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Sharing downloads – is that ok?

Hello, 

 I recently downloaded Tower of Power from your website. Is it ok to share this with people inside my organization or should we purchase a separate copy for everyone? 

 Thank you, 

Mike 

Dear Mike,

Before answering your question, we want to compliment you on asking it in the first place. The question shows a sensitivity that suggests that you run your business on ethical grounds and that you don’t box ‘religious behavior’ into only some parts of your life while you isolate it from others.

We are delighted for you to share our teachings in the same manner as you would share a physical book. You are welcome to assemble a group and listen to the download together just as you might read aloud from a copy of a book that you own. You can also pass on a book you own to one person at a time and as such could pass on your download to one person at a time.

What is not permissible, according to both Scripture and United States copyright law, is to xerox a book in place of buying many copies. You will find a note of this prohibition in the front of most books.

This works for ebooks and audio downloads as well. When a library buys a downloadable copy of a book from an author, they purchase each copy they will be making available. If all the copies are “out” you will be put on a waiting list for the ebook. The library cannot lend out limitless copies. Similarly, we do request that you not copy the download of Tower of Power and distribute it.

As our society becomes more virtual and less physical, it is so important  to ask questions just as you are doing, to make sure that we don’t inadvertently overstep boundaries. While no one reading this would dream of snatching a book from a bookstore while the clerk’s attention is elsewhere, our minds don’t automatically transfer our ethics to new and different situations.

Back in the 1980s when the idea of purchasing software was in its youth, many people copied software for their friends. It took a while for the industry to mature and for people to realized that intellectual property was much like any other property and that the ancient Mosaic law that has been responsible for so much of the development of civilization—thou shall not steal—applies equally.

May your organization prosper,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Storm Shelter

I am spoiled. When I contemplate boating, I picture vacationing with my family among the magnificent islands of the Pacific Northwest. But except for a blessed few people and times, boarding a ship has not meant leisure, but instead was a risky way for crossing oceans.

Traveling by ship was dangerous and frightening in the days before exotic cruising. Ships served as the precarious means of transportation to start a new life, for trade or as a means of livelihood like the potentially deadly 19th century whaling ships and, indeed, today’s commercial fishing boats.

The book of Jonah opens with a different type of boating:

And Jonah arose to flee… from before God…
and he found a ship going to Tarshish…
(Jonah 1:3)

And God sent a big wind over the ocean and there was a great storm
upon the ocean and the ship appeared likely to shatter.
(Jonah 1:4)

And the sailors were terrified … and they threw all the articles
on the ship into the ocean to make it lighter
and Jonah went down
to the bilges of the ship, lay down and fell asleep.
(Jonah 1:5)

The word ship appears four times in these three consecutive verses. Only by looking at the Hebrew text can you see that the word in the first three instances differs from the fourth. The first three use the the Hebrew word ONiYaH. The final instance of ship uses the word SeFiNaH.

א נ י – ה                       ם פ י נ ה    

ship: SeFiNaH                  ship: ONiYaH

How can Scripture suggest that the ship Jonah slept in is different from the ship described earlier? One clue is that this is the only place in Scripture where a sailing vessel is called a SeFiNaH.

Take a look at two more Biblical vessels. In the days leading up to the great flood, God instructed Noah to make an ark:

Make yourself an ark of gopher wood…
(Genesis 6:14)

Later, Moses’ mother floats her son down the Nile:

And when she could hide him no longer
she took for him an ark of bulrushes…
(Exodus 2:3)

Although English translations sometimes call Moses’ craft a basket, the Hebrew labels both a TeiVaH.

ת ב ה

Ark:  TeiVaH

The different words for floating conveyance reflect different purposes. Neither Noah nor Moses had a destination. Their arks were not designed to be sailed or even controlled. Their boats were merely refuges from peril.

The ship Jonah boards is a commercial one. Her crew chooses to face constant struggle. There might be too much wind or too little. There are shoals and reefs to avoid. The challenging trip is undertaken in order to accomplish a goal.

When Jonah goes to sleep at the end of verse 5, he is using the ship for a uniquely different purpose. He is avoiding reality. The ship is a hiding place for him, not a means to a destination. It isn’t even a refuge; he is indifferent to its fate as well as his own.

