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Monthly Archives: April, 2014

What I Didn’t Know When I Said ‘I Do’

April 30th, 2014 Posted by Susan's Musings 8 comments

O.k. I never actually said, “I do.” Those words are not part of the Jewish marriage ceremony. Still, there were so many unknowns on our wedding day.  Many of them are universal. How could I possibly have foreseen what the future would hold in terms of both delightful and disappointing revelations about my spouse? (To be fair, this is a two way street. He had his own positive and negative revelations to discover.) No amount of required reading would have begun to make clear how the arrival of children would affect our lives. Certainly, family, national and world events that would shake our lives weren’t evident on that day.

Every married person knows that a spouse sometimes sends you down paths you might not have chosen yourself. An anti-war liberal friend of mine found herself knee-deep organizing events for military wives after marrying a soldier. Another friend, while keeping her husband company while he studied for the LSATs needed for law school applications, ended up taking them herself (and outscoring her spouse).

I had no inkling of some personal experiences that would greet me. That my bridegroom was a sailor was obvious. Our first date was on a sailboat on a cloudy, windless day. I knew I was being tested. Yet, I did not envision crossing the Pacific Ocean six years later, three daughters in tow.

I knew that my husband was an inspiring and brilliant teacher with unusual oratorical skills. He was my rabbi before he was my beloved and I attended his classes. Neither of us knew that a then unknown future friend would turn those skills into a radio career. Even when that happened, I didn’t foresee that part of being a ‘helpmate opposite him’ would include hosting his show when he couldn’t.

The first time I did so I wanted to walk around the next day with a bag over my head, a response that was completely illogical since radio is not a visual medium. I parsed every word I could remember, cringing at my lack of eloquence. The next time was a little better, and while it is still easier to think of more elegant ways to phrase things after the microphone is off, I basically have a good time sitting in for my spouse.

When I have advance notice, as I do for this coming Sunday’s show (KSFO 560AM, 5-8am PT) I start spotting intriguing stories all week long. In addition to testing written phrases in my mind for my Musing, I find myself planning what questions I want to ask listeners about the Donald Sterling tempest, the infuriating “Obamacare is a great success” commercial I heard (paid for with our tax dollars), or an article bemoaning how many city workers can’t afford to live in San Francisco. Awareness of the upcoming three hours is ever-present through the week.

The written word allows time to ponder, tolerates refining and permits liberal usage of the delete button. A prepared talk can be vetted, edited and practiced.  Not so a radio show. On the radio, one can’t say, “Let me think about that,” and sit in silent contemplation for the next ten, five, or even one minute. The twists and turns the show takes as callers chime in is rather daunting.

Had I actually said, “I do,” would I still have said it knowing the pathways my life would follow? Or would a stark picture of reality full of experiences outside my comfort zone have led me to say “no thanks” missing the wonderful, if often disconcerting, times ahead? What a tremendous loss that would have been!

Listen this Sunday on your radio or at www.ksfo.com
and please call in. I’d love to talk to you!
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Three Wise Men

April 29th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

What if I told you that you could change how intelligent you are – or your children will be? Perhaps you’re saying, “That’s ridiculous. IQ is immutable and unlikely to be altered by one’s behavior. Or maybe you’re saying, “I don’t know, but if it’s true sign me up!”

However you may have reacted, I hope you’re intrigued enough by this proposition of ancient Jewish wisdom to try it out for size.  I think you’ll be surprised at how precisely it accounts for your experiences in the real world.

We read of three men whose wisdom was admired and whose guidance and leadership was sought: Joseph, Daniel, and Mordechai.  Each withstood alluring attempts to get them to abandon restraint.

Watch Joseph as his employer’s wife, by all accounts a most attractive woman, tries to seduce him.

…after these things, his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, lie with me.  But he refused… ‘[saying] because you are his wife, how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’  And she spoke to Joseph day by day but he did not listen to her to lie with her or be with her. 
(Genesis 39:7-10)

Soon after, we find that Joseph’s wisdom and leadership qualities become evident to all.

And Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find anyone like this man in whom the spirit of God is’?  Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘In as much as God has shown you all this, there is none so smart and wise as you are you shall be over my house, and according to your word shall all my people be ruled.’
 (Genesis 41:38-40)

We encounter Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah in the court of King Nebuchadnezar.  The Babylonian King, intending to entice them into the Babylonian aristocracy, arranged for them to be fed his royal, but unkosher, food.

