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Your Children, Their Values?

During the almost two decades that I homeschooled, I tried hard to let my friends whose children were in school know that I wasn’t judging them. And, I usually wasn’t. I was too busy being hard on myself and wondering if I was making the right decision. When mothers would say to me, “I wish I could do homeschool, but…” I responded that it wasn’t for everyone and that there were many good educational paths.

In hindsight, my husband and I are thrilled that we homeschooled. Of course, our children missed out on certain positive experiences, but that is part of real life. Since no children are always in the perfect class in the perfect school with the perfect teacher, everyone misses out on certain positive experiences.

However, hindsight has also revealed how too many of my peers didn’t realize that the messages their children were receiving in school frequently ran counter to the family’s values and beliefs. They thought their children were learning math, literature, history and science; they didn’t realize that these were being packaged in an anti-faith, anti-patriotic and anti-family container. Even if the early years’ teachers were neutral, their children were ill-equipped to counter the hard-sell propaganda on college campuses.

So, instead of saying, as I once did, that homeschooling isn’t for everyone, I think I would phrase it differently today. Full-time homeschooling may not be for every parent, but every caring parent who does not walk in lockstep with the latest Leftist trends must homeschool. (Sadly, even many religious schools rely on material produced for public schools or have teachers who do not share the values the school touts. Parents should take nothing for granted.) For this reason, I was thrilled to read a step-by-step guide to being proactive in your school-attending child’s education.

Marina Medvin lays out a plan for four sessions of thirty minutes each, per week. If your response is that you can’t fit that into the schedule, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate what truly matters to you. You might chart a different course than she suggests, but the important part is recognizing that if you blindly place your child’s development in hands other than your own, you may be horrified to discover that you provided physical sustenance to your children, while those with whom you have little in common nurtured (or destroyed?) those children’s spirits and souls.

Despair and Hope

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that in attempting to solve a problem we sometimes make things worse. Not only do characters in Jane Austen’s books learn this lesson, but examples abound in personal and public lives. Ronald Reagan told his son that his greatest regret was being the first governor to sign a no-fault divorce law. While his intentions were good, it was a decisive step in devaluing marriage and the traditional family, a move that has harmed men, women, children and the country.

A Wall Street Journal editorial (Feb. 20, 2020) bemoans the difficulty business are having filling blue-collar positions and concludes that we need more legal immigration since a greater percentage of young people are enrolling in college and their participation in the labor force is lessening.  I happened to read that editorial at the time that I am reading Senator Ben Sasse’s book, The Vanishing American Adult. I have just started the book, but I was intrigued by the idea he presents that the increase in mass schooling was a major factor in developing a previously non-existent youth culture in the United States. Mr. Sasse points out that in 1870 fewer than 2 percent of the population were high school graduates while by 1950, that percentage had risen to 75 percent. It is obviously higher today.

One consequence of this increased schooling was the displacement of parents, family, community and work at the center of teen’s lives and their replacement with social activities with peers. As a country, we increasingly emphasize hours spent in school ignoring whether or not it is associated with learning. A shocking number of college graduates today would lose handily in academic competition with a high school graduate of one hundred years ago. As education has become more universal, its value has diminished. High school is often a farce, graduating students who are not only illiterate but who lack the discipline, commitment or desire to contribute to society. For too many today, college is a place where minds are closed and lack of knowledge is celebrated. Instead of looking outward for workers as we race to increase schooling access and opportunities for American youth, maybe we need to recognize the deep flaws in the system we have produced. 

Animal rescue shelters rarely let people adopt an animal for free. One of the reasons is that they want the prospective owners to show some sense of commitment. Things that come too easily are easily scorned. This past Sunday, my husband and I attended a school event celebrating a tremendous amount of work done and the future acceptance of great responsibility by about 100 thirteen-year-old boys. If more schools in our nation, and more families, stopped infantilizing our children and demanded that they step up to the plate and earn their place in society, we could increase the availability of blue-collar workers at the same time as we restored value to a high school and college education.

P.S. Do you recognize the literary reference in the Musing? My husband and I have an ongoing debate on this question. Do chime in. 

 One area where schools fail is teaching about the reality of money, work and business.
Educate a youth you know (or yourself)
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(and when the government isn’t paying, it matters that it is on sale)

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Immoral Advertising Tactics?

Hello Rabbi and Mrs. Lapin.

You’ve often spoken of the moral benefit of business and “ethical capitalism.” I’m an ardent capitalist and believe wholeheartedly in the good that business has done and will continue to do. I’ve spent my entire life in business, whether it be as a paperboy, dishwasher, or as a computer network engineer, and love it.

I did want to get your thoughts about something that troubles me. Do you believe there is danger, or even immorality in some of the tactics used in advertising these days? For example, are marketers being deceitful when they push the “magic buttons” of our subconscious that make us want to buy, or at the very least stimulate our interest? Does the issue stop with advertising? Can salespeople also be walking this line?

