Posts by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Crime Doesn’t Say

April 25th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 28 comments

On news broadcasts and interviews I have noticed something scary.  Boys involved in violent crime are largely illiterate.  This chilling correlation has been confirmed to me by friends in criminal justice and law enforcement.  You’d think that just by the laws of probability, at least some assailants and murderers when caught would have more to say than just meaningless gesticulations and obscenities.  I have been looking for just one carjacker who, upon being apprehended, told the policeman, “It’s challenging to understand, officer, I know, but while taking my afternoon constitutional, I was seized by an irresistible desire to inflict physical harm on an innocent citizen and to transfer his motor vehicle to my possession.”

Ancient Jewish wisdom suggests that the desire to communicate is present from birth and that parents who neglect this most crucial of their responsibilities may be complicit in their children’s later lack of socialization skills.

A really interesting phase in raising a child occurs just before he begins to speak.  Many observant parents notice a period of apparent anger and frustration.  The child is ready to communicate with speech, desperately desires to communicate and cannot quite put the words together yet.  Some parents try to avoid this difficult time by teaching their infants baby sign language.  It fascinates me to watch pre-verbal toddlers moving their little fingers in purposeful and meaningful ways.

Clearly, we are created to communicate.  That toddler, not yet possessing even crude motor skills like catching a ball, can already recognize the complex distinctions between nouns and verbs.  Teaching the child the names of things, chatting with and reading to a child are indispensable steps in educating for communication.  There is a vast difference in the number of words to which small children are exposed in diligent homes and indifferent ones.  Studies at the University of Kansas and other institutions show that there is a direct correlation between the number of words a toddler hears and learns and her subsequent academic achievement.  By the age of three, children of diligent  parents hear  millions of words more than children of indifferent parents.   In America there is a disturbing correlation between rise in juvenile crime and the deterioration in English language education in the nation’s public schools.

Fluency in speech is closely connected to an ability to write. Employers, military induction officers and social workers confirm that increasing numbers of young adults are incapable of writing down their thoughts coherently.  Most of these also fail to comprehend simple written instructions.  This is obviously a huge social problem.  Whether creating a business plan, solving a family crisis or constructing an international treaty to avoid war, the first thing always is to express in words the problem you’re trying to solve.  It is almost impossible to find the solution if you haven’t transformed the problem from feelings to words.

Furthermore, communication and conversation lead to collaboration and cooperation which lead to creativity.  In other words, almost no major challenges are successfully overcome by any one person acting entirely alone.  Talk and conversation are the tools of this cooperation.  Depriving our children of the tools of communication is to sentence them to needlessly underachieving lives at best and perhaps to criminality and worse.

This is why ancient Jewish wisdom regularly refers to God having achieved all of Creation by means of statements, the first of which was, “Let there be light.”

King David elaborates on this when he says:

By the word of the Lord, the heavens were made, and with the breath of His mouth, all their host. 
(Psalms 33:6)

The Bible does not record, “And God made light”.  It reports that God used words to create.  In the same way today, a budding entrepreneur doesn’t tell people, “I feel like creating a business.”  Instead he shows a written business plan in which words specify the story.

When a goal or ambition gets written down it starts coming to life.  Attaching times and deadlines then transforms a mere dream into a plan.  Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that God gave man the power of words and speech in the seventh verse of chapter two in Genesis because He wants us to connect, communicate, collaborate, and create.  A few verses later, God creates another human with whom Adam could communicate and ultimately create.

People who have been handicapped by inadequate instruction in words very understandably feel frustration.  Maybe even you are not fulfilling your ultimate potential of communication and collaboration.  Once we are adults, it is our own responsibility to correct any deficiencies from our upbringing. Each of us can improve our ability to use words to connect and communicate by making a deliberate effort to improve fluency and vocabulary.

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We are tidying up our warehouse and have found a number of copies of Noah Alper’s book, Business Mensch: Timeless Wisdom for Today’s Entrepreneur that have damaged covers or crinkled insides. While they last, we are making them available for $5 each. Amortize the shipping cost by adding Dear Rabbi and Susan: 101 Real-life Ask the Rabbi Questions, on sale now for only  $9.99. For an added bonus, use both books to spark conversation and articulate ideas, improving your own fluency in the process.

