Posts tagged " Rabbi Daniel Lapin "

Never Marry That Boy

August 26th, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Why do so many women make such bad mistakes about men? Some date purposelessly, often wasting far too much time on a man who will never marry them.  They devote themselves endlessly to men who as boyfriends make them miserable, and who as husbands would make them even unhappier.  Ever confident of their ability to transform commitment-phobic-rogues into devoted husbands, they lavish endless love on callous losers.

While men make more than their fair share of mistakes, this lamentable catalog lists the main mistakes women make.  Why? (more…)

Welcome to the Upper Class

July 21st, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Some Republican politicians shock me when they make statements like these.

“My tax plan will benefit the working class.”

“We must show how much we care for the poor.”

“It’s not only the rich who’ll benefit…”

“We don’t have to worry about the upper class.”

“Crime is concentrated among the lower class.”

By adopting the language of Karl Marx they surrender to socialism.  Socialism’s core belief is secularism whose paramount doctrine is that there is no God directing humanity; no God decreeing morality.  Socialism insists that all you see around you is materialism and it owes its origins to nothing but unaided, random physical and chemical processes.  It follows that every human being is little more than about $9.50 worth of common chemicals cunningly arranged. A little carbon, some oxygen and a dash of hydrogen; throw in some potassium, nitrogen, and a few other elements, and bingo! You’ve got a person.  This is the central organizing principle of secular fundamentalism.

What about hopes and dreams?  What about inspiring memories of great ancestors?  What about selfless love and devotion?  All of that is nothing but biological determinism.  Perhaps you mistakenly think you’re drawn to charity, compassion and altruism but it is nothing more than a few neurons firing in your brain creating illusions whose entire purpose is only biological survival.  You are no more than a cat, a cow, a kangaroo or a camel.  You are an animal.  You may be smarter than some animals. You may have less hair than some animals. You may run slower than some animals but you run faster than others.  They eat, defecate, mate and die.  So do you.  You are just another species of animal.  That, in a nutshell, is the sacred sacrament of socialism.

Naturally, if you are an animal, you need either a zookeeper or a farmer to whom you belong.  He will take care of you and you owe him all your productivity.  The center of your existence is not the ‘G’ of God but the ‘g’ of government.

Rich and poor have specific meaning in the Bible and do not define anyone’s essence.  Unlike animals, humans are touched by the finger of God and can grow.  Animals have only a present.  Unlike anteaters and zebras, we have a past and a future as well.  Was the pitiful tycoon, Howard Hughes, living a lonely and paranoid existence really rich? Is the young and underpaid medical resident working 12 hour shifts and sharing a tiny apartment with three other doctors-in-training, really poor?

A goldfish without enough food can be thought of as poor.  A mouse living in a grain warehouse can be considered rich.  But those terms do not apply to humans.  For humans those terms are relative.  No matter your finances, you can easily find someone with far less than you as you can find someone with far more.  Look one way and you can feel rich, while a glance in the other direction can make you feel poor.

As for the term ‘working class’ just who is that supposed to mean?  Almost everyone I know goes to work five or six days a week and that includes most of the super-successful people I know.  Most heirs to large fortunes as well as those bequeathed significant trust funds work hard in various enterprises.

As for the terms upper class and lower class, most politicians use them as synonyms for rich and poor respectively.  This sheer nonsense is predicated entirely on the underlying belief that humans are just like any other livestock.  Upper class horses race, lower class horses pull wagons and get turned into glue.  Upper class bovines breed while lower class buffalo pull ploughs.

The truth is that none of these terms apply to humans.  There is a very good reason why the Bible opens with the words:

In the beginning God created heaven and earth.
(Genesis 1:1)

rather than:

In the beginning God created everything.

or, if you prefer the poetic:

In the beginning God created the entire universe and all that is in it.

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains what the words ‘heaven’ and ‘earth’ teach us that would not have been conveyed by ‘everything’ or by ‘the entire universe.’

Heaven means the spiritual attributes of reality while earth refers to the physical.  God is teaching us right from the very outset that the world is both a physical and a spiritual reality.  There are things you can measure in a laboratory like food and water, and there are equally important things you cannot such as love and loyalty.

We humans, created in God’s image are chiefly distinguishable from animals by our ability to know the spiritual.  Indeed, our lives would be painfully incomplete without it.  Most of the important decisions and choices confronting us every day require us to weigh spiritual implications as much as we evaluate the physical.

I delve into this informatively and entertainingly in this special episode of my new podcast.  If you have any desire to learn how to include spiritual factors in the decisions you make you should click here and listen for free now.

Oh yes, as for upper class and lower class, what do they really mean?  Upper class people, regardless of their bank balances, are people who honor their past and plan for their future.  Lower class people, regardless of their riches, live only in and for the present.  Having abandoned every vestige of self-restraint, they succumb to every momentary urge and condemn themselves and their unfortunate offspring to utter hopelessness.

Please help a few young people that you know step onto the escalator that will lift them to the upper class.  I ask you to do so by giving them a copy of Hands Off! This May Be Love. This is one of the most important books we have published and especially in the climate surrounding young adults today it provides food for thought that is indispensable for the shaping of a successful life.

