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Monthly Archives: October, 2015

Keep Those Problems Coming

October 29th, 2015 Posted by Susan's Musings 9 comments

Recently, my husband and I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Ben Carson speak. For the moment, I’d like to put aside his presidential aspirations to focus on one insight he gave us into his life. 

Speaking of his adolescence, Dr. Carson told us how closely he came to succumbing to an explosive temper and badly hurting or even murdering someone. By God’s grace, his blows were deflected and the horror at what had almost happened propelled him to put himself in God’s hands and ask for His help. 

Just imagine. Instead of becoming a world-famous pediatric neurosurgeon, saving lives and being a blessing to so many, Dr. Carson could have been one more inmate of juvenile hall, on a path to a life either wasted or a curse to those around him. 

At the age of seventeen, Chris Wilson did commit a murder and was sentenced to life in prison. While incarcerated he made a decision that even if his life was spent behind bars, he would keep learning and strive to help others. At 33, a judge saw the person behind the sentence and gave Wilson a chance. He is now a hard-working entrepreneur on parole, giving ex-prisoners a chance to re-enter society through his business. 

In Israel today, thirteen and fourteen year old boys and girls are acting on the message of hatred they have been receiving since birth and stabbing Israelis. They, like the teenaged Dr. Carson and Mr. Wilson, grew up in a society that failed them, not with a lack of money, but with a lack of positive values. 

What to do with teenagers who commit heinous crimes is a valid question. Do we lock them up for the rest of their lives or not? Yet, that question lets us, as a society, off the hook. Imagine if we discovered that the drinking water in a city was poisoning the inhabitants. Citizens would be appalled and the government would provide millions of dollars for compensation to those who lost family members, while making sure that blood transfusions and hospital care for those who were sickened was available. All this is meaningless if no changes are made to the water supply. Even as we were trying to cope with the disaster, the next group of people would be being poisoned. 

Isn’t it better to fix the problem and then deal with past consequences rather than keeping the flow of harm running, while racing to cope with the ever-increasing number of casualties? I cringe when politicians speak of the importance of higher education for minorities and lower income families. How about fixing elementary schools first rather than pushing colleges to enroll illiterate individuals with poor study habits? What is the point if at the same time the next batch of first graders is destroyed? I am disgusted when politicians shed crocodile tears for inner city youth while promoting programs that work against marriage and demanding that only ideas that reject traditional Judeo-Christian values must be disseminated in the public square. I recoil when politicians pontificate about violence in the Middle East and don’t withhold funding from groups that run TV shows for preschoolers that teach violence and hatred against Jews and Christians. 

Like many Americans, I have views on Dr. Carson’s candidacy. Wherever you fall on that question, we all should recognize the catastrophe in the making as human potential gets wasted while adults, who should be wiser, betray the youth for whom we are responsible.

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Should my daughter nanny for a lesbian couple?

October 29th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

My daughter has been calling me to ask my opinion about working for a married lesbian couple as a nanny to their child. I quote scripture to dissuade her, however she says they are so nice to her and Christians are being unfair to their lifestyle and the couple can’t help who they are, etc. 

Could you please address this situation and help me explain this from God’s point of view. Anything will help because political correctness is so pervasive in our society.

Thank you for your consideration,

∼ Jo

Answer:

Dear Ann,

It’s wonderful that your daughter is calling to ask your opinion. This suggests that she values your thinking. You should be proud. It also suggests that she is conflicted about this job opportunity and willing to think independently rather than flow with her peer group. That is a good thing.

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Joy and Heartbreak

October 15th, 2015 Posted by Susan's Musings 17 comments

My husband and I were blessed once again to be in Jerusalem for the chock-full month of holidays that just ended, as we have been for the past few years. This trip was different. 

The month tends to be packed with seeing family and friends, celebrating the Festival days and Shabbat, and keeping up with our ministry work. We aren’t looking to run around the country (though there is much we would love to see). There is much joy in living in Jerusalem, visiting the cafes and restaurants within a few blocks of the apartment we rent, being able to walk or take a short bus ride to the Western Wall, drinking in the unique aura of the city and spending as much time as we can with our Israeli daughter, son-in-law and grandson.  Each year, however, we do try to set aside one day for an outing. 

