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Posts tagged " |Daniel Lapin| "

Perhaps Love

June 25th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

If you know what your car engine sounds like when running normally, you will instantly pick up early signs of mechanical problems. If you know the sound your baby makes when he’s hungry, you will immediately recognize a cry of pain. Departure from pattern is a warning sign.

In forensic accounting, false expense submissions are often picked out because the culprit tends to make up numbers randomly. However, in the real world there are predictable patterns regarding the occurrences of various digits (The interested can pursue this phenomenon by exploring Benford’s Law). Departure from predictable patterns alerts us to something possibly significant.

The Lord’s language, Hebrew is a beautifully precise language, often conveying not only the meaning of the word but also the emotion behind the meaning.

Consider, for instance, the word “perhaps”; on the surface, a simple word. It indicates that something may or may not happen.

Now consider these two sentences:

Looking at the man she loved, Jane wondered to herself, “Perhaps he will propose to me this evening.”

Tom ruefully contemplated his dismal sales reports and realized that perhaps he faced termination.

From the point of view of Tom and Jane’s emotions, those two underlined words mean two very different things. Jane hopes that something wonderful will happen while Tom dreads the possibility of something awful happening.

However, in Hebrew, there are two different words for perhaps. The word ULai is used in circumstances when the speaker devoutly wishes for the event to occur, while the word PeN is used when he hopes it won’t.

Perhaps (ULai) there are fifty
righteous people in the city [of Sedom]…

(Genesis 18:24)

…now let us go there, perhaps (ULai)
he’ll tell us the road…

(I Samuel 9:6)

And from the tree in the middle of the garden, God said you shall not eat of it or touch it, [or else] perhaps (PeN) you’ll die.  
(Genesis 3:3)

Come let us deal wisely with him
[or else] perhaps (PeN) he’ll multiply and
when war comes he will join our enemies…

(Exodus 1:10)

Once we understand this difference, we can be alert for any examples in Scripture when it appears that the wrong word is being used.

When Abraham dispatches his Chief of Staff, Eliezer, to find a bride for his son, Isaac, we spot such an unexpected usage.

Abraham directs Eliezer to travel to his birthplace and bring back a bride. Eliezer reasonably inquires what is to be done in the event of a problem.

…perhaps the woman will not be willing
to follow me to this land…

(Genesis 24:5)

Since this would be a most undesirable outcome, we’d expect Eliezer to have used the word PeN. Yet, inexplicably he says ULai.

This informs us that deep down, Eliezer desired his mission to fail. He subconsciously hoped that no girl would come back with him to marry Isaac.

Why? Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that Eliezer had a daughter of marriageable age. He was harboring the hope that his master, Abraham, would say, “Eliezer, you have a lovely daughter, I have a wonderful son…”

When Abraham didn’t suggest this, Eliezer forlornly held one remaining hope. Perhaps no woman would be willing to accompany him to Canaan. Perhaps then Isaac would marry his daughter.

Abraham’s next words dashed his hopes by making clear that Eliezer’s daughter was not an option for Isaac.   It is to the credit of Eliezer that after this big disappointment, he nonetheless carried out his mission faithfully and successfully.

Once we know the general rules, any departure from those rules attracts our attention like a flaring Fourth of July firework rocket arcing through a dark night sky.

For this reason it pays to know the rules; knowing how the world REALLY works makes it easy to spot exceptions. Spotting exceptions helps provide early warning of forthcoming problems whether in business or in social interactions. Forty rules of how the world REALLY works form the basis of my new book Business Secrets from the Bible-Spiritual Success Strategies for Financial Abundance. Join my many friends who have already elevated the trajectory of their earnings. Loving money is a bad idea but making money is wonderful. I’d like to see you (or someone you care for) make more money. Can I send you your own copy of Business Secrets from the Bible?

Business Secrets from the Bible

 

Yours, Mine and Our Sins

September 18th, 2012 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Please note that next week’s Thought Tool is scheduled to go out 24 hours late as our office and store  are closed from sunset on Tuesday night through late Wednesday night in honor of Yom Kipur – the Day of Atonement.

“But everybody’s doing it.” Is there any parent who has not heard that cry? Perhaps your child wants to go to an inadequately chaperoned party. Maybe a teenager wants to read the latest best-selling book that his or her parents see as morally suspect. No matter the issue, children want to be part of a group.

We adults are susceptible to this desire as well. We buy new clothing and cars so that we ‘fit in’ with a certain crowd; we watch popular movies because ‘everyone’ is talking about them. Sometimes we even vote with our social group rather than researching and making an informed decision.

