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Our daughter is dating an old man!

Dear Rabbi & Susan, my wife and I have enjoyed watching your show on TCT for several years.  We have also appreciated reading several of your books and listening to your podcasts.

 A little background: we are a blended family; I am Jewish, and my wife is a non-denominational Christian. Neither of us have been regular attendees of any church or synagogue. We have one daughter, 41 years old, who lives a few hundred miles away; and who we see 4-5 times per year.  Sadly, we did not introduce her to either Judaism or Christianity during her upbringing, and she is now an agnostic. We love her dearly, and respect that she has made herself a self-supporting and independent woman.

 Our problem: our daughter has recently told us that she is “exclusively” dating a 62 year old man. She has apparently known him for about two months, and the exclusivity began about one month ago.  We do not believe they are living together. He has been married, and has children and grandchildren.

 Our daughter has never been married, but once had a 5-year live-in relationship; and she is childless. She recently stepped up her on-line dating, because she said she realized that the pool of eligible bachelors was getting smaller as she grew older.  This was how she met this man.

 We have not yet met her “boyfriend”, and are quite reluctant to do so until after we have first had an opportunity to visit with her alone and face-to-face.  We told her that a few days ago when she called to arrange a visit from the both of them.

 We are both having great difficulty with accepting the idea of her having an intimate relationship with a man easily old enough to be her father.  Frankly, from a photo we’ve seen, we think it’s likely he’s actually older than the 62 years he claims to be (which we understand is common with on-line dating).  My wife and I are in our early 70s, and he doesn’t look any younger than us.

 When we next visit with our dear daughter, we plan to discuss the difficulties we see, should she continue this relationship; not the least of which being the statistically-likely steep decline in health he will suffer over the next ten years.  We will try to use our best logic to overcome her apparent emotional attachment to the man. In the meantime, I’m looking at public sources to try to find out more about him.

 We are really baffled by her choice. Regardless of whatever good qualities he might possess, his age is the real issue for us.  Are we wrong to feel this way? We certainly don’t want to alienate our only daughter, who we love deeply. But we do believe we should try to discourage the relationship.

 Please give us your advice.

B.W.

Dear B.W.,

Oh dear. As painful as it is to watch our children fall off their bicycles and scrape their knees when they are little,  it is harder to watch them head for what we are certain is unhappiness when they are grown. The almost irresistible urge to protect our child doesn’t disappear at a pre-ordained birthday.

You clearly love your daughter and, just as clearly, she has been an independent adult for many years. We hope our words don’t cause you pain, but we don’t think you are in the best position to offer her advice in this situation. 

Had you asked us initially (and we say this not to hurt you but hopefully to help someone in the future) we would have suggested holding your tongues and professing happiness at her happiness until and unless you found more red flags than age.  We are saddened to have to tell you that you made a mistake in telling her that you won’t welcome her and her man in your home until you’ve spoken to her alone first. Think about how that sounds to her and you’ll understand why we say this. You are indeed fortunate that she wants you to meet someone who is becoming important in her life. At this point, after your negative reaction, she is probably less willing to share any concerns with you than she otherwise might have been.  

There are a few possible rays of sunshine. Let us play this out and see what might happen. Your daughter is a mature and sensible woman who is probably quite lonely and has made a conscious decision that she wants to be in a long-term relationship, possibly marriage. At 41, she is probably not thinking of children and she is probably very aware of common age-related health issues. Perhaps she has made a very concrete analysis and decided that this man is so wonderful that even if they only have a few good years together, she wants those few years. And as we all know, he may turn out to be the healthy one in the relationship – there are no guarantees. 

Opposing her relationship only on the basis of age tarnishes your opinion in your daughter’s eyes.  We’d have recommended you enthusiastically welcomed their visit. During that visit, you might have uncovered other flaws than age which you would have been able to discuss rationally with your daughter.  Alternatively, you might have been so impressed with him that even you would have seen the age question diminish in importance. Either way, your stance would have enhanced rather than eroded your relationship with your daughter.  

You don’t say if this man is divorced or widowed, but his children and grandchildren may be an asset in your daughter’s eyes. Maybe she sees herself being welcomed into a loving family. Not only shouldn’t  this man’s age alone automatically disqualify him, but his age may have some benefits. Again we can’t help mentioning how happy you should have been that she values your opinion enough to bring him to visit you.  A visit, we might add, which would have been awkward for the man too. Give him credit for having been willing to do you the courtesy of visiting you.