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Never Marry Your Aunt

June 30th, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

 

One of my least favorite laws was the National Speed Limit law of 1974 that mandated 55 miles per hour as the legal maximum.  Government assured us that it would save gasoline that, back then, we were lining up at gas stations to buy at, gasp! 55 cents a gallon. Of course the law did nothing of the sort, not even cutting the country’s fuel usage by a half of a percent.  Furthermore, I was hardly the only citizen who utterly ignored that law.  While cruising at a comfortable 85 along some straight and deserted highway in Montana or Nevada I was frequently overtaken by cars whooshing by in a blur.  Finally recognizing its futility, Congress repealed the law in 1995 returning speed limit decisions to the states.

How did they come up with the 55 miles per hour number back in 1974?  I hate to disillusion you, but some anonymous bureaucrats sat in an anonymous committee and pulled the number out of the air.  I’d have theorized that perhaps a brave and anonymous bureaucrat did it all on his own but then I realized that bureaucrats only make decisions from behind the safety shield of a committee.  So it was a committee that determined the magic number to be 55.  They could also have ruled 50, 60 or even 70.  Whatever they decided would become the law.  There are other laws like this; filing your income tax return by April 15, walking barefoot through the airport metal detector, and not buying more than 16 ounces of sugary drinks in New York City.  Laws like these are proscriptive laws. Some person or group of people with authority, proscribed them to be the law.  They could have made tax day May 29, they could have said you have to strip to your underwear at the airport, and they could have made 12 ounce Slurpees the maximum allowed.

However, there is another category of laws that I call descriptive laws.  These include the law of gravity which says that anyone who steps out of a window on the twentieth floor of a building will plummet downwards to a sudden and fatal stop on the sidewalk below.  There is no bureaucratic committee that can modify that law to apply only on Mondays.  This law does not proscribe. Instead it describes how the world really works.

Boyle’s Law and Charles’ Law state that expanding gases must cool down.  These convenient two laws make refrigerators and air conditioners possible.  There is no bureaucratic committee anywhere that can repeal these laws.  They were not created at the whim of Robert Boyle or Jacques Charles.  They describe reality.

Are Scriptural laws, for instance the one prohibiting men from marrying their aunts and women from marrying their nephews, proscriptive or descriptive?  (Leviticus 18:12 & 20:19)

In other words, would violating this law result in a penalty only if caught by a law enforcement officer or is the consequence intrinsic and automatic like gravity?

The first clue is that God’s concern is clearly not genetic. If it was, the Torah would also prohibit men from marrying their nieces and women from marrying their uncles.  Yet marriages with exactly the same genetic element are permitted.

What possible reason could God have for prohibiting a man from marrying his aunt but permitting him to marry his niece?  Likewise, why prohibit a woman from marrying her nephew while permitting her to marry her uncle?  While we need to listen to God regardless of whether we understand His reasoning, we are supposed to look for underlying truths He is imparting to us.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that that most women yearn to look up to the man they marry.  Sadly, many men discover that when poor conduct costs them the respect of their wives, the marriage is challenging to sustain and very hard to rescue. (While women also need to be respected by their husbands, it is a different form of respect.) Could the law we are discussing help tilt the odds towards successful marriage?

Ideally, in a thriving society, marriages draw inspiration and guidance from ancestors.  Many homes proudly display pictures of grandparents on the walls.  How often I hear women say, “My husband’s grandfather taught him how to…”  In my own case, I know how influential my wife’s grandmother was in her life. We even named our oldest daughter after her.

With admirable multi-generational awareness in a healthy family, a patriarch or matriarch is vitally important.  Now, if a man marries his aunt, then she is one generation closer to the cherished grandparents than he is.  This makes it just a tiny bit more difficult for him to retain his wife’s respect.  After all, she is a closer link in the transmission than he is.

However when a man marries his niece or a woman marries her uncle, the husband is a generation closer to the grandparents and the family heritage.  This is admittedly a small matter, but marriage is so difficult to do well and so remarkably rewarding when it is done well, that even tiny little things can make a difference. With this seemingly random Biblical law that affects very few people, the Bible provides a practical lesson even for those of us who don’t marry relatives.  It has nothing to do with arbitrary, proscriptive rules. Instead, it describes a feature of marriage and intergenerational life we would all do well to understand.

Many of the details in the first three chapters of Genesis provide descriptions of spiritual laws that God built into male/female relationships. We can ignore or object to these laws, or we can embrace and take advantage of them (even when our government and society condemn us for doing so). We expand on many of them in our 2 audio CD set, Madam, I’m Adam: Decoding the Marriage Secrets of Eden. Every couple, from dating to those celebrating Golden anniversaries can enjoy and benefit by learning how God’s world really works. Today more than ever, you need to make sure that those you love get exposed to the truth. The Supreme Court can proscribe laws; Genesis describes them.

