Monthly Archives: June, 2015

Never Marry Your Aunt

June 30th, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

 

One of my least favorite laws was the National Speed Limit law of 1974 that mandated 55 miles per hour as the legal maximum.  Government assured us that it would save gasoline that, back then, we were lining up at gas stations to buy at, gasp! 55 cents a gallon. Of course the law did nothing of the sort, not even cutting the country’s fuel usage by a half of a percent.  Furthermore, I was hardly the only citizen who utterly ignored that law.  While cruising at a comfortable 85 along some straight and deserted highway in Montana or Nevada I was frequently overtaken by cars whooshing by in a blur.  Finally recognizing its futility, Congress repealed the law in 1995 returning speed limit decisions to the states.

How did they come up with the 55 miles per hour number back in 1974?  I hate to disillusion you, but some anonymous bureaucrats sat in an anonymous committee and pulled the number out of the air.  I’d have theorized that perhaps a brave and anonymous bureaucrat did it all on his own but then I realized that bureaucrats only make decisions from behind the safety shield of a committee.  So it was a committee that determined the magic number to be 55.  They could also have ruled 50, 60 or even 70.  Whatever they decided would become the law.  There are other laws like this; filing your income tax return by April 15, walking barefoot through the airport metal detector, and not buying more than 16 ounces of sugary drinks in New York City.  Laws like these are proscriptive laws. Some person or group of people with authority, proscribed them to be the law.  They could have made tax day May 29, they could have said you have to strip to your underwear at the airport, and they could have made 12 ounce Slurpees the maximum allowed.

However, there is another category of laws that I call descriptive laws.  These include the law of gravity which says that anyone who steps out of a window on the twentieth floor of a building will plummet downwards to a sudden and fatal stop on the sidewalk below.  There is no bureaucratic committee that can modify that law to apply only on Mondays.  This law does not proscribe. Instead it describes how the world really works.

Boyle’s Law and Charles’ Law state that expanding gases must cool down.  These convenient two laws make refrigerators and air conditioners possible.  There is no bureaucratic committee anywhere that can repeal these laws.  They were not created at the whim of Robert Boyle or Jacques Charles.  They describe reality.

Are Scriptural laws, for instance the one prohibiting men from marrying their aunts and women from marrying their nephews, proscriptive or descriptive?  (Leviticus 18:12 & 20:19)

In other words, would violating this law result in a penalty only if caught by a law enforcement officer or is the consequence intrinsic and automatic like gravity?

The first clue is that God’s concern is clearly not genetic. If it was, the Torah would also prohibit men from marrying their nieces and women from marrying their uncles.  Yet marriages with exactly the same genetic element are permitted.

What possible reason could God have for prohibiting a man from marrying his aunt but permitting him to marry his niece?  Likewise, why prohibit a woman from marrying her nephew while permitting her to marry her uncle?  While we need to listen to God regardless of whether we understand His reasoning, we are supposed to look for underlying truths He is imparting to us.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that that most women yearn to look up to the man they marry.  Sadly, many men discover that when poor conduct costs them the respect of their wives, the marriage is challenging to sustain and very hard to rescue. (While women also need to be respected by their husbands, it is a different form of respect.) Could the law we are discussing help tilt the odds towards successful marriage?

Ideally, in a thriving society, marriages draw inspiration and guidance from ancestors.  Many homes proudly display pictures of grandparents on the walls.  How often I hear women say, “My husband’s grandfather taught him how to…”  In my own case, I know how influential my wife’s grandmother was in her life. We even named our oldest daughter after her.

With admirable multi-generational awareness in a healthy family, a patriarch or matriarch is vitally important.  Now, if a man marries his aunt, then she is one generation closer to the cherished grandparents than he is.  This makes it just a tiny bit more difficult for him to retain his wife’s respect.  After all, she is a closer link in the transmission than he is.