And the king appointed them a daily portion of the king’s food, and of the wine which he drank; and to bring them up during three years, that at its end they might stand before the king.  Among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
 (Daniel 1:5-6)

Refusing to surrender their Hebrew identity, the four heroes requested a purely vegetarian diet (which is by definition kosher).  The king’s steward, nervous about disobeying the king and being held responsible for the four Jews’ not looking well fed, hesitated.  Daniel made this suggestion:

‘…test your servants, I beg you, ten days; and let them give us only vegetables to eat, and water to drink then let our faces be looked upon before you, against the faces of the other young people that eat of the portion of the king’s food; and according to what you see, deal with your servants’.  So he consented to them in this matter, and tested them ten days and at the end of ten days their faces appeared better in appearance…
(Daniel 1:11-15)

After resisting the appeal of the king’s food, Daniel and his colleagues became recognized for wisdom:

And the king talked with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah…in all matters of wisdom and understanding that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.
 (Daniel 1:19-20)

Finally, we meet Mordechai who refused to bow to the wicked Haman. Each day, courtiers tried to persuade Mordechai to submit.

It came to pass as they spoke daily to him and he did not listen to them, that they told Haman…And when Haman saw that Mordecai did not bow, nor did him obeisance, then was Haman full of wrath.
 (Esther 3:4-5)

Though it would have been so much easier to submit to Haman, Mordechai stood firm, loyal to his spiritual identity.  Not surprisingly, as the book ends, we read:

And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordechai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?..Mordechai the Jew was next to King Ahasuerus…
 (Esther 10:1-2)

What phenomenon is playing out in all these cases? Leviticus 11:43 sheds light.

Vayikra 11-43 754x288

…nor shall you make yourselves impure with them [forbidden non-kosher foods] that you should be made impure by them.

The underlined Hebrew root for impure is  טמ  pronounced TaM

Ancient Jewish wisdom asks what the repetition of the root word TaM adds to the verse. The response is that in addition to impure, the word also means unintelligent, dull  or– dumb. In fact, T’ and ‘D’ are both dental consonants, produced by placing the tongue behind the upper teeth causing considerable etymological ambiguity between these two letters.  Many scholars believe that the English word ‘dumb’ derived from the Hebrew source TaM.

dumb, impure 500 pixels

The message is that yielding to pressure, including bodily appetites, reduces the chances of a happy and fulfilled life.  What is more, submitting to hedonistic urges gradually makes one stupid.  If practiced multi-generationally, it eventually produces very dumb people.  The process of exercising restraint and saying ‘no’ makes people smarter and better suited to leadership.

In other words, adhering to Biblical faith, its rituals of restraint and its principles, is a key to wisdom, leadership and success.  This is an inconvenient truth because so many who have cast their lot in with the camp of the secular fundamentalists, America’s current government-sponsored religion, are dismayed to discover the very real and practical benefits of the twin Biblical faiths, Judaism and Christianity.

These benefits occur in both the social and economic arenas. My books Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money and Business Secrets from the Bible give practical, concrete guidance for applying these spiritual success strategies to your financial life. This is a great opportunity to invest in yourself as well as to bless a soon-to-be graduate. Help them enter the real world with Godly wisdom on their side.

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… my spirit recognized new truths in your teaching. I am grateful.   Cathy P.

It’s All About the Money

April 24th, 2014 Posted by Susan's Musings 8 comments

“It’s all about money. They just don’t want to give more.” With these words, a woman I had just met explained to me why some people oppose Obamacare. The unspoken words I heard were, “People who oppose the Affordable Care Act are selfish. They don’t want other people to have good healthcare because their taxes will be raised to afford it.”

Leaving aside for the moment that I believe that the state of health care in this country will diminish and more people will receive worse care, I was still struck by the arrogance of her attitude.

Recently, my daughter and son-in-law were notified that they needed to find new health insurance. The insurance that my son-in-law’s workplace had provided, with which they were happy, was no longer going to be available. Due to the health care law, the premiums had gone up so much that the company was not able to offer that policy.

Thanks to Obamacare, my daughter’s family needed to sign up for new insurance. The only option they had was to pay more money for a different policy, less suited to their needs. The pediatrician and internist they have happily been seeing for years are not on the new policy, necessitating finding new doctors that, incidentally, are only available a substantially further distance from their home than the old ones were.

However, let’s say that they could have kept their doctors and the specific types of treatment they wanted. Let’s say that the only difference Obamacare made was that their premiums would go up. Let’s say that the new law was going to provide good coverage to those who had been without it, not from choice but because they couldn’t afford insurance. Surely, any warm-hearted person would be happy to pay more so that other people could benefit. I do believe my acquaintance pictured this type of rosy scenario.

Even if this utopian vision was closer to reality than the actual disaster that is taking place, she is lacking understanding. Higher premiums mean an increase in expenses. Since families, unlike the government, must live within a budget, this leaves my daughter with two choices. She and her husband can increase their income by working more hours with the result that they spend less time focusing on their marriage, children or community activities. At a certain point, each of these may very well make more people in need of government assistance rather than contributors to society. Alternatively, they can reduce expenses. While this woman may be picturing the lifestyles of the rich and famous, for this young family like for many others, reducing expenses means cutting back on very basic items.