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Grab That Ox

June 23rd, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Almost everyone can tell when a synagogue or a church is in the final stages of decline.  The impending extinction is usually caused by changing neighborhood demographics or sometimes by a leadership crisis but the signs are always conspicuous.  Diminished attendance; few young women, a sad-looking facility showing signs of neglect. A roof needing repair, walls needing paint, and missing light bulbs reflect deferred maintenance.

Similarly, a country that is losing its vitality and sliding down into decadence reveals certain characteristics that serve as an early warning system.  One surprisingly significant sign is hostility towards private citizens owning property.  It starts off subtly by stressing the rights of renters rather than owners and then gradually grows to criticize landlords, owners of commercial and industrial property and others who have successfully acquired property.  Eventually censure of property-owners turns into condemnation to justify government agencies raising property taxes imperiling ownership, and ultimately seizure of properties, always for the “public good” of course.

This pattern has nearly always accompanied the decline of empires, nations, and societies and can easily be observed today in Europe as well as in N. America.  The growth of an economically viable society under stable and limited government is in itself something of a miracle.  It is far from the natural order of things and to a great degree, depends upon a government not only refraining from confiscatory policies but actively protecting citizens’ ability to acquire and own property.

The Bible clearly reveals how emphatically God desires for people to own both real estate and movable property.

… nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war any more. But each man shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree…
(Micah 4:3-4)

The prophet is not talking about people sitting under any old vine or fig tree but under their own.  Furthermore, ancient Jewish wisdom declares that the proximity of the topics of war and owning their trees in these verses suggest that violence and war are best avoided by each citizen owning property.

Not only does God want all His children to own property, but He is apparently uneasy about ownerless property.  Take a look at this:

When you encounter the ox or the donkey of your enemy wandering you shall surely return them to him.
(Exodus 23:4)

Intriguingly, the same idea is repeated with some variation later in the Torah:

You shall not see the ox or sheep of your brother wander off, and ignore them; you must certainly return them to your brother. 

(Deuteronomy 22:1)

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches three timeless truths from these verses:

First: If you encounter obviously lost animals wandering around, you don’t have the right to ignore them.  As soon as you spot them they become your business and you are obliged to take all necessary steps to restore them to them to their owners.  God doesn’t care for ownerless property and He counts upon us to help owners retain their property.

Second: In Exodus, the second book of the Torah, we are directed to return lost property, even that belonging to our enemy.  Surely we’d have been able to figure out that if we have to treat our enemy’s property this respectfully, then we need to do so for our brother’s property.  Thus the verse mentioning brother in Deuteronomy, the fifth book, seems superfluous.  The answer is that God is teaching us that by interrupting whatever you are doing and going out of your way to return lost property to your enemy (Exodus 23:4) you can eventually transform him into your brother. (Deuteronomy 22:1)

Third: By mentioning helping one’s enemy first, God is telling us that He wants us constantly to be working on overcoming our inbuilt, unworthy natural tendencies.  A very understandable part of our beings exults at seeing our enemy’s valuable animals lost and wandering.  “That will teach him to be such a scoundrel,” we self-righteously tell ourselves.  Yet God tells us to work at overcoming our ignoble instincts.

The same applies to training ourselves never to become angry, not to be lazy, or any of the numerous other negative tendencies and instincts we possess.  They may be natural to us, but that doesn’t make them permissible.

Another area where we need to overcome a natural tendency is envy, which leads us  to equate poverty with virtue.  It is a natural instinct but a wrong one to tell ourselves that those with far more property than we have must have ‘cut corners’ and must be greedy, unworthy folks.

By remembering that part of God’s plan for human interaction demands that people own property, we can, in our own small way, help to preserve our society.  We can help curb the natural tendency of our culture, entertainment and politicians.  By remembering the Biblical approach to humans and their property, we can, in our own small way, help our synagogues and churches remain fiscally healthy and reverse the societal decline that flows from envy and hatred of those who wisely own some property.

In case you’re wondering what inspired me to write this Thought Tool, it was partially the fascinating questions that my wife and I receive from readers asking about economic, family and social issues.  We receive many puzzling and perplexing questions and we answer one a week.  So many of you have expressed interest in this aspect of our work that we have published an irresistible anthology of 101 of the most intriguing questions we have received. It is easy reading that packs a punch and you can get it today.

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Snow White and the Bible’s 7 Year Cycle

June 16th, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Have you ever wondered why Snow White met seven dwarfs? Not six, not eight— exactly seven. Why do we speak of Seven Wonders of the World—perhaps there should be nine? Marilyn Monroe even starred in The Seven Year Itch.

Have you ever wondered why England celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne on the fiftieth anniversary? Forty and sixty are also nice round numbers. We make a huge fuss for a couple’s Golden anniversary—perhaps as lifespans increase we should change that to fifty-five years rather than fifty?

Both seven and fifty are embedded into the world’s psyche because of their importance in the Bible.

Six years you shall sow your field and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruit; but in the seventh year shall be a Sabbath of rest to the land…(Leviticus 25:3-4)

The seventh year in each cycle is called the Shemitah.  Sure enough, nothing is being planted or harvested on Jewish-owned land in Israel during the current Biblical year of 5775 ending on September 13, 2015.