Dennis

Dear Dennis,

How wonderful it would be if more young people saw how the trajectory from paperboy to dishwasher to computer network engineer works. One of the reasons we believe that laws raising the minimum permissible wage are immoral is because they interfere with the freedom of two people to negotiate their own financial relationship, an important part of God’s plan for human economic interaction.  One of the reasons we believe that minimum wage laws are stupid is that they remove entry-level opportunities and keep young people or those without necessary skills from getting on the ladder to success. In the real world, employers hire people who can help them make a profit. If an employee causes them to lose money because his value is less than his salary, then the company will replace him with machinery or hire only employees who have more to offer.

Your question about immoral advertising practices also relates to the real world.  On a simple emotional level it is easy to applaud politicians who pass truth-in-advertising laws.  (Sadly they then exempt themselves.  The great advertising entrepreneur, David Ogilvy said that he’d never do political advertising–it’s too dishonest. And he never did!)  In the real world, the troubling question is who gets to decide what is true advertising?   

Certainly, it is easy to cross a line and make spurious claims or doctor pictures in order to suggest outrageous results, let’s say for cosmetics. Misleading or outright lying is not acceptable.  When a used car salesman conceals a known fault with a particular vehicle he has stepped way over the line of the ideal: a transparent transaction. 

However, you aren’t asking about lying, per se, but rather about enticing. Isn’t that what we all must do to get the attention of those we want to attract?

Few girls go on a first date with an interesting gentleman without wearing makeup and an attractive outfit.  (My less serious reason for why men should pay for a date is because she has already invested considerable time and not insignificant funds in her preparation for the date).  Is she engaging in questionable behavior by pushing the magic buttons of his subconscious?  We don’t think so.

A teacher might entice students by crafting interesting lessons rather than simply reading aloud from the textbook. She might wear a themed sweater, offer incentives or create a game to capture easily distracted minds. Firefighters who wanted people to know what to do if their clothes catch on fire developed an easily remembered mantra, “Stop, drop and roll,” rather than producing a multi-paragraph essay. Rabbis and pastors work hard on the titles for their presentations hoping to lure an audience, arouse curiosity, and, as you put it, stimulate our interest.

When marketers (and we include ourselves among them) use attractive pictures, mellifluous language and honest sales offers, they are doing exactly the same thing.

Is there an ambiguous, gray line in sales techniques that assert psychological pressure or cater to people’s worst impulses? Certainly. However, it would be close to, if not impossible, to label exactly where that line veers too close to wrongdoing in general terms. The questions to ask oneself are, first, am I concealing any aspect of the product which, if made known would end the customer’s interest?  Second, am I making untrue statements about the product? 

Ancient Jewish wisdom tells us that, after 120 years, when each of us arrives for a Heavenly life review,  the first question God will ask us is if we were honest in our business dealings. Keeping that in mind should guide each business owner or salesperson on the right path.  Finding a mentor who understands both business and morality can also be helpful. 

Like hundreds of thousands of other readers who have found our book,  Business Secrets from the Bible to be both enlightening and practical, you also might find value in its potential to transform your business life.  In a further attempt to gain your interest, we point out that it boasts a very attractive cover design and, what is more, it is on sale this week. 

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

On Sale: Business Secrets from the Bible
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Google Shmoogle, Going Mad

My accountant recommended I start taking one 40 milligram Atorvastatin tablet before bedtime.  I now pour a quart of synthetic fuel additive into my car’s fuel tank every filling because the plumber who fixed our kitchen sink advised it.  My auto mechanic said that everyone should expense carpet cleaning on their federal income tax.  You may well laugh but many people vote the way their favorite Hollywood celebrity recommends.  Many people raise their children according to the dictates of the latest issue of psychology magazines and many people choose what car to buy on the basis of the mindless ramblings of a hysterical Nordic teenager.

Wouldn’t you be really relieved to know that you had access to fully reliable information?  (…and no, that wouldn’t be the Internet.) Well, think of your rabbi as the ultimate antacid.  I am about to bring you relief.  That’s right; I am about to show you how and where you can seek dependable data about whatever troubles you.

The first step is to determine into which of two categories your question falls.  Does your question have something to do with the natural sciences?  Is it about how things are and not about how things should be?  Is it about things or animals more than about people?  Example: What is the highest mountain visible from a city with a population of more than five million inhabitants?  Most questions of this type have one unarguable answer.  Let’s call this basket of questions, category A.

If your question is about how things should be or about what is considered ‘right’ or ‘moral’ then we’ll call those questions category B.  Anything that could be seen as philosophical or speculative falls into this group.  If it has anything to do with people interacting with one another or people making judgments, it probably belongs here.  Example: How many years is the best spacing between successive children? Definitely a type B question.

