Monthly Archives: September, 2011

The Ears Have It

September 27th, 2011 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

People say, “Have a happy New Year” referring to the Jewish high holyday of Rosh HaShana, starting this evening. I’m no Grinch and I appreciate the sentiment, but it’s all wrong.

I wouldn’t mind if people said, “Make it a happy new year,” but “Have a happy new year,” misses the point. Being happy is not an accident but a purposeful decision. Your happiness is not the responsibility of your parents, friends or family. It is your responsibility and your decision. Be happy, God commands us, regardless of circumstance. (Deuteronomy 16:15)

Another problem is that ‘new year’ isn’t the focus when the Torah twice mentions the holy day.

Speak to the Children of Israel saying, in the seventh month, on the first of the month, you shall have a rest day, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy gathering. (Leviticus 23:24)

In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy gathering; you shall do no work, it is a day of shofar sounding for you.

(Numbers 29:1)

The day is identified as a day for blowing the shofar, a ram’s horn.

It is the only festival observance highlighted by the making of sounds. The synagogue service revolves around one hundred blows of the shofar. Rosh HaShana, literally “Head of the Year,” not New Year, is the only festival with a blessing for hearing something.

God gave us five main physical senses. Let’s look at just two—seeing and hearing.

…that you don’t detour after your heart and your eyes, which incline you to go astray.

(Numbers 15:39)

…hear, Oh Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears today, that you may learn them, keep and do them.

(Deuteronomy 5:1)

God seems to be implying that ears seem a better avenue for trustworthy information than eyes. But there is another difference between ears and eyes.

What happens if we press ‘pause’ while watching a movie? We see a freeze-frame—a still picture with actors frozen in whatever postures they were in at the instant that ‘pause’ was pressed.

We can slice an instant of video, disconnected from the moments before and after and still retain a meaningful still image.

However, if we press ‘pause’ during a song playing on our mp3 player, total silence ensues. Whether in the form of music or speech, sound is meaningless when disconnected from the moments before and after.

Rosh HaShana is also known as “The Day of Memory.” Nobody with zero memory could hear a tune. All he’d hear is a sequence of disconnected notes. Despite having no memory, the same handicapped human could easily see a painting, picture or statue and derive meaning.

Hearing also helps to connect us to others. Sharing a listening experience with someone is completely different from sharing a visual experience.

If you had to make a horrible choice between only having sight or only having hearing, many people might instinctively choose sight. Yet ancient Jewish wisdom suggests that not hearing is a worse affliction. Blindness isolates one from things, but deafness isolates one from people.

Our ability to make sense of sound depends on continuity and it also allows us to connect. Rosh HaShana is a time for meditating on our past actions and committing to change so that our future continues on a corrected path. It does not stand alone as a day isolated from the rest of our year. It is also a time when our prayers focus on our connection with all humanity and especially with God.

And my Rosh HaShana greeting to you? May God grant us all a year of good health, peace, growth, prosperity and close connections to each other and to Him.

Eyes and ears play major roles in choosing a life partner. I encourage you to get Chana Levitan’s book, I Only Want to Get Married Once, for yourself and for those you love. It will help ensure a proper role for eyes and ears. This week, (when we are open) it is on sale at our online store. There is also one more opportunity to get Day for Atonement for only $5.

Stop Thinking Like a Girl

September 27th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 4 comments

I love girls. Not only am I one, but I have six daughters and four granddaughters. My best friends (with the exception of my husband) are women. You get the idea. My female family and friends are smart and talented. Many of them are politically involved, but I would say that it is to everyone’s benefit that they vote like men. What do I mean?

Many years ago, a popular Los Angeles radio personality we knew, regularly decried the inhumanity of the death penalty. Her views changed overnight when a friend of hers was raped and murdered. I happen to think that society benefits from having a death penalty (though I think that at present America’s legal system renders it unfair and ineffectual) but I was still disappointed that the broadcaster altered her views even to ones that aligned more closely with my own. While it is true that sometimes events occur which lead to a complete change in thinking, I don’t think that is what happened in this case.  Rather, emotions temporarily overwhelmed the radio host, which is completely understandable but a poor way to run a society.