This parallels the Fourth Commandment of doing no work on the seventh day, the Shabbat.

Six days you shall work and achieve all your accomplishments but the seventh day is the Shabbat of the Lord your God, on it you shall do no work, not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates.  

(Exodus 20:9-10)

Ideally, Israel’s land is so sensitive that not even it should work for us on the Sabbath!  It is plainly impracticable to uproot all crops each Friday afternoon and replant them on Saturday night. By the end of six years we’ve accumulated a total of about 312 Sabbaths upon which the earth has worked.  Leaving the land fallow for the seventh year, ‘gives back’ the six years-worth of Sabbaths. If we add to that the approximately fifty-two Sabbaths of that seventh year we get 312+52 = 364 or approximately one complete Sabbatical/Shemitah year.

After seven Shemitah cycles, equalling forty-nine years, the fiftieth year is the Jubilee year, in Hebrew YoVeL.

And you shall count seven Sabbaths of years, seven times seven years and the total of the seven Sabbaths of years will be forty-nine years…And make holy the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout all the land for all its inhabitants…

(Leviticus 25:8-10)

God’s  fifty year cycle seems to extend beyond the borders of Israel to the economies and even wars of all the world.

I’d like to introduce you to Russian economist Nikolai Kondratieff.  He recognized a fifty year cycle in economics and explained to Soviet society that God’s cycle was more accurate than the Kremlin’s latest, “Five year plan.” Not surprisingly,  Stalin executed him in 1938. Yet, what he observed stands the test of time.

In economic affairs, wealth creation seems to peak approximately every 50 years.  The year 1800 gave us steam power, industrialization and mass produced cotton fabric.  1850 was the start of railroads being built in N. America, Europe, Africa and Asia and the manufacture of steel in industrial quantities.  1900 introduced high voltage AC distribution making home and street lighting affordable and the start of the chemical industry.  1950 brought plastics and the mass produced modern automobile. 2000 ushered in the computer and digital revolution.

Likewise, at the bottom of the economic graph we have a trough every fifty years.  The first modern economic crisis was the Panic of 1825.  The Long Depression was a world-wide price recession that reached its depths in 1875.  Again, just over fifty years later we saw the Great Depression with the market crashing in October 1929.  The high oil prices, unemployment and inflation of 1975 was another recession that adhered to the Kondratieff Biblical model of economic cycles.

In warfare, God’s fifty year pattern for human affairs is equally evident. In the period 1885-1890, Britain, France, Germany, and North America were all involved in armed conflicts that established or defended borders.  Twenty-five years later, World War One broke out in 1914.  Another twenty-five years elapsed until 1939 and the outbreak of World War Two.  Another twenty-five years went by bringing us to 1964 and the sad Vietnam War.  Another twenty-five years saw the first Gulf War in summer 1990.

God’s Biblical cycles of the seven year Shemitah and the fifty year Jubilee are not arbitrary numbers. Rather, they are descriptive of how God created the world.  It is as good for us to know and understand these cycles in human affairs as it is for us to know and understand the realities that God built into the world’s psyche relating to male/female relationships, communities and personal finance.  My life’s mission has been to share this ancient Jewish wisdom in a way that makes it accessible to people of every background and in a way that helps people use it to improve their families and friendships, their finances, and their faith.

Adam, Moses and Air-Conditioning

June 9th, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

More than a quarter million Bangladeshis were killed by a typhoon in November 1970.  Horrifying!  But wait, twice that number of Americans were killed by an influenza virus in 1918.  In the summer of 1995 excessive heat killed over 700 Americans while in the same year severe cold or hypothermia killed more than 2,000.  I am not trying to list a catalog of calamities; I want to explain how the world really works by posing an important question.

Why would God create a world filled with frequently fatal meteorological events, disease and intolerable heat and cold?  Why couldn’t God have just made the entire world with the mild weather of coastal British Columbia and with no germs or viruses?

Ancient Jewish wisdom answers this question.

In the Lord’s language, Hebrew, the words for not good are Lo Tov.

Tov  Lo

                                                                        לא טוב

good   not

 This phrase occurs only twice in the Torah.  It appears first in Genesis 2:18 when God declares,

It is not good for man to be alone.

The phrase appears again in Exodus 18:17, when Moses’ father in law criticizes Moses for not delegating and trying to do all the teaching by himself.

And Moses’ father in law said to him, “What you are doing is not good.

In Genesis, God is not speaking only in the context of Adam’s future matrimonial prospects. Moses’ father-in-law is repeating the same message, even for his son-in-law who has the closest relationship with God. It is never good for people to be isolated from other people. The message in both places is: Find ways to collaborate and you will thrive, but alone you will perish.

Like any parent, our Father in Heaven wants His children to relate to one another with love and concern rather than indifference.  Imagine a father wanting his three children to remain connected to one another always.  He might bequeath to each just a part of the combination to activate a safe into which he had placed their inheritance.  This way they would need to cooperate in order to acquire their legacy.  Similarly, our Father in Heaven has incentivized us to cooperate and collaborate.