For all type A questions, merely go and study the available facts.  You won’t find an answer to your question beginning with the words, “97% of scientists/experts/professors/doctors agree…  There won’t be many different opinions of the answer assuming that everyone you ask is committed to the truth rather than to an agenda.  That’s one way to know you’re dealing with category A.

For all type B questions, start off your search for the answer with the Bible and ancient Jewish wisdom.  That’s right.  Every imaginable type B question is covered. And anything not covered is a type A matter which everyone can solve for themselves because the answer is relatively simple and readily available.  Unlike group A questions which are always only physical in nature, category B questions also involve the spiritual.  Seeking an answer to a spiritual question from a scientist is like asking a celebrity how to vote or an accountant what medication to take.

An important  Biblical topic is  mental health, sanity, and their opposites.  Clearly this is seen as a type B concern. There are two kinds of reference to madness in Scripture.  One is when King David is faking it as an escape strategy from his pursuing enemies.

[David] became very much afraid of King Achish of Gath.  So he concealed his good sense from them; he feigned madness for their benefit. He scratched marks on the doors of the gate and let his saliva run down his beard.  And Achish said to his courtiers, “You see the man is raving; why bring him to me?” 
(I Samuel 21:13-15)

Since David’s behavior was viewed as insanity, clearly people must have been familiar with that tragic condition.

The second kind of Biblical reference to losing one’s mind is in the context of God punishing Israel for abandoning Him and His rules.

The Lord will strike you with madness, blindness, and dismay.
(Deuteronomy 28:28)

On that day, declares the Lord, I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness.
(Zachariah 12:4)

The Bible is not telling us that on an individual level every mental problem is the consequence of a lack of faith or any other failing.  However, on a society-wide basis, the growing abandonment of God does make that society and its citizens much more susceptible to this problem.

In spite of the overwhelming majority of mental health professionals leaning towards atheism if not outright anti-religious bias, a large body of research indicates that higher levels of religious belief and practice (known in social science as “religiosity”) are associated with better mental health. In particular, much research suggests that higher levels of religiosity are associated with lower rates of depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, and suicidal behavior. Religiosity is also associated with better physical health and subjective well-being.  Likewise, there is research indicating that religiosity can enhance recovery from mental illness, aiding in the healing process.

Not surprisingly, as societies secularize, we tend to see rising rates of mental instability.  After all, so many of life’s questions need an understanding of God in order to resolve. In fact, most category B questions require Godly awareness.

The beginning of wisdom is fear of God…
(Psalms 111:10)

When even Google is unable to help people answer the deep and demanding questions of life, it is enough to drive anyone mad.

Does earning money fall into category A or B? 
You know the answer – now take advantage of the wisdom.
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THOUGHT TOOLS

  • Google Shmoogle, Going Mad February 18, 2020 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - My accountant recommended I start taking one 40 milligram Atorvastatin tablet before bedtime.  I now pour a quart of synthetic fuel additive into my car’s fuel tank every filling because the plumber who fixed our kitchen sink advised it.  My auto mechanic said that everyone should expense carpet cleaning on their federal income tax.  You… Read More

ASK THE RABBI

  • Immoral Advertising Tactics? February 19, 2020 by Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin - Hello Rabbi and Mrs. Lapin. You've often spoken of the moral benefit of business and "ethical capitalism." I'm an ardent capitalist and believe wholeheartedly in the good that business has done and will continue to do. I've spent my entire life in business, whether it be as a paperboy, dishwasher, or as a computer network… Read More

SUSAN’S MUSINGS

  • Despair and Hope February 20, 2020 by Susan Lapin - It is a truth universally acknowledged, that in attempting to solve a problem we sometimes make things worse. Not only do characters in Jane Austen's books learn this lesson, but examples abound in personal and public lives. Ronald Reagan told his son that his greatest regret was being the first governor to sign a no-fault… Read More

ON OUR MIND

  • America’s Real War January 29, 2020 by Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin - We are super-excited about updating our book, America's Real War. This best-selling book helped launch a new relationship between Christians and Jews. Much of it was prescient but being written before 9/11 it desperately needs to be brought up to date. We hope you will join us in this project: Go HERE for more information. Read More

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About Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, known world-wide as America’s Rabbi, is a noted rabbinic scholar, popular international speaker and best-selling author. He hosts the Rabbi Daniel Lapin podcast as well as co-hosting the Ancient Jewish Wisdom TV Show on the TCT network with his wife, Susan. He is one of America’s most eloquent speakers and his ability to extract life principles from the Bible and transmit them in an entertaining manner, thus improving peoples’ finances, family and community life  has brought countless numbers of Jews and Christians closer to their respective faiths.

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