One year, we went to the cave of Machpela in Hebron, where Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah are buried. On our way back from there, we stopped at Rachel’s tomb. Another year, we spent a day in Shiloh, the site of Hannah’s prayer for a son and where the Mishkan, the temporary Temple, stood for hundreds of years. This year, our plan was to go to Yad VaShem, Jerusalem’s Holocaust Museum. Neither of us had been there for a few decades and it has been entirely rebuilt from when we saw it.         

 

We didn’t make it. There was no time to focus on the attempted extermination of Jews seventy years ago in Europe when outside our door the attempted extermination of Jews in Israel was taking place right now. 

The second day my husband and I were in Israel, we went to the graves of his parents on Har HaMenuchot, ‘The Mount of Those Who are Resting.’ At the end of our stay, on the day we had set aside for an outing, we paid a shiva (condolence) call on the parents of Eitam Henkin who, along with his wife Na’ama, had just been buried on Har HaMenuchot. Driving home on the evening of October 1st, with their four sons, ages 9, 7, 4, and 9 months, they were fired on and killed by Moslem terrorists. Their deaths were the first of too many and the number is increasing daily. 

 

Israel is a small country; the Jewish people make up a small population. You would be hard pressed to find one Israeli Jew, who does not know one of the victims of this new Intifiada. Yet, funeral attendance and shiva calls for terrorist victims in Israel are attended by hundreds, even thousands, who do not necessarily know the individuals involved. Not only is there a feeling of family but there is also a recognition that had I driven home a different way, boarded an earlier bus or walked down a different street, that could have been me. While we were in the Henkin apartment, two beautiful teenage girls came to pay a shiva call. As they hugged Rabbanit Henkin, who with her husband and Na’ama’s parents will be raising the orphaned grandchildren, they told her that the grandchildren will be all right. How do they know? Because seven years ago, that was their situation when their mother was murdered. 

Think of the way you felt in the days following 9/11 and you will have an inkling of how Israelis feel. Yet, unlike 9/11 which was an aberration in America, this is their norm. Life continues, as despite the incredible tension, the heightened awareness, people continue working, shopping and going to school. We found ourselves in a business meeting, sharing ideas and laughter. Later in the meeting, the man we were meeting mentioned that his study partner had been murdered less than a year earlier. A friend told me the following story. A number of years ago, after two young boys who played  hookey from school to hike in the hills behind their home were found slaughtered in a cave, she asked her daughter not to take a shortcut home that went through an undeveloped field. For a few days, her daughter obeyed. Then she came to her mother and said, “Mom, do you want me to live in Israel?” “Of course, was the reply.”  The daughter said, “Then you have to let me live.” She went back to using the shortcut.  

Jews are given to introspection. It is not an accident that Freud was Jewish. He may have been wrong in his ideas, and motivated by rebellion against God, but ‘go with the flow,’  and ‘eat, drink and be merry,’ are not part of the Jewish psyche. The Israeli press is filled with articles of people reminding themselves and others that not all Moslems are evil and that Israel could handle things better. There are Moslem citizens of Israel who are grateful for and loyal to the state, including serving honorably in the army, and there are Jewish ones who hate the state and do not serve. There have been scattered lone-wolf attacks by Jews against Moslems and scattered instances of Moslems saving the lives of Jews under attack. That is all true–and in terms of stopping this evil it is all irrelevant. 

What matters is the majority message, the respective government’s directives and the underlying culture on each side. When a Moslem teenager viciously stabs and critically wounds a 13 year old boy riding a bicycle and is subsequently killed by the police when he refuses orders to   stand still and drop his knife, and papers around the world run a headline, “Palestinian teenager killed by Israeli police,” that has nothing to do with any Israeli policy. When a Palestinian law student at an Israeli university starts stabbing Israelis, that has nothing to do with poverty. When John Kerry spouts idiocy, talking of blame on both sides, that has zero to do with the Temple Mount. When the Moslem Arab world and the United Nations choose to exploit and institutionalize refugees that has nothing to do with Israel, a country that absorbed hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from Moslem lands.  