Think of being parachuted down onto a remote uninhabited desert island.  It is a fine tropical island with the drawback of very high temperatures.  It is almost unbearably hot on that sun seared beach.  However, you are not dismayed because back home you were a successful heating/air conditioning technician so you determine to build yourself a little air conditioned beach shack.  How long will it take you to build a working air conditioner?

The answer, of course, is that you never will.  On this island there is nobody making and selling sheet metal. The same goes for rubber tubing, compressors and condensers.  Not to mention that there is nobody generating electricity.  All the wonderful appliances and devices that make life comfortable and even possible only come about through human cooperation.   In other words, God incentivized us to connect, communicate, cooperate, and collaborate.  It is as if He is saying to us, “My children, I have created a world with tough challenges.  Here’s your choice:  Learn to get on together or you will live short and painfully unpleasant lives.”

In 1953, a flood drowned nearly 2,000 Dutchmen in the Netherlands.  Why has no subsequent North Sea flood done anything similar?  Because immediately following that disaster, the Dutch got together and pooled capital and engineering know-how to build the world’s largest land reclamation project ever.

One family alone can never protect itself from an epidemic.  However, when millions of families pool their capital and expertise, over time they come up with a vaccine against the rampaging disease.  Far more successful small businesses are launched by partnerships and teams than by one entrepreneur laboring alone.

By highlighting that the phrase Lo Tov — it is not good — appears only twice in the Torah and that both occurrences involve someone disconnected from others, we learn a vital life lesson.  The good things in life come when we are not alone.  Connecting, communicating, cooperating and collaborating with others allows us to achieve far more goodness than we possibly can alone.

There is considerably more ancient Jewish wisdom highlighting not only the infinite range of potential that more and better connections can unleash in your life but also practical strategies to make that happen.  I have collected the best of these and made them available for you to employ in your social and business life in a 2 CD audio package entitled  Prosperity Power—Connect For Succe$$.  (Check out the instant download option which is on sale.) Listen while you commute or exercise or even as you doze off in bed.  It is material you need to hear more than once.

Whether as a gift for someone who’ll realize how important they are to you or for yourself, this program will not only teach you things you didn’t know about the Bible and about human connection, but it will also help you transform yourself  into a vastly improved connector.  That is good for your finances, it is good for your health, and it makes our Father in Heaven smile. And that is really good.

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I Won’t Stand for It

April 29th, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

 

“The boy stood on the burning deck

Whence all but he had fled;

The flame that lit the battle’s wreck

Shone round him o’er the dead…”

(Casablanca, Dorothea Hemans, 1826)

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing…”

(The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe, 1845)

“Stood there and watched you walk away…”

(Haunted, Taylor Swife, 2010)

“How to Handle Getting Stood Up on a Date”

(Glamour Magazine, 2014, 2011, 2004, 1998)

The French captain’s son stood resolutely on the burning deck until he was finally consumed in the furious flames.  Though Edgar Allan Poe claims he stood there for a long while, I suspect that in reality he soon returned to his bed.  Taylor Swift stood there as her lover walked away but one assumes that she managed to replace him quite quickly.  The readers of Glamour who keep getting stood up, well, enough said.

There really ought to be different words in English for stood.  One can scarcely compare my different examples of standing.  One shouldn’t.  I won’t stand for it.

In the Lord’s language there are indeed words to describe two different ways of standing.  One can stand firm like the boy on the burning deck; one might say, stand like a pillar.  Or one can stand there sadly like Taylor Swift, ready to be quickly distracted by someone else.

Let’s see a Biblical example of each kind of standing.

You stand this day all of you before the Lord your God that you should enter into a covenant…that He may establish you today for a people to himself…

(Deuteronomy 29:9-11)

 

And it came to pass at the end of two years that Pharaoh dreamed; and, behold, he stood on the river. 

(Genesis 49:1)

 When the Israelites stood before God to establish a special covenant, it was for all time.  In fact, the Bible makes clear that this covenant is being established not only with those Israelites who were standing there, but also with all the future generations not yet born. (Deuteronomy 29:13-14).  In other words, a permanent standing.  The Hebrew word used for standing is YaTZaV.

However, when Pharaoh dreamed that he stood on the Nile, not only did he not remain there for long, but it was a dream.  The Hebrew word used for stand is the far more common OMeD.

The word OMeD is also used here, implying a lack of firmness:

 

And the magicians were unable to stand before Moses…

(Exodus 11:9) 

However, when the standing is more that of standing like a rock until one’s task is complete, the Torah uses the word YaTZaV.

For instance, “Behold I stand by the water well…” (Genesis 24:13) said Eliezer as he prayed for success in finding the woman who’d become the second matriarch, the wife of Isaac.

The same root word as that for standing firmly, YaTZaV, is used for a pillar that stands immovably forever, such as the pillar that Lot’s wife turned into.

 But his wife looked back from behind him,
and she became a pillar (NeTZiV) of salt.

(Genesis 19:26)

Knowing that there are two different ways of standing helps us translate our spirit into our posture.  When I stand in line at the check-out, I hope it’s not for long and so I don’t root myself to the ground.  However, when I stand up for principle, I want to be utterly immovable and just as importantly, I want to appear to others as utterly immovable.

