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Monthly Archives: July, 2013

No, You Can’t Borrow My Book

July 30th, 2013 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Like many guys, I derive deep enjoyment from owning and using high quality tools.  I’m not saying women don’t own or use tools.  Many do.  I know because I once saw pink toolboxes at a large retail chain.  (Though women callers to my radio show, whenever I discuss tools, assure me they’d never buy a pink toolbox.)  But to most women, tools are just that—tools; the means to getting a job done.  That would be Susan.  To most men, tools are an extension of their identity. That would be me.

For a long time, the Snap-On man in his familiar white truck would make a stop at my home every month or two.  Seldom did he leave without a sale, and my wife, God bless her, never ever asked whether I really needed a new tool or how much it cost.

How did the Snap-On man come to stop at my home?  Well, the mechanic to whom I entrusted my car’s major maintenance allowed me to hang out in his shop and watch him work.  It was like witnessing a Swiss watchmaker meticulously mending a fine miniature movement.  Except, there was nothing miniature about my four-liter V-12 engine.  He worked calmly and smoothly, always confident that when he finally called out, “Okay, start ‘er up,” that remarkable piece of machinery would leap to life with a glorious-sounding snarl in stereo from the dual exhausts.

And he used Snap-On tools.  Occasionally from beneath my car he’d say, “Could you get me a nine millimeter wrench, please?” I’d step over to the shiny red tool cabinet, find the needed tool and pass it to my mechanic. I loved those times.

One day I noticed attached to his tool cabinet, an attractive silver sign reading:

“Don’t ask to borrow these tools; I use them to make my living.”

I instantly envisioned how cool that sign would look attached to one of my bookcases in which reside hundreds of volumes of ancient Jewish wisdom.  In response to my inquiry, he told me that the Snap-On man gifts those silver signs to his best customers.  In short order, I met my neighborhood Snap-On man, became a good customer, and acquired my prized silver sign.

The tools for making one’s living should always be regarded as sacrosanct and in most cultures, are.

Consider this verse:

If a man steals an ox or a sheep and then kills it, or sells it, he must pay the value of five oxen for an ox and the value of four sheep for a sheep.
(Exodus 21:37)

Why does God want the miscreant who deprives his victim of an ox to pay a higher restitution than one who deprives him of a sheep?  What’s the difference between on ox and a sheep?

Ancient Jewish wisdom helps us understand that a sheep in Scripture means an asset. When you own a sheep, it throws off income in the form of wool.  However, an ox means a tool for earning your living.  When you own an ox, you have the means to plow your field or pull your wagon to market.

Stealing a man’s asset is bad enough…but stealing a tool with which he earns a living!  God views that as considerably worse and requires restitution to be appropriately higher.  Earning a living is a holy activity and the tools that make it possible acquire some holiness too.

Oh, and just in case the silver sign on my bookcase doesn’t deter you from asking to borrow one of my books, the answer is ‘no.’  But I will encourage you to buy a copy of your own.  I think everyone should own tools.

One of the most valuable tools for not only earning a living but making a life is a special resource that we created for you.  Our Income Abundance Set includes my best-selling book, Thou Shall Prosper along with three audio CDs full of practical guidance. We are living in times when wealth is vilified and hard work is discouraged. To do well one needs tools, tips and techniques for earning and for soul strengthening. Grab this resource for yourself and the people you love.

ProsperityPack_1110

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This week’s Susan’s Musings: The Strange Case of Bill Maher and Mr. Hyde

In an age of copycat movies and TV shows, perhaps it is time for Bill Maher to update Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic book, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Instead of featuring a scientist performing chemical experiments so that his usual intelligent, rational self sometimes morphs into an evil, malevolent being, in his version of the book Maher could feature a prominent, respected surgeon who upon entering into a church mutates into a foolish, addle headed cretin. He might call his protagonist Ben Carson.

Oh, right. Without taking the trouble to classify this idea as fiction… READ MORE

The Strange Case of Bill Maher and Dr. Hyde

July 30th, 2013 Posted by Susan's Musings 12 comments

In an age of copycat movies and TV shows, perhaps it is time
for Bill Maher to update Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic book, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Instead of
featuring a scientist performing chemical experiments so that his usual
intelligent, rational self sometimes morphs into an evil, malevolent being, in
his version of the book Maher could feature a prominent, respected surgeon who
upon entering into a church mutates into a foolish, addle headed cretin. He
might call his protagonist Ben Carson.