“It’s all about money,” can condescendingly be said by someone who is more than comfortable. While the woman with whom I was talking can handle a tax increase without losing her jaunts to Europe and Hawaii, she is completely out of touch with the majority of working people. Similarly, those who live off the public dole (whether through welfare, as elected politicians, or via another path) often get routine increases tied to the cost of living. The real world doesn’t operate like that.

Most people I know work hard for their money. In doing so, they support a vital, functioning society. As we move in the direction of punishing people for working and being responsible with their earnings, more than health care will suffer. As people such as my conversationalist continue to blithely and ignorantly vote based on foolish platitudes, they will find civilization around them crumbling until they too meet the real world, in which what we do with our money actually matters.   

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        FOL cover (3) Day for Atonement front cover

 

 

Lots of Hope

April 22nd, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Imagine a desperate man making his way on foot through a desert.  Exhausted and thirsty beyond endurance he keeps driving himself forward, day by day, in the hope of reaching an oasis.  Eventually, he can go no further and drops hopelessly to the hot sand.  Rescuers discover his body only a half-day’s walk from a large oasis.

Let’s rewind and replay the story with the same man.   Except in this version, he knows exactly where the oasis is located.  In this account, when he reaches the place where he gave up and died in the first story, he is exactly as exhausted and just as madly thirsty.  Yet he does not give up and die.  Why?  Because he knows that redemption lies just over the next sand dune, a half-day away.  Knowing—not hoping or believing, but knowing—that redemption is near endows us with superhuman powers.  The mere knowledge that the oasis is near endowed this man with the power to overcome the heat and thirst.

It is hard to build a business.  Urgent need for capital can entirely wear down even the hardiest entrepreneur.  Gnawing worry morphs into fear that he won’t find the funds, diminishing the effectiveness of most business professionals in this unenviable position.

Compare that situation with an entrepreneur who is grappling with precisely the same pressures except that he knows that his next round of financing is happening in three weeks’ time.  The knowledge that redemption is round the corner endows this human with astonishing powers.

Then there is the married couple struggling to hold their marriage together. One day he is doing his best while she feels it all to be futile; another day she is willing to move mountains in the hope of saving her marriage while he has emotionally checked out. As any counselor knows, the odds of a successful salvage are slim.

Now imagine that each is shown a future vision of their marriage so happy and solid that all recollection of past suffering has been expunged.  Just the knowledge that they will be joyfully reconciled makes the hard repair work so much easier to accomplish.

This is one message of Passover. Let me offer a brief example of how ancient Jewish wisdom combines seemingly unrelated incidents to overwhelm us with a Technicolor extravaganza of Truth.

Here are the first two uses of an extremely rare word in Scripture—Mitmameha, meaning delaying or lingering:

And he [Lot] lingered
(Genesis 19:16)

…and they [the Israelites] were not able to linger
(Exodus 12:39)

Here is another feature unique to the Israelite’s exodus from Egypt and Lot’s rescue from S’dom:

…and he made them a feast and he baked Matzoh…
(Genesis 19:3)

…and with Matzoh on bitter herbs they ate it.
(Exodus 12:8)

Let’s look at two more examples of the strong similarities that unite the account of the Israelites escaping from a doomed Egypt to safe refuge, and the account describing Lot and his daughters escaping from a doomed S’dom to safe refuge:

And God rained upon S’dom and Amorah sulphur and fire…
(Genesis 19:24)

…and God rained hail upon the land of Egypt.
(Exodus 9:23)

Finally, from the Hebrews’ rescue out of Egypt emerged the nation of Israel and from Lot and his daughters’ rescue out of S’dom emerged the nations of Amon and Moab.

Many more striking similarities link Lot’s rescue from the soon to be destroyed S’dom with the Jews’ rescue from the soon to be destroyed Egypt.

Ancient Jewish wisdom explores the linkage. As improbable as it seemed, it was possible for Lot to escape the destruction of his city.  Passover teaches that not only is redemption available for one man and his family, but even on a national level, God can bring redemption where no hope exists.

As humans, we can’t know for sure what lies ahead, but the next best thing is to know that it is possible. One of the great gifts that God gives His faithful is the eternal vision of tomorrow’s redemption no matter how dark it may look today.  Knowing this in our heads and believing it deep in our hearts makes today’s journey bearable.

Powerful and practical lessons like this one leap from Scripture as well as from the Hebrew language itself. We neglected to make sure that everyone knew our store and offices would be closed the past two days, so we are extending the sale on our best-selling book, Buried Treasure: Life Lessons from the Lord’s Language for another 24 hours. Many readers tell us how this book enhanced their lives.  It penetratingly probes God’s inner meaning into twenty-nine of His special words providing non-Hebrew-readers with uplift and inspiration in short easily digestible doses.  We’d love it if you made it part of your library and perhaps invest in a few copies to enable you to bless others at opportune times.

