Posts in Ask the Rabbi

I feel like a stranger in my own home.

October 17th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 25 comments

My husband (second marriage for both of us)  and I live in a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom house. Our 24-year-old nephew is living in the house with us for the purpose of learning my husband’s trade and going to college part time. I am feeling uncomfortable with this arrangement as he is not my blood relative and he has asked me if I am “trying to give him hints” which I don’t think I really answered at the time due to being caught off guard.

Later I explained to him I am not his friend, I am his aunt. I see my role during this time as helping him to get up and out on his own. I told him he needs to go out and make friends of his own age. He moved from another state and has not made much of an effort that I know of to be social.

I never explicitly talked about the “hints” comment with him, but mentioned it to my husband who said we don’t really know what he meant by that but if it ever comes up again they will have to have a man to man talk.  I tried to not worry about it, but am as careful as I can to always dress very modestly, and try not to be alone with him.

He is doing well in his work but I feel profoundly uncomfortable with this arrangement. I told my husband I would like to be able to shower in our camper in our yard and I even said I would be ok with living in the camper until we are able to find another way to work things out. My husband is not in favor of me living out there but is ok with me showering out there, however he has not had time to set it up for showering yet.

I sometimes shower in the middle of the night when not too tired or wait until the weekend to shower, when our nephew goes to stay with his birth mom, step dad and half siblings about an hour away. He is supposed to be with us a year.

Rabbi Daniel and Rebbetzin Susan, please share your thoughts with me on this.

Dear Acea,

We know exactly what we want to tell your husband, but unfortunately he isn’t asking for our advice. Will he pay attention to our words? If not, you need to find someone to whom he will listen. If there is no one (or no one who will give the correct advice) then this is one of those times where you must stand up for yourself with strength and determination.

The short answer is that this is unacceptable. It isn’t just a minor issue.  It is absolutely and completely not ok. Your husband has an obligation to provide you with a home in which you feel comfortable. For you to need to shower in the middle of the night and feel nervous and on edge in your home means that he is failing in his duties.

It goes without saying that a man’s obligations to his wife are far more significant than toward his nephew or even his brother.

Of course we do not want to contribute to tension and disagreement between you and your husband but we do have to say that you are being too accommodating. Having your nephew live with you without strict parameters goes against time-tested ancient Jewish wisdom (this would be so even if he was your blood relative, by the way). If anyone should be moving into the camper, it should be your nephew. Even that is only acceptable if you are comfortable having him so close by. If his words or actions make you feel nervous or embarrassed, then he should not be on your property at all. He certainly should not be entering your home at any time that your husband isn’t present neither should he ever enter without knocking and being admitted. 

Your husband’s nephew is probably a little immature. Most 24-year-old males who are not yet supporting themselves are not men, but boys. And boys entertain fantasies.  When he asked about whether you are trying to send him hints, we know without any doubt exactly what he meant by that and are a little surprised that your husband didn’t. 

We suspect that perhaps your husband is just trying to avoid confrontation and is hoping that things will gradually settle down without him having to sit down for that serious ‘man-to-man’ talk with his nephew. 

We are not sure if your husband is mentoring his nephew for his nephew’s benefit, for the business’ benefit or for both. If your husband is trying to help his nephew, it cannot be at your expense.  If your husband’s business needs the help, then you can graciously assist with providing meals and other support to your nephew, but asking you to share what sounds like fairly compact living quarters is way too much.

If this answer sounds strongly assertive it is because we want to make sure that you do not feel an obligation to compromise or “wait things out,” or not to be so sensitive. Standing up strongly for what is right makes one a good, not a bad wife. A man’s home may be his castle, but a woman’s home is her castle, her nest and her domain.

Wishing you a home of joy,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Is it too late to flourish?

October 9th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 9 comments

At age 65 and as a divorced man, is it too late to be the man God originally intended me to be?

I had a pretty successful career financially but never fulfilled the passion and purpose you speak about that men must have.  I think after 32 years my wife decided she had better strike out on her own because she didn’t feel I was the man who would provide and protect in the long haul. Together we had built what I thought was a good life and good family.  Sadly, I see where I fell short.  

I have just finished taking care of my ailing mom for two years prior to her recent death at 93. The challenge is now that my assignment is over, and having put my career on hold for 2 years, I am now 65 with the corporate world asking where have you been and why don’t you just retire?  I know retire is not in the bible and I still have full energy, capacity and drive to make a difference.

My question is at 65 is it too late to be a real man, and fulfill the destiny God has created me for?

Regards,

Rick E.

Dear Rick,

We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you! If you bring energy, capacity and drive to your work, then you can accomplish a great deal. My (Rabbi Daniel Lapin) own teacher and uncle, Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian, embarked on his most famed and productive work when he was in his seventies. 

