Posts in Ask the Rabbi

What about retirement for women?

December 7th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 3 comments

Question:

I have read and heard much of your teaching on the reasons for not retiring. I understand this for a man, however, as a woman who has worked full time in high stress employment most of my life but has never wanted anything except to be a traditional wife caring for my husband, children and home, is it wrong for me to desire retirement?

B.L.

Answer: 

 Dear B.L.,

Since not everyone reading this has heard or read our teachings on retirement, we’d like to give a super-short summary of one of the main points. Our entire understanding of ethical capitalism is that people do well financially when they find ways to serve God’s other children. Money is the by-product of being successful in this service. For this reason, retirement means stopping to serve others, which makes it a bad idea. (There is no way to cover the content of two books, many articles and a number of audio CDs in a few sentences. Please look around our website if you are interested in going deeper.)

Now, to your question. You are absolutely correct that there is a huge difference between men and women on this point. While a woman is capable of achieving great financial reward for her work, her essence is not tied into that achievement. A woman who builds a home and raises a family doesn’t need a paycheck to tell herself that she is accomplishing worthwhile and productive goals. That is not so for almost all men. Part of the definition of being a good husband and father is providing financially for one’s family. That isn’t part of the definition of being a good wife and mother even though many women in our times need to help out in that area. 

We bless you to be able to retire soon and devote yourself to your family,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

 

 

Is My Gut Instinct Right or Wrong?

November 30th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 12 comments

Question:

I have a question about dating.  I am a old fashioned kind of guy in a modern world.  I am a millennial, but I like the old fashioned way of doing things.  I am at conflict a lot in relationships because of this.  

One of the more recent conflicts involves whether or not me and my girlfriend should be at each others places, alone.  We each live alone, and could visit each other whenever, but I wonder if that is a good idea, or if we should keep the dating in the public space, as that might be more appropriate for Christian dating.  I need to know what is proper, and what might be overdoing it on my part and being too restrictive.  I appreciate your help.  

Justin

Answer: 

Dear Justin,

Thank you for being an old-fashioned guy; we don’t see ‘old-fashioned’ as pejorative. Au contraire it is a tribute and our daughters along with countless Godly young women also see it this way.  This country needs more old fashioned gentlemen. 

By proactively thinking about how you and your girlfriend should behave now, you are setting the foundation for a successful relationship in the future, or alternatively for ending a relationship without unnecessary hardship and regrets. Either of these are satisfactory outcomes.

Ancient Jewish wisdom includes a timeless truth known as yichud. That Hebrew word derives from the root of togetherness. Yichud stipulates that men and women who aren’t immediate family members should not be secluded together. 

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I Want to Switch Jobs

November 22nd, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 14 comments

Question:

I enjoyed your book Thou Shall Prosper. I am looking for any suggestions regarding the frustrations I am having with getting a job. My degree is in engineering and I have worked several jobs as both a sales engineer and technical support person. I don’t like engineering! My family coaxed me to do engineering. 

I have also owned two businesses in landscape design and supply. Both of which I sold. I recently tried two technical sales support positions and I did not enjoy either one. I enjoy customer support but no longer enjoy the technical side. Any suggestions?

Cori Z.

Answer: 

Dear Cori,

We had to laugh reading your question because, it could have been written by me! (Rabbi Daniel, not Susan) I also went into engineering after being encouraged to do so by my family. I guess they hoped there might be a redeeming economic value to the mischievous and disruptive contraptions I engineered that got me thrown out of several schools.

While I do have an aptitude for engineering, I was miserable working in that field because I was working with things rather than with people.

I had also started and sold a business, in my case a boat-building company. In other words, I feel your pain.

Then I went into sales. And I loved it! Every encounter was another opportunity to get to know another person.  Winning a customer was just another way of helping another human.

It sounds that, like me, you prefer working with people to working with things.  Like me, you have probably also discovered that once you have learned how to sell and are comfortable doing so, it is relatively easy to change what you are selling or for whom you are selling it.

(Both of us again)  Any company should be interested in someone who walks through the door and announces, “I will bring in more sales revenue for less than it will cost you to hire me.”  If you are good at sales, a commission based income is better than a salary. While you may need to start out with much less than you hope to earn, increasing your income is in your own hands.

The important thing is to sell a product or service in which you truly believe and that you are passionate about. We are not saying you should seek only fields for which you have enthusiasm and passion.  We are saying find the right people and product to work with or for and then devote yourself to developing passion for what you are selling.

In this area, we don’t know a better teacher than our dear, departed friend, the late Zig Ziglar, who work is carried on so ably by his son, Tom. Buy their training resources and absorb them into your very bloodstream.

If you are working for a company, you should make sure that you agree with the company’s core values and are confident the relationship will be one of integrity. For us, we began sharing ancient Jewish wisdom, first with Jews who had not been exposed to it and later with Christians who had lost that part of their heritage. That has been our passion for many years now.

We hope you can follow a similar path by finding the intersection of a need that your fellow human beings have and your passion to cater to that need. As a bonus, please be assured that understanding how the physical world works through the lens of engineering will really be useful in other areas of your life.