As social studies replaced civics in school curricula, more than a name change occurred. In a slow, inexorable process, learning how to be an educated and good citizen was no longer primary. A people-focused curriculum substituted for knowledge of the Constitution, an analysis of history, and measured study. Snapshots of individuals and moments in history supplanted a broad overview. No longer was one trained to see that today’s decisions often have serious unintended ramifications years later. The underlying convictions which made America a great republic were ignored and instead the idea of unrestrained democracy took precedence.

As part of this change, emotions rather than thought often mandated political decisions.  Though it is politically incorrect to use this phraseology, one might say that we began teaching students of both genders to “think like a girl.” What does this mean? Thinking like a girl has nothing to do with I.Q.; it has everything to do with one’s primary method of filtering information. Men tend to place a higher value on rational and intellectual thought while women tend to be more easily influenced by an emotional component.  At different times and places, both men and women use, and should use, both modes of thinking. When it comes to public policy, rational analysis and penetrating discernment need to be elevated.

One of the reasons that societies flourish when men and women interact is because a society that is overly masculine ultimately becomes cruel and violent while a society that is overly feminine becomes weak and ineffective. Masculine socialist regimes such as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union were places where previously civilized people could murder an infant or torture a child, not in anger but because they believed it was the right thing to do. All feminine qualities of compassion were quashed. Too often, however, these societies come into being after an overabundance of feminine thinking, by both men and women, causes society to deteriorate. As people base their decisions by thinking in the moment and in the vague world of good intentions rather than having a long-term and realistic view, the society loses its rudder. It abandons a rigid measuring stick as to what is right and what is wrong, betrays justice by “compassionately” favoring some people more than others, and corrupts its money in a vain attempt to be “fair.” As that civilization inevitably crumbles; violence, unemployment and lawlessness increase. People then turn to government as their protector. While government may cater to feminine thinking by speaking  in platitudes of caring, it ends up amassing tremendous power in the hands of a few. The final result is an unhealthy overly masculine and cruel society.

The entire movement towards sound bites rather than policy statements; to one minute advertisements rather than articulated positions;  to demeaning debates which reward  glib and attention getting rhetoric encourages “thinking like a girl” among candidates, politicians and citizens.

I’m not advocating testosterone testing before voting, but I would have more confidence in the future of civilization if the political system showed fewer signs of estrogen poisoning.  Meanwhile, I wonder if there is a candidate among the Republican cadre for whom conservative principles are a touchstone and who can also articulate them in ways that can reach an America which has been trained to think more emotionally than cognitively.   The last thing we need is a president, either male or female, who “thinks like a girl.” But he or she will certainly need to know how to woo one.

 

 

Virtual Baking

September 20th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 1 comment

It is easy to feel out of it when I don’t recognize the stars gracing the magazine covers in the supermarket check-out line. It is easy to feel like a recent immigrant from another planet when I still prefer to receive my news from a print newspaper rather than online or from the host of a comedy show.

One more trend that I simply do not understand is people spending real money to buy virtual gifts online. But in an effort to move with the times, I have decided to do virtual holiday cooking for this year’s Jewish high holy days.

I don’t know whether I am actually busier than I have ever been, but I think I can do two of the following three things:  getting my daughter’s wedding invitations out before the actual wedding date; preparing for October’s presentation of Holy Hebrew! before standing up to teach it in Dallas; or cooking my annual batch of mandlen in time to mail it to far-flung children. Guess which item is being dropped?

Since my eldest two girls spent their first Rosh HaShanah (Jewish New Year) away from home, I have baked these traditional soup nuts (which bear no resemblance to their supermarket counterparts) and shipped them to whichever children who would not be joining us in person for holiday meals. At this point with sons-in-law and grandchildren expanding the ranks, the necessary quantity has increased while my cooking time has shrunk.

Modernity to the rescue! There is no longer a need to purchase ingredients and spend time kneading the dough and pre-heating the oil. No longer do I need to find packing containers or stand in line at the post office. All I need is a tech-savvy ten year old and I am able to send virtual mandlen not only to my children but to thousands of my closest friends.

So, it is with great relief that I cross one item off my to-do list which, quite frankly, gives me a fighting chance of meeting the other deadlines. Unfortunately, I know that it’s a cop-out and that the love and family tradition which the mandlen represent don’t easily fly through cyberspace. I’m going to optimistically pencil mandlen baking in before Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) but, for starters, I’ll add a prayer to my Rosh HaShana entreaties for another mandlen baking opportunity next year.