On Sale

Only $5 apiece while they last

Why America Should Ignore Assad & Syria

April 6th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 10 comments

…and the other fifty vicious dictators killing their citizens in fifty different countries in South America, Africa and Asia. It is undeniably tragic and unbearably sad to see the victims, particularly when they are children as they often are.
But if it is the United States government’s responsiblity to tax us to whatever extent necessary in order to underwrite the project of ending suffering around the world, why stop with killings? There are people suffering and dying from disease and hunger in those same fifty countries and another fifty besides.
Compassion is a beautiful emotion and entirely appropriate for you and me. But it is a terrible policy for guiding the actions of government. If you want to raise money to help suffering human beings, more power to you. Contact me for a small donation. But for government, with its power to tax, compassion is a bottomless pit that will ultimately impoverish Americans and still leave them frustrated at the endless suffering around the world. As for removing Assad and replacing him with the city council of Wichita, Kansas, culture counts. George W Bush learnt the futility of spending American blood and money to try bring American style government to barbaric regions that lacked the many years of western tradition. Some matters really are none of our business. What is more, the problem that impacts not only America but individuals like you and me is that when we busy ourselves with big and ultimately futile projects, we neglect the many things we could be doing and really should be doing. Am I right?

Have you heard this week’s podcast yet?

March 29th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

The pic is me waiting for my wife to finish shopping in the village of Gibsons, British Columbia and other than conjuring up a magically beautiful day, has nothing whatsoever to do with the important topic of male female relationships. So, moving on, which story is more realistic, “Cinderella” or its opposite, “The Princess and the Peasant”? Many women freeze their eggs. Would men if they could? Men who fail to confront their masculinity become thugs or wimps. Strong masculine good men make women very happy just as strong sweet feminine women make men very happy. The difference is that women dare not admit it. Actually many men have also been intimidated by the culture. Join me as I discuss and link all of this on the podcast. You can hear it now; just click. https://soundcloud.com/rabbi-daniel-lapin-show

Ever Wonder About the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

March 19th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 4 comments

The synagogue I was privileged to plant and serve in California had a ball team that played in a local league. We called our synagogue ball team, “The Elders of Zion”. Since this is the name of one of history’s most notorious anti-Semitic forgeries, not everyone was amused but the team thrived and gradually people loosened up and chilled out. Meanwhile, I thought it was time to tear the covers off those “Elders” which I do in this podcast episode. Don’t miss it as I don’t think I want to leave it up on the Internet indefinitely. The episode is entitled Who’s Running Things: The Bilderbergers? The United Nations? Jews? Secret Socialists? Well, I explain the true answer here: https://soundcloud.com/rabbi-daniel-lapin-show

Why Are Weather Warnings These Days Increasingly Apocalyptic and Increasingly Wrong?

March 14th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 2 comments

Have you noticed how winter weather warnings are increasingly over-hyped lately? “This one is a killer, folks!” or “This will be the biggest storm of the season 12-18 inches of snow” are the usual headlines but it’s become a case of crying “Wolf!”. It’s almost as if weather forecasters are trying to outdo one another with ever more grandiose visions of snowmagedon. Why do they predict such dire outcomes when time and time again, what actually arrives is not a howling hurricane but a whimper.
Some might say, better safe than sorry but this completely ignores the massive and entirely unnecessary costs imposed by disruption to business and home life. Schools closing unnecessarily cause parents to have to miss work. Businesses and offices fear the liability that could accompany ignoring serious storm warnings so they announce one or two day closures. There are real costs associated with apocalyptic forecasts that don’t materialize.
Why do they do it? There is a vast political-bureaucratic disaster industry in America. FEMA is one of many agencies who collect federal and state funds based on their ‘disaster needs’ and ‘disaster readiness’. Announcers and forecasters are liable to fear repercussions from under warning but experience little or no consequence from over warning. People are just relieved that the horrors did not materialize. What is more, a materialistic culture sees prevention of possible loss of life as the highest value. Many would, if they could, limit non-official vehicles to a speed limit of 20mph which would save over 60% of the 30,000 annual vehicular deaths. Costs to business are largely invisible so mayors and others gain valuable airtime talking of their urgent desire to protect their voters from harm and of their many programs to prevent any hurt. This is just one more example of how a damaged culture works against its own health.

What Do Strong & Independent Women Really Look Like?

March 7th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 6 comments

Parents are constantly advised to raise strong and independent daughters. Schools, and then college stress that girls must be strong and independent. Women entering the workplace are told to be strong and independent. The big problem is that most women want to be in a happy marriage. (Most men do as well but in most cases men with advanced cases of prolonged adolescence don’t realize it until close to the expiration date) Here’s the problem: not only do most women want to be in happy marriages but they strongly prefer to marry men who are stronger and more independent than they are….and the stronger and more independent a woman becomes, the fewer available men who are stronger and more independent exist in their marriageable demographic. So, after a long and fruitless search, many women end up marrying a man less strong and less independent than they are. And these marriages have a horrendous failure rate. ( I explain why in my soon to be released book on money and marriage). So the big question: Is it really good for parents to strive to raise strong and independent daughters and is it good for women to strive to become that? Or is there a better way? Could strong and independent actually be a good thing if we knew what it really means? More in my newest podcast you can hear for free here: https://soundcloud.com/rabbi-daniel-lapin-show

That Old Time Religion

March 1st, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 4 comments

May I introduce you to one of the most anti-Semitic songs in our popular culture? The lamentable lyrics can be heard in Fiddler on the Roof when Tevye strides center stage, flings his arms wide, and to a bewitching beat, bellows the word “Tradition.”

