TRENDING TODAY

Wife vs. Friend

I’ve been married for 18 years and we have 3 beautiful kids.

I think we have a problem. My husband is helping a friend by letting him borrow his truck a for little more than 2 months now. Every Thursday my husband drives the 2 youngest ones to school in our two passenger van. I asked him to ask his friend to return our truck so he could drive the kids to school safely, but he said that he is helping the friend and can’t ask him that yet.

Help me understand if I’m being selfish when my concern is the safety of the kids? On top of that his friend has been using the truck for more than two months. I think this has been enough time to get on his way, since his is getting paid regularly.  I assume he’s doing okay because I heard that the friend even loaned money to someone.

Do you think I’m being mean to my husband and his friend? I also laid out my views and concerns for my husband, on the first day he let the friend use the truck. I was even concerned that we may be holding his friend back from moving forward and  getting the better things in life for himself. 

Thank you so much for everything that you and Susan do. I watch your show every day on TCT and I’m now reading one of your books. I have a much better idea of things now because of you.

Love,

Gina S.

Dear Gina,

We’re delighted that you find our shows and books helpful. That encourages us to keep taping and writing.

You are actually asking three different questions:

  1. Is your husband driving your children in an objectively unsafe way?
  2.   Is your husband giving his friend help in a way that keeps his friend from taking responsibility for his own life?
  3. What say do you have in how your husband helps his friend?

It is possible that your husband thinks that doubling up on seating is perfectly safe but you don’t. However, we have a suspicion that your concerns do not stem entirely from the safety issue or you wouldn’t have let your husband drive the children even once in an unsafe manner.

You might be right that it would be good for the friend to become more independent, however you can’t know that for sure. It is possible that your husband’s friend has shared confidences with him that you don’t know about or that other factors are in play.

The third question is really the pivotal one in terms of your marriage. We feel that your question is far more of a state-of-marriage question than it is a child-safety question or your concerns about the friend’s own situation.

When you are married there is no such thing as “your husband’s truck.” This might be different if you are very wealthy and the family has many vehicles and your husband used discretionary income that you both agreed was his alone to buy a truck, but that isn’t the situation for most typical families.  If the truck is your family vehicle, the two of you should have agreed whether it should be loaned to a friend and for how long.

It seems to us that you may be feeling hurt because your husband is putting friendship ahead of family and that he acted on this family-concerning matter without your agreement.  Maybe you are also feeling that your husband doesn’t appreciate how hard you work doing all the school driving except for this one trip that your work schedule doesn’t allow you to do. 

Or, perhaps, you think that you are both being taken advantage of by this friend. Is it possible that your husband also thinks that it is time for the arrangement to end but doesn’t know how to do that?  These are all legitimate questions and all should be discussed.  But they must be discussed in the right way in the right place in the right time.  Remember, the main concern here is not cars and trucks, or friends or even children, but the marriage. 

Whatever the case, you now have a bit of a sore point in your marriage that needs to be healed.  It is quite possible that from your husband’s perspective, this is just about the truck.  It would be quite typical and entirely understandable that he has no clue how this has started to impact your feelings about him and your marriage.   Try and be sensitive to this masculine world view. 

We encourage you to find a quiet and stress-free time to talk to – and listen to – your husband. Before you can do this, you need to make sure that you can speak without sounding angry or hurt. Ask questions. Acknowledge your husband’s kindness while asking if there is an end date in sight. Find out why he thinks this in no big deal or is the right thing to do. Analyze together whether there really is a safety issue (how far is the drive; is there a lot of traffic…). Is there another solution? Could your husband and you switch vehicles on Thursday so you drive the van and he uses the car you usually drive? Be open to the idea that this loan may continue for a while longer while, at the same time, helping your husband see your point of view.  Perhaps he, in turn, can try to remember that in future, these kinds of actions are joint husband/wife decisions. 

We see this as another of those wonderful opportunities that arise in the life of a couple to grow the marriage.  The process is first for each of you to see the entire matter from the other’s perspective.  Make frequent use of the phrase “Just to be sure I understand, are you saying that….?” 

The next step is that even if you still disagree, you each learn how to give the other the respect of acknowledging that their point of view can also be valid.  The final and most important step is for both to realize that when two people are married, they can each retain different ideas and the couple can function quite well.  However, once ideas have to become actions, the couple as one unified entity can only take one action. 

For instance, one of you might think London is an ideal vacation destination while the other prefers Miami.  This is no problem until you have to decide where to spend two weeks this summer.  Clearly a compromise that places you mid-Atlantic is no solution.  One way or the other, you have to decide whether to go to London or Miami in a way that does not leave anyone feeling beaten or resentful. 

This can best be achieved by discussion particularly in an atmosphere of love and appreciation for one another. 

