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My father is having an affair!

On a day in March, 2018, I found out that my father was having an affair. The identity of the woman at the time was unknown to myself, although I did suspect it was my aunt. It took me several months of fighting myself on what to do with the information, as I did not want to harm my mother emotionally with it. But after much thought I did disclose my findings to her. However, I did not tell her I suspected the woman was her own sister. My mother had her doubts about the whole thing and I know she was in denial in order to protect herself from the hurt.

Today my sister and I after some further investigation found out that the woman is indeed my mother’s own sister. I am in anguish and torment because of the findings and do not know what to do.

This goes against every teaching we were brought up with. I’m disappointed and feel pain and sorrow. Should we keep this secret to ourselves or should we tell my mom? I thought about speaking to my father about it, but he gets aggressive and tells me to stay out of his marriage because he doesn’t involve himself in mine. Please help!

Kayla

Dear Kayla,

You and your sister are in tremendous pain. The structure on which your lives were built, including values and trust in your parents has been shaken. You are angry, hurt, disappointed, betrayed, confused and if we may say so, probably a little vengeful. That is all natural. But natural is not necessarily right.

Our first suggestion is that you and your sister each find someone who can help you work through your feelings and move forward with your lives. What you have endured  is a big deal and you need to regain your equilibrium and make sure that you don’t allow this to poison your own lives.

Having said that, ancient Jewish wisdom is quite adamant on children never interfering in their parents’ marital relationship. Had you asked us earlier, we would have firmly advised you to tell your mother nothing at all. At this point, we urge you to say nothing further. We also strongly discourage you from any more detective work; seek out no more information. Everything about the marital bond between your parents is exactly that – between your parents. The commandment to honor your mother and father is not abrogated by bad behavior by either of them. This means you have to stay completely out of this.

We realize that this isn’t what your heart is telling you to do. You might want to listen to this podcast episode that discusses making significant decisions on the basis of head not heart.

Meanwhile, you need to figure out how to manage practically with family gatherings. There might well be awkward moments but nonetheless the right thing is to remove yourself from the midst of this sad situation.  You and your sister cannot be the avenging judges punishing your father and forcing your mother to acknowledge what she may not even want to see.

Once again, we aren’t minimizing your suffering and we encourage you to seek help in dealing with it. It would be wonderful if our parents never severely disappointed us, but sadly some do. We are still their children and the Fifth Commandment still applies.

Wishing you healing,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Get a Whiff of Winning

I really hope that my children think of their childhood with the same sweet nostalgia that I do.  Whenever the Lapin family embarked upon a trip, it was usually with at least fifteen suitcases, all of which needed to be loaded into our van.  Though I could have done it myself quite quickly, we patiently waited while our young son laboriously loaded every piece of luggage, many of which were larger than he was.

My wife always shared the preparations for the Sabbath with our daughters, assigning some children to set the table while others cleaned the house until it shone. Planning menus and cooking were group efforts. Especially when the kids were very young, she could have prepared the house and meals for our family and our guests far more quickly herself.   

By contrast, researchers recognize that generally, American children ignore or resist appeals to help. According to a UCLA study a few years back, compared to other countries and cultures, and even more importantly, compared to how we Americans used to raise children, parents today are focused on what they can do for their children and don’t think about what their children can do for them. 

Were my wife and I taking unseemly advantage of free labor or doing our children a favor? Let’s look at a precedent.

From the moment they left Egypt the Israelites grumbled about almost everything. 

…Why did you bring us out of Egypt
(Exodus 14:11-12)

The people complained against Moses saying what shall we drink?
(Exodus 15:24)

…the Children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron…
(Exodus 16:2)

The people argued with Moses…give us water
(Exodus 17:2)

They gathered against Aaron…make us a god..we don’t know where Moses is
(Exodus 32:1)

Eventually God told every person to bring of his possessions and get to work building the Tabernacle.  This construction project and the service therein occupied the Israelites for many years and the complaining just about ceased.

After nightfall on Saturdays my family gathers for Havdalah. With this service we bid Shabbat farewell for another week and prepare ourselves for six days of productive endeavor.  During the brief ceremony, we celebrate our sense of smell enjoying the fragrance of some spices, often cloves and cinnamon. 

When a festival terminates, we also conduct a Havdalah ceremony but without any blessing on smelling the spices.  Why the difference?

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that, amazingly, in our world, the actions of humans leave a longer-lasting impression than God’s actions.  For instance, Mt. Sinai (where God acted) is largely unknown, whereas Mt. Moriah, Jerusalem, where Abraham, Isaac, David, and Solomon acted is still visited by pilgrims after 3,000 years. Ancient Jewish wisdom further explains that smell is the sense that most strongly links to our memories.  I am sure you have sometimes gotten a whiff of a smell that immediately transported you to images of your childhood.

Sabbath was scheduled every seven days by God, but we Jews were commanded to calculate the dates of the festivals by ourselves. Linking the Sabbath to a smell prolongs the sensation of that day.  Since festivals have a human component, no fragrances are necessary for them to cling to us even after they are over.

We are more lastingly impacted by the things we do for God like building a Tabernacle than by the many things He does for us.  The children of Israel appreciated God more, not less, by giving of themselves for His structure. Likewise, our children are more lastingly impacted when they participate in family life, rather than just being recipients of parents’ beneficence.

