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A collection of textile samples lay spread out on the table

Samsa was a travelling salesman.

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It showed a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur

boa who sat upright, raising a heavy fur muff.

Do I Believe Or Do I Know?

The Beverly Hills tycoon was dismayed by his son’s decision to study in a yeshiva instead of joining the family business.  After several years the son returned home to his father’s sardonic question:  So what have you got to show for your years of study?  “I know that there is a God,” replied the young man.  Angrily the father leapt to his feet and pointed out the window at the gardener patiently mowing the vast lawns.  “He also knows there is a God,” shouted the older man.  “No father,” the boy quietly responded.  “He believes there is a God; I know.”

The challenge to the person of faith is to acquire so clear an understanding of how the world really works, that God’s role becomes obvious.  It’s not a matter of fervent proclamations of faith or moments of spiritual epiphany.  Instead, it takes disciplined devotion.  It’s not easy, but neither is body building.  In both cases, devotees consider the effort worthwhile; what is more, both provide highs along the way.

The path to knowing God, for me, is the Torah which I find to be a comprehensive blueprint of all reality.  I do not mean the book of stories that many view as nothing but mythology for children or, at best, for adults with childlike minds.  No, I mean the majestic and mysterious data stream of 304,805 Hebrew letters making up a Torah scroll and the ancient Jewish wisdom that accompanies them.

Think of the fifty million or so lines of software code that make up a computer operating system such as Windows 10.  These lines of code are written using the conventional alpha-numeric characters found on any typewriter keyboard.  The lines contain many easily recognizable words like “and,” “go to,” and “stop.”  It is not hard to imagine that with a little ingenuity and effort the characters, words, and numbers could be cunningly arranged to read as a piece of prose.  Thus one might encounter the core code of a modern computer operating system and mistakenly assume that it just a lengthy, but badly written, poem whilst remaining oblivious to its higher software purpose.  We would endlessly debate the veracity of the saga and the identity of the author without ever realizing the inestimable value the document possesses when used as an operating system rather than as an improbable narrative.  The Torah is planet earth’s operating system thinly disguised as a piece of literature.

As such, its laws are every bit as binding as is, say, Sir Isaac Newton’s famous law of gravitation, published in 1666.  Which is to say they do not proscribe as much as they describe.  Torah laws do not inform us what we should do in the way that the highway code tells us to adhere to the speed limit.  They describe the inevitability of cause and effect over time in human societies.  It is mistaken to suppose that until the 17th century, Englishmen were free to float above the countryside like untethered helium balloons until Newton ruthlessly suppressed their freedoms with his oppressive new gravity law.  Likewise, Torah laws are binding whether we wisely accept them as the rules of the game or whether we attempt to temporarily dismiss them with a defiant shake of the fist.  It is the difference between living what seems to be an absurd and random existence and living in an ordered world of rules that are never easy but always consistent.  This is a lot like the difference between a rioting hoodlum and a law-abiding patriot.  One resents laws while the other is grateful for them.

Torah laws are designed to do far more than promote decency; they are intended to produce holiness.  If a nation’s trendsetters are hedonistic, the people will become depraved.  If the trendsetters are only decent, the people will be hedonistic.  For the people to be decent, the trendsetters must be holy.  This has always been God’s intended role for the Jew in every country.  It also explains why those nations that played host to vital and faithful Jewish communities frequently enjoyed tranquility and prosperity.

We relive God’s giving the Torah to Moses on Sinai 3,329 years ago this Tuesday night, May 30th, during the festival of Pentecost or as we call it, Shavuoth. This was the entire goal of the deliverance from Egypt.

Without conviction in an ultimate Messianic deliverance, it would be hard for hope and optimism to exist.  We would all wallow in the gloom and pessimism that now mostly pervades secular left progressivism.  If the nukes don’t get you, global warming will.  They are right.  With no vision of a supernatural redemption down the road, we must take the only rational alternative.  Overcrowding, a meteorite collision, food shortages, an unstoppable epidemic; these are only details.  The one certainty is hopeless oblivion.  And if the end is oblivion, well nothing much really matters in the interim.  By eliminating the promise of that glorious day on which God will be one and His Name will be one, we gradually but inexorably introduce into society the nihilism of body piercings, public vulgarity, and cowardly leaders.