Maybe this isn’t the best outcome for your daughter. Two months is not a very long time. We imagine that her friends as well as her own awareness will lead her to assess the situation if it continues.  At age 41 she is probably not unaware of what is involved in becoming a step-mother and step-grandmother. Looking at it from his family’s point of view, it is possible they are concerned at the age gap from the other side. They might be viewing your daughter as a fortune-hunter! Yours may not be the only objections. 

If you told us that your daughter had two identical suitors except that one was fifteen years older than the other, we would agree that the older age was a liability. But she isn’t asking you for help in choosing between two men; she is letting you know that she is interested in one man. In this case, we actually see no reason that this man’s age should automatically disqualify him from getting your approval. You may still be seeing a young woman when you speak to your daughter; it sounds like she is acknowledging that she is no longer in that category. 

However this progresses, your daughter and you need to continue in a loving relationship.  Try your hardest to undo the hurt caused by telling her she’s not welcome with her friend.   If she is making a mistake, she will need your support and if she is making a rational and wise move you will want to share in her joy. 

We pray that all turns out for the best,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Bye, Bye Baby

Just over a week ago, Susan and I were blessed by the arrival of a new granddaughter. Along with her parents, we, her siblings and cousins are excited to welcome her. At the same time, we know many couples of ‘grandparent-age’  who have no grandchildren and, at the moment, see none on the horizon. 

Many of these folks chose to delay marriage and limit the size of their own families wanting to be able to nurture their careers, provide their children with “extras” and save for future college expenses. They encouraged their own children, both sons and daughters, to establish their careers, sample a variety of romantic relationships and enjoy the early years of adulthood before getting married and starting a family. Quite a few of them are still waiting for their now thirties-something children to begin thinking of marriage and children. Some of them have been informed that building a family   isn’t part of their children’s vision and even marriage may or may not happen.  

What seemed like a prudent and good idea for how to organize a family is now causing disappointment and pain. They are facing a yearning for grandchildren, or in some cases great-grandchildren, whom they assumed would naturally come along. They failed to recognize that building a legacy of generations is not an automatic  default condition. 

In the Book of Ruth, Naomi advises her widowed daughter-in-law to get to know a local nobleman by the name of Boaz with an eye to marriage. 

…get dressed and go down to the threshing floor…when he lies down…
you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down…
(Ruth 3:3-4)

Now I must explain that one of the marvelous methods encrypted into Scripture for decoding ancient Jewish wisdom is what, in Hebrew, is known as k’ree and k’tiv.  These two terms mean ‘the way the word is pronounced’ and ‘the way the word is spelled” respectively. K’ree and k’tiv words appear throughout the Bible and our job is to merge the two meanings thereby exposed in the text.

One of the most famous examples of k’ree and k’tiv is found in the above verses from Ruth.

In the k’ree version, the verse reads simply as I translated it.  However, as the words are actually spelled in the original Hebrew text, in the k’tiv version, Naomi indicates that she, rather than Ruth, would really be the one getting dressed and going down to meet Boaz at the threshing floor.

What can this mean?  Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that although Naomi was advising Ruth how to bring about a union, she herself would also be there in spirit, in order to assist the process that would bring her progeny. Ruth and Boaz joining in marriage would impact more than just  the two principals 

In a Biblical framework, having children is not just  a personal choice for only the couple to make. It serves the family and community, linking the past to the future. The more mature Naomi understood the blessing of children, and so she yearned for a child far more than the younger Ruth did. Indeed, it was through this adventure that Naomi attained immortality, becoming a grandmother and ancestor to King David, bringing hope not only to her own family but also to the larger world.

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Our Hearts – Then Our Children’s Hearts

A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ Post by Rebecca Masinter

I actually had many thoughts I wanted to share this week but, as happened most of this summer, I have raced through the days doing so much and also not being able to do so much. Let me try to get at least one thought down.

The words, “Hear O’ Israel the Lord our God the Lord is one (Deut. 6:4),” are known as the shema and observant Jews say it multiple times a day.  It continues: “And these matters that I command you today shall be upon your heart.  You shall teach them thoroughly to your children and you shall speak of them while you sit in your home, while you walk on the way, when you lay down and when you arise.” 

A great transmitter of ancient Jewish wisdom known as the Alshich notes two powerful points for parents.  The first is that if someone wants to teach someone else Torah or character development, he or she must first embody and contain those qualities.  That’s why the words first say, “upon your heart”. First, we have to make sure that God’s wisdom and the fruits of that are in our hearts.  They have to be part of us before we can pass them on. 