We get an added clue to the function of a SeFiNaH from the Hebrew word itself. One magic of Hebrew is that certain letters share a relationship. When you exchange one of these letters for the other, the two words that result share a connection. Among these related letters is the first letter of the root word for Jonah’s boat when he goes to sleep and the first letter of the word for “hidden”. (Remember that Hebrew reads from right to left)

  צפן      ספן

        Boat      Hidden

On extremely rare occasions one needs to board an ark. Buffeted by external forces, be they physical, social or economic, there is no further action one can take to influence one’s life. At that point finding refuge, as in a TeiVaH and surrendering all to God’s mercy is the only option.

But most of the time, one wants an ONiYaH, a purposefully sailed ship whose course need to be constantly adjusted and controlled. The ship to avoid at all costs is Jonah’s SeFiNaH, the equivalent of burrowing under the blankets and giving up.

In ancient Jewish wisdom, a sailing ship sometimes serves as a metaphor for a self-contained existence. When you leave the dock you must carry everything you need with you. Acquiring anything additional is uncertain; it depends on weather and wind, both of which are out of your control. Preparation is a prerequisite for a successful passage. Part of the preparation is making sure you board the correct ship.

Reading the news it isn’t hard to think that the world is going to pieces around us. Like with Jonah, sinking into despair is tempting, yet wrong. Forming a deep relationship with God is the best way to arm and motivate oneself to take action. One way of achieving that is by delving deeply into His word. Today’s Thought Tool is a reprint from 2009 and perhaps even more timely than it was then. You can have it to read and reread in the book Thought Tools Volume 2. That book, along with over 20 other ancient Jewish wisdom resources,  is available in our Complete Library Pack and Complete Library Pack PLUS. As we prepare to close our store for Yom Kippur both of these, filled with timeless tools for life,  are on sale during this period of time when Jews read the book of Jonah aloud as God is sealing the fate of individuals and nations for the coming year.

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Let’s Hear It for Gender Quotas

California is moving towards requiring her publicly traded companies to enforce gender quotas on their boards. I am against quotas in general and find that, as with most social manipulation, the results are rarely those that are promised by their promoters. While I think there is every chance that this legislation will move forward, I worry that the biggest outcome will be more California businesses relocating to Texas. Unfortunately, the relocated management will then probably retain its destructive voting habits and continue to support the types of politicians and policies that made California uninhabitable. However, despite my usual wariness of quotas, and my concern that Elizabeth Warren is pushing for this on a national level, I am wondering whether my own family needs to use strong-arm techniques to get more equitable representation on our family What’s App chat. 

My mind is thinking back to an incident that occurred a few months ago. It was a regular work day. Actually, it was more pressured than usual given that a number of us had extra activities over the coming week. Yet, our family What’s App group was active, as it almost always is. Considering that there are many of us, including children who at that time lived in Israel and a son who frequently works the night shift, What’s App is a great way for my husband and me and all our children and their spouses to stay in touch. Some of us monitor it almost all the time while others resolutely only check in at day’s end.  The problem is that more than one son-in-law—and we know who you are—thinks that we are way too chatty. Showing a complete lack of appreciation for the fine wit and sophisticated banter on the group, a few of the boys have unsubscribed. With six sons-in-law and only one daughter-in-law, that makes our chat weigh heavily to the feminine.

There we were on that day, with more than enough on our plates, when one culprit posted a clever logic puzzle. By the time I saw it, there were thirteen—THIRTEEN!—replies parsing the problem and building on each other’s comments to move towards the solution. All the responses were from the male side of the family, although two females interjected comments along the lines of, “Doesn’t anyone other than me work?” and “You have way too much time on your hands.”

For a moment, I cheered the hardworking, distaff side. Then I realized that had a cute niece/nephew/grandchild video been posted, we would have been just as easily distracted. (Though experience has shown that the men would jump into that exchange as well.) A request for a recipe would get an equally strong feminine response no matter how busy a day the women in the family were having.

The strange thing is that many of the females in our family, including me, enjoy logic problems. We just don’t find them intriguing enough to distract us from priorities. We do them for relaxation, but have no problem putting them aside. For the men, it seems that not solving the problem was the equivalent of having one’s masculinity challenged. This wasn’t an amusing lark; it was a test of virility.

The logic puzzle was resolved and everyone went back to work. Yet, in the intervening months no more problems of that sort have been posted. Considering the male/female ratio of the participants in the chat, that isn’t surprising. Things would change if we could force more sons-in-law to be involved. So, I am keeping a close eye on California because nothing screams fairness and progress like coercion.

P.S. If you are in the DFW area, please join my husband Sunday morning at 11 a.m. at New Beginnings Church in Bedford, TX. (Services start at 10:30.)

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Is genealogical research a waste of time?