Oh, right. Without taking the trouble to classify this idea
as fiction, Bill Maher opted out of the difficult work of writing and instead
pontificated that plot. Speaking about Dr. Carson, he said, “He’s half
brilliant brain surgeon, half Tea Party dumbass. He doesn’t just operate on
conjoined twins, he is one.”

Leaving aside the politically incorrect slur of physically
handicapped conjoined twins—after all Maher knows that liberals are allowed to
be racist, sexist and bigoted—the premise is still astounding. In fact, this
strategy is becoming popular. Who wants to hear what Mario Rubio thinks about
the economy, immigration or health care? What matters is how old he thinks the
earth is. Did you hear someone mention an IRS scandal where government
officials interfered with a free election by targeting certain groups? Surely,
that is less important than knowing whether Republicans believe that homosexual
behavior is sinful.

What is going on here? Facts are pesky things for
progressives. They like to live in the world of untested ideas, not in reality.
Raising the minimum wage sounds good. You can bestow more money upon low-income
earners by the simple act of forcing employers to pay more. (For the purpose of
this argument, let’s leave cynicism aside by not suggesting that the purpose of
minimum wage legislation is to fool poor people into thinking that you want to
help them.)  As
long as you stay in the realm of talk and promises, it is wonderful.  If big, bad corporations like Wal-Mart stop
opening stores in poor areas or if companies trim their workforces and fewer
people are given opportunities to step into starter positions, that is
irrelevant. In the stratosphere, and in talking points, the idea sounds good.

Let’s posit that many conservatives think that the earth was
created by Martians who were bored by their daily routine. Let’s say that they
don’t think that, but instead it is a tenet of their religion. These same
conservatives understand that hoping that wind farms will help keep the
atmosphere healthy doesn’t make it so. They know that wishing that massive
health legislation would ensure better health care at lower prices doesn’t
correlate with the truth. They comprehend that
fantasizing that  poverty will disappear if you give money and
benefits to people, won’t actually happen.

If you believe in wind farms, gargantuan government and
Mickey Mouse economics, the last thing you want to do is discuss facts. You
would much rather poke fun at believing in rogue Martians, even though there is
not one practical consequence of such a belief. Now, I am not suggesting that Christian
religious beliefs are the equivalent of my Martian fantasy. If Bill Maher wants
to take a year off and spend the time at a theological school exploring
Christian doctrine, that would be an appropriate place to debate the age of the
earth. If he wants to spend a year learning about Jewish beliefs on Creation,
then there are appropriate places for this discussion to take place. What I am
saying is that the age of the earth is irrelevant to the things that actually matter
in American’s daily lives.  The topic is
brought up to mock religion and by extension to sideline religious people from
politics. Considering that the success and peace of the United States of
America was predicated on allowing individuals freedom of religious belief, I would
personally opt for a country of brilliant neurosurgeons who believe in Martians
over a country filled with arrogant talking mouths who believe in whatever fad
is in the air.

ProsperityPack_1110

Spiritual but Shoeless

July 23rd, 2013 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

When I was seven, my parents signed me up for swimming lessons which I dutifully attended. For the first three days, the teacher discussed buoyancy, backstroke, and breathing.  We never even got into the water.  The next weekend my parents took us to a pool.

My father, eager to see what I had learned, asked me to demonstrate.  I explained that I would need a blackboard.   This did not impress my father.  He walked me to the deep end of the pool deck, picked me up and promptly threw me into the water. After a moment of shock, I began swimming.

This method of instruction, let alone fathering, may not be in favor today.  Personally, I remember feeling rather proud of how quickly I learned to swim.  But whatever you think of the methodology, there is a lesson to be learned. The best way to own new information is to apply it. Few of us would want to be operated on by a surgeon who aced his written exams but has never wielded a scalpel. There is a reason that driver education courses take place in the car as well as the classroom.

We need both theoretical and practical information.  One is mental and spiritual— in our heads.  The second, the application of that information, is usually physical and occurs in our interface with the earth and the physical reality it represents.

The mathematics and physics in the head of Sir Gilbert Roberts, designer of the Bosphorus Bridge, is spiritual information.  When the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company then linked two continents with a delicate web of steel, it was practical, physical application.

We humans do best exquisitely balanced between spiritual and physical, suspended between heaven and earth.  We must connect to heaven but not to the extent of losing touch with earth.  Such people pray all day and neglect their jobs and families.