However when a man marries his niece or a woman marries her uncle, the husband is a generation closer to the grandparents and the family heritage.  This is admittedly a small matter, but marriage is so difficult to do well and so remarkably rewarding when it is done well, that even tiny little things can make a difference. With this seemingly random Biblical law that affects very few people, the Bible provides a practical lesson even for those of us who don’t marry relatives.  It has nothing to do with arbitrary, proscriptive rules. Instead, it describes a feature of marriage and intergenerational life we would all do well to understand.

Many of the details in the first three chapters of Genesis provide descriptions of spiritual laws that God built into male/female relationships. We can ignore or object to these laws, or we can embrace and take advantage of them (even when our government and society condemn us for doing so). We expand on many of them in our 2 audio CD set, Madam, I’m Adam: Decoding the Marriage Secrets of Eden. Every couple, from dating to those celebrating Golden anniversaries can enjoy and benefit by learning how God’s world really works. Today more than ever, you need to make sure that those you love get exposed to the truth. The Supreme Court can proscribe laws; Genesis describes them.

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Awkward or Scandalous?

June 24th, 2015 Posted by Susan's Musings 7 comments

You probably despair, as I do, when you read of the latest sexual scandal involving a religious leader.  You probably sigh, as I do, when you read of the latest sexual scandal involving a political or cultural leader. (Let’s leave economic scandals for another time.) Have we reached the point where we don’t even bat an eyelash when a sexual scandal involves the guy next door? In fact, have we reached the point that we consider those who would use the word scandal in that context, out-of-touch, old-fashioned and prudish? 

This past Sunday, the New York Times Sunday Styles section ran a disturbing question and answer in Philip Galanes’ Social Qs column. I may be dating myself, but I can remember when a column with that type of title would have answers by Emily Post or Miss Manners. Those columns dealt with issues such as friends not responding  to an invitation or what to do with a pal who never seems to have her wallet with her when you get together for lunch. 

In contrast, the June 21, 2015 column of Social Qs, a feature meant to, “provide help with your awkward situation(s),” included a question by someone whose four-year-old son’s babysitter was propositioned by the married father of another toddler. The awkwardness arises because the parents of the two toddlers have become friendly and, “…there will be a huge elephant in the room,” the next time they meet. 

To Mr. Galanes’ credit, he does tell the letter writer that his priorities are backwards and that his first concern should to ensure that his college-aged babysitter feels safe. However, while acknowledging that it will be awkward to hang out with the other couple after what happened, the columnist seems to think that is only because of who the father propositioned. He ends his response saying, “Here’s hoping that the parents of your son’s other pals cheat normally (i.e., at a reasonable distance from the playroom).”

Excuse me? I did not know there was a normal way to cheat. I should have gotten a clue from the fact that the question was asked in this column rather than in another potential New York Times venue, The Ethicists column. In 2011, Randy Cohen penned his farewell article as he passed on the baton of The Ethicist. He wrote of the variety of questions he had received over the years, including whether, “…you must blow the whistle on a friend’s adulterous spouse.” Fast-forward four years and adultery has morphed from an ethical problem into an awkwardness issue. 

There are religious leaders who do embody holiness. There are politicians who are upright. Sadly, we seem to be exposed more frequently to those who betray their positions than to those who elevate them. In the final analysis, each of us needs to uphold what is right. Disappointment in the failure of others doesn’t relieve us our own individual responsibility.  We need to constantly monitor ourselves to make sure that we aren’t confusing immorality with normality, not exclusively in the sexual area, but certainly  including that realm. 

For questions asked and answered more in keeping with your sensibilities, get our Ask the Rabbi book. Entertaining and enlightening, share with your family and friends and get a healthy conversation going. 

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How can I be respectful to my unbelieving family members?

June 24th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

I have two sisters who are causing big dilemmas in raising our 2-1/2 year old daughter. One sister is living with her boyfriend and their new baby and doesn’t attend church. She consistently dresses very provocatively, when she comes to our house.

