Posts by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

What’s in a Name?

October 19th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 23 comments

In an act of unprecedented ostentatiousness, Gerald Guterman chartered the famous ocean liner, the QE2, along with its one thousand crew members to celebrate his son’s bar-mitzvah in 1986.

Our son’s bar-mitzvah was solemnized in a small synagogue built on the Los Angeles ocean front in the 1940s.  Guterman was trying to add meaning to his family celebration by means of an extraordinary location.  We were blessed to add meaning to a picturesque old house of worship by having it house our act of religious significance.


Escape Yesterday

October 12th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 8 comments

God spare us from these things, but have you ever wondered how someone who apparently had everything to live for, took his or her own life?  A young woman recently qualified as a physician, with grueling years of training behind her and on the threshold of a promising career, throws herself off her hospital roof.  A father parks his car on the George Washington Bridge, races to the guardrail and leaps over it to drop two hundred feet into the Hudson River. It took three days to recover his body.

Neither of these two sad victims had exhibited any mental instability.  It goes without saying that both were dealing with what must have appeared to be insurmountable problems. As a result, each made a perfectly calm and rational decision to end it. Permanently.  These are just two of the cases that came across my radar screen recently.  Both these tragedies involved individuals who felt that their predicaments were beyond help.


Fishing for Life

October 6th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 1 comment

What a blessings it is to be on fire to fulfill one’s purpose for living.  One of the most potent antidotes to feeling low or miserable is having a purpose and passionately propelling oneself towards it.

As an ardent boating enthusiast, I find the behavior of the Bible’s most famous mariner, Jonah, to be quite baffling.  At the height of a furious storm that threatened the survival of their ship, the terrified sailors cast their cargo overboard to lighten the vessel.  Obviously, during such a tempest the safest location is high up on the struggling vessel from where escape might at least be possible.  That is why lifeboats on every ship are found on the upper deck.  Nobody in his right mind would voluntarily remain far down in the belly of the boat.

“But Jonah descended down into the bilges of the ship, lay down and fell fast asleep.”
(Jonah 1:5)

Clearly this was a man without a worry in the world.  But don’t envy him.  Only the dead have no worries.  That’s the clue.  To Jonah, dying was not that different from his living existence.


Does God Determine How Much You Earn?

October 5th, 2016 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

The Jewish “New Year”, Rosh Hashana,  has just ended.  I have been privileged to be teaching in Jerusalem where several people have asked me the same question.  If God judges every human on this holyday, and furthermore He determines the fate of everyone including their financial fortunes, why bother working?  Everything is up to God and He will find a way to get into my bank account whatever He has deemed that I should have.  It so happens that I was fully prepared for this question since I asked it of one of my teachers many years ago.  I will confess there was a spirit of mischievousness in my inquiry that was utterly absent from the sincere and intelligent questioners who confronted me.  The answer is that God does not declare actual dollar amounts.  However, what He does do is establish the ‘cosmic exponents’ that will convert your efforts into actual dollar amounts.  For one person, X amount of effort will produce Y amount of return, for another it might be Z amount of return.  Obviously when X is zero, meaning no work and no effort, regardless of whether you square it, cube it or multiply it by ten thousand, the result will always be zero.  No effort generally = no return.  God put is in the Garden to work it; to exert our energy towards combating the entropy He built into the system for our benefit. This is why we know that closing our store on this website on Sabbath and Holydays is what God expects of us. While there may often be what appear to be temporary exceptions, we are always judged and God’s response is ultimately in accordance with our effort.

You’ll Pardon Me, I Hope

September 22nd, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 3 comments

You’ll pardon me, but in just the last few days, I have heard the word ‘crap’ used in public as a synonym for feces by the host of a popular television show, by an official of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and by a CNN news anchor, to name just three.  I am not going to squander your time bemoaning the coarsening of the culture; we all know it is happening.  Many of us understand why.

And it is not only the word ‘crap’.  There is another four letter synonym for excrement which is just as popular though the self-anointed cultural elites have ridiculously decreed that ‘crap’ can be used on America’s airwaves but not the alternative word for the same human byproduct.  Expect that to change soon.

Why this particular form of human waste?  Why don’t people say, “He needs the ear-wax beaten out of him”? Or, how about, “The breaching whale scared the saliva out of the kayaker”?  Or why not, “I’ve never heard anyone speaking such nasal mucus”?  I have never heard any driver say, “Oh urine! I took a wrong turn!”  Of all human body waste, why does only excrement enjoy such common usage in ordinary conversation today?


Boaters World

September 17th, 2016 Posted by On Our Mind 2 comments

Coming in to dock, those on nearby boats almost always head out to help grab your lines and be of assistance. A small part of this is self-interest. They want to make sure you don’t run into their boats. But mostly,


Cows or Corvettes?

September 14th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

In late 1964, after five years of construction, the Verrazano Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island opened to traffic.  It was made of steel and was then the longest suspension bridge in the world.  In order to prevent corrosion from the sea air, it is painted, using about 12,000 gallons of paint.  Since rust would quickly weaken and destroy the bridge, the paint is kept in good shape.

The default condition for iron and even steel is to rust and deteriorate unless steps are taken to inhibit the oxidation process.  The default condition for many foods such as meat is to deteriorate and go bad unless the process is inhibited by refrigeration.  The default condition for most animals is to flee humans unless cornered.

Humans have several troublesome defaults.  (more…)

Wonderful Wives – Lesser Husbands

September 7th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 1 comment

Wildly unpopular as the observation may be, the overwhelming majority of people who get into serious trouble with the police share certain important demographic similarities.  These three characteristics are the only ones that matter: these people are male, they are not married, and few were raised in a stable home environment by a mother and father married to one another.


Private Property vs. Community Health

September 6th, 2016 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

In some cities, like Vancouver, British Columbia and Jerusalem, Israel, we have noticed that a significant percentage of apartments and condos in many buildings are vacant most of the year. In the former example, they tend to be owned by Chinese investors as an ’emergency refuge.’ In the latter case, they tend to be owned by Americans and Europeans who occupy them for holidays and vacations. In both cities, entire neighborhoods (more…)

Something for Nothing

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

Here is one way to give your employee a raise:  “You’ve been with us for a year now, Enid; that means that you are due for your first raise. Congratulations, your pay is going up 5%.”

There’s another way to do it.  “During the year you’ve been with us, Enid, you’ve really made a difference.  I asked our accountant to calculate how much extra revenue your innovations brought to the company and the answer was very impressive. The way you came up with improvements in operations and how you then implemented those ideas has been incredibly effective.  We’re happy to raise your pay 5%, you really deserve it.”

I think we all know that the second approach is a far better way.  Though child-rearing is not the same as managing employees, some principles are similar.  Sadly, I often see parents violating these rules.  Some parents bribe their children with candy or watching videos in order to try and obtain the desired behavior.  A bribe is quite different from a reward. One precedes performance while the other follows it.