Monthly Archives: July, 2017

The Night Is Dark

July 31st, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 62 comments

It is helpful to discover that the child who seems irrationally scared of dogs was once bitten by a snarling mongrel. Knowing that Moslem forces were defeated when their siege of Vienna was repulsed on September 11th, 1683, helps make sense of their September 11, 2001 attack on the United States.  The past should not provide an excuse but it does provide insight.

After inconceivably vast numbers of casualties, Europe’s first Thirty Years War (1618—1648) ended with the Peace of Westphalia, the foundation of a fierce and formidable nation, Germany.  After even more unimaginable horror, Europe’s second Thirty Years War (1914—1945) ended with a remarkable and enduring peace.

Along with many knowledgeable professional historians, I view World War Two (1939-1945) not as a stand-alone event, but as the continuation of World War One.  Presciently, the great French military leader Marshal Ferdinand Foch who was present at the signing of the peace Treaty of Versailles, called it not a peace but a temporary twenty year cease-fire.  World War Two broke out twenty years and two months later.

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Brains, Heart and Courage

July 27th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 47 comments

Wednesday morning’s Wall Street Journal crossword puzzle had the following clue: “Cowardly lion’s lack.” As a child, I watched the Wizard of Oz annually on TV followed by recurring nightmares, but it has been many years since I saw it. As I dredged my memory, I remembered the Scarecrow wanting a brain and the Tin Man needing a heart, but it took a few seconds to translate the lion’s desire for courage into the five-letter word, nerve.

I used to regularly read the Wall Street Journal over breakfast. Since they introduced their crossword puzzle in the main section, that gets my attention first. Instead of frustrating and depressing news, my brain gets a work-out. But this clue led me down the path of  replacing the words ‘cowardly lion’ with Republican Congress. Actually, the Republicans need brains, heart and courage, qualities they either lack or hide from sight (conceal: 23 across).

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Loans with no payback? The Shemitah Year

July 26th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 12 comments

I’ve read a lot of your books, yet didn’t see you ever speak about this particular thing: 

Reading the Books of Law, I see quite a few mentions about helping out the poor. Not by giveaways, but by lending them what they need (Deut. 15:7-8). It would seem to be logical to give away, But Scripture says, “Lend,” and then, every seventh year you should forgive the debt if that is not paid. 

My questions is: I’d never think that the Bible would endorse free-rides or parasitism, but I can’t find the Bible speaking harshly to the borrower. It is quite demanding—you must give, if they don’t pay—you must forgive. Seems like license for a free-ride. I borrow, do not pay, they must forgive, and then, when I come to borrow again, they must give again… Can’t believe it to be what the Bible means to say. Could you, please share more light on that? Thank you.

Victor

 

Dear Victor,

How should a society deal with money? After thousands of years of human history, we are still trying to figure this out. Should it be, “From each according to his ability to each according to his need,” as Karl Marx wrote? Should we follow Ayn Rand’s vision where only those who produce survive and charity is a vulgar concept?

In our opinion, the closer countries get to the Biblical vision, which neither of the above mentioned authors did, the stronger the society will be. Yet, the Biblical vision is complex, and while it includes the verses you quote, that is not by any means the entire story.

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How My Israeli Children Are Different from Me – guest post

July 25th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 1 comment

I love reading the blog posts of a woman who writes from Israel under the name “Jewish Mom.” She has given permission to repost what she wrote after the slaughter of the Salomon family at their home on Friday night. I have put an asterisk next to terms that may be unfamiliar to many of you and written a glossary at the bottom. I apologize if that makes the article more difficult to read, but I think it very worthwhile.

When I was growing up in Baltimore, I learned which neighborhoods were safe and which neighborhoods were dangerous. Which places I could go to, and which places I should carefully avoid.

And since I moved to Israel 24 years ago, I’ve been doing the same thing.