The other sister is an angry atheist who swears and takes God’s name in vain constantly. She talks freely of getting drunk, premarital sex and other inappropriate topics in front of our daughter and my eight-year-old niece. My practice so far has been to ignore the immodest dress from the one sister, and to say in a hushed tone to the other sister, “Oh, we probably shouldn’t talk about that stuff in front of [the niece]” 

My husband and I are committed Christians and both volunteer in our church regularly. When I was a kid and a high schooler, I erred on the side of being ungracious and judgmental, and in college I tried very hard to change that. Now I fear I’ve swung too far the other way and important boundaries are being crossed. I feel like I’m making huge efforts to be respectful and loving of my sisters while they are disrespectful of me and my family. What would you advise?

Thank you so much for your wisdom!

∼ Emily

Answer:

Dear Emily,

The question you ask hits close to home for so many people. We think you are being astute in recognizing that you leaned too far in one direction when you were younger and that this might have encouraged you to lean too far in the other direction now.

Family relationships are important and we don’t think people should be quick to terminate or minimize them. At the same time, your primary responsibility is to be your daughter’s protector and to maintain the spiritual integrity of your family.

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Grab That Ox

June 23rd, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Almost everyone can tell when a synagogue or a church is in the final stages of decline.  The impending extinction is usually caused by changing neighborhood demographics or sometimes by a leadership crisis but the signs are always conspicuous.  Diminished attendance; few young women, a sad-looking facility showing signs of neglect. A roof needing repair, walls needing paint, and missing light bulbs reflect deferred maintenance.

Similarly, a country that is losing its vitality and sliding down into decadence reveals certain characteristics that serve as an early warning system.  One surprisingly significant sign is hostility towards private citizens owning property.  It starts off subtly by stressing the rights of renters rather than owners and then gradually grows to criticize landlords, owners of commercial and industrial property and others who have successfully acquired property.  Eventually censure of property-owners turns into condemnation to justify government agencies raising property taxes imperiling ownership, and ultimately seizure of properties, always for the “public good” of course.

This pattern has nearly always accompanied the decline of empires, nations, and societies and can easily be observed today in Europe as well as in N. America.  The growth of an economically viable society under stable and limited government is in itself something of a miracle.  It is far from the natural order of things and to a great degree, depends upon a government not only refraining from confiscatory policies but actively protecting citizens’ ability to acquire and own property.

The Bible clearly reveals how emphatically God desires for people to own both real estate and movable property.

… nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war any more. But each man shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree…
(Micah 4:3-4)

The prophet is not talking about people sitting under any old vine or fig tree but under their own.  Furthermore, ancient Jewish wisdom declares that the proximity of the topics of war and owning their trees in these verses suggest that violence and war are best avoided by each citizen owning property.

Not only does God want all His children to own property, but He is apparently uneasy about ownerless property.  Take a look at this:

When you encounter the ox or the donkey of your enemy wandering you shall surely return them to him.
(Exodus 23:4)

Intriguingly, the same idea is repeated with some variation later in the Torah:

You shall not see the ox or sheep of your brother wander off, and ignore them; you must certainly return them to your brother. 

(Deuteronomy 22:1)

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches three timeless truths from these verses:

First: If you encounter obviously lost animals wandering around, you don’t have the right to ignore them.  As soon as you spot them they become your business and you are obliged to take all necessary steps to restore them to them to their owners.  God doesn’t care for ownerless property and He counts upon us to help owners retain their property.

Second: In Exodus, the second book of the Torah, we are directed to return lost property, even that belonging to our enemy.  Surely we’d have been able to figure out that if we have to treat our enemy’s property this respectfully, then we need to do so for our brother’s property.  Thus the verse mentioning brother in Deuteronomy, the fifth book, seems superfluous.  The answer is that God is teaching us that by interrupting whatever you are doing and going out of your way to return lost property to your enemy (Exodus 23:4) you can eventually transform him into your brother. (Deuteronomy 22:1)

Third: By mentioning helping one’s enemy first, God is telling us that He wants us constantly to be working on overcoming our inbuilt, unworthy natural tendencies.  A very understandable part of our beings exults at seeing our enemy’s valuable animals lost and wandering.  “That will teach him to be such a scoundrel,” we self-righteously tell ourselves.  Yet God tells us to work at overcoming our ignoble instincts.