Likewise, we must connect to reality—the earth—but not so overly connected that we start ignoring spiritual truth.  Such people squander their lives in hedonism.

Even animals deemed kosher and suitable as food follow this principle.

Kosher animals must have a hoof lifting them off the ground, giving them a touch of spirituality, so to speak. However, if they are utterly isolated from the ground by having a solid hoof, like a horse, for instance, the animal is not kosher.

All who have a split hoof… you shall eat.
(Leviticus 11:3)

 Ancient Jewish wisdom places great emphasis on shoes, the human equivalent of hooves. They serve to distance us slightly from the earth and the suggestion is made that even valuable assets, if necessary, should be sold in order to afford shoes.

However, we must never lose all touch with the physical world. When God called upon Moses, thus lifting him far into the heavenly realm, shoes prevented necessary contact with the earth. So God said:

 …take off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground.(Exodus 3:5)

The Permanent Principle is that as God’s children we must not live floating in heaven, disconnected from reality, nor should we live anchored to earth and incapable of soaring to spiritual heights.  Instead, we must live between heaven and earth—within reach of both but locked to neither.

We need the spiritual as well as the physical; we need information and we need to be accomplished at applying that information in the real world.  Knowing medicine but refusing to heal would be an aberration.  Knowing business principles but refusing to serve the needs of customers would be equally aberrant.

Like swimming, driving and surgery, learning about something doesn’t mean being able to do it.  First attempts to apply the knowledge may be faltering and clumsy. But anything worthwhile in life requires effort and work.

Noah Alper’s story resonated with me when we met. His transformation from anti-religious to believing Jew paralleled his transformation from poverty to phenomenal business success. His enjoyable book, Business Mensch tells how he learned the practical aspects of building a business while growing spiritually.

Benefit from his experiences at a reduced price this week and apply the lessons he learned as you grow your own income.

 

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This week’s Susan’s Musings: Guest Musing: Racism Reflections

When my young guest Musing author told me this story a few months ago, I knew that I wanted you to hear it. I appreciate her writing it down and letting me share it, with her additional conclusion based on the George Zimmerman trial.

I have always considered myself an open-minded person. While the majority of my friends are Jewish girls like me (whom else do you meet in Jewish single-gender schools?), I do have friends of all different shapes, sizes, religions and colors. Race has always been a kind of non-issue; meaning that I grew up learning to treat others as I would want to be treated… READ MORE

Guest Posting: Racism Reflections

July 23rd, 2013 Posted by Susan's Musings 5 comments

               When my young guest Musing
author told me this story a few months ago, I knew that I wanted you to hear
it. I appreciate her writing it down and letting me share it, with her
additional conclusion based on the George Zimmerman trial.

I have always considered myself an
open-minded person. While the majority of my friends are Jewish girls like me
(whom else do you meet in Jewish single-gender schools?), I do have friends of
all different shapes, sizes, religions and colors. Race has always been a kind
of non-issue; meaning that I grew up learning to treat others as I would want
to be treated regardless of what they look like, where they come from, or any
other superficialities. My basic outlook is that every person in the world
should be treated as a decent human being created in the image of God, until
proven otherwise. This worldview was working out pretty well for me until the
winter of 2012.

 It turned out that my college was only offering
a class I needed at a time that did not work out for me. My professors
recommended trying to find the same class at local colleges in the area. Easier
said than done. The only college offering this class was a school I had never
heard of, a two and a half hour trip away from my house. While the commute was
less than desirable, I figured that it was a necessary evil and it would be the
only hiccup in what would otherwise be a smooth semester. I was wrong.

My first inkling that my plan was
not going to work out as intended occurred when I arrived at the subway station
near the school to register for my class. Upon stepping off the train, one of
the many police officers milling about the station immediately approached me. He
wanted to know if I was lost. I was a little taken aback by his question as I
pride myself on my subway navigation skills. After looking around the station,
I realized his question probably stemmed from the fact that I was the only non-
dark-skinned person in the station. I quickly assured him that this was my intended
stop. I felt that he was being a little biased towards people of his own race
by assuming that I wouldn’t want to get off in a neighborhood where people were
not the same color as me. I am not naïve, and it was very apparent that this
was not the greatest or safest of neighborhoods, but I had to get to this
school one way or another.  Off I went.  