We are not only influenced by others, but we are also the influencers. When I succumb to complaining, cowardice or anger, I affect my spouse, children, neighbors and co-workers. Contaminated by my attitude, they will be more likely to behave the same way. If I lower my standards and speak rudely or profanely, others will more easily do so as well.

We are in the Jewish High Holy Day period that began with Rosh HaShana and ends on Yom Kipur, the Day of Atonement next Wednesday. It is a time for intense introspection on one’s life, achievements, failures and goals. Simultaneously, it is a time for communal reflection and involvement. When we enumerate our sins on Yom Kipur, each individual has his or her own list, yet the format we recite is in plural language. Sentence after sentence begins with the words “We have sinned…” rather than, “I have sinned.”

Isn’t this strange? Even orphans say, “We are guilty of not appreciating parents.” Even the most upright among us say, “We have stolen.”

This interaction between our unique lives and the larger community is one of the universal messages of Yom Kipur (download my audio CD Day for Atonement, now at half price, to learn more). It is a time to strip away the illusion that we are independent and self-directed and to recognize how much of the wrong way that we think and act is a function of following the crowd. It is a time to recognize our own responsibility not only for ourselves but also for others.  As we take an annual moral inventory, we need to assess with clarity the inescapable intertwining of our lives with the lives of the many different groups of people with whom we share life on earth.

After starkly facing our failings during this period, we emerge from the holy days with optimism and conviction. It is wrong to think of peer pressure only as negative. When we smile despite our pain, we also influence others. When we express gratitude and are gracious to others, the effects of that ripple outward as well. If we are courageous and cling to standards, immune to what ‘everyone else’ is doing, we make it easier for others to do so as well.

This is a good time of year to set the odometer back to zero and reject becoming ensnared in the failings of society, no matter how widespread they are. It is a particularly conducive time to commit to being leaders in exemplifying moral greatness. Each of the five audio CDs in our Biblical Blueprint Set (one of which is Day for Atonement) highlights one area on which to focus our attention. Whether it is guarding our words, managing our time, understanding the importance of the two tablets given on Mt. Sinai or escaping from seemingly impossible problems, these messages can help you embark on an improved path. These five CDs are particularly cost-effective right now, at only $20 for the set via instant download. Save $19.95 as you chart a fresh course. As the Day of Atonement teaches us, the benefits will not only enhance your own life, but will affect those around you in immeasurable ways.

Yom Kipur teaches us to work from the inside out, in contrast to tyrants who impose their will on others while indulging themselves. When we change ourselves, we change our families. When we change our families, we change our communities. When we change our communities, we change our country. When we change our country, we change the world.

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This week’s Susan’s Musings: Oops!

What do you do when you realize, years after the fact, that you gave bad advice to someone? What if it wasn’t only one person, but many? What if you gave the advice in a book or article and have no idea how to find the people who took your advice? READ MORE

Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here.

In studying the book of Exodus I’m perplexed at what the Bible means when it says God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. It seems like God set him up to fail which doesn’t make sense. Is there something in the interpretation I’m missing?

Lynn Q.

Read Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin’s Answer

Hire Me! Hire Me!

June 26th, 2012 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Finding a terrific job is not easy.  One way to ruin your chances is by projecting over-confidence. While employers certainly want to know what you can do for them, being full of yourself will turn off most interviewers.  Understanding Joseph’s behavior will provide us with some specific strategies for interviews and meetings.

After failing to find satisfying interpretations to his two disturbing dreams, Pharaoh told them to Joseph. (Genesis 41:8 & 15)

Joseph explained how the dreams foretold seven years of economic abundance followed by seven years of famine.  Astonishingly, Joseph then offers unsolicited advice.  He suggests that Pharaoh hire a wise administrator (implying that he himself is the ideal candidate) to supervise the economy.

Pharaoh should have said, “Thank you, Joseph but I asked you for dream interpretation, not for advice.”

Pharaoh should have added, “Regarding your opinion of my dreams, I’ve heard many zany interpretations.  Perhaps your explanation is true; if so you’ll be rewarded. Meanwhile, return to the dungeon from which we took you.  If your interpretation turns out to be correct we’ll release and reward you.”

Instead, Pharaoh listens intently while Joseph speaks at length.  When Joseph finishes, Scripture tells us that Pharaoh and his servants liked Joseph’s ideas. (Genesis 41:37)

I would have expected Pharaoh’s courtiers to tell their monarch, “Your Highness, it’s always better to promote from within.  The people will respond more obediently if directed by an experienced Egyptian bureaucrat rather than by this arrogant Hebrew ex-convict.”

