Monthly Archives: May, 2016

Rowdy Red or Benign Blue

May 31st, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

It was on election night November 2nd, 1976, when President Ford was being challenged by Jimmy Carter that NBC television showed us our first blue/red electoral map. The blue was Republican and showed the 27 states won by Ford, while red was Democrat. It was only in the 2000 Bush-Gore election that the colors were switched. Since then red shows states and counties voting Republican while blue stands for Democrats.

This was a cunning reversal of the usual convention of red symbols standing for left-leaning revolutionary movements while conservative parties in almost every country used blue. After all, the color red was emblematic of communism and still reminds us of the Soviets. You might remember the Cold War cry of the American left, “Better red than dead!” (more…)

Smelly Neighbors

May 25th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 20 comments

My husband and I are having a problem with our neighbors. They don’t seem to be taking enough baths or showers.  You can see how this would make living near them uncomfortable. We’re not even sure that they are washing their dishes or doing laundry.

How do we know this? Each month we get a bill from our public water utility informing us that we are using more water than our neighbors. Some months this certainly could be possible—but when we have been away for three weeks out of the month,  that information is rather troubling. 

Of course, there is an alternative to unhygienic neighbors. Maybe, this entire enterprise is bogus and simply trying to turn neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend. My husband’s response whenever we get one of these notices is to turn on the tap. That might be his inner ten-year-old coming to the surface, but perhaps it isn’t. Maybe it is simply his revulsion for and rejection of our increasingly socialistic society’s attempt to sever links between citizens. He loathes attempts to make us compete with one another to win approval from the government and government approved entities.  

When doctors request that parents leave the room and then ask children if their parents have guns in the house or teachers tell students that their parents’ beliefs are bigoted, we are in a dangerous place. When signs encourage us to turn in fellow drivers wrongly using the carpool lane and politicians stir up envy between citizens based on gender, color and income, our society suffers. The pace at which all this poison is being promoted is rapidly increasing. It is past time to stiffen our backbones —and rebel in ways more effective than leaving our faucets running.


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What exactly are we supposed to subdue?

May 25th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet


“The first mission or command given to mankind is be fruitful, multiply, subdue and have dominion. Can you explain this in detail? I’ve heard that the word “subdue” specifically means to take rulership over something or someone hostile. 

Who or what is the word hostile referring to?  

∼ Scott C.


Dear Scott,

Because of the difficulty in translating accurately from the Hebrew we think that your English translation is actually combining the final two verbs to imply both subduing and having dominion. (more…)

Six Secrets for a Successful Marriage—and They Can Build Your Business Too

May 19th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 14 comments

“What’s the secret of a good marriage?” This question was asked of my husband twice this past week as he spoke for several events in Arizona and Tennessee. I’ve attended bridal showers where each guest was asked to give the bride her best piece of advice on this topic and I’ve seen lists in woman’s magazines detailing the same. Both of this week’s questioners, by the way, were male. 

The frequently given answers given are usually true. Can anyone disagree that laughing together is important or that commitment matters? Even when tips contradict each other, they have validity. You can make a case for never going to bed angry just as you can make a case for not speaking in anger but giving yourself time to cool off. 

The bottom line, of course, is that there is not any one magical tip for a happy marriage. If there was, the divorce rate would be minimal. Yet, because the second person to approach my husband did so at a business conference, I began to ponder the parallels between running a successful business and having a successful marriage. Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. Most people start both a new marriage and a new business with excitement, grandiose dreams and rose-colored glasses. This is great, because it encourages people to take a scary, risky leap into the unknown. However, those factors are based on fleeting emotions that hopefully will be recaptured at moments in the future, but certainly not on a daily basis. Know that.
  2. Only a fool embarks on a new business thinking that while it may take tons of work and time at the beginning, a time will come when no effort is necessary. Expect to give your best forever. 
  3. Outside and unexpected forces will intervene. An economy that crashes, illness, new technology, family crises…there is no way to know exactly where challenges will emerge, but emerge they will. Don’t be thrown by them.
  4. Despite #3’s surprise factor, you need to anticipate and make plans for difficult moments. If you’re opening a retail store or your business involves shipping, you may not know when bad weather will come but you should have a plan for bad weather. If you’re married, life will at many points make it difficult for you to nurture your marriage and you need to think about that before crunch time arrives. Plan ahead.
  5. Preparation and continuing education are vital. Hopefully, no one starts a business without a business plan. You may be a dentist or baking cupcakes, but if you have no idea what a profit and loss statement is you probably won’t be successful. If you think that whatever tools and knowledge you have now will be all you’ll ever need, you may have short, but not long term success. The marriage skills needed for a new marriage won’t carry you as you are blessed by children, as you age and as your economic needs and resources vary. Some of the skills you need will be out of your comfort zone. Make time and have a desire for growth.
  6. There will be failures. An employee will turn out to be a disaster; a ‘sure bet’ will be a dud. Your spouse will disappoint you; as a couple you will put your hearts into something that will bomb. Cultivate resilience and grace. 

My starter list is missing essential elements and it could be doubled and tripled without great effort. What would you add to the list?

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Is going home a mistake?

May 19th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet


“Thank you so much for your commitment to helping believers (both Jewish and Christian) obtain greater understanding of life’s questions. I have a trip planned with my siblings to travel to the areas where we grew up in hopes of reliving some wonderful memories of our childhood. Of course there will will be a mix of laughs, smiles and the inevitable sad memories (no one’s life is without this). 