After a catastrophic crash, countless investigators gather to find out why the airplane fell out of the sky.  I can provide an answer in only one word — gravity.  The real question is why did it ever remain airborne?  It remained airborne because it had engines that could convert chemical energy into thrust and wings that could convert thrust into lift.  Remove any of these elements and the natural condition of gravity will predominate.  I do not even have to believe in gravity for these events to unfold.  The story of western civilization and America is the story of an airplane running out of fuel.  What then transpires is entirely natural and predictable.

The good news is that if enough of us wish it, the fuel tanks can be replenished.  Those of us who believe that America’s greatness is based on God’s protection and adherence to His codes of conduct need to acknowledge and respect theological differences while joining together to reclaim America’s moral and ethical Biblical foundation. America will once again draw nourishment, inspiration and direction from the Bible.  Do I believe we can save our country by doing so?  No, I know it.

Our office and stores close late tonight through Thursday night Pacific Time in recognition of Shavuot/Pentecost. There is still time to get our Ten Commandments CD for a penetrating and life-changing look at those verses. It is on sale individually, or you can also get it as part of our Biblical Blueprint Set, also on sale.

Tuesday afternoon, June 6th, I will be speaking at Dallas City Hall at 4pm for a rally commemorating the 50th anniversary of the miracle of the Six Day War, supporting Jerusalem and America. I would love to see you there.

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Memorial Day

Wishing all Americans a Memorial Day where we prove ourselves worthy of the sacrifices made so that we can live in freedom.

Stay Awake!

In July of 2013, I wrote a Musing where I referenced a book by authors Timothy Daughtry and Gary R. Casselman, called Waking the Sleeping Giant.  Less than a year into a second Obama term, I was disheartened and angry. My anger wasn’t directed at President Obama, Speaker Pelosi or those who voted for them. It was at the Keystone Kops who were running the Republican Party. The book expressed so many of my feelings.

Unfortunately, the Republican leadership didn’t relate to the book’s message, which many others articulated as well. This most recent election revealed a natural consequence of their indifference.  Millions of Americans rejected the party apparatus.  In my mind, President Trump’s election along with that of a Republican Congress was a heaven-sent opportunity—and one that is in danger of being squandered because conservatives and  Republicans are reverting to an old, losing style of behavior.

Shortly after reading Mr. Daughtry’s book, my husband and I met him and we have stayed in touch over the years. He is graciously allowing me to share a recent column he wrote. I think that its message is well worth contemplating.

Trump is not the Real Target; You Are by Timothy Daughtry

As we watch the daily barrage of accusations and innuendo directed against President Trump by the far left, the liberal media, and even some in his own party, those of us who voted to put him in the Oval Office need to remember one crucial point: President Trump is not the real target.  You are.

Even considering his outsized persona and the stunning phenomenon of an outsider who has never held political office winning the presidency against one of the most powerful political machines in American history, the new movement that elected Donald Trump has never been about Trump. In the 2016 election, the “forgotten men and women of America” were hell-bent to send a message to the powerful elites of both parties.

The message was that the Washington elites are serving themselves and their own agenda and ignoring the rest of the nation.  The message was that Washington has become a swamp of corruption and self-serving collusion among powerful interests and that Main Street America is ready to see that swamp drained.

Donald Trump was our messenger.

Because his candidacy was not about Trump the man but Trump the messenger, he was able to withstand the smears and assaults of the Clinton Machine that would have sunk any other candidate.  They siphoned all the way to the bottom of their slime barrel, and still the message prevailed.

That message was simple and grounded in common sense.  No country can survive unless it has control over its borders.  People coming into American should be vetted to make sure that they pose no danger to us.  After eight years of stifling taxes and regulations, we should once again make America a healthy place in which to do business, make products, and create jobs.  Political correctness may seem silly and laughable, but in reality it poses a serious threat to free expression and open exchange of ideas. If it’s terrorism, call it that.  Say what is obvious to our common sense even if it offends the delicate sensibilities of the elite.

Now the denizens of the Washington swamp are sending a message back to the forgotten men and women who voted for Trump and his reforms: “Forget you.”

The leftists who worked to radically transform the nation under Barack Obama are telling us that they hold the reins of power and that we the people don’t run anything.  They are telling us that their agenda will prevail regardless of how we vote or what we want.  They are telling us that they can subvert, attack, and destroy any messenger that we send into their territory.  And feckless leaders in the GOP seem, at best, more afraid of displeasing the Democrats than betraying their own voters, and, at worst, in cozy collusion with the opposition.

What is at stake in the barrage of innuendo, twisted news, and “investigations” is not just the future of the Trump presidency, but the future of the very idea that governmental power rests ultimately on the consent of the governed.