The same applies to training ourselves never to become angry, not to be lazy, or any of the numerous other negative tendencies and instincts we possess.  They may be natural to us, but that doesn’t make them permissible.

Another area where we need to overcome a natural tendency is envy, which leads us  to equate poverty with virtue.  It is a natural instinct but a wrong one to tell ourselves that those with far more property than we have must have ‘cut corners’ and must be greedy, unworthy folks.

By remembering that part of God’s plan for human interaction demands that people own property, we can, in our own small way, help to preserve our society.  We can help curb the natural tendency of our culture, entertainment and politicians.  By remembering the Biblical approach to humans and their property, we can, in our own small way, help our synagogues and churches remain fiscally healthy and reverse the societal decline that flows from envy and hatred of those who wisely own some property.

In case you’re wondering what inspired me to write this Thought Tool, it was partially the fascinating questions that my wife and I receive from readers asking about economic, family and social issues.  We receive many puzzling and perplexing questions and we answer one a week.  So many of you have expressed interest in this aspect of our work that we have published an irresistible anthology of 101 of the most intriguing questions we have received. It is easy reading that packs a punch and you can get it today.

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John Galt, Please Call Home

June 17th, 2015 Posted by Susan's Musings 13 comments

What do you call a society where honesty and factual data are less respected than falsehood and fanciful illusions?  One of the things you might call such a society is unsuccessful. 

On June 9, 2015, Sir Tim Hunt, a Nobel prize-winning British biochemist, resigned  from University College London after being labelled sexist.  Among the “terrible” things he said was that one of the problems with girls in the lab is that they cry when criticized. He also spoke of love affairs in the labs reducing efficiency. I have read many articles in women’s magazine discussing how women in business find their tendency to cry when getting negative feedback problematic. My real-life experience, and probably yours as well,  tells me that women cry more easily than men. For goodness sakes, women watch certain movies in order to make themselves cry! How many men do you know who do that? 

Anyone who lives in the real world knows this to be true just as they know that flirting, relationships and affairs interfere with productivity. They are also almost inevitable when people spend hours together daily, united in a common cause. Dr. Hunt wasn’t saying that women shouldn’t work in labs; he was simply saying that sex-segregated labs might be more productive. Yet, it was deemed irrelevant whether Sir Tim’s accusations were true or not. In today’s hyper-sensitive world offense trumps reality and qualified people must be hounded from their jobs if they aren’t politically correct. (After all, we mustn’t make women cry.)

The ludicrousness of this entire episode should serve as a plot for a slapstick comedy. That it instead serves as a prescription for running scientific research is a tragedy. In Ayn Rand’s brilliant book, Atlas Shrugged, the talented and accomplished members of society escape to live in their own secret world. In effect, they have given up on the stupid, petty and unsuccessful politicians, media spokesmen and bureaucrats who are running things. As exemplified by the protagonist, John Galt, they refuse to work any longer only to be vilified for their achievements. 

Resigning from his position, Sir Tim Hunt said, “I’m really really sorry that I caused any offense, that’s awful. I just meant to be honest, actually.” How foolish of him! Honesty has long been expelled from academia. Not surprisingly, wisdom accompanied it out the door. 

We can demand that scientists be suave, dishonest sycophants.   We can demand that they be full of tact and personable. We will pay the price with fewer inventions, life-saving discoveries and technological advances. Certainly, many of the fruits of science that enhance our lives owe their creation to people who would never have won a congeniality award. It may be a price that women who want the right to cry and also don’t want anyone to mention their tears are willing to pay, but I pity the rest of us who will live in the world these small-minded, Madame Defarge reincarnations (and their male counterparts) create.

How Do I Keep the Bible’s Sabbatical Year?