Upon stepping in the doors of the school,
I felt all eyes on me, and not in a good way. The first words out of the
admission director’s mouth were, “What are you doing here?” I figured that
someone just needed a little customer service training and so I explained that
I needed a course that was only offered at this school. She proceeded to mutter
under her breath about me taking up a seat that did not belong to me. This bureaucrat
seemed to believe that this taxpayer-funded school was for the benefit of black
people only and being white, I was trying to take something I didn’t deserve.

Every administrator I encountered
gave me a hard time. I found myself being sent to different buildings only to
find out I had started out in the correct building. I was sent to incorrect
rooms and when I finally did arrive at where I needed to be, I was blatantly
ignored if someone who was the “right” color needed help. In one instance, I
waited in a long line to sign up for my specific class. When it came to my
turn, the woman behind the desk called forward the people behind me and told me
to take a seat until she had time to, “deal with me.” It was the most bizarre
day of my life. Throughout it all, I really could not figure out why I was
being treated this way.  It was only
after continuing to encounter this behavior from the administration throughout
the semester, that I acknowledged that I was the victim of a bullying racism. I
came to realize that this school, named after a leader of the civil rights
movement, was a school with a massive chip on its shoulder. It felt like some
of the people thought that here was their chance to make up for any racism they,
their parents and/or grandparents had ever experienced. I was being treated a
certain way only because of the color of my skin.

When the first day of class arrived,
I had already steeled myself for dealing with my classmates. Whereas prior to
my registration experience I would not have thought twice about the color of
new classmates’ skin, now I was dreading being in a class with people who I was
sure were going to act a certain way. To my delight, my classmates didn’t seem
to care that I was white. We instantly bonded over the difficulty of the class
and the insane amounts of homework. Four girls with whom I formed a study club
insisted on walking me to the subway every day so that I wouldn’t be hassled on
the streets. Over a year later, we are still in touch.

 However, it seemed that anyone with even a
tiny bit of power in the school felt it necessary to lord it over me.  The first time I raised my hand in class I was
called on (by the decidedly incompetent instructor) as, “white girl.” I was so
surprised I actually forgot what I was going to say. When questions were asked
in class and I raised my hand, I was told, “White girl thinks she has all the
answers.”

I have been reminiscing about this
experience in light of the recent George Zimmerman verdict. In my experience at
this college, there were definitely people whose behavior was lacking. Pretty
much every administrator I encountered as well as my professor acted in a
judgmental and bigoted manner that could only further promote racism and
division between people.

Luckily, I was taught never to judge
many by the actions of the few. I had my wonderful classmates who stood up for
me to our professor and even apologized to me for his behavior. There is bad
behavior all along the color spectrum, and after this recent court case, I know
there are negative feelings flying back and forth. However, I believe that people
should not allow their thoughts about the particulars of the case to affect the
way they look at an entire race. Whether you believe that Trayvon was a thug
and Zimmerman a hero, or Trayvon an innocent boy and Zimmerman a bully, it does
not need to affect the way you behave or feel about an entire group of people.
I haven’t changed my outlook about race because of my bad experience. It just
further strengthened my belief that there are bad eggs in every bunch, but that
groups as a whole should not be treated or thought of negatively because of the
actions of some within their group. Turns out that winter semester held some
important lessons that had nothing to do with the advertised subject.

Blessing Basics

July 16th, 2013 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

At 10am on Sunday morning, August 18, 1991, Salomon Brothers received a terrifying phone call from the United States Treasury.  The famous banking house was henceforth barred from bidding at Treasury auctions because of regulatory violations.

This was a death penalty.  The news sped around the world drying up credit.  Salomon Brothers summoned bankruptcy lawyers to begin terminating the eighty year old bank.

At 2:30pm, that afternoon, illustrious investor Warren Buffett announced that he had become interim chairman of Salomon Brothers.  Immediately the Treasury rescinded most of their ban on the bank, credit began to flow again, and share prices stabilized. Salomon Brothers survived.

Had Salomon Brothers made me chairman instead of Warren Buffett on that fateful Sunday, Salomon would have ceased to exist by nightfall.

Salomon didn’t need just anyone that day.  They needed a great financier of monumental accomplishments with a stellar reputation.  Buffett was possibly the only man in the world who could have rescued Salomon.

If my cousin asked me to drive his blind neighbor to work tomorrow, in his place, I could easily do so.  Furthermore, I would get the man to his destination as reliably as my cousin would have.

Imagine I firmly clamped a rifle to a test mount and aimed it at a watermelon fifty yards away.  Whether a Navy SEAL pulls the trigger, or whether it is pulled by a beautician or a ballerina the watermelon is going to get pulverized.