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Et Tu, Jeb

April 18th, 2014 Posted by Susan's Musings 2 comments

Pity the young women seeking a spouse. She keeps on being introduced to men whom, she is told, are wise, amiable, principled, articulate and trustworthy. At first her interest is piqued, but before long she discovers that one or more of the above traits are a façade; in fact, the men have legs of sand.

Such, sadly, is the fate of the conservative voter in America. The latest, ‘doesn’t live up to expectations’ date, is Jeb Bush. I certainly haven’t looked deeply into Mr. Bush’s record, but I was open-minded when his name surfaced as a possible presidential contender for 2016.

After his recent comments on immigration, he will have to work hard to get me to take his call. While I might disagree with his thoughts on the topic, that isn’t what leads me to spurn him. This is the sentence that infuriated me.

“I think we need to kind of get beyond the harsh political rhetoric to a better place.”

Like the suitor who tries to win his date’s favor by maligning anyone else she has dated, it suggests poor character and lack of discernment. Rather than building himself up, in my eyes at least, Jeb showed himself to be either self-serving and petty or clueless.

Here’s my beef. The “harsh, political rhetoric” I hear, is an invention of the Democratic Party and liberal propagandists. They ceaselessly promote the idea that Republicans and conservatives hate women/poor people/ African-Americans/ immigrants/ workers—whichever group is needed to win elections is identified as the object of conservative loathing.

With his speech, Jeb Bush played right into their hands. The conservatives I know who are concerned about a massive change to immigration policy are thoughtful, generous and respectful people. Many of them volunteer in Central and South America, in Africa and India on their hard-earned vacation weeks, working in orphanages and at other needy places. They are perfectly willing to engage in a debate on many topics, yet find themselves parodied and the butts of ad hominem attacks.

In this case, Jeb Bush seemed intent on saying, “I’m not like those horrible conservatives. I’m a loving guy.” This Bush has bought into the big lie, and in doing so, insults me. This is not a great strategy for getting a second date. The Republican Party in general seems intent on pursuing this losing approach.

I agree that conservatives need to win a broader bloc of voters. I think we should win them by finding articulate and clever ways to share with them the following truth. Conservative principles make life better, healthier, happier and wealthier for the overwhelming majority of people.  Liberal ideas sound good and tend to fail miserably in the real world.

Instead, Mr. Bush (and others in the Republican Party) seems intent on showing how distant he is from me (and others like me who no longer have faith in the Republican Party) and how he too can pander to constituencies. Too many Republican spokesmen seem to dislike the Tea Party more than they dislike what liberalism has done to this country.

Many of the quality women I know would rather sit home alone than subject themselves to disappointing dates.  While they want to find a man they can trust and respect, sadly, the lines of unworthy suitors keeps getting longer. By the grace of God, I met and married a wonderful man. My search for a political match is, so far, less successful.
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Flying, Elephants and Donkeys

April 16th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Soon after earning my Private Pilot’s License, I was sitting in the left seat of a Piper Cherokee single engine airplane flying at 5,000 feet over the Mozambique jungle on a course for Lourenco Marques.  I had no idea that soon thereafter the beautiful landscape beneath me would be transformed into a bloody battlefield of a civil war, resulting in the mass exodus of about a quarter of a million skilled Portuguese citizens and the destruction of an Indian Ocean paradise.

On that sunny afternoon, however, I was accompanied by a British friend who was visiting me.  We rented a plane in Johannesburg, and with my fresh piloting skills, we set out to fly to the coastal resort now known as Maputo.

I tell you this partially in the spirit of self-indulgent nostalgia, but mainly to describe what happened when John, comfortably ensconced in the right seat, excitedly spotted a large herd of elephants below.  I immediately threw the P-32 into a bank and began carving a large circle through the clear African skies so we could keep the mesmerizing sight in view.  I must have done two or three complete circles as we gazed in wonder at that herd of one of God’s most astounding creatures.

All of a sudden, I was jerked from my reverie by the startled realization that the elephants were far closer than they had been earlier.  My eyes darted to the altimeter and to my shock we were only fifteen hundred feet off the ground.  We had lost over three thousand feet of altitude!  Needless to say, I wasted no time returning to straight and level flight and with adrenaline pulsing in my veins I began a climb to resume our proper altitude.

But how did that happen? Pilot error of course.  My attention was on the elephants instead of on flying.  More importantly, I had forgotten a fundamental principle of flight.  Turning takes energy.  When I banked into a turn quite a lot of energy that had previously been providing lift and keeping us in the air was now being redirected towards changing our direction. This meant that less was available for the task of keeping us airborne. This is why, like every pilot, I was taught to add power when starting a turn.  While pressing on a rudder pedal and turning the yoke, push that throttle forward.  Since my scare that day over Africa, I have never forgotten this lesson.