Deciding which principles one will stand up for unyieldingly is vital for successful living.  It allows one to know in advance which battles are worth fighting and which are better averted.

Some of those battles arise from the political and cultural maelstroms that swirl around the foundations of your family and livelihood.  The best way to acquire a Biblical perspective on these is through my audio CD program Tower of Power: Decoding the Secrets of BabelThe two CDs and study guide explore nine verses in Genesis that lay out struggles that repeat continually through history and which roil the times in which we live. Understanding that struggle allows you and yours to take your stand.

Saving Civilization

April 14th, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

It’s hardly surprising that increasing numbers of women loathe men and detest masculinity.  After all, most of their experiences with men have been only with cads, scoundrels, rogues and rakes.  They have been exploited by clowns, abused by creeps, corrupted by crooks and debased by cranks.  Only a diminishing minority of women have enjoyed the privilege of living with that rare, noble creature, the loyal, loving and devoted husband.

It is in the nature of the human male to seek multiple sexual partners.  But God issued us a challenge: Be like angels, rather than like apes.  Only an animal must follow its nature; man must overcome it.  Resist your nature and rise above it; that way you will reap the blessings of the Biblical blueprint.

In our audio CD program Madam, I’m Adam-Marriage Secrets from Eden I pointed out how the Hebrew text (Genesis 2:7 & 19) emphasizes the contrast between man and animal, which is not visible in the English translation.

But you already know all this.  When a man and woman make a lifetime commitment to one another they each benefit from the resulting stability, sensuality, and happiness.  When a wife revels in her femininity and her husband submits his masculinity to the silken bonds of matrimony, the couple and the children they create form a cocoon of security and joy.

What you may not already know, however, is that the couple that surrenders to God’s connubial concept benefits not only themselves and their children but all of society as well.  Only societies that have successfully sublimated rampant male sexuality into marriage have built civilization.

The world is filled with countless cultures but only one civilization.  A civilization eschews violence in favor of voting and replaces bullets with ballots.  A civilization respects and values its women, escorting them onto the lifeboats before the men.  It values life and protects it by advancing the study of science and medicine.  It lifts its citizens from drudgery by promoting a vibrant economy.  It prefers beauty to vulgarity and gentleness to brutality.  Its basic unit is the family.

Every society that has successfully achieved civilization has learned that indulging human desire in unrestrained fashion leads both to personal and societal calamity.  Everybody knows that overeating with no self-control is bad.  People all recognize that alcohol without moderation brings massive problems.  Yet, when it comes to sex, many feel that unrestrained indulgence is liberating and progressive.  The tragedy is that unbridled concupiscence does more to rot the fabric of a society and erode the spirit of its citizens than almost anything else.

Perhaps the most dramatic disclosure of the entire Torah was the structure of sexual restriction found in Leviticus 18 and 20.  One can but imagine the wonder with which it was greeted by both Hebrews and Hittites.  The difference was that Hebrews immediately accepted those rules as binding whereas the Hittites, along with everyone else, mocked and jeered what they saw as repressive and primitive sexual boundaries.  The Hebrews still survive.

Israel was warned:

Like the behavior of the land of Egypt, where you lived, shall you not do; and like the behavior of the land of Canaan, where I bring you, shall you not do…

(Leviticus 18:3) 

  Ancient Jewish wisdom clarifies how the context makes clear that God is referring to sexual promiscuity.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that the additional sexual restrictions circumscribing exactly who priests may marry (Leviticus 21) are not random restrictions but rather these rules contribute to the elevated status of the priests.  In other words, marital and sexual boundaries refine and advance men toward achievement while limitless licentiousness degrades men and lowers them to lethargy and indolence.

One of the greatest anthropologists was the early 20th century, Oxford and Cambridge scholar, Joseph Daniel Unwin.  He devoted his life to studying more than eighty different cultures which existed over a 5,000 year period and discovered an inviolable rule.  The more sexual restraints a culture practices, the higher its level of cultural, scientific, and economic achievement.  His magnum opus, Sex and Culture published in 1934, reveals the results of his research, including gems such as these:

“The whole of human history does not contain a single instance of a group becoming civilized unless it has been absolutely monogamous, nor is there any example of a group retaining its culture after it has adopted less rigorous customs.”

In other words, the Judeo-Christian Biblically-based model of sex being confined to marriage is essential for the development of civilization and for its endurance.  Though Unwin captured this Biblical truth he did make one mistake.

He correctly argues that as societies become prosperous they become increasingly lax about sexual morality causing them to lose cultural cohesion and become confused about their purpose.  He died in 1936, so he never lived to see America as the latest society to prove his point.

Where Unwin errs is that he claims that the process is irreversible.  The truth is that Israel’s many failures brought it close to extinction but a religious revival always saved the day.  This can be the way back to national vitality for the US also.

You have a part to play in helping restore the culture you live in and one highly effective way to do so is by helping others access traditional, Biblical messages about relationships.  Rather than being relics of the past, these virtues are the path to the future. I encourage you to share the book Hands Off! This May Be Love with your pastors and friends. Most importantly, share it with the children you love.