In driving a car or firing the above gun, basic technical competence is more important than human distinctiveness.  If the rifle’s trigger is pulled by John Wayne, the bullet won’t travel any further. However, a parent or a spouse is not interchangeable.  Being someone special makes a difference to one’s effectiveness in those roles as it does in the rescue of a fatally wounded financial institution.

A blessing is more like Buffett than a bullet.  It matters greatly who imparts the blessing.  While a blessing from even a lesser person does have value, it doesn’t compare in efficaciousness to a blessing from a great human being.

Ancient Jewish wisdom shows how a blessing from a great source can be passed along.

An angel of God said to Abraham:

In your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed…
(Genesis 22:18)

Sure enough, Abraham’s seed, Isaac, received God’s blessing as He had promised.

 …after the death of Abraham, God blessed his son Isaac…
(Genesis 25:11)

Isaac then passed it to Jacob.

 …Isaac summoned Jacob and blessed him…
(Genesis 28:1)

The Torah hints at the continuity of the blessing as Jacob begins blessing all his sons by using the same Hebrew word, VaYiKRaH.

 And Jacob summoned his sons…
(Genesis 49:1)

This verse ends the blessings:

 These are the twelve tribes of Israel and this is [VeZOT)
what their father spoke to them…

(Genesis 49:28)

The verse contains the rare word VeZOT (and this is).

When Moses launched his final blessing to Israel he used the same word VeZOT (Deuteronomy 33:1) that had been used by Jacob.

Moses’ blessing concludes:

 Happy [ASHREI] are you, Oh Israel…
(Deuteronomy 33:29)

 When King David commenced his blessing to Israel (the Book of Psalms) he opened with:

Happy [ASHREI] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…
(Psalms 1:1)

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches how God’s original blessing was carried down from Abraham to David with each drawing on the spiritual power of his predecessor by means of repeating a key word.

We can all increase the effectiveness of our blessings by making ourselves greater.  This means getting closer to God, increasing spiritual wisdom and vision and exercising enormous self-discipline. It means enlarging our scope for compassion while gaining courage to stand firm on principle.

A good starting point for this kind of personal growth is our Perils of Profanity: You Are What You Speak audio CD, which will help increase your effectiveness in all your verbal communication. A blessing given from a mouth that elevates speech is greater than one given from a mouth that sometimes degrades speech. The same is true for a business presentation or words of affection.

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This week’s Susan’s Musings: As Simple as…Challah

I first baked challah (Shabbat bread) as a little girl helping my grandmother. She would give me a small piece of dough to knead, while she worked on the larger portion. Her mound would be shiny and smooth while mine was crumbly and dull looking. Grandma would send me on an errand to the living room and when I returned my piece of dough looked as good as hers. As my skills improved, the errands stopped.… READ MORE

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As Simple As…Challah

July 16th, 2013 Posted by Susan's Musings 5 comments

I first baked challah (Shabbat bread) as a little girl
helping my grandmother. She would give me a small piece of dough to knead,
while she worked on the larger portion. Her mound would be shiny and smooth
while mine was crumbly and dull looking. Grandma would send me on an errand to
the living room and when I returned my piece of dough looked as good as hers.
As my skills improved, the errands stopped.

As a young wife, I baked challah for my family and guests, a
tradition I have kept up through the years. My challah is usually delicious,
but only on occasion do I think it looks as good as it tastes. This means that
I am a sucker for braiding techniques and tips (challah is traditionally a
braided loaf).

                    *
Challah

YouTube has been a tremendous boon, since written or even
illustrated instructions for 3, 4 or 6 strand braided loaves tend to be
confusing.  With YouTube, I put my
computer within sight and try to get an assistant (does my husband really have
anything more important to do?)  to hit
the pause button as needed so that I can keep pace with the video. I actually
can do a pretty decent 6 braided creation at this point, but the quest for the
most aesthetically pleasing challah continues.

When someone posted a link to this video (yes, I know that
the dialogue is in Hebrew, but it is really more of a ‘show’ than a ‘tell’) presenting
a woman producing amazing results with what looked like simple techniques, I
was a goner. Sadly, my husband wasn’t available for ‘pause duty’, but I figured
that I could watch the sequence four or five times and then copy. Not quite.
Trying to follow steps that seemed simple produced some of the least
attractive challahs I have ever made.