We hope you already know that Colonel David Sanders built up the Kentucky Fried Chicken company between his seventieth birthday and the time he passed on, aged 90.  Samuel Walton didn’t get the Walmart company going until he was nearly 50 years old. Raymond Kroc only conceived of the McDonalds vision when he was well into his fifties.  And these are just a few of the more prominent examples of people who found their economic niche late in life.  There are millions of others who built up successful, if lesser known enterprises after a late, late start.

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Marrying again – Will the third time be the charm?

October 3rd, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 16 comments

Hello,

I am a truck driver and just started watching you and your wife on TCT. First, thank you for your ministry.

I have been married twice and was cheated on both times. I am thinking of getting married after being with my girlfriend for 5 years. Would I be wrong in God’s eyes to get married again?

Michael R.

Dear Michael,

We often drive fair distances to and from speaking appearances because we much prefer the road to flying.  We’ve had so many opportunities to admire the professionalism of most truck drivers.  Where possible we favor truck routes because we feel professional drivers are, on average, more predictable.

That said, we think you might just be behaving a bit predictably here too. 

There is no Biblical limit to the number of marriages one can contract as long as the previous marriages ended properly. However, you didn’t really think we would leave it there, did you? After all, if that’s all you wanted to ask us, you wouldn’t have included information on how your previous marriages ended and about how long you’ve been dating.

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Am I cheating people?

September 26th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 4 comments

I love your services and have been reading your book, Business Secrets from the Bible

I am with a developer who sells overpriced  property. He tells me to go and see the people in the home and get them to like you first, then sell the property.

Whenever I say anything about it (I have mentioned it many times), the answer back I get is that I don’t believe in the product.

Three months later and only two properties sold from 34.

I’m struggling to know what is right as far as morally goes to my fellow man and right to my boss who unfortunately is my older brother.

Your advice would be much appreciated.

Dino

Dear Dino,

Your question reminded us of a story our good friend, Zig Ziglar, used to tell. He was overseeing a group of salesmen who were selling a rather expensive set of kitchen cookware. Despite having an explanation as to why the pots were a worthwhile investment and merited the high price, the salesmen were notoriously unsuccessful.

One day, Zig asked which of them owned the pots they were selling. When no one raised a hand, he told them that evidently they did not believe what they were telling their potential customers. If they thought that the pots were truly an important and justified purchase, they would have bought a set themselves.

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Sharing downloads – is that ok?

September 17th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 2 comments

Hello, 

 I recently downloaded Tower of Power from your website. Is it ok to share this with people inside my organization or should we purchase a separate copy for everyone? 

 Thank you, 

Mike 

Dear Mike,

Before answering your question, we want to compliment you on asking it in the first place. The question shows a sensitivity that suggests that you run your business on ethical grounds and that you don’t box ‘religious behavior’ into only some parts of your life while you isolate it from others.

We are delighted for you to share our teachings in the same manner as you would share a physical book. You are welcome to assemble a group and listen to the download together just as you might read aloud from a copy of a book that you own. You can also pass on a book you own to one person at a time and as such could pass on your download to one person at a time.

What is not permissible, according to both Scripture and United States copyright law, is to xerox a book in place of buying many copies. You will find a note of this prohibition in the front of most books.

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Is genealogical research a waste of time?

September 12th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 13 comments

Dear Rabbi & Mrs. Lapin,

Please let me first tell you that I have learned much from your writings. I appreciate your knowledge, willingness, and even courage to boldly share truth with those who have ears to hear.

My question:  Is it wise and worthwhile to spend time and money investigating one’s genealogy?  What do you think of the DNA tests to discover where your ancestors lived?

I was adopted and have discovered my biological family through DNA testing.  I am over 60. My bio and adoptive parents are all deceased. I continue to think of my adoptive side as my “real parents and family”. However, the treasure hunt for older blood ancestors and lineage has been quite interesting.

One concern I have, which I’d like you to address, is whether I spend too much time in research. It can take hours and hours of looking at records to find and confirm even one person. I would say though that some of those ‘finds’ has yielded some very interesting and fulfilling data.

This experience has led me to better understand and appreciate the hand of God in my life. I’ve spent about 3 years now in this process and I wonder if it really matters who my 4th great grandfather was and whether he was born in Scotland or Sweden? Should I discontinue my research, if I am the only one in my family who finds this fascinating?  I have adult children who are not the least bit interested.

I do not spend time or money researching at the expense of my family’s needs. What do you think of this new craze to have your  ‘DNA done’?There are many passages in the bible about genealogy, so how does Ancient Jewish Wisdom apply to my situation? Thank you!

Shawn

Dear Shawn,

Working backwards through your letter, we have to say that we know very little about the companies in business to test your DNA. We tend to be wary of fads and would recommend researching the reliability of any of these companies and the usefulness of the results well before parting with your money or your DNA. For the most part, all they tell you is about the presence of ethnic and geographic markers with limited accuracy.  Information about particular ancestors would be more interesting but that information is available only through the research that you are enjoying.