 

Ask Anyone for Anything

September 20th, 2011 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

If you don’t ask, you won’t receive. How many times have you heard that? Yet many of us shy away from asking for what we need or want. Not asking is mostly the reason for not getting.

Here’s why we find it hard to ask.

1) Deep down we don’t feel worthy of whatever we are asking for.

2) The opposite problem: We suffer from pride and can’t lower ourselves to role of supplicant.

3) Ignorance of our own goals and of who is in a position to help us move towards those goals.

4) Fear of rejection.

These fade away with the seven spiritual strategies of asking which Abraham demonstrates when he asks the sons of Chet for something important. Abraham’s wife, Sarah, has just died. He wastes no time asking for what he needs:

And Abraham arose from the presence of his dead and

spoke to the children of Chet saying,

“I am a resident alien among you,

grant me an estate for a burial site with you

that I may bury my dead from before me.”

(Genesis 23:3-4)

The first four steps that Abraham exhibits are: (i) Ask promptly (ii) Introduce yourself (iii) Explicitly ask for what you want; and (iv) Provide a reason for your request.

The sons of Chet respond with vague sentiments that mean nothing.

How does Abraham’s handle this? Teaching lesson five, he displays respect. Rising from his seat and bowing to the sons of Chet, he focuses on a specific action item, asking them to intercede with the owner of the site he desires. (Genesis 23:7-9)

Ephron was present and immediately offered Abraham the land as a gift. However, Abraham wanted to close the deal on his own terms, so he again respectfully bows (Genesis 23:12) before firmly insisting that he wishes to pay for the land in a formal purchase.

Ephron, wishing to retain his posture of magnanimity while also getting his price, plays down the money, duplicitously dismissing the matter thus: land worth 400 pieces of silver (a fortune) is nothing between tycoons. Abraham listens very carefully and proceeds to weigh out the stated purchase price (Genesis 23:16) demonstrating the sixth lesson of asking: Listen as carefully as you speak.

However, the most valuable lesson that ancient Jewish wisdom reveals from this negotiation is this:

The term “sons of Chet” appears eight times in chapter 23 though some occurrences would have been better served by the preposition “they”.

In order to delve into this embedded secret, you’d need to know that Chet is not only the name of a son of Canaan (Genesis 10:15) but it’s also how we spell the eighth letter of the Hebrew alphabet whose numerical value is eight!

The sons of Chet = CHET = the letter CHET

In Jewish culture, the number eight has always signified our role in helping God shape His vision. For instance, circumcision on the eighth day indicates our partnering with God in perfecting a little boy.

With all their flaws, the sons of Chet helped actualize God’s vision for Abraham’s children to possess the land of Israel and are immortalized as such. Thus, our last lesson from the sons of Chet (whose name means eight and who appear eight times in the narrative) is that by asking for something that helps you, you can also be giving someone else the opportunity for fulfillment.

By acquiescing to your request, people partner with you in bringing you closer to your destiny. You owe it to them and to yourself to be willing to ask and to ask correctly using the seven permanent principles we’ve covered.

Abraham’s influence was far-reaching and to this day his descendants battle over the land he purchased that day. My audio CD, Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam, can help you understand how the path to peace is completely divorced from whatever takes place in the United Nations. You will be amazed at how Biblical prophecies from Genesis through the Book of Esther have unfolded in the recent past. Take advantage of the temporary sale price for web orders and understand tomorrow’s headlines in entirely new and more prophetically perceptible ways.

Sabotaging Success

September 13th, 2011 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Sabotaging our own success is so common that psychologists frequently explore why so many people wreck their relationships, careers and life-goals. We tend to undermine our own dreams chiefly in three ways. A) Self-destructive behavior such as excessive and unwholesome involvement with alcohol, food, sex, or drugs. B) Procrastinating by means of television, movies, or other entertainment or social activity. C) Talking far too much about one’s goals and dreams while doing far too little.

Social scientists have so far failed to explain why people sabotage their success but they did give it a name. They call it fear of success.

Here is a quick quiz.

1. When good things happen to me I often refrain from telling others.
2. When a friend enjoys success, deep down I feel as if I’ve suffered a setback.
3. When things are going really well for me, I worry that something will happen to ruin it.
4. When friends complain about their problems, I feel guilty about my happiness.
5. I tend to be judgmental about people who look out for themselves.
6. I feel as if I’m being bothersome by asking anyone for help.
7. Instead of doing what I should do, I often procrastinate.
8. When someone important compliments me, I feel self-conscious.
9. Deep down, I believe that expecting a lot usually brings disappointment.
10. I often say “yes” or “okay” when I should say “no” or “I can’t.”