Isn’t that often true in life? When we do something truly
well, whether it is braiding challah, running a business, playing tennis or
raising children, people looking from the outside often assume that it is
simple for us, possibly even effortless. Does the person telling me, “You’re so
lucky that your children help in the kitchen,” truly think that my son and
daughters’ skills and desire arose spontaneously? Does the person who resents
his neighbor’s salary truly think that the compensation amount is random and
unrelated to performance?

I don’t know the baker in the video but I am certain that
she has logged many hours perfecting her technique. I think I am on solid
ground assuming that she has invested a fair amount of money in basic supplies,
sighed over failures and probably even sports a kitchen injury or two. She
resisted the temptation of the local bakery, honestly earning her skill set.

When a person, family, business or country seems to function
smoothly and naturally, it’s time for us to pay attention and ask what they did
right, rather than belittling their persistence and perseverance by intoning
luck. Truth be told, while I love baking challah, I am basically happy with my
tasty, slightly unsymmetrical loaves.  I
would rather devote the hours needed for mastery towards other activities and
take pleasure in watching the above video to see the seemingly effortless
results of hours of effort.

Is there something in your life for which you labored and
struggled, that leads people to comment on how lucky you are?

    *Image copyright Bitsela, used courtesy of www.free-bitsela.com.    


POP second horiz ad all in one

 

Can You Know Truth?

July 11th, 2013 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

 

Shalom,

Ask the Rabbi new header, June 2013

Are there tests/questions for some ideas/concepts to see if they are true?

Toda Raba (thank you),

Jonathan

Religion? Never!

July 11th, 2013 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

In Israel you might hear a youngster protesting to his mother in Hebrew, Zeh Loh Fair.  The first two words mean “This is not…”  The third word means exactly what it says in English—fair.  The juvenile is saying that his mother is unfair.  You see, there is no word in Hebrew for the concept of fair.  He had no choice other than using the English.

This is because “fair” is a false concept with no reality.  What does fair actually mean?  That everyone should have the same housing, talent, looks, and destiny?  No two people even have identical opportunity.  The word means nothing at all.

Generally, English words for which there are no Hebrew equivalents are unreal concepts detached from reality.  Here are two of them:

Adolescent:    Permission for an adult to behave like a child while claiming the benefits due an adult.  There’s no word for adolescent in Hebrew. You are either a child or an adult.

Coincidence:    Demeaning Divine messages and camouflaging cosmic connection.  There’s no word for coincidence in Hebrew.  Why ignore synchronicity and live bereft of the significance of subtle suggestion?

For millennia, Hebrew has had an unbroken history of effectively conveying both verbal and written information.  Its power lies not only in what you can communicate in Hebrew but also in what you can’t.

The most surprising word for which no Hebrew equivalent exists is—Religion.  Nowhere in the entire Tanach, the Hebrew Scriptures, does the word religion appear.

Where does the English word, “religion” come from? One theory is that it derives from the Latin “relegere” which means to do something repeatedly.  Others guess that it comes from the Latin “religare” which means to tie up or bind.

Recalling the Hebrew origins of Latin reveals the three root letters for the word behind both those theories—R, L, and G.

Let’s now glance quickly at Metathesis, the key to understanding languages and their evolution.   Metathesis means that as language changes, people occasionally rearrange root letters.  For instance, an early Scriptural garment, Joseph’s coat is called in Hebrew C-T-N.  From this, English describes the material for making clothing—CoTToN, and by metathesis, an early Roman garment made of cotton, a TuNiC.

Similarly, the Hebrew for young goat KDI (or GDI) leading, by metathesis, to English KID.  Also, the Hebrew for WORD is DaVaR.  In early German, through metathesis of the Hebrew source, that became VORD or later WORT. (The German V is pronounced F and the W is pronounced V) English soon adapted it to WORD.  (T and D are both sibilants and often indistinguishable.)

We can see how the linguistic origin of religion is the Hebrew, ReGeL, which means both a leg and anything ReGuLar like the three annual Biblical pilgrimage festivals, known as ReGaLim.  What is the connection? In order to move our lives forward and experience our “march of progress” we need to move our legs regularly, one after the other.

Through the Hebrew source, we see that both Latin theories are linked. By repeating an action it becomes a habit and we become habituated or bound to that action.

