Posts in Ask the Rabbi

Are my academic studies a mistake?

January 11th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 14 comments

Question:

I was wondering what are your thoughts on why modern Universities tend  to support “progressive ideals” and go left. As a conservative on a University completing a postgraduate degree , it seems that  this left leaning culture seems to be increasingly and overtly celebrated on campus. 

Secondly, what is your opinion on the role of a University professor/Academic as a vocation  and how it fits in with the idea that we ought to be obsessively pre-occupied with serving God’s fellow creation? The reason for asking is that the science field I am involved in is largely knowledge/theoretical based rather than service based.

Ken

Answer: 

Dear Ken,

Many excellent books and articles have been written explaining why campuses overwhelmingly tilt Left. They make fascinating reading and we do suggest that if your life is heavily campus-based, you delve into this subject.

In brief, however, as I often explain on my podcast ( https://soundcloud.com/rabbi-daniel-lapin-show ) there are basically only two lenses to reality. One is God-centric and humble while the other is arrogant and secular-materialistic. The former says we’re on this lonely planet because God put us here while the latter takes the position that we’re here by a random accident that makes us nothing more than super-sophisticated chimpanzees.

(more…)

Am I depriving someone of a job

January 4th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 13 comments

Question:

I read an article in the newspaper which mentioned that older workers need to retire at 55 so that young people can get jobs. Am I depriving youngsters from getting jobs?

Siti

Answer: 

Dear Siti,

The short and simple answer is NO. The article you read ignores the fact that God created each and every one of us as unique individuals with unique contributions to make to society. Your job is to continue working and adding value to the life of others.

God didn’t put Adam in The Garden to work it only until a younger person who needed a job came along. A growing garden means jobs for all who wish to work. What is more, it is a common fallacy to think that a person with years of experience behind him can be replaced by a young first-time-job-seeker. Not true.

(more…)

Should I get life insurance?

December 28th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 13 comments

Question:

I am contemplating obtaining life insurance for our family. It is very confusing all together. Is it worth it or are we wasting our money? Overall what is your view? 

Thank you

Maria L.

Answer: 

Dear Maria, 

There are really two questions we think we hear you asking.  (1) Is it okay to make yourself, well, sort of redundant?  One might say, now that I am so necessary to my family, God will take care of me. But if I buy life insurance, I am making myself less necessary so perhaps God says, well, I can take you because your  family will be fine.  (2)  Is it financially a good decision?

On the first question first, God wants us all to be interdependent and mutually supportive of one another.  When society comprised few individuals and life was simpler, the small farming village knew that if Tom had an accident, Joe, Harry, and Ted would take care of his family.  It was an unofficial insurance company.  But with life as complex as it is now,  we can no longer leave it to informal arrangements so life insurance becomes the institutionalized form of helping one another.  And there is nothing wrong if Harry who organizes all the cooperation to help Tom’s family makes a living out of doing so. In other words, a life insurance company operating profitably while providing this service is a good thing.  We don’t think that having insurance is making yourself redundant or that it raises any moral or religious questions.  Obviously everyone’s circumstances are different but a conversation with a trusted financial advisor or experienced insurance person is definitely the way to go. Then analyze the available plans in terms of what might make sense to you.

(more…)

Did I Accelerate My Mother’s Death?

December 21st, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 6 comments

Question:

My Mom passed away suddenly in April.  She had been having intestinal issues for a couple of months & I finally figured out it was from a prescription she was taking.  I had the doctor change it, but less than a week later, she died.  

I blame myself for not discovering sooner the medicine was causing it, and have blamed myself ever since, believing I let her down & am heartbroken.  She was my biggest inspiration.  As you can imagine, I miss her terribly.

 My husband says it is not my fault, and it was her time to go, but I feel I would still have her if I had figured it out sooner.  Do you think we each have a certain time we are appointed to die?

Becky

Answer: 

Dear Becky,

We are truly sorry for your great loss.  What a lovely tribute you give to your mother when you write, “She was my biggest inspiration.”

Blaming yourself is a natural reaction, but we agree with your husband that it is not a correct or productive one. Your letter makes clear (we edited for space; you provided more details) that you and your husband devotedly took care of your mother. If you could see into the future or if you were omniscient, you would have known that her medication was causing a problem; but those powers are not given to us. Her death may be completely unrelated to her treatment, as well. There is no reason to feel bad for being a human being. You did the best you could with the realities you saw.

We do believe that God appoints a time for each of us, however we also believe that human actions can accelerate or delay that time. Otherwise, there would be no reason to punish a murderer or to provide medical care or to pray for someone who is ill. Yet, we mustn’t make the mistake of thinking that we are in charge.

Your loss is still fresh and your emotions are raw. Try not to divert yourself from the pain by focusing on self-flagellation.  You are still in the first year of mourning so rather than repeatedly reliving the medication issue in your mind, focus on all the good times you shared, all the gratitude you feel, and the wonderful example she set.

By sharing your mother’s story you are reminding us all to pay close attention to medicine interactions and of the need to monitor doctors. By sharing memories of her, you can encourage women to recognize their importance as mothers. The pain will never completely go away though it will lessen. The guilt should be abandoned right away.

Sending virtual hugs,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Teenage Thief

December 15th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 8 comments

Question:

 For 10 months I have employed a 13 year old boy to do yard work.  He is very bright, borrows my books which we discuss off work time.  Unfortunately it has just been confirmed that over time when he uses the bathroom he has been stealing from me.  When I started to suspect I set a trap. 

 When confronted he denied but later confessed claiming his parents take all the money he earns.  This may or may not be true and honestly I’m not sure about the parental situation. I do know if he was my 13 year old son I would have met his employer.  Of course restitution is a given but what other advice would you have to handle this properly and effectively.  Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Dave

Answer: 

Dear B.L.,

Dear Dave,

You are a good man. That’s our conclusion from the fact that you are concerned for this boy. Clearly, you aren’t happy with simply muttering, “What’s the world coming to.” If you are expecting restitution, than either you are meeting his parents or planning to have the boy work for you until he pays off his debt.

You know as well as we do that, “My parents take what I earn,” is not an excuse for stealing or for lying about stealing. It seems you see potential in this boy and perhaps realize that you can be a pivotal influence in his future life.

(more…)

What about retirement for women?

December 7th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 12 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.

(more…)

Is My Gut Instinct Right or Wrong?

November 30th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 15 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. 

(more…)

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 3 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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Search Questions

Do you love reading our Ask the Rabbi column? Now, get 101 favorite questions and answers in one delightful book.

Dear Rabbi and Susan: 101 Real Life ‘Ask the Rabbi’ Questions

Learn More | Add to Cart

X