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Something for Nothing

Here is one way to give your employee a raise:  “You’ve been with us for a year now, Enid; that means that you are due for your first raise. Congratulations, your pay is going up 5%.”

There’s another way to do it.  “During the year you’ve been with us, Enid, you’ve really made a difference.  I asked our accountant to calculate how much extra revenue your innovations brought to the company and the answer was very impressive. The way you came up with improvements in operations and how you then implemented those ideas has been incredibly effective.  We’re happy to raise your pay 5%, you really deserve it.”

I think we all know that the second approach is a far better way.  Though child-rearing is not the same as managing employees, some principles are similar.  Sadly, I often see parents violating these rules.  Some parents bribe their children with candy or watching videos in order to try and obtain the desired behavior.  A bribe is quite different from a reward. One precedes performance while the other follows it.

While it is certainly true that money can’t buy happiness, earning money does indeed contribute to one’s happiness.  I was amazed to discover studies proving conclusively that welfare recipients report being far less happy than equally poor people who refuse public assistance.  This data precisely correlates with studies showing that lottery winners, after brief euphoric buying sprees, experience deep unhappiness as their personal achievement loses all meaning.  Getting money doesn’t make us happy. Earning it does.

It gets even worse.  Ancient Jewish wisdom assures us that obtaining money we did nothing to earn not only makes us miserable, it also makes us resentful towards others.  If you’re interested in where Scripture compellingly makes this point, I direct your attention to the sixth chapter of the book of Deuteronomy.

Verses 10 and 11 promise that at the end of 40 years in the desert, God will bring the Jews into the Land of Israel.  There they will find ready-made cities to occupy, and houses for them to live in that they didn’t have to build.  Furthermore, the houses will be filled with good things that the Israelites will enjoy but didn’t prepare. They will find already-excavated water cisterns they didn’t have to dig, and they will enjoy vineyards and orchards they didn’t plant.  It all sounds wonderful.  It should fill the Jews with appreciation and love for their God who gave them all this (unearned) bounty.

Yet, we read on…

Beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 
(Deuteronomy 6:12)

Extraordinary!  After being brought out of slavery, after being sustained for 40 years in the desert, and after being brought into their own land filled with all kinds of benefits awaiting them, God expects them to forget Him.

What is worse, God expects them to abandon Him and rebel…

Do not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you
(Deuteronomy 6:14)

Yes, that is right.  Obtaining value (or money) not as a result of serving other human beings but just because your father left you a trust fund or the luck of the lottery favored you, corrodes the soul.  While the wise among us understand that without God’s blessings even strenuous efforts will be for naught, when God, our Father in Heaven, presents wealth or possessions on a silver platter, it likewise presents us with a severe test.

So let’s be wise employers and allow our employees the right to their happiness by letting them know how much they achieve.  Let’s be wise parents and grant our children the happiness they deserve by letting them do their part in being worthy of that which we constantly bestow upon them. Let’s stop praying to win the lottery or plotting to acquire money without giving value and instead thank God for the opportunity to earn our fortunes with honesty and integrity.

Family vs. Patriotism

Life is a terrific balance. We need families who send their loved ones to war to defend their country, but people who don’t have families are less likely to love their country. I discuss this conundrum in my latest podcast.

Hillary Who? Donald Who?

I’m on a break this week, but look forward to connecting soon. Meanwhile, look around our new site and let me know what you think.

My son has autism and can’t connect with others

Question:

I have been listening to your podcasts & have found them to be very informative & fascinating. I just listened to your episode of 2/20/16 about Jewish attitudes towards money, business, etc. I was saddened, though, as I heard you discuss the 10 Commandments in terms of God’s 5 Commandments about “connections”. I am the mother of a young adult autistic son who has never been (and most likely will never be) able to connect to people well enough to make a friend, hold a job, or lead what society considers a productive life.

As a Catholic Christian, I believe my son has dignity as a child created in the image of God. The inability to connect with others, though, is central to what it means to be autistic. It is a heartbreaking & serious lifelong condition that limits his ability to be a part of the world around him.

As you quoted from Genesis, God said,” It is not good for man to be alone,” but this is my son’s reality. How does Jewish wisdom respond to the unique challenges associated with autism? With autism becoming so much more prevalent, I wonder if you might address this topic for me & other families living with autistic family members.

Thank you so much & God bless you & your work!

Ann R.

Answer:

Dear Ann,

Thank you for trusting us with such a sensitive question. We completely agree with you that your son’s life has intrinsic value and dignity by virtue of being created in God’s image. […]

THOUGHT TOOLS

  • Something for Nothing August 31, 2016 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - Here is one way to give your employee a raise:  "You've been with us for a year now, Enid; that means that you are due for your first raise. Congratulations, your pay is going up 5%." There's another way to do it.  "During the year you've been with us, Enid, you've really made a difference.  Read More

ASK THE RABBI

  • My son has autism and can’t connect with others August 25, 2016 by Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin - Question: I have been listening to your podcasts & have found them to be very informative & fascinating. I just listened to your episode of 2/20/16 about Jewish attitudes towards money, business, etc. I was saddened, though, as I heard you discuss the 10 Commandments in terms of God's 5 Commandments about “connections". I am Read More

SUSAN’S MUSINGS

  • Hillary Who? Donald Who? August 25, 2016 by Susan Lapin - I'm on a break this week, but look forward to connecting soon. Meanwhile, look around our new site and let me know what you think.

ON OUR MIND

  • Family vs. Patriotism August 28, 2016 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - Life is a terrific balance. We need families who send their loved ones to war to defend their country, but people who don't have families are less likely to love their country. I discuss this conundrum in my latest podcast.

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About Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, known world-wide as America’s Rabbi, is a noted rabbinic scholar, best-selling author and host of the Rabbi Daniel Lapin Show on The Blaze Radio Network. He is one of America’s most eloquent speakers and his ability to extract life principles from the Bible and transmit them in an entertaining manner has brought countless numbers of Jews and Christians closer to their respective faiths. Newsweek magazine included him in its list of America’s fifty most influential rabbis.

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