Why no word in Hebrew for religion? Because it is not a separate part of life like working, cooking, or reproduction.  Religion is not just something we do on Saturday or Sunday as we might do bowling on Monday and Little League on Wednesday.  No, our relationship with God is part of how we approach every moment of our lives.  It cannot be limited to a single word.  Totally integrating our lives with our Creator unleashes our own creativity.

One effective tool for helping to bring about that integration with God so that ‘religion’ is not an external adjunct to our life but an inseparable element of it is through Bible study. We recommend our 2 CD audio training program Tower of Power-Decoding the Secrets of Babel.

Furthermore, this resource illuminates how once-healthy societies disintegrate.  Our reduced priced 2-CD audio program, Tower of Power: Decoding the Secrets of Babel, unlocks many mysteries and reveals insights lost in the English translation.  Arm and protect yourself and your family with the laser-sharp tools obtained by understanding the secret messages of Genesis.

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This week’s Susan’s Musings: Blame Humans, Not God

The magazine was dated Fall 1997, full of inspirational, informational and enjoyable articles for the Jewish woman.  After recently finding it in a closet, I reread it this Shabbat, figuring that most of the presentations would still have value. I found a lesson I did not suspect.

Tucked amid the pages was an article… READ MORE

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Blame Humans, Not God

July 9th, 2013 Posted by Susan's Musings 4 comments

The magazine was dated Fall 1997, full of inspirational,
informational and enjoyable articles for the Jewish woman.  After recently finding it in a closet, I
reread it this Shabbat, figuring that most of the presentations would still
have value. I found a lesson I did not suspect.

Tucked amid the pages was an article describing how
emergency rooms in Israel reflect the year’s passage, for example an increase
in falls when folks wear (sometimes ill fitting) costumes for Purim (the Feast
of Esther).  The author’s name stopped me
cold.

In 1997, Dr. David Applebaum was a prominent emergency room
doctor, known for combining medical skills with initiative and compassion. He
was a husband and a father of six, an American born and educated physician
living in Israel, making him an apt choice for writing an article in English aimed
at an American/Anglo audience.

The first time I read the article, in 1997, I knew those
facts. Reading it in 2013, I knew much more. I knew that six years later, for
the second anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United
States, he flew to New York. There he gave a presentation about emergency
medicine in an age of terrorism, offering encouragement, support and
life-saving information to doctors in the country of his birth.  I also knew that within hours of his return
to Israel, he took his 20-year-old daughter, Naava, out to a Jerusalem café so
that they could spend some quiet father/daughter time together on the night
before her wedding. I knew that both she and her father were killed that night,
when a Islamic suicide bomber chose the café where they sat as the venue for
his evil.

Like every single person reading this Musing, I have friends
and relatives who are suffering from cancer, heart disease and other maladies. Probably
like most people reading this Musing, I sometimes ask God why He sends these
illnesses. This article reminded me that those questions are misplaced.

In the beginning of Genesis, when Cain kills his brother
Abel, the Hebrew reads, “The bloods of your brother are calling to me from the
ground.” Ancient Jewish wisdom asks why the plural for ‘blood’ appears,
sounding no more natural in Hebrew than it would in English. Yes, Abel’s blood
was spilled, ancient Jewish wisdom answers, but his potential descendants’
blood was spilled as well.

This week, Jews are in an intensified mourning period
marking the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem. Before,
during and after those destructions, millions of Jewish lives ended at the hand
of hatred. It is not at all far-fetched to believe that among those murdered,
were those who might have discovered cures for myriad ills, or given birth to
descendants who would have done so. What potential Jonas Salks, Albert Sabins
or Einsteins never contributed their gifts to the world?

While Jews may have suffered in more times and more places
than other people have, many other ‘bloods’ have also been spilled. Last Friday,
I saw a postcard picturing a lynching in the American South, presented just as
one might find a postcard showing this year’s tulip festival. Was a future Ben
Carson not born because of hatred based on skin color? When 20th
century Communism wiped out tens of millions in the Soviet Union and China, how
many minds did humanity lose that might have invented a new super drug?   What baby was never born since abortion
became a trumpeted right, who might have held the ability to find a needed cure
in his or her DNA? We will never know the answers to these questions, any more
than we know what contributions might have emerged from the offspring of thousands
of people who never lived because one man or woman was killed in the 2nd,
11th or 16th centuries.  

 Although Dr.
Applebaum didn’t foresee the tragedy that would strike his family six years
after he wrote the article I read, he did know that the gift of healing God
placed in his hands could be rendered powerless by the evil in another man’s
heart. Coming across Dr. Applebaum’s article reminded me that each of us is
responsible for doing our part to be a light in the world, ensuring that the
wisdom and talent that God grants to his creations to improve life on Earth, lives
and flourishes.