How many of these ten questions did you answer “yes”? That’s your fear of success index on the scale of one to ten.

You might say, “Fear of success? That makes no sense.” I fear failure, not success.

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that we sabotage our success because of two reasons: The first one is easy to understand. We lack the character strength and self-discipline to postpone present gratification in favor of future benefit. The second one is less obvious. We subconsciously consider ourselves morally unworthy of success. We know we fall short of our virtue potential.

You will notice that both reasons are spiritual not organic. In other words, you can’t simply take medication or psych yourself out of it.

Happily, there are spiritual strategies to overcome spiritual problems and unleash your potential whether in the areas of business and revenue generation or marriage, family, and social relationships. I’d like to share one with you.

In discussing the various creatures such as pigs and crustaceans that God prohibited Jews from eating, a peculiar verse appears.

You shall not eat of their meat nor shall you touch their carcasses…
(Leviticus 11:8)

Why did God use unnecessary words? He could merely have said “Don’t touch the carcasses of unkosher creatures.” Since one can hardly eat a pig or a lobster if one is not permitted to touch their carcasses, that would have been sufficient.

Yet, the Torah repeatedly cautions against touching unkosher carcasses, warning that this renders one ‘TaMaY.’ (Leviticus 11:8; 24-26; 39 & Deuteronomy 14:8)

This mysterious Hebrew word, TaMaY, is often inadequately translated as ‘unclean’ or ‘impure’ but that misses the mark. TaMaY is a complex concept meaning that we become subconsciously overwhelmed by a debilitating and disturbing sense of hopelessness, gloom, personal inadequacy and even death. That causes us to sabotage our success.

Of course eating prohibited foods is unthinkable for a Jew. But let’s add a layer of virtue. We won’t even touch them because handling something which we know is wrong for us brings us closer to that very thing. Avoiding them entirely is an added discipline that strengthens our ability to defer gratification and adds to our inner sense of moral virtue and our conviction that we are worthy of success.

We all know of things which are not good for us. When you identify such a thing, distance yourself from it building up your self-discipline with many small triumphs. Try to act with added virtue each day and weaken your success sabotaging behaviors.

I explain why this time of the year is particularly suited for spiritual renewal in my audio CD, Day for Atonement: Spiritual Strategies for Success. Get it online for only $5 for the next 48 hours and tap into this special season.

Religious Discrimination?

September 13th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 7 comments

A few people who read that my son and his classmates were going to be penalized in their medical school grades for missing so many days while fully observing the fall Jewish holidays, wrote me that they saw this as religious discrimination.  I disagree.

As a mother, I was certainly unhappy to hear that my son’s hard work was going to be automatically downgraded, but I am intensely wary of throwing around the “D” word. Our society’s movement from being one of obligations and gratitude towards a culture built on rights and entitlements has gone hand in hand with an increase in litigious behavior. The word “discrimination” has become a loaded gun, and one which in my mind often blows up in the face of those who wield it.  Certainly, a society needs a legal system to thrive, but I believe that as more laws trying to combat discrimination get put on the books, one consequence is the shattering of human relationships replaced by an increase in suspicion and hostility.

We can (and have) outlawed employer’s asking all sorts of questions or refusing to hire someone based on all sorts of criteria, but do we honestly think that those laws don’t come with a price? I know too many truly unprejudiced people who hired an employee and then were blindsided when the new hire proved incompetent or worse. They found that because the employee fit into a “protected” group firing that person was an expensive, legal nightmare.  Among other things, can we truly proclaim that our minority youth unemployment rate is divorced from the speed with which the legal and media communities exploit the words “bigotry” and “discrimination”?

There was a time through much of the twentieth century when Jews were frequently excluded from jobs and schools solely because of being Jewish, as determined by their having Jewish names or appearances. This discrimination (in this case a proper use of the word) ended as people got to know their Jewish neighbors. If your child was sick were you not going to use the Jewish doctor with the excellent reputation and wonderful bedside manner? And having come to love him would you agitate for his son to be excluded from your alma mater? Would you rather see your business do less well than your competitor’s by refusing to hire the Jewish CPA? Would you rather remain unemployed than take a job in a Jewish-owned company? Were you really going to insist on not hiring your neighbor and friend?  Like many other immigrant and minority groups, through hard work and good citizenship, that prejudice diminished as Jews gained a reputation and established relationships.