June 17th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

I really enjoyed listening to you on the Glenn Beck show and thought I might ask a quick question, if that’s all right…
 
I am a farmer/rancher and have decided to observe Shemitah, even though I don’t think it is “required” of gentiles. I just want to, as a sign of obedience to Him. But, I do wonder if it is permissible to cut hay for our cattle this winter? I am far from being an authority on this matter and don’t want a “loophole”. I really want to properly observe it to the best of my ability. I believe He will provide for us in any case. He always has.
 
Any help you might offer would be greatly appreciated.
 
Blessings,

∼ Ted C.

Answer:

Dear Ted,

Let me start my response to you by praying that God rewards you for your faithfulness.

Second, thanks for watching the Glenn Beck show on which I appeared.

Your question is really interesting because not an hour before receiving it, I had just completed writing the Thought Tool that went out to over 40,000 of my students.  I taught on the Shemitah and the Yoveil/Jubilee 50 year cycle.

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Snow White and the Bible’s 7 Year Cycle

June 16th, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Have you ever wondered why Snow White met seven dwarfs? Not six, not eight— exactly seven. Why do we speak of Seven Wonders of the World—perhaps there should be nine? Marilyn Monroe even starred in The Seven Year Itch.

Have you ever wondered why England celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne on the fiftieth anniversary? Forty and sixty are also nice round numbers. We make a huge fuss for a couple’s Golden anniversary—perhaps as lifespans increase we should change that to fifty-five years rather than fifty?

Both seven and fifty are embedded into the world’s psyche because of their importance in the Bible.

Six years you shall sow your field and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruit; but in the seventh year shall be a Sabbath of rest to the land…(Leviticus 25:3-4)

The seventh year in each cycle is called the Shemitah.  Sure enough, nothing is being planted or harvested on Jewish-owned land in Israel during the current Biblical year of 5775 ending on September 13, 2015.

This parallels the Fourth Commandment of doing no work on the seventh day, the Shabbat.

Six days you shall work and achieve all your accomplishments but the seventh day is the Shabbat of the Lord your God, on it you shall do no work, not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates.  

(Exodus 20:9-10)

Ideally, Israel’s land is so sensitive that not even it should work for us on the Sabbath!  It is plainly impracticable to uproot all crops each Friday afternoon and replant them on Saturday night. By the end of six years we’ve accumulated a total of about 312 Sabbaths upon which the earth has worked.  Leaving the land fallow for the seventh year, ‘gives back’ the six years-worth of Sabbaths. If we add to that the approximately fifty-two Sabbaths of that seventh year we get 312+52 = 364 or approximately one complete Sabbatical/Shemitah year.

After seven Shemitah cycles, equalling forty-nine years, the fiftieth year is the Jubilee year, in Hebrew YoVeL.

And you shall count seven Sabbaths of years, seven times seven years and the total of the seven Sabbaths of years will be forty-nine years…And make holy the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout all the land for all its inhabitants…

(Leviticus 25:8-10)

God’s  fifty year cycle seems to extend beyond the borders of Israel to the economies and even wars of all the world.

I’d like to introduce you to Russian economist Nikolai Kondratieff.  He recognized a fifty year cycle in economics and explained to Soviet society that God’s cycle was more accurate than the Kremlin’s latest, “Five year plan.” Not surprisingly,  Stalin executed him in 1938. Yet, what he observed stands the test of time.

In economic affairs, wealth creation seems to peak approximately every 50 years.  The year 1800 gave us steam power, industrialization and mass produced cotton fabric.  1850 was the start of railroads being built in N. America, Europe, Africa and Asia and the manufacture of steel in industrial quantities.  1900 introduced high voltage AC distribution making home and street lighting affordable and the start of the chemical industry.  1950 brought plastics and the mass produced modern automobile. 2000 ushered in the computer and digital revolution.

Likewise, at the bottom of the economic graph we have a trough every fifty years.  The first modern economic crisis was the Panic of 1825.  The Long Depression was a world-wide price recession that reached its depths in 1875.  Again, just over fifty years later we saw the Great Depression with the market crashing in October 1929.  The high oil prices, unemployment and inflation of 1975 was another recession that adhered to the Kondratieff Biblical model of economic cycles.