Finally, we want to suggest gently that for the young person you sound like, the six positions you have already worked at is a few too many. (Unless we’re wrong and you are describing a sixty year career!) Please, commit yourself soon to a job and don’t even consider quitting until you’ve been successful at it. We think that by that time, you will be enjoying it immensely.

Wishing you success,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Telling All on Facebook

November 16th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 2 comments

Question:

I have a son-in-law who feels a need to confide in Facebook as if this is a close personal friend.  What would motivate a person to spill their guts on social media?

Susan T.

Answer: 

Dear Susan,

Society often swings from one extreme to another. I think that most of us laugh when we read memoirs from earlier centuries that speak of close family members not acknowledging a pregnancy until the baby arrived, but surely we have gone overboard in our ‘spill all the beans all the time,’ culture.

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I Hate My Girlfriend’s Tattoo

November 10th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 14 comments

Question:

I am very much in love with my girlfriend and I want to marry her. Recently, she got a tattoo on her left wrist that I do not like whatsoever. I am trying to get over it but the idea of looking at it the rest of my life is not thrilling.

I keep telling myself it is not a big deal but why do I loathe it so? She did not get it behind my back. Due to some miscommunication she got it anyway. We have had several conversations before about how I do not like them.

Do you have any advice for me to try and get over this faster?

Luke

Answer: 

Dear Luke,

We’re not crazy about answering questions with our hands tied behind our back.  That is what you’re doing by asking us to help you get over this. Perhaps that is the direction in which you should go, but we would be remiss if we didn’t suggest that the depth of your loathing (your word) demands that you rethink your premise.

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Is a Vegetarian Diet Kosher?

November 3rd, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 15 comments

Question:

Are vegetarian/vegan diets considered kosher? Do many Jews follow vegetarian diets? Thanks in advance!

Brian

Answer: 

Dear Brian,

There is both a practical and philosophical answer to your question. Many of the laws of keeping kosher relate to the source of the food as well as the separation between meat and milk products. All fruits and vegetables are kosher, while beef, fish and poultry have many limitations. Dairy products, too, are not universally kosher.

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Despicable Names

October 27th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 7 comments

Question:

Why do some of the names in the Old Testament have such bad meanings?  Can’t they be self-fulfilling prophecies?

Laura

Answer:

What a great question!  We would like to add an explanation for people who are new to ancient Jewish wisdom. We frequently mention, on our TV show and in our resources, that every Hebrew name in Scripture has a meaning. Even relatively little known names provide information about the person or the generation he or she represents. So, as we explain in our audio CD, The Gathering Storm, the names representing the generations spanning Adam to Noah (Genesis chapter 5) tell us what sort of decline was taking place during that era. Your question might refer to someone like NaVaL (or in English, Nabal) from I Samuel: 25 whose name translates as despicable.

As you correctly point out, parents who give a child a name such as that, would start the child off with something of a handicap in life. For this reason, many countries or jurisdictions reserve the right to reject certain names on a birth certificate, while some countries even provide a list of pre-approved names from which parents must choose their baby’s name.

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I Want More Children-My Husband Doesn’t

October 20th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 14 comments

Question:

Hello, I am 41 with 2 children ages 8 and 10.  I have been begging my husband for a third child for nearly 3 years now and he will not allow it. He says he does not want another child, and I am so upset, angry and heartbroken. I feel like it’s unfair of him to steal my right to procreate and that this is not really his decision. Why does he get what he wants and I am left without?

Please tell me how I can get him to change his mind. I am furious and grieving all at the same time, and it is destroying our marriage.

Marianna

Answer:

Dear Marianna,

You sound very desperate and suffering as you long for another baby. If this has been going on for three years, then we can understand that your marriage has suffered.

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I’m Burnt Out

October 13th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 9 comments

Question:

After a few years of over-working and ignoring the warning signs, I may have reached a “burnout” stage. What used to be easy at work is now difficult; the drive I used to have feels like it has been sapped; and I have noticed a negative change in my attitude. 

Does ancient Jewish wisdom provide any useful information for recovering from “burnout” and metaphorically get back in the saddle?

Justin A.

Answer:

Dear Justin,

Congratulations on recognizing that ignoring your warning signs resulted in a small problem growing into a larger one. We hope that your words serve as a warning to others not to turn a blind eye to warning signs. (Then there are those people who magnify a bad stretch and put flashing red lights on normal feelings—the opposite of what you did which leads to a different but equally serious problem.)

Imagine if you had physical symptoms that suggested that you were pre-diabetic. At that point, certain lifestyle changes might keep the symptoms from worsening and a full-fledged case developing. However, once your health was severely compromised, it would be much harder to fix.

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How should I deal with panhandlers?

October 6th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 18 comments

Question:

What is your philosophy on panhandlers and what would you recommend one do when the city you’re in encourages people to put their money in change machines (they look like parking meters) supposedly for the purpose of helping the poor instead of giving to panhandlers directly?

John

Answer:

Dear John,

May we answer the second part of your question first? Personally, we think that governments are ill-equipped to disperse charity. We would much rather research and choose charities, preferably religious ones, knowing exactly what the philosophy of the charity is, exactly how funds are dispersed, and what percentage of donated money actually goes to the needy. So, we would pass by change machines set up by the city.

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