What does this have to do with my son today? A small minority of America’s Jewish population today adheres to Jewish law regarding things like Sabbath and holiday observances and kosher food. For those of us who believe that God spoke to Moses on Sinai, giving him rules by which the Jewish people should live and that those rules were faithfully handed down through the generations, it is a privilege to be part of that chain of transmission.

As part of that choice we know that certain activities, ranging from community baseball leagues with practices on Saturday to local youth drama groups with performances on Friday night are ones in which we, and our children, cannot participate. We cannot ignore the Sabbath and holidays any more than we can run into the neighborhood (unkosher) fast food restaurant.  But in a free society, such as America, that is a voluntary choice we make and as with all choices, we need to accept the consequences.

Whether attending college or professional school or working, we know that needing to be home by 4 p.m. on winter Friday afternoons for the Sabbath (whose beginning is connected to sunset) or not being able to work on Saturday no matter how urgent the business emergency, will most likely be alien to the culture of most schools and offices. We recognize that it is not necessarily discriminatory if those in positions of responsibility don’t automatically concede, “No problem. Of course I’ll change my expectations to make things work for you.”  There are four ways for Jews to deal with this. The first is to establish one’s own businesses and schools, which partially explains Jewish entrepreneurship in the last century but does have its limitations. The second way is to enclose ourselves in a secluded enclave, studying and working only within the confines of the Orthodox Jewish community. The third is to bring lawsuits or otherwise try to bludgeon others to accommodate us. (That method means that we must demand the same accommodations for members of all other religious groups as well, whose unintended consequences in my mind will lead to a lessening of America’s Christian nature and her subsequently being a less hospitable place for Jews.) The last method is to earn respect and forge relationships, refusing to see ourselves as victims.

The Jewish students in my son’s class who don’t observe the holy days and will be attending class rather than synagogue used words like, “discrimination” and “offended.” However, the six religious students whose grades were to be impacted were disappointed but accepting. They appreciate the overtures the school has made to them, for example going out of their way to provide kosher food at functions, and see the reality of lower grades simply as a willing price they pay for their loyalty to God’s commandments. They each could have chosen to go to medical school in Israel and instead chose to attend this particular school in America.

They responded to the news that class attendance was mandatory and a major part of the grading by accepting that they would have to work twice as hard to do as well as their classmates. They also decided to send a polite letter to the administration clarifying what their religious obligations were. They understood that since the members of the administration probably all had Jewish friends who were adamant about their Jewish identity at the same time as they ate pork, worked on the Sabbath and treated the Jewish holidays as little more than nice times for family get-togethers with perhaps an optional appearance at synagogue, those in charge might understandably be confused by the religious students’ position.

As it turned out, as they were composing this letter, they received an email informing them that the administration was considering changing their position. What happened? I don’t know for sure, but my guess is that someone in the administration spoke about the issue with a Jewish friend or colleague who explained the students’ stance. Since the attendance policy was not implemented as a tool of prejudice and no defensive front was erected as happens when one is accused of being a bigot, the issue is being resolved without threats and with harmony, each side respectful of and appreciating the other.  Which leaves this Jewish mother proud of her son and grateful for living in this wonderful country.

All You Need is Love & Other Lies

September 6th, 2011 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

“All you need is love,” sang the Beatles in 1967. A pretty sentiment to be sure, but a poor roadmap for life as proven by the young and confused of that generation whose lives were shaped by a fateful summer of love two years later. Love is wonderful but alone, it is hardly adequate.

One thing we all need in addition to love is a real sense of time. The young girl foolishly infatuated with the utterly unsuitable boy is living only in the present. She has no sense of time; no sense of the future when she will be ready for marriage and no sense of the past—the parents and grandparents whose values she is betraying.

The young boy who goes into debt in order to purchase a fancy car is living only in the present. If he could feel the future and know the pleasure of a growing savings account, he’d make different choices. If he knew anything of past cycles of tough economic times, he’d make wiser decisions.

Makeup and provocative clothing for five year-old little girls reveals time illiteracy. Sexually aggressive adolescent boys lack a time sense as do leeringly concupiscent retirees.