Dear Rabbi & Mrs. Lapin,

Please let me first tell you that I have learned much from your writings. I appreciate your knowledge, willingness, and even courage to boldly share truth with those who have ears to hear.

My question:  Is it wise and worthwhile to spend time and money investigating one’s genealogy?  What do you think of the DNA tests to discover where your ancestors lived?

I was adopted and have discovered my biological family through DNA testing.  I am over 60. My bio and adoptive parents are all deceased. I continue to think of my adoptive side as my “real parents and family”. However, the treasure hunt for older blood ancestors and lineage has been quite interesting.

One concern I have, which I’d like you to address, is whether I spend too much time in research. It can take hours and hours of looking at records to find and confirm even one person. I would say though that some of those ‘finds’ has yielded some very interesting and fulfilling data.

This experience has led me to better understand and appreciate the hand of God in my life. I’ve spent about 3 years now in this process and I wonder if it really matters who my 4th great grandfather was and whether he was born in Scotland or Sweden? Should I discontinue my research, if I am the only one in my family who finds this fascinating?  I have adult children who are not the least bit interested.

I do not spend time or money researching at the expense of my family’s needs. What do you think of this new craze to have your  ‘DNA done’?There are many passages in the bible about genealogy, so how does Ancient Jewish Wisdom apply to my situation? Thank you!

Shawn

Dear Shawn,

Working backwards through your letter, we have to say that we know very little about the companies in business to test your DNA. We tend to be wary of fads and would recommend researching the reliability of any of these companies and the usefulness of the results well before parting with your money or your DNA. For the most part, all they tell you is about the presence of ethnic and geographic markers with limited accuracy.  Information about particular ancestors would be more interesting but that information is available only through the research that you are enjoying.

Having said that, you are correct that God’s system places great importance on genealogy. While each of us is an individual, we are also links in a chain. Much of today’s pathologies are the result of devaluing family and pretending that caring who one’s parents are, in particular fathers, is irrelevant and unimportant. Many men who saw an easy income stream in becoming sperm donors while in college found, to their shock, that the offspring they put out of mind were eager to find them.

Physical and spiritual adoption are also a part of the Bible. Mordechai raised Esther after the deaths of her parents and Joshua, rather than his own sons, became Moses’ spiritual heir. While you cherish your adopted family, it is not surprising at all that you are curious about your physical antecedents.

We’re not sure why this hobby is any different from golf or collecting duck calls.  While it would be nice if you and your children shared this interest, as long as this isn’t interfering with your family’s welfare, why shouldn’t you continue? It is very possible that as your children get older, they will find that they are, indeed, grateful to know more about their background.

You sound very aware of the limitations of time. If you spend hours researching a relative, those hours are not available for other pursuits. If you are not minimizing more important areas of your life, but this is your “free time” relaxation, then not only do we see it as a benign activity, but one that is clearly filling an emotional need of yours. That sounds like a good deal.

Happy hunting,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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THOUGHT TOOLS

  • Storm Shelter September 17, 2018 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - I am spoiled. When I contemplate boating, I picture vacationing with my family among the magnificent islands of the Pacific Northwest. But except for a blessed few people and times, boarding a ship has not meant leisure, but instead was a risky way for crossing oceans. Traveling by ship was dangerous and frightening in the Read More

ASK THE RABBI

  • Sharing downloads – is that ok? September 17, 2018 by Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin - Hello,   I recently downloaded Tower of Power from your website. Is it ok to share this with people inside my organization or should we purchase a separate copy for everyone?   Thank you,  Mike  Dear Mike, Before answering your question, we want to compliment you on asking it in the first place. The question shows a Read More

SUSAN’S MUSINGS

  • Let’s Hear It for Gender Quotas September 13, 2018 by Susan Lapin - California is moving towards requiring her publicly traded companies to enforce gender quotas on their boards. I am against quotas in general and find that, as with most social manipulation, the results are rarely those that are promised by their promoters. While I think there is every chance that this legislation will move forward, I Read More

ON OUR MIND

  • Is Evangelical Support Good for the Jews? September 6, 2018 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - The following appeared in Jewish in Seattle magazine, the August/September 2018, edition. The question posed to Rabbi Daniel Lapin was, "Is Evangelical support good for the Jews?" Forgive me for conforming to the rabbinic stereotype of answering a question with a question but when you ask “…good for the Jews?”  which Jews do you mean?  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, best-selling author and host of the Rabbi Daniel Lapin Show on The Blaze Radio Network. 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 has brought countless numbers of Jews and Christians closer to their respective faiths. Newsweek magazine included him in its list of America’s fifty most influential rabbis.

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