When I heard that 2 Israeli police officers had been shot to death and, later, there was rioting in and surrounding the Old City, I shook my head with concern and decided to nix the outing I had been planning to daven* this week at the Kotel*. When I heard that 3 members of the Solomon family celebrating the Shalom Zachar* of a newborn baby boy, were murdered by an Arab terrorist around the corner from my daughter’s high school in Neve Tsuf, I got more scared and started keeping our doors and windows locked at all times.

Looking out for Number One, just like when I was growing up.

But my kids and kids around Israel have been responding differently to the recent tragedies here…

Yesterday, my bat mitzvah girl’s summer camp cancelled their planned outing to the Jerusalem Forest and took all the girls to the Kotel instead.

Another daughter’s youth group decided to move the location of the scavenger hunt they had planned from downtown Jerusalem to the Old City.

And it’s not just my kids.

Yesterday, several high school girls approached me and my daughter when we were in a store and handed us a slip of paper they had prepared with a psalm, urging us to read it for the safety and security of Am Yisrael*.

Then this morning at the light-rail station, some elementary school girls handed me a toffee attached to a note that read, “The Race to a Million Blessings: Say a blessing over this toffee for the elevation of the souls of the Solomon family victims HY”D*.”

Seeing how my kids and their peers are reacting to current events has made me realize that when I get scared, I do what I did when I was growing up. I look out for Number One. I stay away from the Old City, I lock my doors, I nervously check out the Arab passengers standing beside me on the light rail (that man’s too old to pull out a knife, that woman’s with her baby, so there’s no way she’s about to start stabbing people with a pair of scissors.)

And these Israeli kids, in their own way, are also looking out of Number One. But their Number One, I’m realizing, is different than mine. For them, their Number One is Am Yisrael* and Eretz Yisrael*. The Jewish people and the Land of Israel. And praying for Hashem’s protection and mercy upon them.

A year and a half ago there was a terror attack next to the Old City’s Jaffa Gate, and the young father of a large family was brutally murdered while walking home from work. That Friday night, my then 15-year-old daughter informed me after candle-lighting that she and her friends were going to daven at a minyan* next to Jaffa Gate that night.

And I told her: “You can’t go to Jaffa Gate! There was just a terror attack there yesterday!”

“Eema*,” she responded slowly, as if speaking to someone who didn’t fully understand her language, “of course I know there was a terror attack there. That’s why we’re going there!”

I recently heard a French-born father of 11 Israeli children speaking about what it’s like moving to Israel. And this what he said:

“Moving to Israel is like climbing a very high mountain. You are climbing and climbing, you are breathing hard and sweating from the steep climb. And then you achieve the impossible–you reach the top. And when you get there, you sit down to catch your breath, and you turn around and find your children sitting there, at the peak.

‘How did you possibly make the climb up here? It was so steep and high and difficult!’ you ask them.

And your children answer you, ‘We didn’t have to climb at all. We were born here.’”

*Glossary:

daven: pray

Kotel: The Western Wall; The Wailing Wall

Shalom Zachar: a celebration that takes place the Friday night after a baby’s birth

HY”D: God will avenge their blood

Am Yisrael: the nation (people) of Israel

Eretz Yisrael: the land of Israel

minyan: a prayer group

Eema: Hebrew for Mommy

 

How Much Is Too Much?

July 25th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 24 comments

Policies that contradict timeless truths expressed in the Bible simply don’t work.  Confiscatory rates of taxation and punitive inheritance taxes fly in the face of wisdom contained in ancient texts revered by tens of millions of Jews and Christians.

These texts are relevant today because ideologies which the Bible frowns upon inevitably turn out to be poor public policy.  For example, when the Good Book labels promiscuity as a sin, believers understand that God is not only indicating His displeasure at this behavior, He is assuring us that no societal good will come of it.  The Bible offers insights into destructive taxation policies that prove equally true.