We can use this information to change important things in our own lives. We can wait for God or other people to do things to move our lives forward while we sit complaining. Or we can get moving. If one of the areas you’d like to advance is your income, one of the best things you can do is to expand the number of people who know, like and trust you. Everyone can do this including the shy and introverted among us. We are discounting our 2CD set Prosperity Power: Connect for Succe$$ this week to jumpstart your actions.

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Up, Down and All Around: A Lesson in Prepositions and Life

It was a brilliant idea. I would introduce prepositional phrases to my children through a visit to the playground. They would have a great time going up the ladder, down the slide, through the tunnel and around the trees. Just about everything they did could be utilized for a fun and memorable grammar lesson.

Or at least, that was the plan. The outing steadily deteriorated via one bee sting, one bleeding knee and multiple squabbles. Another brilliant homeschooling idea hit the dust.

It is ever so much easier to be a wonderful parent before you have children, an inspiring teacher before you have students and an effective politician when you are a candidate, before you have responsibility and authority.

The actuality of dealing with complicated human beings, a complex world and realism rather than idealism is daunting. When Thomas Edison said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, he could have been speaking of child raising as well as inventing.

But at the same time, there were creative ideas I had as a mother that ended up exceeding my expectations and Thomas Edison’s perspiration benefits millions of human beings each day. Not attempting to succeed is the surest recipe for failure, as well as for a boring, monotonous life.

Having children in the first place means signing up for years of hard work with no guaranteed return on the investment. A benevolent God places the desire for children in us, so that despite the uncertainty of the experiment we open ourselves up to this unequalled opportunity for ultimate creativity and achievement.

This past Sunday my husband officiated at a wedding of the daughter of dear friends, who in her own right has a place in our hearts. This brought us back to the synagogue my husband founded with Michael Medved and was a chance to not only rejoice with that particular family, but to see and hear about dozens of young (and somewhat beyond young) adults whose lives we have followed from the time they were born.

Along with the joyous and rewarding times their parents have had, there were also periods, sometimes lengthy ones, of worry and challenge. But increasingly, as the years go by, we see those difficult times as temporary skirmishes in the successful and flourishing enterprise of shaping the world as this wonderful group marches into the future.

Reprinted from June 11, 2009

Don’t Homeschool for the Wrong Reasons

Human beings are complicated. We do things for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes we understand our motivations, other times we are clueless and often we think we understand but are only misleading ourselves.

Starting, or continuing to homeschool is no exception. My own journey began when one of our daughters became increasingly sad and fragile as she moved from kindergarten to first and then to second grade. Her automatic response to anything new became, “I can’t do that.”

At the time, homeschooling was not as well known as it is today. I was familiar with it only from boating magazines which had an annual issue about kids on boats. I knew that if we were circumnavigating the globe I could teach my children, but I had no idea that parents were doing so in the middle of populated areas.

In those pre-computer days, I sat down with a stack of postcards and wrote to the advertisers in those issues of the boating magazines. I went to our main regional library and looked in the card catalog. (I feel like I will soon be telling you how we managed during the Civil War.) There were two books on the topic, both the stories of individual families. While neither book mirrored our life in the slightest, they were inspiring and made me realize that keeping R. home was possible. Since I felt that, at that point, each day of school was a negative, it seemed to be a good idea.

This means that I started homeschooling, like so many people, for a negative reason. A lot of us do. Kids are bullied and bored, there seem to be more tests than teaching, private schools are expensive and a host of other negatives have parents pulling their children from class. Those are very valid reasons to approach homeschooling, but I hope that you, like me, switch very quickly from negative motivation to positive.

After  a while, my husband and I found that we were homeschooling not to avoid a negative but for many positive reasons. That led us to remove our other older children from school and never enroll our younger ones. We found that (most of the time) we loved having extended family time, we loved teaching what mattered to us and integrating learning into our real lives. We were ecstatic about not having to help with homework that made no sense to us, we relished being in control of our time and the list went on and on.

Today, homeschooling is mainstream and a lot of parents opt for it for the many wonderful benefits it brings. If you are one of those parents who never thought about homeschooling until you could no longer ignore a problem, I encourage you to approach it with enthusiasm and joy until you forget, as we did, that this wasn’t how you thought things would be.

P.S. There are hundreds of wonderful books on the market now. I can’t currently find one of the books I found years ago, but the first one was:

Homeschooling for Excellence by David and Micki Colfax

 

THOUGHT TOOLS

  • Get a Whiff of Winning August 21, 2018 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - I really hope that my children think of their childhood with the same sweet nostalgia that I do.  Whenever the Lapin family embarked upon a trip, it was usually with at least fifteen suitcases, all of which needed to be loaded into our van.  Though I could have done it myself quite quickly, we patiently Read More

ASK THE RABBI

  • My father is having an affair! August 21, 2018 by Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin - On a day in March, 2018, I found out that my father was having an affair. The identity of the woman at the time was unknown to myself, although I did suspect it was my aunt. It took me several months of fighting myself on what to do with the information, as I did not Read More

SUSAN’S MUSINGS

  • Comparison Shopping August 16, 2018 by Susan Lapin - This week was very unusual for me. While plenty was happening around the world and across our land, within our family, nothing out of the ordinary happened. No holidays, celebrations or guests; no illness or crises. While time often seemed to drag when I was a child, as an adult the weeks usually speed by Read More

ON OUR MIND

  • In the Wall Street Journal today August 1, 2018 by Susan Lapin - This morning's Wall Street Journal (August 1, 2018) includes a letter from Rabbi Daniel Lapin on behalf of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians. His submission was slightly abridged, but you can read the original letter HERE

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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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