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Passover’s 15-Step Program

April 1st, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Countless people will soon be observing a Passover Seder.  There are many important aspects to running an effective Seder, but perhaps the most important and the least known is that the Seder, meaning order, is an arrangement of fifteen indispensable steps from start to finish.  In order to explain this to you, I must first explain the significance of the number fifteen.

The periodic table arranges into a grid all the chemical elements out of which the entire universe and its contents are comprised.  These elements of creation are laid out in the order of increasing number of protons in their nuclei.  Thus, for instance, the first element, hydrogen, has one proton in its atomic nucleus while the 92nd,  uranium, has 92 protons.

The fifteenth element, with yes, 15 protons, is phosphorus which has the distinction of giving off light.  It is from this element that we derive the term phosphorescence to describe anything that gives off light without being burned.  Phosphorus was used not only in the manufacture of early matches but also to make luminous watch dials in the early 20th century.

It is interesting that the fifteenth element radiates light because the fifteenth generation from Abraham was King Solomon who radiated light in the form of wisdom.  We still use the phrase ‘seeing the light’ to suggest becoming wise.  The final few verses in the Book of Ruth detail the ten generations from Peretz to David, the father of Solomon.  From Genesis we know that Abrahm, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah, were the four generations leading to Peretz for a total of 15 generation from Judaism’s founder, Abraham, to Solomon’s building the Temple, the domicile of Divine light.

In Jewish numerology the number fifteen always signifies the fifteen steps necessary for the attainment of a lofty objective.  In Solomon’s Temple, there were fifteen steps leading up towards the Holy of Holies. The priests sang one psalm on each step as they ascended.  Thus we find fifteen psalms that open with the words, “Song of The Steps” (Psalms 120-134)

 

Similarly, the Passover Seder comprises fifteen separate agenda items, each of which is a necessary step from where we are now to where we hope to arrive by the Seder’s conclusion.

1.  Kadesh.  The blessing over the first cup of wine. The word means sanctification.  It also means separation which is a necessary first step in sanctification. We are separating and sanctifying the time we shall spend in the Seder from all other time.

2.  U’rechatz.  Washing the hands.  The primary organs for moving food from the world into our bodies are our hands.  By pouring water over them, we dedicate them in purity even though we utter no blessing at this point, elevating the physical act of eating to a spiritual purpose.

3.  Karpas.  Dipping a vegetable that grows underground into salt water and eating it.  We start off the evening acknowledging that we are from the earth and its oceans and to the earth we shall return.

4.  Yachatz.  Breaking the middle of the 3 special matzohs in half and putting one half aside for step number 12 later on.  The only way to grow is to recognize our flaws which is, in essence, the breaking of our egos.

5.  Magid.  Reciting the story of the Exodus from the Hagadah.  What distinguishes us from animals incapable of growth is our ability to speak.  This part of the Seder is exercising our ability to communicate by means of stories, questions and answers.

6.  Rachtzah.  Washing the hands again.  However, this time, on account of our already having ascended through the first five steps, we merit to bless God as we further sanctify our hands before the meal.

7.  Motzi.  The usual blessing over bread.  Although we use a substitute, matzoh, for Passover, we thank God for giving us the ability to eat, not just the fruit and vegetables of the earth but also the unique human food, bread.

8.  Matzoh.  The blessing over the matzoh.  This is the first taste of matzoh, the main food of the Seder and further suggests our willingness to subdue our egos by getting rid of all the ‘hot air’ that differentiates bread from matzoh.

9.  Maror.  Eating the bitter herb.  A mouthful of horseradish which leaves us gasping for breath with our eyes streaming emphasizes that unless we acknowledge that our past mistakes were indeed mistakes that have caused pain, growth is impossible.

10.  Korech.  Eating a matzoh bitter herb sandwich.  Our pure souls unencumbered by pompousness and arrogance unified with acknowledging yesterday’s painful mistakes is the perfect recipe for growth and transformation.

11.  Shulchan Oreich.  The set table at which we now eat a festive meal.  We don’t merely open a few cans of cranberry sauce or gobble up a mass produced hamburgers. A set table signifies that we do not eat merely for survival as do animals.

12.  Tzafun.  Eating the Afikomen.  That half of the middle matzoh put aside earlier in step 4 is eaten as the dessert.  The final taste in our mouths is not chocolate mousse or brandy flavored crepe suzette but the plain basic matzoh with which we began the evening’s process.  We never lose sight of what really matters.

13.  Bareich.  Grace after the meal.  At a time when we feel full and sated, it would be so easy to forget He who gave us the food.

14.  Hallel.  The section of the Seder in which we praise God.  After having worked our way through the first 13 steps, we know that we have made progress but we herein acknowledge that in the final analysis it is all up to God.

15.  Nirtzah.  Acceptable to God.  Here we reflect that through God’s love and acceptance of our imperfections and our efforts we achieve true spiritual transformation. Our fifteen steps are done and we feel the ever present light of the Almighty shining brightly enough to carry us through the entire year until we are privileged to do the Seder again, ideally in Messianic times, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

This ‘fifteen-step program’ leading to authentic transformation is one of many growth opportunities Passover presents. More  appear in earlier Thought Tools, including those found in our Thought Tool Set. This time of year is particularly attuned to spiritual growth. Make the most of it.