Yet they accepted Pharaoh’s appointment of Joseph.  What occurred that day which persuaded Pharaoh and his court that Joseph was special?

Let’s compare these two verses:

…and Pharaoh dreamed and behold he was standing upon the river.

(Genesis 41:1)

And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream,

behold, I was standing upon the banks of the river.”

(Genesis 41:17)

Ancient Jewish wisdom reveals that God told Joseph not only what Pharaoh’s dream meant but He also told him exactly what Pharaoh had dreamed in the first place.  In his dream, Pharaoh saw himself standing literally on the water of the River Nile.  Fearing ridicule when recounting his dream to Joseph, Pharaoh modified it.  Instead of reporting how he’d seen himself standing on water, he added the words ‘banks of’ saying, “I was standing upon the banks of the river.”

When Pharaoh uttered those words, Joseph softly murmured, “I didn’t know I would hear the words ‘banks of”.”  This shocked Pharaoh greatly and he confessed before his entire court that he had not, in fact relayed the dream exactly.  This proved to Pharaoh and his staff that nobody more qualified than Joseph existed.

Years later, King David revealed how God proved to the Egyptians that Joseph was chosen. Many translators struggle to make sense of Psalms 81:6. The simple meaning of the Hebrew is:

He (God) gave testimony to Joseph when he went out over the land of Egypt;

“‘Banks of’ I didn’t know I would hear.”

While we can’t expect God to give us inside information before a job interview, a successful applicant does homework and arrives prepared, knowing details about the company, the position, and how to add value. Calm confidence coupled with deep knowledge makes one appear desirable, not arrogant.  A candidate who shows that he possesses extensive familiarity with the company causes the interviewer to think, “Can we find another like him?” (Genesis 41:38)

Communicating effectively means empathetically blending three elements: ‘confidence’—I am going to get this job; ‘communality’—I’ll be part of your team; and ‘reciprocity’—hiring me will be great for us both. For family and social communication, different examples of the three elements would apply. There’s no better exercise to gain this ability than probing the mysteries of Scripture.  Tanach (Hebrew Scripture) is an anthology of conversations and interactions between God and humans, between humans and humans, and between people and their souls.  Ancient Jewish wisdom reveals the timeless truths behind the words. Possessing the Genesis Journeys Audio CD Set, on sale now, allows frequent access to its life-changing knowledge. It can improve your faith, family and financial life. Bless yourself and others with a new understanding of God’s word by exploring this resource right now.

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Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here.

Hello Rabbi and Susan,

I am aware that there have been various questions already been asked regarding observing the Sabbath and keeping it Holy, but my problem is the company I work for has offered me a promotion but it entails me studying on a Saturday morning. What is your stance on studying secular studies on the Sabbath?  READ MORE

This week’s Susan’s Musings: Lisa Brown’s Triple Header:

Michigan state legislator Lisa Brown hit a triple header, embarrassing me as an American, as a woman and as a Jew. Fortunately, I’m not a Democrat or she would have hit a home run. I am not linking to her words and actions because if you missed them, count yourself blessed. Suffice it to say…  READ MORE

Guilt is Good

March 27th, 2012 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Why are some countries rich while others are poor? Why do some countries attract immigrants while others lose citizens who flee in large numbers? Why do some countries enjoy relative tranquility while others are seething cauldrons of violence?

Posh and politically correct universities shrink from discussing these contentious questions because they fear the answer might refute their deepest beliefs.

Though largely ignored in academia, numerous books have been published dealing with this perplexing puzzle. To mention just three—The Wealth and Poverty of Nations by David Landes; Why Nations Fail by Acemoglu and Robinson; and Civilization: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson. While conceding that climate, geography, and natural resources carry some influence, they along with almost everyone who has studied the disparity of societies concludes that the wealth/poverty gap is chiefly due to culture.

A culture is bound up with the language with which it communicates. We tend to associate French as the language of romance, whereas Russian lends itself to brooding epics about the darker side of human nature. As God’s language, Hebrew gives us understanding into what God wishes for us to find important.

I would like to offer one small insight which grants us a spiritual strategy with practical application in our lives. English clearly distinguishes between winning a lot of money and earning a lot of money. Not all languages do the same.