Please read Bret Stephens’ Wall Street Journal article. Please know that most of what you hear and read in the world press, including America’s, is slanted, false and misleading. You need to know this, because, while God punishes his chosen people, those who choose to side with the persecutors or to join in the persecution end up suffering too. Often, they disappear from the stage of history. (Horrifically, as when 80% of the Jewish nation remained in Egypt rather than aligning with Moses, most of the Jewish community in America is frequently on the wrong side.) 

It is tragic when any human suffers. Our hearts are properly torn when a tsunami ravages any city or when any humans attack each other. There is an added element of tragedy when the world turns against the Jewish people. Whether it is fair or not, whether we like it or not, what is happening in Israel will determine what happens in America. An America founded on Judeo-Christian values was a blessing to the Jewish people and had the right to ask for God’s protection. A secular, Godless America, evolving as an enemy to the Jewish people, cannot. 

How could Boaz do such a thing?

October 15th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

God said the Moabites could not join with the Israelites yet Ruth was a Moabite. Did Boaz disobey, and what happens to Obed, Jesse and David?
It is difficult to believe Boaz did anything against God’s will.

∼ Vanaly P.

Answer:

Dear Vanaly,

There is a theme that runs through King David’s life of the despised becoming the elevated. He expresses this in Psalms 118:22, “The stone that the builders rejected became the cornerstone.”

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Should Israeli Lives Matter?

October 8th, 2015 Posted by Susan's Musings 19 comments

I saw something on Facebook the other day that rubbed me the wrong way.   Now, depending on who your ‘Facebook friends’ are, you can encounter lots of disagreeable material on Facebook, but this was different. Many people whom I like and admire reacted to the increasing number of Arabs brutally murdering Jews on the streets of Jerusalem and its outlying areas by posting, “Israeli lives matter.”  

I love and appreciate that these people, both Jewish and Christian, want to show support for Israel and the Jewish people. Social media, with its hashtag and slogan mentality is largely where our society interacts today. My instinctive, negative reaction may be completely wrong. Still, “Israeli lives matter,” doesn’t resonate with me.

Politicians regularly exaggerate and speak in hyperbole. America’s current President goes beyond that; he blatantly propagandizes. He talks of  things like building a transparent administration or about working across the aisle that he knows are untrue. HIs stock in trade is disinformation, reminiscent of the old Soviet Union. One of the damaging effects of his presidency is an increase in the corruption of language. 

When, back in 2014, Michelle Obama held up a sign reading, “#Bring back our girls,” that was a way to do nothing while getting kudos for being sympathetic.  Boko Haram still has the girls and the First Lady’s sign leads overseas to mockery of America. Secular liberalism speaks of universality while pigeon-holing everyone by race, income, gender and a constantly  increasing list of criteria. It pits people against each other while piously decrying bigotry.  

Michelle

The ‘Black Live Matter’ movement enriches demagogues and empowers politicians while impoverishing and destroying African-American communities. It is easier to make people angry and to convince them that they are blameless victims, rather than to have serious and uncomfortable conversations. Discussing corruption and decay among the police, corruption and decay in teachers’ unions and the public education system, self-destructive cultures that produce fatherless boys and dozens of other issues all get pushed aside while shouting three obfuscating words.

‘Black lives matter,’ inevitably produced ‘Police lives matter.’ I understand the impetus for a counter-slogan, but in the final analysis, exchanging buzzwords promotes conflict while ignoring the real work that needs to be done. ‘Israeli lives matter’ encourages the growth of a ‘Palestinian lives matter’ movement, supporting the concept of moral equivalence. 

