died, and G-d had to resurrect them and return their souls to their bodies before He could give them the Second Commandment.

It happened once, then it happened again, and the people cried, "Stop!" The trauma of having their souls rent from their bodies, followed by the anticipation of the infinite pleasure of residing at the foot of G-d's throne, only to be forced back into the spiritual isolation of physical flesh and blood - all this proved more than the people were willing to endure. "Let Moses hear You speak," they pleaded, "and he will bring Your word down to us."

In and of itself their request was not sinful. Nevertheless, it became the seed from which transgression and disaster would soon sprout forth. No matter how traumatic or even painful their experience may have been, the people had failed to fully appreciate the privilege of having the Almighty speak to them "face to face." Like Adam, like Cain, and like so many others, the Jews who heard G-d speak rejected the opportunity they held in their hands and forfeited the priceless benefits that had been theirs.

Eventually, the Jews of that generation recognized that receiving the Torah through an intermediary, even one as great as Moses, was no substitute for receiving it directly from the mouth of G-d. But by then the elusive window of spiritual opportunity had closed, and the moment was lost.

Nevertheless, G-d's revelation of the Torah at Sinai remains the most significant event in human history. Even after they surrendered responsibility for receiving the Torah, the Jews still witnessed both Moses' designation as G-d's representative and G-d's revelation of the law. "Behold," said the Almighty to Moses, "I will come to you… so that the people will hear as I speak to you" (Exodus 19:9). The Torah testifies that the entire population of more than two million people experienced the same divine revelation. Not one single person questioned the authenticity of that experience or the accuracy of Moses' transmission of the Divine Word.

Since the beginning of time, no other nation has ever claimed national revelation. Such a claim requires universal agreement to what happened, and is therefore impossible to falsify. That the Torah does make such a claim, and that it endures until this day, demonstrates the uniqueness of Judaism among all the religions, and it is one of the most compelling proofs that Torah is indeed from Sinai.

On the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, Moses ascended the mountain alone to receive G-d's Torah and bring it down to the Jewish people. He instructed the Jews to wait forty days for his return. The people, however, understood him to mean that he would return on the fortieth day, one day earlier than he had intended. And so, when Moses failed to come back as expected, the Jews began to panic, convinced that they had lost their leader. They had relinquished their direct relationship with the Almighty, and they felt lost and adrift without Moses as their intermediary. Where would they find a replacement for him, and what would become of them without one?

As the people grew increasingly frantic, a solution was advanced by members of the mixed multitude. These were Egyptians who had joined the Jewish people as converts, motivated not by the pure desire for spiritual elevation but in an effort to attach themselves to the winning side. The mixed multitude proposed that, since Moses had not returned, the Jews should create another intermediary to take his place. And because they lacked the spiritual strength to connect with G-d on their own, the Jews should fashion from pure gold the representation of a young ox, the symbol of strength which is engraved upon G-d's holy throne. In this way they would create a bridge to reconnect themselves to the Almighty.

When Hur, the prince of the tribe of Judah, spoke out against the mixed multitude to stop them, they fell upon him and killed him. Fearing that he would have no greater success if he tried to dissuade them, Moses' brother, Aaron the High Priest, agreed to fashion the calf. Neither supportive of the plan nor afraid for his own life, Aaron agreed only as an attempt to stall for time, hoping to forestall the actual worship of the idol until Moses arrived to quell the growing frenzy. But the people had such enthusiasm that the project took on a life of its own, and before Moses arrived the next day, three thousand of the mixed multitude, together with a small number of Jews, had begun to worship the Calf.

If only three thousand actually worshipped the calf, why did G-d indict and punish the whole nation as idolaters? The Talmud teaches as one of its most fundamental principles that every Jew is not only responsible but also accountable for the actions of every other Jew. By not restraining the mixed multitude, the Jews were complicit in their rebellion against the Almighty. In their hearts, the Jews sympathized with the worshipers of the Golden Calf, for they too were desperate for a new intermediary into whose hands they might entrust their fate. Although the Jews did not actually participate, scripture condemns the whole nation for the idolatry of the few, for the many knew it was wrong, yet took no action to prevent it.

Upon his return to the camp, Moses beheld the calf and expressed his fury with the only expression that could impress upon the Jews the gravity of their complicity: he smashed the tablets of the Ten Commandments upon the ground. Moses' message to the Jews was clear: in one careless moment, they had undone everything they had accomplished spiritually since G-d led them out from slavery. Instead of donning the crown of Torah as their Creator had intended, they had ground it to dust beneath their feet.

Indeed, in response to Moses' dramatic act of rebuke, the Almighty declared, "Well done for breaking them!"

Judaism teaches that the Almighty cares more for how we respond to sin than that we live free from sin. In the moment of stunned silence that followed his smashing of the tablets, Moses cried out, "Whoever is for G-d, join with me!" (Ibid. 32:26). Yet again, like Adam and Cain before them, the people refused the invitation to repent. Perhaps, in their shame, they concluded that they could not, in good conscience, declare their loyalty to G-d. Whatever the reason, only the tribe of Levi rallied to Moses' side. At his command, they put to death the three thousand who had worshipped the Golden Calf (Ibid. 32:28).

The unhesitating repentance of the Levites effectively erased their complicity in the sin of the calf. In an instant, it was as if they had never transgressed the Divine Will at all. For this reason, the tribe of Levi was chosen as the priestly tribe, to minister in the tabernacle in the desert and in the Temple in Jerusalem. But for the rest of the people, the consequences of their complacency and their inaction would haunt them until their deaths, and it would define the long road back to redemption for every future generation until the coming of the Messiah.



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JWR contributor Rabbi Yonason Goldson teaches at Block Yeshiva High School in St. Louis, MO, where he also writes and lectures. He is author of Dawn to Destiny: Exploring Jewish History and its Hidden Wisdom, an overview of Jewish philosophy and history from Creation through the compilation of the Talmud, now available from Judaica Press. Visit him at http://torahideals.com .

© 2010, Rabbi Yonason Goldson