Having said that, you are correct that God’s system places great importance on genealogy. While each of us is an individual, we are also links in a chain. Much of today’s pathologies are the result of devaluing family and pretending that caring who one’s parents are, in particular fathers, is irrelevant and unimportant. Many men who saw an easy income stream in becoming sperm donors while in college found, to their shock, that the offspring they put out of mind were eager to find them.

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I can’t seem to break away from bad ways.

September 6th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 4 comments

Dear Rabbi and Susan,

Please, what can someone do to break away stubborn yokes of many years, that has defied fasting and prayers?

Kamaldeen R.

Dear Kamaldeen,

First of all, accept our admiration for being the rare person who evaluates himself morally and works upon himself for improvement in the eyes of our Heavenly judge.  The timing of your question is fortuitous. In just about two weeks millions of Jews around the world will  observe Yom Kippur, known in English as the Day of Atonement.  Yom Kippur  is celebrated with a 25 hour fast and the day is spent in prayer. Ten days of moral introspection lead up to  the climax of Yom Kippur, the day upon which we lock in our resolve to make meaningful changes in our life.

It is not a sad day, although some Jews, who have minimal knowledge of their faith, think that it is. It is a festive day. As you recognize, little makes one happier than being able to put bad traits and habits behind and move forward in a more positive direction.

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I’m resenting always being the designated driver.

August 28th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 18 comments

As a person who abstains from drinking (for reasons of self-discipline), I am often expected (usually by assumption or without asking) to be the driver for most events and parties with my family and friends.

Does my personal decision not to drink bring with it the responsibility of serving others around me in this manner? Logically, why should others not enjoy themselves at a party (remain sober to drive) if I have already decided not to drink? I sometimes feel “used,” though, because of my personal decision.

Dear Involuntary Designated Driver,

We love how the questions that come into our Ask the Rabbi mailbox make us think. Your question certainly did that.

We would like to expand your question. In many ways it is the same one as the at-home mother whose work-in-an-office neighbor asks her to sign for her packages or let the plumber into her house. We could brainstorm and think of a dozen similar situations. Basically, people are assuming that they are asking another person for something that is no big deal.

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My father is having an affair!

August 21st, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 26 comments

On a day in March, 2018, I found out that my father was having an affair. The identity of the woman at the time was unknown to myself, although I did suspect it was my aunt. It took me several months of fighting myself on what to do with the information, as I did not want to harm my mother emotionally with it. But after much thought I did disclose my findings to her. However, I did not tell her I suspected the woman was her own sister. My mother had her doubts about the whole thing and I know she was in denial in order to protect herself from the hurt.

Today my sister and I after some further investigation found out that the woman is indeed my mother’s own sister. I am in anguish and torment because of the findings and do not know what to do.

This goes against every teaching we were brought up with. I’m disappointed and feel pain and sorrow. Should we keep this secret to ourselves or should we tell my mom? I thought about speaking to my father about it, but he gets aggressive and tells me to stay out of his marriage because he doesn’t involve himself in mine. Please help!

Kayla

Dear Kayla,

You and your sister are in tremendous pain. The structure on which your lives were built, including values and trust in your parents has been shaken. You are angry, hurt, disappointed, betrayed, confused and if we may say so, probably a little vengeful. That is all natural. But natural is not necessarily right.

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What does the Bible say about moms working outside the home?

August 14th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 29 comments

What does Ancient Jewish wisdom aka the Bible say about moms? I am naturally a hard working professional however I am also a relatively new mom.

My husband provides, I stay home with my 1 and 3 year olds. If I did work we could make some upgrades.

This topic wasn’t mentioned in Business Secrets from the Bible. What do you say about it?

Amber T.

Dear Amber,

What does the Bible say? The assumption underlying the Bible’s prescription for life is that if each person fulfills his or her obligations, the society will prosper. The basic component of the society is the family, not the individual (though of course there are provisions for those who are alone). Together, a man and a woman make a unit where each of them and any associated children can physically, emotionally and economically thrive. The unit suffers if both husband and wife do exactly the same things, just as a business partnership where each partner does exactly the same as the other would make no sense.

To this end, in the Torah, women are not obligated with most of the positive, time-bound commandments. What does this mean? Women, like men, may not murder, steal or gossip. These are negative commandments. The Torah  obligates women to observe the Sabbath and eat kosher. But commandments that require one to be somewhere or do things in a time-limited manner, such as appearing at the Temple in Jerusalem (or today in synagogue) or even being forced to testify in a court case, are not incumbent upon women. The idea is that a woman is not asked to do anything that would conflict with her ability to care for her household and children. That is her primary responsibility.

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