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Where There Are Sparks, There's Fire
Where There Are Sparks, There's Fire

Volume 2 , Issue 2

During a recent d'var Torah I heard, the verse in Isaiah (51:1)?Look unto the rock whence ye were hewn ... was cited to explain that the people of Israel are like flint (?the rock? implied in this verse)?no matter how submerged the stone is, nor how unrecognizable it becomes, its ability to create sparks and thus ignite a fire remains unchanged. Similarly, no matter how oppressed a Jew is, no matter how distant one gets from Judaism, nor how unrecognizable a person's faith becomes, a Jew is till a Jew and the spark of Judaism within that person never dies. This verse gave me yet more food for thought in terms of our struggle to provide philosophical definition to The Jewish Review.

After each issue, I am always approached by someone who has seen The Jewish Review for the first time, and questioned about the purpose of the paper. ?Why,? I am asked, ?do you feel there is a need for another Jewish newspaper, why bother?? No matter how many times I have been asked that question, and no matter how many answers(different as I have a feeling they all are) I have given, I still feel I am searching for the appropriate response.

This is, after all, not just another Jewish newspaper. It is, in fact, rather unlike any other Jewish journal we know of in this city. We are wholly owned by a not-for-profit corporation, Jewish Review, Inc. whose by-laws state that its purpose is ?to promote Orthodox Judaism through the publication of a newspaper, the sponsorship of speakers?? Our entire staff is volunteer and the little money we receive comes from advertisers, subscribers, and those generous enough to provide contributions which we hope will be tax deductible once we receive non-profit status from the Internal Revenue Service.

Looking back at several previous issues, I realize that I have often used this space to contemplate exactly what The Jewish Review is trying to accomplish. I believe the verse from Isaiah, however, has finally provided me with as succinct an explanation as I could have possibly derived myself; it has occurred to me that we should have somehow incorporated it into our by-laws.

The Jewish people are, indeed, ?the rock whence [we] were hewn.? Time after time, despite slavery in Egypt, the crusades in the Middle Ages, the Inquisition in the 15th Century, the pogroms of Chemielnicki in the 17th Century and ultimately the Holocaust a mere forty years ago, Jews have proven to be resilient and almost defiant people. No matter how oppressed we have been, we have always persevered; like flint stone, the more the Jewish people were struck, the more sparks of life, learning and faith were emitted. Similarly, we now are witnessing the return to traditional Judaism by many whose families had voluntarily left Judaism for generations?no matter how submerged that identity had been beneath the mantle of assimilation, the spark of Judaism still burned.

The goal of The Jewish Review is to help ignite as many of those sparks as possible, providing impetus to those who have not been practicing Jews to ?observe? more, and hopefully, additional enlightenment for those who have been Torah observant.

This issue we present a challenging interview with Rabbi Alter Metzger, a psychologist and educator, discussing the coexistence of modern psychological thought with Chasidic philosophy. Among other contributors are Sandy Drob who writes about the psychology of Bitochin (faith), and Rabbi Basil Herring who offers an essay concerning the Christianization of Judaism. On the lighter side, there are two articles discussing the upcoming holiday of Chanukah, one of which presents the differences among Minhag, Custom and Halakha, and an article by wine expert, Steven Anchin concerning the Chardonay grape and the new kosher wines derived from it. As always, we look forward to receiving your comments, questions, contributions and responses.

Harris Z. Tilevitz



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