Is this a healthy activity, to revisit one’s past to enjoy memories and life lessons from the past in order to reinforce who you are today? I have been told this is a waste of time and I should only look to the future. Thank you for your insight.”

∼ Breljana


Dear Breljana,


Steps to Success or Ramps to Riches

May 18th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

This past week I’ve enjoyed speaking for three financial conferences, in Arizona, Tennessee, and Texas. (You can always see if I’m scheduled to speak in your neighborhood by looking here: SPEAKING PAGE

Funnily enough, there were two questions I was asked twice by two separate people at two separate conferences. They were both good questions; the first I declined to answer while the second I enjoyed answering. The first was “What is the secret of making a successful marriage?” I demurred to both individuals, explaining that there is not any one secret; though I was tempted to respond, “Simple. Marry Susan!” (more…)

Should I go into massage therapy for my career?

May 14th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet


I am a seventeen-year-old young man and I am looking towards going into Massage Therapy to, as you surely would put it, “Serve your fellow man and make money in the process.”. I’ve already participated in a class on it and completed the course. Until I can get licensed, I work for tips since I cannot legally ask for money for my work. 

The problem is since listening to one of your podcasts where you talked about dating, courting and marriage, you talked about the power of touch. How dangerous it can be. What are your thoughts on Massage Therapy and would you consider it respectable work? It’s been on my mind that because of the physical contact in Massage, it should perhaps be reserved only within a marriage?

∼ Riley


Dear Riley, (more…)

Understanding Moral Hierarchy

May 12th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet


“I’m listening to your radio podcast from the Blaze Radio and find such clarity in your positions. You were discussing moral hierarchy and giving examples in relationship to immigrants and I had come to the same conclusion but had no idea of the rationale to back up what I thought.

Can you share some resources which would be helpful in understanding this basic principal which is completely missing from our culture today.”

Thank you,

∼ Kathy B.


Dear Kathy, (more…)

My Nominee for a 3rd Party Candidate Is…

May 11th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 9 comments

Even if you are a Clintonite or a Trumpista, it is unarguable that the two presumptive nominees for President of the United States are disliked by many. While third party candidates have tended to be spoilers rather than successful, I still find myself trying to imagine whether there is anyone at all in the entire country who could unite a large constituency behind their candidacy. Without calling for such a person to come forward, I am more interested in trying to think who such a person could be. 

I keep coming up blank. To start with, I wanted someone with widespread, positive name recognition, a warm persona and an articulate speaking manner. With two grueling primaries coming to a close, I don’t see how anyone without those traits (at a minimum) could possibly be widely accepted. 

I never got past that first requirement. I couldn’t think of anyone with widespread, positive recognition in today’s climate. Never mind a person, I am not even sure that there is anything that a majority of Americans trust and feel positive about. Mom and apple pie? Suggesting that motherhood is positive marginalizes those who choose not to have children and those who think that one or two fathers are the same as the traditional arrangement.  Let’s not even think of the insult to those mothers who now think that their gender assignment was wrong and that they actually are fathers. 

As for apple pie, that seems to suggest that certain culinary traditions carry more value than others. It somehow eluded me growing up, but my immigrant grandmother who baked many delicacies, never once, to my knowledge,  baked an apple pie. I was never offended by the phrase ‘mom and apple pie,’ but I attended a college that did not have safety zones. I wasn’t sensitized to the idea that my comfort is the responsibility of every person and institution in existence. Is apple pie a mainstay of Chinese, Indian, Hmong and  Mexican traditions, let alone the dozens of other nationalities that make up the United States? 

There was a period where when we had people whose names evoked almost universal affection and respect. Whether or not they really deserved that respect, it is possible that in a similar situation one of those people could have stepped forward and presented themselves an alternative to two tarnished candidates. Even staunch supporters of Clinton or Trump who might choose to stay loyal to their first choice would hesitate to respond to such a candidate with vitriol. General Eisenhower comes to mind as such a candidate or on the other side of the ocean, a post World War II Winston Churchill (before the people turned on him). 

There used to be sports heroes and movie stars, admittedly many of whose private lives were masterfully concealed, who were loved by all but a few cranks. Are we better off now when the slightest wart is publicized? More to the point, the type of things that were hidden such as adulterous or homosexual behavior, ties to crime, violence or drug use are not themselves any longer widely condemned. We can’t agree on what is virtue and what is vice, which makes it rather impossible to find a virtuous and admired person. 

If George Washington would come forward today, he would be rejected and hated by millions as a white slave owner. I don’t believe there is any figure from the past, let alone the present, who could unify our sadly fractured, confused and decaying society. I do see current events as a bloodless revolution taking place. We are many individuals and groups sharing a geographical location; we are no longer one America, one nation under God.

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Truth and Lies

May 10th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

What parent, at one time or another, hasn’t wished for an absolutely reliable, invisible lie-detector? What business professional interviewing a potential hire hasn’t wished for exactly the same thing? Now I know what you’re thinking. ‘Invisible’ is impossible. True, but so is ‘absolutely reliable lie-detector,’ so I saw no harm in adding ‘invisible’ to the wish list.

It is true that stress can cause various physiological responses like elevated blood pressure and sweating. It is also true that these can be measured by a polygraph but for good reason, most legal jurisdictions allow polygraph results only for investigatory purposes, not for gaining a conviction. Factors other than lying can cause the same physiological responses and too many people can lie without presenting these physical reactions. (more…)

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