The same is true for a car.  Should you ever lose your brakes, get into neutral and try to make as many turns as possible.  The car will come to a standstill far more quickly than if you continue steering straight.  Turning takes energy and drains it away from the forward motion of the car.  The same is true for a boat.  A successful yacht-racing helmsman knows that every single rudder movement costs speed.

Why do I tell you all this?  Because everything spiritual has a physical parallel or as ancient Jewish wisdom puts it: the kingdom of heaven is mirrored by the kingdom of earth.  Just as airplanes, cars, and boats require energy to change course, so do we humans need considerable energy to bring about a course change in our lives.

Ancient Jewish wisdom affirms how God blesses those who struggle to rid themselves of undesirable habits or to acquire good ones.  Not many people do this successfully because it is hard.  Changing course in life takes considerable energy.

Is there something about your life trajectory that you’d like to change?  There must be.  It is so for almost everyone one of us fired up by the dream of divine perfection and our innate desire to emulate it.  Changing a life course is daunting.  Starting it without realizing how much energy it is going to take can be discouraging.  If you don’t know in advance how much work it will involve, when you hit the first challenge you assume it is impossible. Really, you need to push that throttle forward and pour on the power.

Though others around us don’t always recognize it, when we do successfully change our life-course, we become new people. You might almost think of it as being reborn. Imagine that after a rigorous program of dieting and exercise you lose thirty pounds.  Knowing that you’re a new person makes it far easier to realize that you no longer crave certain foods and can’t imagine a day without the exercise that you credit with your amazing new energy levels.  It can be a bit dispiriting when old friends compliment you on your trim look but fail to perceive that you’re a new person. Still, over time, as they see different behavior and new lifestyle choices, they gradually recognize you as someone new with the same name as the friend they used to know.

In Numbers chapter 32, we read about a man named Yair.

And the children of Machir the son of Menasheh went to Gilad, and took it and dispossessed the Amorites who were in it…and Yair the son of Menasheh went and captured the towns there and called them Chavot Yair.
(Numbers 32:39-41)

Three centuries later, we encounter the another Yair, possessing strange similarities to his illustrious ancestor.

After him arose Yair of Gilad who judged Israel twenty two years and he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys and they had thirty cities that are called Chavot Yair to this day, in the land of Gilad.
(Judges 10:3-4)

You probably do not read the Lord’s language yet, but below is the original Hebrew text for the phrase, “and he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys and they had thirty cities.”

30 sons and donkeysReading from right to left, you’ll notice that words 3, 7, and 9 (green) resemble one another. They are the three usages of the number thirty.

Furthermore, you’ll see that words 8 and 10 (blue) look identical, though word 8 means ‘donkeys’ while word 10 means ‘cities’.

Let’s examine three questions:

(1)  Why the emphasis on thirty?  (2)  Why donkeys?  (3)  How are donkeys related to cities that they should share a word?

Answers:
(1)  Every number has unique significance in ancient Jewish wisdom. The number thirty means ‘poised on the threshold of a new life phase.’  To emphasize this point, chapter 4 of Numbers informs us no less than seven times that the Levites commenced their careers of temple service at the age of thirty.  Just as the Levites were poised on the threshold of something life transforming, we see Yair doing his utmost to transform his life away from the pattern established by the two previous judges, Tola and Avimelech.

(2)  Riding a donkey in Scripture means far more than transport.  It always means employing the material, dominating it in order to rise to something higher.

(3)  Both donkeys and cities suggest growth; one through material means and the other through social.  Because we grow through interaction with other people, crowded cities allow greater personal growth than lonely rural areas.  This is why, in an effort to atone and win his way back into God’s good graces, Cain built a city. (Genesis 4:17)

Tola and Avimelech led Israel ineffectively and badly.  Yair knew he had to change course, emulating not his immediate predecessors but rather the original Yair.  Knowing how much energy change of direction takes, he employed three strategies that each of us can use to motivate ourselves.

(i)  He lived significantly in the spirit of thirty—intensely convinced he was poised on the threshold of transformation.

(ii)  He determined to use all his resources, family, material, and social to rise higher.

(iii)  He kept in mind the image of success exemplified by the first Yair and drew inspiration just as we can draw inspiration from the success of others.

Changing course demands much power. Not every attempt at changing course is successful, but every attempt is worthwhile and using Scriptural strategies always increases one’s odds.  At the very least, knowing that changing course is hard helps prepare us for the task.

If you would like more insights into Hebrew, our best-selling Buried Treasure: Secrets for Living from the Lord’s Language is deeply discounted right now.  The fascinating insights in this book will help enable you to achieve greater heights, in the spirit of Yair.

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Conform – Or Else!

April 10th, 2014 Posted by Susan's Musings 4 comments

A friend recently sent me a clip (link below) from the original Candid Camera series. Four people enter an elevator, three of whom are participants in a planned prank. As the elevator ascends, the three turn and face the back wall. About ten seconds later, they turn again. The hidden camera catches the lone, innocent passenger. Invariably, he turns to match the others.