Of course there is much at stake in the actual policy questions facing the country.  But underneath the debates about border security, court appointees, tax and regulatory policy, and so on lies a deeper question that is at the very heart of our system of government: Can the American people still change the direction of the country if we believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction?  Or will the powerful and self-serving elites impose their agenda even when we don’t consent to it?

When the voters put leftists in power, as they did with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, the country moves left.  But when voters try to change course, as we did in the elections of 2010 and 2014, the country still careened towards open borders, government control of healthcare, rule by rogue judges, and lawless license for those in the power elite.

And so we went outside the traditional path and elected Donald Trump in 2016.  The liberal news anchors had barely dried their tears after Election Day when the left began to cloud the real meaning of Trump’s election by pushing the bizarre claim that the Russians had somehow hacked the election.

In their gaslighting version of reality, you didn’t really vote to drain the swamp.  You didn’t really vote to secure our borders.  You didn’t vote to repeal and replace Obamacare and put doctors and patients back in charge instead of Washington bureaucrats.  You didn’t vote to restore rule of law and common sense to Washington.  The Russians somehow threw the election to Trump.  You can go back home now and let the experts run things.

It’s swamp gas.  Don’t breathe it.

There is plenty in Washington that merits investigation, from foreign influence through the Clinton Foundation to Obama’s use of intelligence data for political purposes.  Congress has the power to do just that, but we need to give them the will.

Let’s remind our representatives that they might forget us, but we won’t forget them.

Tim Daughtry is a conservative speaker and co-author of Waking the Sleeping Giant: How Mainstream Americans Can Beat Liberals at Their Own Game.  Follow him on Twitter @TCDwriter.

* * *

There will be no Musing next week as we honor and celebrate
the feast days of Shavuot (Pentecost). Our office and store will close from sunset Tuesday night and reopen Thursday night.

For greater insight into what message God gave on Mt. Sinai 3,329 years ago next week, take a look at The Ten Commandments: How Two Tablets Can Transform Your Life

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What’s the point of a blessing before eating?

Would you or Susan write about the appropriate way to pray before meals? I’ve heard two different views. One view indicates that we shouldn’t “ask” for our food to be blessed, as God already said, as His people, He will bless our bread and water. Instead, we should simply bless & thank Him, as our provider, etc. The other view indicates we should, indeed, ask His blessing on the food, prior to partaking of same.

Please advise…

Thanks 🙂

Christine B.

Answer: 

Dear Christine,

Although this isn’t your question, we (at Ask the Rabbi you get both of us!) would like to explain one of the major misconceptions about kosher food. Many people think that kosher food is food that is blessed. When a company has kosher certification, as thousands of large and small brands do, rabbis visit the company’s manufacturing facilities. However, they are not coming to bless the food but to supervise the production. Depending on the food, a rabbi might stay on the premises full time or alternatively drop in for sporadic visits. Every ingredient and its source, the methods of cooking and even the delivery containers are scrutinized.

Back to your question, Christine.  We would come down on the side of thanking God.  After all,  whatever food the earth brings forth is already blessed.  Consequently, we recommend thanking God for providing us with food and blessings us with such tasty sustenance   We ourselves,  say a blessing both before and after eating. The short blessing before eating is a formal acknowledgement (and it is important that our own ears hear our own mouth utter those words) that God supplies our food.  This blessing changes slightly according to the type of food. For example, before eating an apple we say, “Blessed are You, King of the world, who created the fruit of the tree.”

The blessing we say after eating is longer because it requires more effort to induce spiritual humility in ourselves when our stomaches are full than when we are feeling hungry.  What  exactly blessing God means is complicated. The Hebrew word blessing, bracha, has many dimensions.  For instance, the word also means knee from which we derive the concept of going down onto our knees and kneeling before God.  We have an entire chapter on that one word in our book, Buried Treasure!

So, in fact, the blessings surrounding eating incorporate both an appreciation of God as our provider and also recognition that eating is a spiritual as well as physical blessing.  We hope this helps.

Bon appétit,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Next Tuesday night is the 3,329th anniversary of God giving his Torah on Mt. Sinai

Our office and store will be closed from Tuesday night through Thursday night for Shavuot/Pentecost

Tune in to what message was truly being transmitted through the Ten Commandments. Or take advantage of our pre-holiday sale to get The Ten Commandments audio CD and four more life-changing programs at one low price.

 

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all audio CDs are available by mail or instant download

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