Spanish

winning money = ganar dinero = earning money

French

winning money = gagner de l’argent = earning money

Unfortunately, I am not fluent in these languages and I am sure there are ways in which the context clarifies whether someone won the lottery or earned a fortune. Nonetheless, there are cultural implications when a language fails to distinguish between acquiring money randomly or through hard work. Is it out of the question that in some very small way, this could be linked to the launching of the industrial revolution in 18th century England rather than Spain or France?

Here is another example. What can we understand from the fact that Hebrew possesses more words than any other language for moral transgression?

Here just some of the words:

avel-(Deuteronomy 25:16); avon, chatat-(Deuteronomy 19:15); aveirah-(Deuteronomy 17:2); pesha-(Genesis 50:17); ma’al-(Leviticus 5:15); oshek-(Proverbs 14:31); chammas-(Psalms 55:10); nevalah-(Deuteronomy 22:21)

There are many more, and remember, there are no synonyms in Hebrew. Each word reflects a separate subtle nuance.

Sadly, the lofty Hebrew concept of always being alert to the possibility of sin and never straying “after your heart and after your eyes…” (Numbers 15:39) has been trivialized by comedic mocking of Jewish guilt. The truth is that feeling guilt for wrongdoing and then trying to atone is a competitive advantage and one that you can easily adopt to dramatically improve your own life.

One type of moral wrongdoing is not living up to your own goals. Imagine you set yourself a professional or a self-improvement objective; say a sales target, a be-nice-to-spouse week, or a weight-loss plan. Ordinarily, were you not to meet your aspiration, you might shrug your shoulders and move on. Or you might wallow in guilt. Either way, spiritually, your self-disappointment remains.

Once you remember the value of acknowledging and expiating guilt, you can set yourself a minor consequence or penance for not achieving that to which you committed yourself. You might run five times around the block or memorize a poem. By tying an action to your disappointment, you will find that your body and your soul smoothly cooperate in both moving on and also making it more likely that you achieve the next goal you set. If you repeatedly miss your goals, pay attention: it is a sign that deeper analysis is needed.

Carrying the weight of failed expectations can crush us. While the Torah uniquely highlights one day a year to recalibrate our internal monitors, the lessons from that day can be used year-round. Listen to my audio CD, Day for Atonement and let me know how it helps you look hopefully ahead rather than being trapped by the past. Download or order it at half-price right now.

Read this week’s Susan’s Musing: Gut-Punch: Too Old for a Transplant?

Reach Your Promised Land

March 20th, 2012 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Whatever they are, keep your dreams alive. Maybe you wish you were happily married, or prospering, or healthier. Accepting your current circumstances as your normal reality is a terrible trap.

Who would have blamed the Israelites for accepting their nomadic lifestyle as normal? After two hundred years of slavery, followed by forty years wandering around a desert, how could they ever have seen themselves becoming independent landowners?

Every Israelite should have dismissed the words of Moses as hopeless fantasy when he said to them:

And it shall be when you come into the land that the

Lord your God gives you as an inheritance…

(Deuteronomy 26:1)

What made them accept the vision of their own Promised Land without skepticism?

The secret is that Moses presented them with a vision, not a fantasy. He didn’t promise a utopian future divorced from reality; he let them know that with blessing comes responsibility. That was believable. He not only promised them their Promised Land and its abundant harvests, but he also revealed the duties and obligations that would be theirs along with the abundance.

In the future, they will take their first fruits, put them into a basket, and take them on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. In other words as recipients of God’s blessing they must acknowledge Him as the source of that blessing and welcome the obligation to follow His ways.

That first fruits ceremony is described in Deuteronomy 26:1-11. Now, you know how I encourage everyone to learn to read Hebrew or at least to have a rabbi (and I humbly submit my candidacy for your consideration). Well, off the Hebrew page jumps a real attention-getter—a rare word for basket. The word ‘basket’ appears about twenty times throughout Tanach and most times the Hebrew word used is sahl.

…and the birds were eating them from the basket…

(Genesis 40:17)

In our first fruits passage, the word basket appears twice (Deuteronomy 26: 2&4) but the word used is not sahl but the very unusual word, teneh.

If you own any of the audio CD programs that comprise our Genesis Journeys series, you have the study guide that accompanies each teaching. At the beginning of your study guide you will see my special layout chart of the Hebrew alphabet.

The 6th letter of the middle row is the letter samech pronounced ‘S’ (as in sahl-basket). You’ll notice that it is shaped like a closed circle.

Not only is the word sahl missing in the first fruits passage but amazingly, there is no appearance of the letter samech in all those eleven verses. The verse immediately preceding contains a letter samech (Deuteronomy 25:19) and a few verses later (Deuteronomy 26:18) we spot a samech. Why is it so important that the whole first fruits passage should not contain that letter? Even a different Hebrew word is employed in order to avoid introducing the letter samech in the more common word for basket – sahl.