The first Biblical mention of taxation comes in Genesis 41.  Bewildered by disturbing dreams, Pharaoh unsuccessfully seeks explanations from his courtiers.  Finally his butler, newly released from jail, remembers his cell-mate, the Hebrew  lad, Joseph.  Joseph interprets the king’s dreams to be God’s forewarning of seven years of plenty to be followed by seven years of famine.  In verse 34, Joseph recommends applying a tax upon the Egyptian economy.

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Self-Made Women

July 20th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 15 comments

The cover story headline on Forbes magazine, America’s Richest Self-Made Women caught my attention. Surely, the stories of the sixty women listed would shine a light on women and money. It did, though I’m not sure that what I saw will make social engineers happy.

Here are some sentences from the top four bios:

#1) Ilitch and her husband, Mike…cofounded Little Caesars pizza… (Marian Ilitch)

#2) The Wisconsin native cofounded the business with her late husband, Ken… ( Diane Hendricks)

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Are Pets Animals Too?

July 19th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 15 comments

It says in the Bible that a good man cares for his “beast.” ‘Does this just mean animals that are “useful” such as cows that give meat and milk or does it mean all pets, such as dogs and cats.  

P.S. Like your show very much. We watch it every day when possible. There is so much knowledge and practical advice.

Titus R. 

 

Dear Titus,

There are certain topics that are almost guaranteed to lead to controversy, including vaccinations, the 2016 election results, and abortion. We have tackled all of those in various settings. But if you really want to get people’s emotions roiled, talk about their pets!

You don’t mention what Bible verse you are referencing, but there are many Scriptural references to treating animals well, among them Deuteronomy 25:4 with its prohibition on muzzling an ox while it is treading grain and verses that include animals in the Sabbath day of rest.

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A Tale of Two Bees

July 18th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 18 comments

There are many secrets to success in life, but here’s a good one:  Empower your wife and other vital women in your life to bring out the best in you.

This lesson emerges from a mystery posed by three verses, Genesis 24:58-60.

Verse A:

They called Rebecca and said to her, 

“Will you go with this man?”  And she said, “I will go.”

Verse B:

They blessed Rebecca and they said to her, “Our sister, may you become…

Verse C:

And they sent away their sister, Rebecca, and her nurse…

There’s nothing particularly odd about these three verses, is there?

There is, if you realize that I’ve switched their order around.

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Forget Father’s Day & Dismiss Mother’s Day

July 17th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 6 comments

I know that neither of those two calendar highlights are close to us which makes this a good time to reconsider them in the cold light of clinical analysis.

Why does the culture make such a big deal about these two arbitrary days while nobody thinks of establishing a Husband’s Day and a Wife’s Day?

Reason 1: A culture fundamentally hostile to the traditional Biblical family model, is not keen on celebrating husbands and wives. Recognizing a mother or a father makes no comment about whether mom and dad were married when they conceived you or whether they invested years in raising you in the cocoon of their love and commitment.

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I’m Not Scary; Are You?

July 13th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 68 comments

There is a blog I regularly read because doing so makes me a better person. In it, a mother details with great honesty her emotions and experiences as she and her husband raise a son with serious disabilities and a, thankfully, healthy daughter.

She and I have never met, yet she is afraid of me and my family. Afraid of our support for repealing Obamacare, of our support for President Trump and of our conservative leanings.

I have two children in the medical profession. They talk of their emotions and experiences as they are hindered and frustrated by a bloated, bureaucratic and unsustainable system. They talk of their emotions and experiences as they try to help seriously ill patients and are instead forced to tend to those abusing the system, unnecessarily consuming tens of thousands of dollars and hours of human resources. They  talk of their emotions and experiences at caring for patients who act self-destructively, thus counteracting the help they have just been given, after monopolizing resources that, subsequently, were not available for others. My children have never met the woman whose blog I read. They are not afraid of her, but they see her voting patterns and liberal leanings as harmful to them and those for whom they care.

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