I dislike that song because it offers a false explanation for religious ritual. Saying that we Jews observe many of the rituals that our grandparents did is true. Saying that we do those things because of our reverence for tradition is utterly misleading.

If tradition were everything in Judaism, it would raise the question of why Orthodox Jews should be allowed to travel by Cadillac or fly the Concord rather than confine their transport to wagons or even camels. I dislike this distortion of Judaism because it has helped to fuel mass defection from the community. Indeed, it is hard for me to see how I myself could embrace a rigorous regimen of religious observance strictly because my father did it before me and his father, in turn, before him. I am not a mindless automaton and I don’t care to ape ineffective activities of our ancestors just because they are ancient. No, I prefer my actions to have good reasons. One good reason might he that God commanded me to do them, which is quite different from saying I do them because of tradition.

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Sadly Saying Goodbye to My Friend, the Late Great Michael Novak

February 27th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

Michael Novak has gone home to our Father in Heaven. He was a good friend, mentor. I always felt privileged to stand stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him whenever we shared a platform defending God’s plan for human economic interaction. About ten years ago he showed me a book he was working on with his daughter Janna and soon thereafter that wonderfully moving book was finished and published. In the 90s Michael encouraged me to write a regular column for his newly founded magazine Crisis which I did.
http://www.crisismagazine.com/search-results?cref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.crisismagazine.com&ie=utf-8&hl=&q=Lapin&sa=Search The process taught me more than my columns taught my readers I am sure.

Raised as a Roman Catholic, Novak believed as a young man that socialism was the ideal economic arrangement. But he began to notice a flaw: While socialism sounded good in theory, in practice it didn’t work—and non-elites fared the worst.
Capitalism had little high-minded theory, but in practice it literally provided the goods. If ordinary folks did so much better under capitalism, maybe the caricatures—e.g., that it is all based on greed—were wrong. Maybe free markets had their own virtues and were defensible, and even superior to other economic systems on moral grounds.
From this recognition sprang his most important work, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism,” which changed America’s public debate when it was published in 1982. “Democratic capitalism,” he wrote, is “neither the Kingdom of God nor without sin. Yet all other known systems of political economy are worse…….

https://www.wsj.com/articles/michael-novak-crafted-a-moral-defense-of-democratic-capitalism-1487948401

Governments Can Be As Immoral As Individuals (or even more!)

February 20th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 5 comments

California is only one of many states that have routinely been neglecting infrastructure maintenance for decades. Why? Surely not for lack of money. After all, California has found money for eye-poppingly expensive boondoggles like the bullet-train to nowhere or economically insane wind farms and solar energy experiments outside of Palm Springs. So why no proper maintenance of gas lines, (see the San Bruno explosion of a few years ago) water lines, and yes, dams. Oroville Dam, in no danger of catastrophic failure, nonetheless has had its twin spillway systems virtually destroyed because needed maintenance over the past two decades has been neglected. Why? For the same reasons that you can drive through certain areas and find neglected and run-down houses being lived in by people who have the money for an expensive car or two sitting in the driveway. It is just more fun buying new stuff than looking after old. For politicians there is far more opportunity for graft and patronage on glitzy new projects than on the decidedly unglamorous work of routine, timely maintenance of older infrastructure and equipment. I discuss this further and show the Biblical morality that is being violated by both government and individuals who neglect the material possessions they have. click here https://soundcloud.com/rabbi-daniel-lapin-show

Was Pres. Trump Wrong To Critique Judge Robart? It Depends…

February 9th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 2 comments

We always opposed so-called Hate Crime Legislation enacted under President Clinton in 1994. Whether in favor or against, you’d have to agree that it allows the state to impose different penalties upon two people who committed the identical crime based entirely on what the government decided was in a citizen’s mind. It is usually only God who knows what is in a person’s heart and mind. We humans have the capacity to judge only one another’s actions.
The collapse of this principle has now brought us to this time when the same action condoned when perpetrated by a Democrat is roundly condemned when done by a Republican.
In his State of the Union address in January 2010, President Obama, in an unprecedented breach of decorum, harshly criticized and insulted the Supreme Court to the faces of the six justices sitting right in front of him. There was almost no press criticism of the president.
Recently President Trump issued a tweet critical of a Seattle District Judge who had just issued a ruling against him unlikely to stand. His 140 characters unleashed a firestorm of press protest.
We think that the only people entitled to condemn President Trump’s tweet are the few people who similarly condemned President Obama’s far worse finger in the eye of the entire Supreme Court in 2010.
Either the behavior of insulting the judiciary is wrong or it isn’t. The answer should not depend upon the political affiliation of the perpetrator.

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