Men who abandon wives and families in exchange for a woman the age of their daughters; corporate executive who sell assets to bolster this quarter’s figures; city and state governments that sell off parking meters, bridges, and toll roads to solve this year’s financial crisis and career women who continually defer marriage – none of these possess that sense of time so vital for successful living.

The worthy moral advice from Leviticus about loving another, “…as you love yourself,” appears twice. (Leviticus 19:18 & 34) However, few bother to read the crucial final phrase of both those verses—“I am the Lord.”

In the Lord’s language, Hebrew, there are many names for God. The four letters used in the phrase, “I am the Lord,” in those two verses are not accidental. They are the same letters whose appearance is used to signify past, present, and future. This is intended to indicate God’s ability to transcend time. God was, He is, and He will be. Without that final phrase mentioning God, loving your neighbor could mean loving only in the present.

In fact, by invoking the specific Lord’s name that possesses time connotations the Torah is asking us to love others in the past and future as well. For instance, betraying the memory of long dead parents or grandparents is prohibited as is doing away with the unborn or for that matter, letting them live but saddling them with a crushing debt burden.

Most young children quickly develop an intuitive sense of dimensions such as length and weight. When they reach out to grab or lift something, even toddlers quickly learn how far to extend their hands. They soon learn to gauge how heavy an object is likely to be. Children also develop a sense of temperature, but understanding time not only eludes youngsters, it also challenges most adults.

It is only too easy to live in and for the present. It is far harder and less intuitive to integrate the past and the future into the decisions of the present. Scientific development depends upon knowing what happened yesterday and where we are attempting to reach tomorrow. Life depends on exactly the same.

How do we teach time sensitivity to our children? The same way we teach it to ourselves. I know of few more effective tools than regular, serious study of the Bible. The Bible is not a list of proscriptions neither is it a picture book or a volume of mathematical equations. It is a pivot point around which past, present and future revolve.

A fine place to begin studying is with the Ten Commandments, or more accurately the Ten Statements. They present principles which always have been and always will be vital for successful living. We are making our audio CD teaching, the Ten Commandments: How Two Tablets Can Transform Your Life, available, online only, for half-price through Monday. As we commence a new educational year, it is a worthy tool to take along.

Fair – or Not?

September 6th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 3 comments

Fall brings with it lots of lovely activities: apple picking, jumping in piles of leaves and, if you live in the Pacific Northwest, the Puyallup Fair. If you know how to pronounce ‘Puyallup,’ you have probably been to this fair which has been a September highlight for our family for the past twenty years.

Ten years ago, just after 9/11, fair attendance was down as dizzying rides, sugar-laden food and down-home entertainment were incompatible with the mourning, confusion and rage gripping the country. I imagine that just as couples shied away from September 11, 2002 wedding dates, the Puyallup Fair on that day in 2002 also had lower than normal attendance rates.  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that year by year attendance picked up as people squirmed less at picking September 11th for fun activities. Emotions become less raw as time goes by.

But, as high school reunion organizers know, tenth anniversaries resonate. What will happen this Sunday, September 11, 2011?  For obvious reasons, Sunday is a prime fair-going day. All across America, people will be making decisions as to whether it is unseemly or not to treat the day like any other, or what that even means. While I have many days on which I can choose to attend the fair, I am not even sure what I would say if someone asked my advice as to whether they should go on Sunday or not. The biggest impact of not going might be to harm the finances of vendors – including those with family serving in the military – whose income depends on weekend crowds.   

It is easier when the choice is made for us, isn’t it? This fall, my son and a few of his classmates in medical school have been informed that their grades are going to be negatively impacted by the absences they will accumulate over the upcoming Jewish holidays. This will not change their behavior; God’s directions on how to observe those festivals (which preclude being in school) are commands, not suggestions. They will accept the lower grades and I think their future patients will benefit from being treated by men and women of firm conviction. There is clarity when God is involved.

But it would be completely inappropriate for there to be a ‘command from on high’ from the government on how to commemorate the anniversary of September 11th. As the years pass and fewer people are able to answer the question, “Where were you when you heard the news?” the date will move into history as December 7th has.

 However, this year, most of us not only still remember, but can still resurrect the feelings of horror which overwhelmed us in 2001. The pain of the widows and orphans, parents and friends, and of the whole nation is still fresh and indeed, unlike ten years after Pearl Harbor, we have not yet defeated the enemy. How should we behave this Sunday? What will you be doing?