Once we have made God, the Bible and Scriptural behavior part of us, then they will be part of our children too.  If Torah is in our hearts, it will enter the hearts of our children.  That, explains the Alshich, is why the next verse doesn’t use the Hebrew word for teaching “v’limadtem,” in the phrase “and you should teach them.” Instead, it uses the Hebrew word, “v’shinantem.”  The root of this word is “SHiNuN” and it means something sharp like a sharp tooth.  (SHeiN is a tooth in Hebrew.) If the words of Torah are sharp like an arrow, and if they are coming from our own hearts, they will naturally pierce our children’s hearts.  The influence will be natural, piercing, and intense, because it comes from our hearts.

In other words, what excites us, excites our children.  What bores us, will also end up boring our children.  We can spend these last few days of summer developing ourselves, learning, growing, and strengthening our own connection to God and His wisdom. That alone will have a powerful effect on our children.

Dear Senator (Lindsey) Graham

Dear Senator Graham,

I’m going to get right to the point. Do you remember how during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings the veil over your eyes lifted and you realized that some of your esteemed colleagues on the Democrat side of the fence were willing to use vile and underhanded methods to achieve their goal? Keeping another Trump nominee from getting on the Supreme Court was so crucial that they trampled honesty, integrity and the Constitution.

Many in the media and many in Congress have spent every day since President Trump triumphed over Hillary Clinton doing whatever they could to get him out of office. Millions of dollars have been wasted , government institutions have been badly damaged, flagons of ink have been spilled and venomous and vicious words have been hurled like grenades  trying to undo the last election. I’m not positive you and some of your long-time colleagues understand that you are as hated as the President. So are those of us  who voted for him. Some of you may wake up every day saying, “If only we had a more diplomatic president with more gravitas, this extreme hatred of conservatives and Republicans wouldn’t exist.” Please, please channel back to the Kavanaugh hearings and realize those views are mistaken.

Like you, I am appalled by wanton violence in our society and grieve at lives lost and families traumatized. However, I do not for one minute think that concern for Americans is motivating the push for more gun control measures by your esteemed colleagues on the Left. As Rahm Emmanuel famously said, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”  And they see an opportunity now to win the next election despite a field of candidates with unpopular and impractical ideas.

They remember as I do, that President George H.W. Bush lost his  second term in 1992 because, at the seductive urging of Democrats,  he betrayed those of us who elected him after he promised them, “Read my lips. No new taxes.” If they can get President Trump to betray his base, they hope that betrayal will also cost him a second term and lead them back into power, as well it might.

Can we do something to actually restore a culture of life and mutual respect to our society? I hope so. I even have some ideas. Part of the package might indeed have to include stronger background checks and red flag laws, albeit with full recognition of the potential dangers of such steps. However, if those are the only steps taken, then my dear Senator Graham, you will have been played. If any legislation addressing this issue does not cause as much political pain to Democrats as it does to Republicans, then this is not about making a more peaceful America. It is about undoing the last election.

All the best,

Susan Lapin

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THOUGHT TOOLS

  • Bye, Bye Baby August 20, 2019 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - Just over a week ago, Susan and I were blessed by the arrival of a new granddaughter. Along with her parents, we, her siblings and cousins are excited to welcome her. At the same time, we know many couples of ‘grandparent-age’  who have no grandchildren and, at the moment, see none on the horizon.  Many… Read More

ASK THE RABBI

  • Our daughter is dating an old man! August 21, 2019 by Susan Lapin - Dear Rabbi & Susan, my wife and I have enjoyed watching your show on TCT for several years.  We have also appreciated reading several of your books and listening to your podcasts.  A little background: we are a blended family; I am Jewish, and my wife is a non-denominational Christian. Neither of us have been… Read More

SUSAN’S MUSINGS

  • Dear Senator (Lindsey) Graham August 16, 2019 by Susan Lapin - Dear Senator Graham, I’m going to get right to the point. Do you remember how during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings the veil over your eyes lifted and you realized that some of your esteemed colleagues on the Democrat side of the fence were willing to use vile and underhanded methods to achieve their goal? Keeping… Read More

ON OUR MIND

  • What Is a Jewish Issue? August 14, 2019 by Susan Lapin - My husband and I have many friends and relatives who grew up in America and now make their home in Israel. Some of these people served with distinction in the American military; others contributed to the United States through their businesses or other means. All of them are grateful to the country of their birth… 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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