In warfare, God’s fifty year pattern for human affairs is equally evident. In the period 1885-1890, Britain, France, Germany, and North America were all involved in armed conflicts that established or defended borders.  Twenty-five years later, World War One broke out in 1914.  Another twenty-five years elapsed until 1939 and the outbreak of World War Two.  Another twenty-five years went by bringing us to 1964 and the sad Vietnam War.  Another twenty-five years saw the first Gulf War in summer 1990.

God’s Biblical cycles of the seven year Shemitah and the fifty year Jubilee are not arbitrary numbers. Rather, they are descriptive of how God created the world.  It is as good for us to know and understand these cycles in human affairs as it is for us to know and understand the realities that God built into the world’s psyche relating to male/female relationships, communities and personal finance.  My life’s mission has been to share this ancient Jewish wisdom in a way that makes it accessible to people of every background and in a way that helps people use it to improve their families and friendships, their finances, and their faith.

What’s Missing?

June 10th, 2015 Posted by Susan's Musings 6 comments

Have you noticed that certain things are missing from hotel rooms lately? I am not suggesting a rash of thefts – I mean items that were once routinely found and no longer are. Specifically, I’m referring to towel bars and Gideon Bibles 

Why newly renovated or built hotel bathrooms frequently have no towel bars is beyond me.  I understand that a bathroom missing this necessity initially looks sleek and uncluttered. However, that is only until one uses one’s towel. At that point, what are you supposed to do with it? Drape it over the tub or plunk it next to the sink? Neither option seems terribly attractive. 

Not only is the option unattractive, it also seems contradictory. While I dislike the policy that asks me to save energy by reusing my rumpled towel and informs me that only towels on the floor will be replaced, not having a towel bar makes the floor look tempting . Surely even people who are greenophiles hurl their towels to the floor in disgust when they can’t find a better place for them. In fact, faced with a modern-looking bathroom minus a towel bar and despite the fact that my mother drilled into me that one does not throw towels on the floor, my husband and I tend to request extra towels and toss more than our fair share downwards.

The missing Bible probably affects fewer people. We notice it because in preparing speeches in a city we are visiting, we sometimes want to see what the English translation of the Bible says. For years, we have counted on popping open the bedside table’s drawer and pulling out a Bible. Alas, it is frequently no longer there. The Bible’s presence dates back to 1908, when the Gideon Association, founded by Christian businessmen in 1899, decided that placing Bibles in hotel rooms would enhance their mission. For decades, the Gideons have presented Bibles to hotels, and they estimate that about 25% of visitors read them.

No more. Many hotel chains no longer distribute the Bibles. Standard room fare is more likely to include coffee makers and hypo-allergenic pillows. Some boutique locations associated with major chains even provide courtesy condoms.  

I believe in free enterprise. Hotels cater to their paid guests and Christian businessmen are no longer the large demographic they once were. Nevertheless, the missing Bible saddens me, reflecting as it does, society’s changing values.

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Should My Husband Join My Business?

June 10th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

My husband and I are ready your book on business as a result of seeing you on the 700 club. I have been in business for 25 years in the Imprinted Apparel business and recently my husband lost his job. It made sense for him to join the business as he is 10 years younger than me and I have to deal with a lot of boxes and deliveries when jobs are completed.
My business has supplied me for 25 years but it is a small business and now we need to generate enough income for 2. We start our day everyday reading scripture and praying and then get to work. So far so good as the last Summer Camp order was double the size of last year. It is still a step in faith as we attempt to grow our business and ask God to help us.
Is there any specific advise you would give us? Thank you and God bless you today.

∼ Lauren A.

Answer:

Dear Lauren,

If you have been in business for 25 years and it is growing, you must be doing many thing right. You clearly invite God to bless and guide your business which is always an important step.