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Change Jobs – Become a Futurist

March 17th, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

In case you are contemplating a career change, I want to suggest becoming a ‘futurist’ (i.e. a secular prophet).  It is not as hard as it may seem.  You boldly announce provocative predictions.  If they subsequently come to pass, you triumphantly proclaim your prescience.  If they don’t, you make new predictions.

Consider one of the country’s most respected ‘futurists’, Professor Paul Ehrlich who teaches in the Biological Sciences department at one of America’s most illustrious universities, Stanford.  In 1968 he wrote The Population Bomb which opened with this sentence-

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. 

In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death…”

 Note that he didn’t say that overpopulation could become a problem one day.  He didn’t say that feeding the world’s growing population could become a challenge.  He said explicitly that during the 1970s hundreds of millions of people would starve to death.  As we all know, that didn’t happen.  He wasn’t even close.  He also predicted that by 1980 all animal life in the planet’s oceans would be extinct and that by the year 2000, England will have ceased to exist.  He is still a highly paid and respected professor at Stanford.  Would you want this man teaching biological science to your child in exchange for your tuition payment of $60,000?

Writing Future Shock in 1970, Alvin Toffler predicted underwater cities, the doubling of the planet’s population in ten years, and the proliferation of wear-once-and-throw-away clothing made of paper.  However, he also predicted the growing popularity of home-schooling and the decline in manufacturing jobs so his score is much better than that of Ehrlich.  Nonetheless, the score is irrelevant, go ahead and become a ‘futurist’.  You have nothing to lose.  In fact, with the helpful tip I am going to provide you, your score will easily exceed that of the two ‘futurists’ I have written about above.

That said, it is important to distinguish between ‘futurists’ and professionals who know their own fields so well that they can spot the gentle ripples that herald approaching events.

Fifty years ago, in April 1965, Gordon Moore predicted home computers, electronic wrist watches, and portable telephones.  All these and more would become possible, he argued, because the number of components that were being crammed onto integrated circuits or ‘chips’ was going to double every couple of years.  Now, Gordon Moore was not a professional prognosticator.  No, he was not a ‘futurist’ he was an entrepreneur.  He was the co-founder of Intel, perhaps the world’s biggest semiconductor manufacturer.  And all his predictions have indeed come true because he didn’t try and predict the weather or social demographics.  He confined his vision to the process and consequence of raising the value of sand (silicon dioxide) by melting it and blending it with other elements.  In other words, manufacturing semiconductors.

In the Lord’s language, Hebrew, the word for sand is CHoL.  Exactly the same word also means non-holy, or without God.

חל           חל

CHoL          CHoL

sand         secular

If you’re a regular Thought Tool reader, you know by now that uniquely in Hebrew, if one word has two meanings, the deep reality of that word can only be fully comprehended by somehow blending the two meanings.

So, we should explore why CHoL means both secular and sand.  Fortunately we possess a clue in that the Hebrew word for rock, TZUR usually means God. Here follows one of the more than twenty-five examples of this just in the Book of Psalms.

The Lord is my rock….

(Psalms 18:3) 

Just like God, an unshakable, immovable, reliable mass upon which you can even build a skyscraper is a rock.  The quality of sand is the opposite.  Sand is always blowing around in the wind.  It is without solid substance and cannot be built upon or relied upon, exactly the qualities of secularism.  Secular fads blow in the wind; it would be sheer folly to build anything upon any secular fad.

This makes it far easier to understand the verse:

The start of all wisdom is fear of the Lord….

(Psalms 111:10)

Trying to understand how the world really works while remaining sublimely oblivious to something as central and as important as God is impossible.  For a ‘futurist’ to try predictions without any awareness of God and the spiritual dimension is as far-fetched as for a baker to try making a cake without any awareness of ovens and how they work.

So if you want to become a futurist, albeit one with a slightly better track record than Ehrlich and Toffler, keep God and spirituality in mind.  I’m sure you’ve read about how the so-called Millennials, people in their thirties who came of age at the turn of the century, have unusual employment expectations.  Unlike their parents’ generation, they are driven less by money and more by other more spiritual considerations such as meaning and purpose in the world.  Neither we nor the world in which we live and function are entirely material and physical.  The spiritual dimension is real.  You need to understand it even if for no other reason than the majority of the people with whom you interact, try to live in harmony with God and His spiritual realities.

Second and more importantly, try and practice your futurism in an area you know well.  When my expert German mechanic tell me that my car’s water pump is going to die within the next few hundred miles, he is invariably correct.  Occasionally he tells me who will win the next election.  In this he invariably turns out to be wrong.

Perhaps my most effective resource for absorbing the relevance and impact of the spiritual side of life is my book Buried Treasure: Life Lessons from the Lord’s Language.  I would enjoy knowing that you have this in your library and are able to apply its lessons to the many family and business circumstances in which you need to peer into the future a bit.