 

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River Revival

July 2nd, 2013 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Hannah is a full-time mom working strenuously, with her husband’s partnership, to raise five rambunctious (but delightful) children.  Sometimes, the daily pressures threaten to overwhelm her, and she finds herself snapping shrewishly at her family.

Jake recently launched his own small business. He is hoping soon to marry his girlfriend, whose family is equally enthusiastic about the pending union.  However, Jake sabotages his success by procrastination and by allowing unimportant distractions to derail him.

Henry, a middle-aged, senior level executive suspects he is losing the respect of his professional associates, and is increasingly estranged from his wife.  He often ends his day feeling depressed and miserable.

Hannah, Jake, and Henry all suffer from exactly the same problem and Scripture provides the prescription.

 A river flows out from Eden to water the Garden,
and from there it is divided and becomes four headwaters.

Genesis 2:10

Unfortunately maps prove that no such arrangement of waterways ever existed. Another problem: If the purpose of the river is to “water the Garden,” it ought to flow into Eden rather than out from Eden.

Clearly there must be more to this story than improbable geography.  Ancient Jewish wisdom helps by showing how the main river represents the human yearning to achieve our best life.  The river flowing from Eden makes it possible for us to swim back upstream to our own personal Eden.

This ‘waterway to wonderful results’ comprises four basic rivers representing our four basic drives.  Each needs to be developed and focused if we are to head towards Eden.

Why four basic drives?  We possess both physical and spiritual needs and the world can provide us with both physical and spiritual commodities. Combined, that makes four drives.  Here they are with examples of how each drive is fulfilled.

  1.  What I need physically and the world supplies physically:   food, water, shelter
  2. What I need physically and the world supplies spiritually:   friendship, connection, love, and esteem of others
  3. What I need spiritually and the world supplies physically:   a sense of security, beauty and culture
  4. What I need spiritually and the world supplies spiritually:   a connection with God, gaining of wisdom

In other words, the four Biblical rivers that lead us to the main canal of contentment represent four categories of human need.  Our desires and motivations come from our being both physical and spiritual creatures operating in a world that supplies both physical and spiritual commodities.

Someone who ignores category 1 leaving himself and his family hungry and cold while vigorously advancing himself in category 4 would be viewed as foolish and perhaps even evil.  Similarly, someone single-mindedly increasing one’s bank account while ignoring human relationships is sheer folly.

Ancient Jewish wisdom emphasizes that as complex beings, people need to experience growth and progress in each of these four categories if they are to live purposeful, successful, and fulfilling lives.

We all know that we need food, water and shelter.  However, categories 2, 3, and 4 are less blatantly obvious and more easily ignored.  In the same way that balance is important in diet, exercise and investment portfolios, balance is equally important in healthily developing our life blueprint.

This Biblical model brings into our lives the ability to balance our existence.  This balance is critical.  For instance, my very capacity to earn money or relate to my spouse and children will be diminished if I do not also work at gaining wisdom and spiritual connection at the same time.  Think of it as a balanced diet.

Hannah, Jake, and Henry need to study the rivers of Genesis. They should work on identifying the categories they are neglecting.  Their unhappiness will start to dispel once they begin repair work.

Looking at Scripture through the lens of ancient Jewish wisdom provides practical life lessons such as this one. Some lessons spring from the very language in which God gave the Bible – Hebrew. Understanding the hidden meaning behind words such as truth, work, wealth and child allows you to access greater blessings in those areas. We explore 29 words in Buried Treasure: Life Lessons from the Lord’s Language to invite you to share in the discovery.

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This week’s Susan’s Musings: Charlie Brown Republicans

Warning: This Musing is controversial and may cause offense. I’d much rather it leads to action or, at least, discussion.

I spent much of the last presidential cycle screaming (mostly silently, but always passionately) with frustration at Mitt Romney. More than once, I came close to tears trying to convince one of his most ardent supporters that the candidate was losing a completely winnable contest.

As I recall, only once during a long, draining and discouraging primary cycle, did I want to stand up and cheer… READ MORE

Ask the Rabbi

Where is this week’s Ask the Rabbi question? We are freshening up our look and making some changes! Ask the Rabbi is getting its own mailing. Look for it in your mailbox this Thursday night.