In the case of some disagreements, it is enormously helpful to bring in an independent third party “arbitrator.”  As a matter of fact, we advise newly marrying couples to select such a person in advance.  (This is RDL now:  early in our marriage we both agreed on my father. To my astonishment, in about two thirds of the issues on which we consulted him, he sided with Susan. But we were both fine with his rulings and we both accepted them with no stress on our relationship.)

Take care of each other and safe driving,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Would you be surprised to hear that the 7th Commandment (Do not commit adultery)
has something to say about this completely innocent question about a truck?

Then you haven’t yet heard
The Ten Commandments: How Two Tablets Can Transform Your Life

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Ditch the Doldrums

There are many life-metaphors to be found in the wonderful world of boats. Boats and people both embark on journeys and both can reach their destinations or sink.

When a boat is in the doldrums it is in that notorious windless zone near the equator. Old-time sailing vessels were often stuck there for weeks.  When a person is listless and despondent, he is also said to be in the doldrums.  But there is one major difference. While sailboats must await changing weather, humans have the miraculous capacity to bring about change in their lives themselves. 

Being marooned in stagnant circumstances is enough to make anyone miserable.  Change, growth, and progress are amazingly effective antidotes to depression. Most of us feel energized and optimistic when taking actions to improve our lives. Often, the changing calendar serves as a useful catalyst. But wait!  What’s the point?  We all know that most New Year resolutions fade away by spring.

One way to retain resolutions is to feel authentic, durable excitement in our souls about the spiritual magic of change.

Isn’t it rather strange how God introduced Himself to humanity on Sinai 3,330 years ago? 

I am the Lord your God who…
(Exodus 20:2)

Who did what?

Well, think of how 1980 presidential candidate Reagan might have introduced himself to voters.  Depending on the crowd, he would want to highlight his most prestigious achievement.  He might have said, “Hi, I’m Ronald Reagan who was the head of the Screen Actors Guild.”  Or he might have said, “I’m Ronald Reagan who was governor of California.”

Similarly, God could have said, “I’m the Lord your God who created heaven and earth.” Instead, he said:

I am the Lord your God who took you out of the Land of Egypt…
(Exodus 20:2)

God considered it more important to introduce Himself and His Commandments as God who took the Israelites out of Egypt rather than as God who created heaven and earth. Why?

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that the purpose of the Ten Commandments is not merely to lay before us ten little rules but to provide us with vital tools for life. These statements are intended to transform Israelite slaves into God-centric, independent people.  Remember that until relatively recently once a slave meant always a slave. For transformation to happen, the children of Israel needed to truly know that it was indeed POSSIBLE for change to occur. 

Today, we may not be physically enslaved, but we can enslave ourselves by not knowing, deep inside of us, that we are capable of change.  Making positive changes in our lives is terribly difficult.  Most of us find it almost impossible to overcome our own inertia. Rather than undertake the massive effort necessary today, we simply condemn tomorrow to be a repeat of yesterday.  Deeply internalizing the power of change is necessary to propel us to better times.

We’re all stuck in our own particular Egypt, whatever it is.  To successfully change behavior in the long term, we need to change our image of ourselves. God’s opening statement assures us that if the Israelites could escape Egypt then each one of us can also escape our own limitations and weaknesses.  Here are three tips to increase the probability of making a change permanent.

A.  Make the first step of change reasonable.  You can always upgrade later which will make you feel much better than downgrading.  (The total transformation of a nation took 40 years. An individual won’t need that long for most changes, but don’t expect instant success either.)

B.  At the outset, prepare a strategy to get you back onto your resolution’s plan after an unintended setback. (Atonement and forgiveness often occurred during the desert trip)

C.  Break your commitment into defined and manageable parts. (There were numerous way stations on the path from Egypt to Israel)

Overriding every strategy is the awareness that, “I am the Lord your God who took you out of Egypt…”  That statement serves as a constant reminder that God is eager to accompany us on our personal road out of the doldrums.

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On the surface, the Ten Commandments are valuable. Beneath the surface, through the lens of ancient Jewish wisdom, they are priceless. Join me as I reveal the five underlying principles (with two examples each) that make up these ten statements and that can transform the way you look at yourself and at those around you.

The Ten Commandments: How Two Tablets Can Transform Your Life

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Exposed

Even as I wrote it, I was disturbed by my last week’s Musing. The Musing’s premise was that we shouldn’t be surprised by hypocrisy in our politicians. I think, sadly, that this is true.  When many citizens demand that elected officials sanctimoniously parrot standardized phrases and then vote on the basis of those politically correct formulations we shouldn’t be surprised that the words of those running for office don’t match their personal actions.

This is not confined to politicians, of course. Our society keeps on pushing people to say one thing and think, believe and do another. For example, for many years now students taking a variety of exams, have been forced to choose between marking what they know to be the officially correct answer or responding with the truth according to their beliefs and, often, according to science. Recently, the MCATs, taken by aspiring doctors, added ideological questions that compel religious Christians and Jews to make exactly that deeply disturbing choice.