While highly amusing to watch, the ramifications aren’t amusing at all.  Peer pressure causes most of us to do or not do things without necessarily thinking them through. In itself, peer pressure is neither good nor bad. This powerful force sometimes leads us to behave differently, both for better and for worse, than we might otherwise do. For the vast majority of us, as for the commonly denim-clad, afro coiffed, slogan-shouting teens of the 1960’s, while we speak of individuality, we follow the crowd.

As children, the “victims” in the elevator probably read the tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes. Yet, rather than engaging their fellow elevator riders with a question, “Why are you turning around?” they abashedly followed suit. It makes me highly uncomfortable not to be sure that I would do any differently.

Last week, Brendan Eich, one of the creative geniuses at Mozilla who had become its CEO, resigned rather than cave in to the current groupthink on homosexual marriage.  He was told that America has a new way of thinking and that he had better get with the program.  (Note that by the same logic, President Obama should immediately revoke Obamacare since a huge plurality of Americans disapproves of it.)

Mozilla is a private business, but if another private business of that size fired its CEO because he advocated in favor of homosexual marriage would the government somehow get involved? Today we live under a bullying government and its intimidating agencies staffed by ever-more arrogant officials.  Increasing numbers of Americans are beginning to view their government as sinister and frightening, perhaps even malevolent. The inevitable result is that a subtle feeling of fear pushes us towards conformity.  Additionally, the media, educational institutions and sometimes friends and family exert social pressure targeting and mislabeling those of us who resist the urge to join a brave, new (highly experimental and anti-Biblical) world.  Defending freedom and preserving our values demand that we resist that pressure.

 I know nothing of Mr. Eich or his thought processes, but I bet he would not face the rear wall in the elevator just because everyone else does.

Here is the Candid Camera clip. What peer pressure are you facing?
Are you being pushed to conform in your own life?
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700 Club Clubbed

April 8th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

The aftermath to my appearance on The 700 Club with my friend Pat Robertson last Monday astounded me.  Like noxious mushrooms after a rain, articles suddenly sprang up condemning Pat for something people thought he said, and condemning me for not condemning him.  Also, I received a bunch of negative communications, almost all of them from self-proclaimed Jews.  I find myself sadly amused by hostile letters written to a rabbi that are filled with Yiddish curses.

They ranged from one or two politely critical ones to the majority, featuring vile and vulgar expletives about me and my family; two contained explicit death threats.  I am not complaining, I’m a big boy and can take care of myself.  I am accustomed to telling the Truth and living my life accordingly in spite of the anger this occasionally generates among fervent and extremist secular fundamentalists of all ethnic backgrounds.

What drives people with extremely limited data to rush to judgment and quickly criticize, condemn, and excoriate others?  What happened to giving people the benefit of the doubt?  I think it is collateral damage from the retreat of religion.  I believe that it is Biblical wisdom that lubricates human social and economic interaction and when that becomes eroded, people rush to judge one another harshly.

…in righteousness you shall judge your friend.
 (Leviticus 19:15)

Still, this is a bit vague. After all, what does ‘righteousness’ really mean?  Fortunately, ancient Jewish wisdom tells us about very important paragraph markings that can be seen in a traditional Torah scroll.  These divisions provide a graphically visible separation of a Torah column into specifically related topics. This verse is part of a paragraph which includes another verse:

…and you shall love your friend as you love yourself
(Leviticus 19:18)

Thus we see juxtaposed two parallel ideas (1) judge one another righteously, and, (2) love one another as you love yourself.

In other words, judge others the way you’d like them to judge you—giving the benefit of the doubt. Sadly, those who wrote angry denunciations were rushing to draw the very worst of conclusions.  They were hardly judging the way they’d like to be judged themselves.

I do have to say that the impact of these few vitriolic letters was utterly overwhelmed by the colossal cascade of positive and enthusiastic letters from friends and fans who saw the 700 Club interview on CBN.

Which brings me to an interesting aspect of most of the vituperative letters: most of those who scrawled them did not bother to view the twenty-minute show.  They wrote to me after reading Internet reports written by ideologues not shy about their hatred for religious conservatives such as Dr. Robertson and me.

Disregarding the obscenities and threats they contain, these letters revealed that their authors view Pat Robertson as virulently anti-Semitic and me as a hateful and unworthy member of the Jewish people for associating with him.

Let’s see what the interview was about and what Dr. Robertson actually said.  We were discussing my new book Business Secrets from the Bible which is a sequel to the best-seller from 2002, Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money.

In this new book, I reveal forty business secrets from the Bible, but in a short interview, I focused on only a few examples.  One of which was that many start-up entrepreneurs mistakenly try to do everything themselves.  I explain that you should try to do those things that only you can do while hiring others to do everything else.