For this reason, I am uncomfortable with joining the ‘X lives matter’ movement. Our culture loves to sound virtuous without the messy business of acting virtuously.  I know that those who are saying, ‘Israeli lives matter’ are appalled, as I am with the world’s double standard. Like me, I hope they are horrified at Europe and America’s inviting refugees carrying suitcases full of hatred and violence into their countries. I’m sure that most of these people support Israel with money, time and their votes. Still, I worry that adopting mantras reduces us as a society, allowing us to pretend we are reacting to serious issues with an ephemeral tap of our fingers.

Yet, social media is where our society interacts. I may be completely wrong. What do you think? 

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Rabbi, there’s a conflict in your teachings.

October 8th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

I’ve noticed two major themes in your writing and speaking that, when taken together, create a dilemma. These are the themes of income being associated with the production of value for others, and the fact that the values of society are becoming less and less moral as civilization has deteriorated recently.
 
So this would mean that people who have the same values as the rest of the world will be more successful and make more income. How do we therefore live our lives conscious of the monetary implications of what we choose to provide for other people, while at the same time holding firmly to generally unpopular biblical principles?

∼ Isaiah

Answer:

Dear Isaiah,

We love this question and especially from someone with your name. The prophet Isaiah spoke the truth, yet God’s prophets were frequently rejected both by Israel’s enemies and by most in ancient Israel as well.

If we read you correctly, you are integrating our main principle with the increasingly degraded condition of society.  Taken to its extreme, we think you might be asking, what if, for instance, society wants degenerate entertainment and by delivering to society exactly what it desires, you would make money?

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Full Circle with John Boehner

October 1st, 2015 Posted by Susan's Musings 9 comments

The first Musing I wrote in 2015 was an open letter to John Boehner. Had he taken it to heart, he might not have needed to resign. If I was the only voice expressing the sentiments I wrote, I could understand his missing the message. However, way more articulate, intelligent and popular voices than mine broadcast similar views. 

While I admit to a whoop of delight when news of the impending resignation scrolled across my computer screen, I am not breaking out the champagne. The speaker’s own comments on Sunday talk shows as well as opinion pieces by other Republican stalwarts suggest a fear and loathing of the party’s conservative base, amid confusion that they (we) actually are having an influence. 

One thing that Speaker Boehner never seemed to understand—and Mitch McConnell doesn’t either—is the importance of taking control of the message. Liberals understand this only too well. Consider how poorly gun control has fared for them. Many people feel that this was the issue that handed the Presidency to George W. Bush. Yet they don’t say, “We can’t win this one.” They simply press the message harder, work on permeating the culture and wait for the day when enough people of voting age will have been influenced by them. They did this with homosexual marriage for years, sometimes soft-pedaling the marriage aspect, but constantly pressing the false civil rights message. 

If public opinion polls decided policy, the United States would still be a British colony. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense among other writings and statements changed sentiment. “There’s no way we can win this,” the mantra of the Boehner/McConnell contingent, is not a rallying cry. 

The men who “pledged their sacred honor,” did not suggest waiting until their odds looked good. They did speak of the principles in which they believed with inspiring, ennobling and electrifying words.

This election season, I have heard such words from various candidates, including Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee among others. Whether or not I think they are the best choices for President, anyone who cannot rouse others in defense of this country, her founding values and Constitution, should take a cue from John Boehner and step aside.  

P.S. Not ten minutes after writing this Musing, a new article by Thomas Sowell appeared in my inbox. As usual, he articulated my thoughts better than I did, so I am delighted to share his piece

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My daughter is marrying out of the church

October 1st, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

I brought up all my three children in the church. My daughter is is getting married very soon, and will not have a clergy or a pastor officiating at the wedding. I am hurt that God will not be at their wedding.
 
How can I come to terms with this? It is as if she is turning her back on our Lord.

∼ Fran F.

Answer:

Dear Fran,

Even before we give birth to our children, we give birth to hopes and dreams for their lives. We pray for their physical health and safety and for their spiritual health and safety as well. We do more than pray; we buy car seats and bike helmets, we bring them to church or synagogue, celebrate holidays and speak to them of God. Yet, despite our efforts, we are not able to control events or them.

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