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that the fully enclosed circular shape of the letter samech hints of boundaries and limitations. These have no place in a passage filled with God’s promise of limitless abundance. For this reason, teneh replaces sahl to signify a veritable cornucopia of plenty. But along with being able to envision God’s ability to deliver abundance, one has to recognize that responsibility accompanies that gift, signified by the bringing of the first fruits.

Never view your today as your inevitable tomorrow. But merely fantasizing about a tomorrow with health, wealth, and love entraps you in an unchanging today. It is true that your promised land comes with no limits. But it does bring accompanying obligations. Convert hopeless fantasies into energizing visions by eagerly anticipating the obligations that will accompany God’s bounty.

In the spirit of abundance we are putting our Library Pack PLUS on sale for 24 hours.

Get fifteen Rabbi Daniel Lapin teachings plus two of our favorite books by other authors – all for less than the regular library pack price! Enjoy entertaining and enlightening audio CDs and books along with the new ancient Jewish wisdom DVD. Invest in your future and take a step towards activating your dreams with this growth-filled package.

Success You Can Smell

March 13th, 2012 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

I really hope that my children think of their childhood with the same sweet nostalgia that I do. Whenever the Lapin family embarked upon a trip, it was usually with at least fifteen suitcases, all of which needed to be loaded into our van. Though I could have done it myself quite quickly, we patiently waited while our young son laboriously loaded every piece of luggage, many of which were larger than he was.

My wife always shared the preparations for the Sabbath with our daughters, assigning some children to set the table while others cleaned the house until it shone. Planning menus and cooking were group efforts as well. Especially when the kids were very young, she could have prepared the house and meals for our family and our guests far more quickly herself.

By contrast, researchers recognize that generally, American children ignore or resist appeals to help. According to a recent UCLA study, compared to other countries and cultures, and even more importantly, compared to how we Americans used to raise children, parents today are focused on what they can do for their children and don’t think about what their children can do for them.

Were my wife and I taking unseemly advantage of free labor or doing our children a favor? Let’s look at a precedent from God.

From the moment they left Egypt the Israelites grumbled about almost everything.

…Why did you bring us out of Egypt

(Exodus 14:11-12)

The people complained against Moses saying what shall we drink?

(Exodus 15:24)

…the Children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron…

(Exodus 16:2)

The people argued with Moses…give us water

(Exodus 17:2)

They gathered against Aaron…make us a god..we don’t know where Moses is

(Exodus 32:1)

Eventually God told every person to bring of his possessions and get to work building the Tabernacle. This construction project and the service therein occupied the Israelites for many years and the complaining just about ceased.

After nightfall on Saturdays my family gathers for Havdalah. With this service we bid Shabbat farewell for another week and prepare ourselves for six days of productive endeavor. During the brief ceremony, we celebrate our sense of smell enjoying the fragrance of some spices, often cloves and cinnamon.

When a festival terminates, we also conduct a Havdalah ceremony but without any blessing on smelling the spices. Why the difference?

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that, amazingly, in our world, the actions of humans leave a longer-lasting impression than God’s actions. For instance, Mt. Sinai (where God acted) is largely unknown, whereas Mt. Moriah (where Abraham, Isaac, David, and Solomon acted) is still visited by pilgrims after 3,000 years. Ancient Jewish wisdom further explains that smell is the sense that most strongly links to our memories. I am sure you can think of smells that immediately transport you to images of your childhood.

Sabbath was scheduled every seven days by God but we Jews were commanded to set the dates of the festivals by our own calculation. Linking the Sabbath to a smell prolongs the sensation of that day. Since festivals have a human component, no fragrances are necessary for them to cling to us even after they are over.

We are more lastingly impacted by the things we do for God like building a Tabernacle than by the many things He does for us. The children of Israel appreciated God more, not less, by giving of themselves for His structure. Likewise, our children are more lastingly impacted when they participate in family life, rather than just being recipients of parents’ beneficence.

You can use this information to change important things in your own life. The problem is, you feel shackled to the status quo. It’s like an invisible force imprisons you, yet you yearn to escape. Passively waiting for God – or other people – to solve our problems isn’t the best way to activate change. There is a God-given solution in my audio CD Let Me Go: How to Overcome Life’s Challenges and Escape Your Own Egypt. We’re discounting it online this week so that it is easily accessible to help you change your life. I’d like you to take advantage of this offer now!