Attempting a humorous example, I observed that you seldom find Jews tinkering with their cars or mowing their lawns on weekends.  I did not say that there are no Jewish lawn landscapers or Jewish car mechanics.  That would be nonsense; like other successful groups, Judaism does not view any form of work as menial.

My point was that auto-mechanics should hire plumbers to fix their water pipes, and lawn maintenance specialists should hire auto-mechanics to fix their cars.  This frees each to become more competent in his own field and better able to serve his fellow humans.  I explained that not only would my mechanic repair my car more competently and more quickly than I could but that in the time he did so, I could probably make more money than he would charge me if I applied myself effectively to my own trade.

During the 700 Club interview I mentioned the Biblical foundations for this principle of the morality of specialization which western economics only grasped when Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations at the end of the 18th century.

Responding to me, Dr. Robertson laughingly alluded to diamond polishing as a popular Jewish specialty.  This is to say that diamond polishers should not repair their own cars any more than auto mechanics should spend months polishing a raw diamond to present to their fiancées. Instead, they allow the diamond specialist to do the polishing while they pursue their own work.

There was nothing troubling in this conversation.  Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the industry knows that over 90% of the diamond business, whether in Manhattan, Antwerp, or Tel Aviv, is conducted by Jews.  So what?

There was nothing anti-Semitic in this conversation.  There was no suggestion that all Jews are rich.  I explicitly stated that obviously there are poor Jews but at the same time, it is hard to ignore that Jews are disproportionately represented among the Forbes Four Hundred and other listings of the financially successful.

The entire point of much I have written and published is that Jewish financial success is not racial and genetic but cultural. Furthermore I demonstrate how anybody can learn, understand and apply the cultural principles rooted in the Bible just as so many Jews have done over the centuries.

However, there are always a few bitter and hateful individuals.  People whose loathing of Judeo-Christian tradition and repugnance for Biblically based conservatives makes them abandon facts and focus with frenzied fanaticism on microscopic morsels they scoop up and transform into bogus evidence to justify their hate.

Pat Robertson, regularly honored and loved by Israelis for his remarkable generosity to the Jewish state has yet to be shown to have ever caused harm to any Jew.  It is a frighteningly dangerous precedent for Jews to abuse the terrible term anti-Semite in order to bludgeon those with whom they disagree into silence and submission.  It is not only dangerous but it is also stupid and evil.  Some of my fellow Jews should be ashamed of themselves.  I know I was embarrassed to see a friend so insulted by those to whom he has always been kind and gracious.

The only people left in the whole world who still openly like Jews and support Israel are America’s Evangelical Christians.  I sometimes worry that God might wonder whether we Jews really do deserve these good friends.

Meanwhile, let’s remember that we unnecessarily jeopardize relationships by failing to judge others the way we’d like to be judged.  Furthermore, those to whom you do extend the benefit of the doubt will never forget your goodness.

3,326 years ago, God judged the Egyptians while bringing the Israelites out of Egypt. Each year, we relive this Exodus by celebrating Passover, including refraining from work and earning money on the first and last two days. See the sidebar for next week’s details. Take advantage now of our remaining open hours to enjoy holiday savings on our Library Pack and Library Pack PLUS (including free shipping in the continental U.S.). These packages provide hours of stimulation, enjoyment and growth, improving your economic, family and social life at an unbeatable price. Enjoy!

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When Crying Wolf Works

April 3rd, 2014 Posted by Susan's Musings 4 comments

Did your parents tell you the story of the boy who cried ‘wolf’? Tending sheep, he thought he would spice things up by sounding the alarm that a wolf was attacking his flock. The frightened villagers rushed to his rescue only to find the alarm was bogus. After pulling this stunt a few times, the disgusted villagers began to ignore him. Predictably, when a real wolf threatened his sheep, no one came to his aid. Does this moral lesson still hold true?

You would think that the abject failure of nearly all those cities that have been run by Democratic mayors, city councils and leaders would suggest that their ideas are unsuccessful. The residents of those cities send their children to failing schools, live on crime-ridden streets and watch their neighborhoods deteriorate as city government defers infrastructure maintenance in favor of giving yet greater benefits to their employees. Yet, every serious attempt to make real improvement is met by liberal pundits shouting ‘wolf’ (racism), preferring hopeless situations and dependent citizens to the threat of Republican ascendancy and spreading freedom from government. So far, the villagers (Americans) keep running to fight the imagined peril, ignoring real threats.

When Paul Ryan made a comment acknowledging certain inner city realities and proposing that different solutions were needed, liberals needed to destroy him. While his words condemned only educational and government values, entrenched Democratic interests twisted what he said to accuse him of condemning certain people. Better that the inner city unemployment rate keeps rising rather than allowing a Republican politician to make inroads with solid Democratic constituencies.