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Adam, Moses and Air-Conditioning

June 9th, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

More than a quarter million Bangladeshis were killed by a typhoon in November 1970.  Horrifying!  But wait, twice that number of Americans were killed by an influenza virus in 1918.  In the summer of 1995 excessive heat killed over 700 Americans while in the same year severe cold or hypothermia killed more than 2,000.  I am not trying to list a catalog of calamities; I want to explain how the world really works by posing an important question.

Why would God create a world filled with frequently fatal meteorological events, disease and intolerable heat and cold?  Why couldn’t God have just made the entire world with the mild weather of coastal British Columbia and with no germs or viruses?

Ancient Jewish wisdom answers this question.

In the Lord’s language, Hebrew, the words for not good are Lo Tov.

Tov  Lo

                                                                        לא טוב

good   not

 This phrase occurs only twice in the Torah.  It appears first in Genesis 2:18 when God declares,

It is not good for man to be alone.

The phrase appears again in Exodus 18:17, when Moses’ father in law criticizes Moses for not delegating and trying to do all the teaching by himself.

And Moses’ father in law said to him, “What you are doing is not good.

In Genesis, God is not speaking only in the context of Adam’s future matrimonial prospects. Moses’ father-in-law is repeating the same message, even for his son-in-law who has the closest relationship with God. It is never good for people to be isolated from other people. The message in both places is: Find ways to collaborate and you will thrive, but alone you will perish.

Like any parent, our Father in Heaven wants His children to relate to one another with love and concern rather than indifference.  Imagine a father wanting his three children to remain connected to one another always.  He might bequeath to each just a part of the combination to activate a safe into which he had placed their inheritance.  This way they would need to cooperate in order to acquire their legacy.  Similarly, our Father in Heaven has incentivized us to cooperate and collaborate.

Think of being parachuted down onto a remote uninhabited desert island.  It is a fine tropical island with the drawback of very high temperatures.  It is almost unbearably hot on that sun seared beach.  However, you are not dismayed because back home you were a successful heating/air conditioning technician so you determine to build yourself a little air conditioned beach shack.  How long will it take you to build a working air conditioner?

The answer, of course, is that you never will.  On this island there is nobody making and selling sheet metal. The same goes for rubber tubing, compressors and condensers.  Not to mention that there is nobody generating electricity.  All the wonderful appliances and devices that make life comfortable and even possible only come about through human cooperation.   In other words, God incentivized us to connect, communicate, cooperate, and collaborate.  It is as if He is saying to us, “My children, I have created a world with tough challenges.  Here’s your choice:  Learn to get on together or you will live short and painfully unpleasant lives.”

In 1953, a flood drowned nearly 2,000 Dutchmen in the Netherlands.  Why has no subsequent North Sea flood done anything similar?  Because immediately following that disaster, the Dutch got together and pooled capital and engineering know-how to build the world’s largest land reclamation project ever.

One family alone can never protect itself from an epidemic.  However, when millions of families pool their capital and expertise, over time they come up with a vaccine against the rampaging disease.  Far more successful small businesses are launched by partnerships and teams than by one entrepreneur laboring alone.

By highlighting that the phrase Lo Tov — it is not good — appears only twice in the Torah and that both occurrences involve someone disconnected from others, we learn a vital life lesson.  The good things in life come when we are not alone.  Connecting, communicating, cooperating and collaborating with others allows us to achieve far more goodness than we possibly can alone.

There is considerably more ancient Jewish wisdom highlighting not only the infinite range of potential that more and better connections can unleash in your life but also practical strategies to make that happen.  I have collected the best of these and made them available for you to employ in your social and business life in a 2 CD audio package entitled  Prosperity Power—Connect For Succe$$.  (Check out the instant download option which is on sale.) Listen while you commute or exercise or even as you doze off in bed.  It is material you need to hear more than once.

Whether as a gift for someone who’ll realize how important they are to you or for yourself, this program will not only teach you things you didn’t know about the Bible and about human connection, but it will also help you transform yourself  into a vastly improved connector.  That is good for your finances, it is good for your health, and it makes our Father in Heaven smile. And that is really good.

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