However writing about Eric Schneiderman, who resigned as New York’s Attorney General after allegations of disturbing personal conduct were made, troubled me. This resignation follows a pattern in a continuing series of stories that fling private matters into the public realm.

Let me explain.  This Saturday night marks the 3,330th anniversary of God giving the Torah on Mt. Sinai. While the Five Books of Moses do feature many oft-cited rules about charity, food, justice and sexual behavior, a surprising number of them deal with speech.

Gossip as entertainment has become so deeply embedded in our society that it is easy to forget that the prohibition against it springs from the same source as the prohibition against theft and adultery. In the Bible, there are numerous subcategories of forbidden speech, known in Hebrew as onaat devarim, sheker, rechilut, lashon hara, avak lashon hara, motzi shem ra and more. These don’t have ready translations into English and each headlines an area that has many categories. They include truthful statements and lies, positive and negative words, discussions that are seemingly innocent and words meant to wound. However, although there are rare times when one is obligated to carefully share negative information or to sound harsh, the idea of casually talking about people and intruding into people’s lives is never seen as a desired behavior. Almost all words said in private conversation to friends and other people merit protection. Without that, one enters a Soviet style world where people are afraid to speak.

While I admit to picking up People magazine two weeks ago at the dentist’s office and enjoying the pictures of the new British prince, the idea of a magazine like that, which in itself is tame compared to other media out there, is unambiguously against God’s directives. Today, newspapers that like to think of themselves as sophisticated cover stories that used to be considered only tabloid fodder. Technology has increased the reach and power of peering into others’ lives in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. Our society is awash in lascivious looks and prying peeks.

Even the sanctity of marriage is threatened by a society that salaciously pants for views into private relationships. No decent person thinks that marriage allows a man to physically assault a woman. This was the impetus behind laws that emerged from the 1970s on, declaring spousal rape a crime. But our cultural definition of rape and force is changing to the point that just about everyone is liable to be guilty.

There are things each of us do for other people. I put a smile on my face when I am in the supermarket because my having a difficult day doesn’t give me permission to bring down the mood of others around me. I dress in a certain way when going to a class to show respect for the other students and the teacher. I play a game of Candyland when my to-do list is overwhelming in order bring a smile to my granddaughter’s face.

And in a marriage, husbands and wives do things that they may not particularly care to do in order to please their spouse. All those things, but especially intimate ones, deserve the sanctity of privacy. Almost every word exchanged within a sacred relationship, like marriage and family, merits titanium protection. If at a future time the marriage sours, leaving animosity in place of affection, those things should not retroactively be labelled as forced. Details being flagrantly shared should make decent people recoil with disgust.   

Having intimate relationships outside of marriage is not encouraged by the Torah, but speaking about them compounds the wrong. If a man assaults a woman, that is a criminal act. But if a man and a woman engage in an activity, it is a dangerous thing to validate the notion that in hindsight one can declare oneself to have felt forced and gain instant sympathy status by blabbing about it. For years, society has mocked religious people by saying that what two people do in the privacy of the bedroom is no one else’s business. Now, that same society is promoting the idea that, retroactively, possibly scarred, scorned and rapacious women should be encouraged to make those actions everyone’s business. I worry that last week, I might have acquiesced in that idea.

It is difficult in an increasingly immoral society to cling to morality without withdrawing from that society. Withdrawal, however, means giving up and abandoning the idea of positive change or helping even a few people learn that there is an alternate, better, way of life. Like so many of you, I struggle to keep a moral compass without putting on blinders, a Herculean task.

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Our store will be closed from Friday evening through Monday night in honor of the Festival of Shavuot (Pentecost). On this day, God presented the Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Prepare for this 3,330th anniversary by exploring the Ten Commandments with ancient Jewish wisdom.

The Ten Commandments: How Two Tablets Can Transform Your Life

Among the insights:     

  • Why the 10 Commandments HAD to be on 2 tablets
  • Learn the 5 permanent principles of building all relationships
  • Easily remember the 10 Commandments & their order
  • Employ these timeless truths to enhance your life
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My Parents are Separating

Dear Rabbi and Susan Lapin,

First off, thank you for all that you both do and the wisdom you dispense through your podcasts, books and teachings. I find them all tremendously valuable and you have impacted my life for the better.

I have a question regarding my parents. Their marriage has been on the rocks for the past five years and they are now choosing to separate, but not divorce, because of their beliefs. Their issue is not due to infidelity but seems to be a communication and pride problem. They have been married for over forty years and have raised five children together, of which I am the youngest.

My question is what should our response be as their adult children? My instinct is to not get involved or share my opinions because it could be seen as taking sides and it doesn’t seem respectful.