Thankfully, Mr. Ryan didn’t accept the accusation and grovel. Unfortunately, he did apologize for using insensitive language. Like too many other Republicans, he has to learn the lesson that offense works better than defense. The point of the accusation was to disqualify him and take attention from his ideas. How much better it would have been if he would have rejected the allegation and pointed to the dismal record of the Obama administration. He should have quoted the president and other Democratic leaders saying similar words and accused his accusers of preferring hatred of conservatives to improving the condition of suffering children.

A few months ago, television personality Melissa Harris Perry made a vicious remark about the Romney’s adopted grandchild based on the child’s race. The remark was so rude and venomous that she tearfully apologized. Mr. Romney revealed himself as a perfect gentleman when he graciously accepted her apology. At the same time, he proved why he was an unsuccessful presidential candidate. Handed a high-profile opportunity to focus the conversation on liberal prejudice against conservatives and demand that Ms. Harris examine her own and her peers’ biases, he instead ended the conversation.

A few months ago, I wrote about Stephen Daughtry’s book, Waking the Sleeping Giant and how I thought that every conservative should read it. As Republicans compete once again to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, it seems obvious that neither Mr. Romney nor Mr. Paul has done so.

(Kudos to Bill Maher for raising the issue of the hypocrisy of the Left. This is worth reading.)

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All or Nothing

April 1st, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Sadly, but readily, I’ll confess that I am no dancer.  It’s not that I wouldn’t like to be a Fred Astaire on the dance floor.  It’s just that when I dance, more than anything else I resemble a drunk trying to trample a cockroach.  One of my many problems in this arena is that I remember only one thing at a time.  I can remember a kindly advisor (actually it was a contemptuous teenager) at a family celebration telling me to wave my arms.  This I can do but since the rest of me stands as rigidly as the Statue of Liberty the overall effect is less Astaire and more like a seizure.  When I remember to bounce lightly on my toes while syncopating my feet, well, we’re back to stomping cockroaches.  It really is important to apply all elements of an integrated solution; to use all the recommended ingredients in a recipe.

Running a business means taking care of production, marketing, accounting, and several other key areas.  No matter how proficiently you pursue only one of those, if the others are neglected, you won’t see success.  Building a happy and tranquil family also depends on simultaneously progressing on a number of fronts.  A military campaign is another example of this principle.  If an invasion is successful but the air cover and supply lines are neglected, all is lost.  No complex task or project can be accomplished with blinders on.  One must understand all the components that taken together comprise success, and then figure out how to move forward on them all at the same time.

Part of Israel’s success as a modern, democratic state is surely due to her ability to focus simultaneously on defense, tourism, industrialization, infrastructure, immigration, and many other concerns.  In all likelihood, understanding the total picture entered the DNA of Israel from the following Scriptural source:

 And you shall guard them and do them [the laws and statutes] for doing so [is evidence of] your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations who, when they hear about ALL these statutes will say surely this is a nation of wisdom and understanding. (Deuteronomy 4:6)

 Ancient Jewish wisdom describes how this verse would have read almost identically had the word ALL been omitted.

 …when they hear about these statutes (they) will say surely
this is a nation of wisdom and understanding.

 See what I mean?

Nonetheless, that word ALL is vital.  If the nations see Israel observing and doing only selected laws and statutes, perhaps only those they feel emotionally drawn to, the result would be quite different.  The nations will not say, “This is a nation of wisdom and understanding”. Instead they are more likely to say, “How weird, bizarre, and generally inexplicable is this nation!”

Revering only the parts of the Bible we like the sound of, does not make us effective children of God; it subjects us to ridicule.  Seeing the Bible as the comprehensive life plan that it is, not only makes us effective but it also makes us admired.

There are those who take the Bible seriously on family matters but who ignore it at work.  There are those who meticulously study the Bible and obey its edicts on charity and justice but who regard its rulings on other social issues to be anachronistic.  All the folks in these examples are getting as much benefit from the Bible as they would from eating a culinary delight prepared by a careless chef who omitted a few key ingredients.

When you respect the Biblical statutes, that important word ALL is the key.  If you try to make a bed so perfectly that a sergeant’s coin bounces off the blanket, you need to pay equal attention and apply equal tension to ALL four corners. God’s word is no different. Whether certain concepts resonate with us while others baffle us, we do well to recognize that they are all intertwined.

This crucial teaching that economic and sexual truths are inextricably linked leaps at you out of the Hebrew verses leading up to the Flood in Genesis. (Rabbi, you mean sexual depravity can really destroy finances?) Share my 2 audio CD set, The Gathering Storm: Decoding the Secrets of Noah with your friends and family. You will be amazed and uplifted to hear how ancient Jewish wisdom on these verses applies prophetically to our times, right now, right here. Learn how to construct a spiritual ark for your family, enveloping those you love with God’s protection.

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