As for background: we all live near our parents, there are many grandchildren in the family, we are all Christians, and we see each other often. I am struggling to identify what my responsibility is in this situation while still honoring my parents. My wife and I disagree with them not choosing to work harder on their marriage but we don’t know if it is our place to confront them on it.

One of my siblings suggested talking to them as a group, what do you think?

Any insights you could provide would be most welcome. Thank you tremendously.

Blessings,

Sam

Dear Sam,

Your sad situation reflects an important truth. No matter how old one’s children are, divorce is going to affect them. Of course, it also affects more distant relatives, friends, social circles and work groups. We are very sorry that you and your siblings and children are facing this situation.

Having said that, your instincts are spot on. In our audio CD on the Ten Commandments we explain why the Fifth Commandment about honoring parents is related to the Tenth Commandment, “Do not covet.” In short, recognizing one’s specific place in relationship to others is something that leads to happier interactions. We also explain why the Fifth Commandment is placed on the first tablet that otherwise deals with the interaction between people and God, while the second tablet deals with interactions between people and people. Honoring parents seems to be in the wrong place. Correctly understanding why there were two tablets clears up this confusion but even on a basic level it is clear that one’s parents occupy a position that no other people do.

Because of this, children have to be very careful about what is and isn’t appropriate in their communication with parents. Interference in the parental marital relationship is specifically an area that is largely off-limits. Your sibling’s suggestion of all the children going as a group would only raise the level of disrespect.

Considerable calumny is heaped on Jacob’s eldest son, Reuben for intruding on his father’s private life.

While Israel stayed in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah,
his father’s concubine; and Israel heard…
(Genesis 35:22)

Ancient Jewish wisdom informs us that Reuben did not actually lay a hand on Bilhah, but that he moved Jacob’s bed from Bilhah’s room to that of Leah his mother.  The language of the Bible is especially harsh to teach that interfering in even the mildest way in his father’s marital life was a serious violation.

Of course, your parents separating after all these years is difficult for you all. Perhaps, even as youngest, you can lead your siblings towards an understanding that the proper role is non-interference.

You are absolutely correct that your obligation is to honor both your parents. They are now making this harder in many ways though we hope that they will not make it more uncomfortable than necessary. Nonetheless, you and your siblings can set an example for your own children in respecting your parents’ decision and coping with disappointment.

You, of course, don’t know the whole story and kudos to your parents for not asking you to take sides or sharing inappropriate confidences with you. Maybe some time apart will give them new perspective or perhaps someone other than your sibling group will approach your parents and help them, if possible, to recapture affection for each other. We would suggest you and your siblings get together to discuss how to share this with the grandchildren and how to explain it to them in an age-appropriate but nonetheless substantive way.

Whatever the future holds, you and your wife can use this unfortunate occurrence to commit more strongly to maintaining your own relationship and covenant of marriage.

Thank you for your kind words,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Why does the phrase “two tablets” appear many more times than ‘Ten Commandments’?
What does it actually say instead of ‘Ten Commandments’?
Why doesn’t giving charity make the list? 
What is beneath the surface of these verses?

Order this amazing audio CD before our store closes for the holyday of Shavuot on Friday evening. (Re-opening Monday night)

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The Ten Commandments Download
The Ten Commandments:
How Two Tablets Can Transform Your Life
The Ten Commandments:
How Two Tablets Can Transform Your Life

THOUGHT TOOLS

  • Ditch the Doldrums May 23, 2018 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - There are many life-metaphors to be found in the wonderful world of boats. Boats and people both embark on journeys and both can reach their destinations or sink. When a boat is in the doldrums it is in that notorious windless zone near the equator. Old-time sailing vessels were often stuck there for weeks.  When Read More

ASK THE RABBI

  • Wife vs. Friend May 24, 2018 by Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin - I’ve been married for 18 years and we have 3 beautiful kids. I think we have a problem. My husband is helping a friend by letting him borrow his truck a for little more than 2 months now. Every Thursday my husband drives the 2 youngest ones to school in our two passenger van. I Read More

SUSAN’S MUSINGS

  • Exposed May 16, 2018 by Susan Lapin - Even as I wrote it, I was disturbed by my last week’s Musing. The Musing’s premise was that we shouldn’t be surprised by hypocrisy in our politicians. I think, sadly, that this is true.  When many citizens demand that elected officials sanctimoniously parrot standardized phrases and then vote on the basis of those politically correct Read More

ON OUR MIND

  • Mitt Romney Supremely Unqualified for Public Office May 15, 2018 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - One vital characteristic for leadership is knowing how the world REALLY works. By this sure standard, Mitt Romney is supremely unqualified for public office. He labeled the pastor of First Baptist in Dallas, Robert Jeffress a bigot for professing normative Christian doctrine. How shocking! A Christian leader believes in Christianity. Every morning I awaken grateful 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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