TRENDING TODAY

Don’t Say It – Don’t Think It

What three words can undo your child’s fond memories of summer? What eleven words can seriously damage your relationship with your child?

Imagine this scenario: You and your children are at the beach, or the park, or the market. School starts in a few days. A fellow mom says, “Aren’t you counting down the days?” Without thinking and maybe with an exaggerated eye-roll you answer, “I can’t wait.” Or worse, you say, “I’d go crazy if I had them home for another week!”

What message have you just given your children? The message that having them around is a burden. The message that they go to school, not for their own benefit, but for yours.

I was speaking to a long-time pre-school teacher over the weekend and I asked her what she sees as the biggest difference in her students’ parents from twenty years ago to today. One of her answers was that many of today’s parents are at a loss when they have to spend time with their children. Some of them actually seem afraid of that scenario. They are comfortable driving their children from one activity to the next and they can plunk their kids in front of screens to entertain them, but they are unsure of themselves when it comes to simply being together.

How we talk affects how we act. I don’t know one woman who wouldn’t cringe if her husband referred to her as his “ball and chain.” Yet, that language was actually once pretty widely used in banter.  It didn’t serve to make men adore and admire their wives or make wives feel appreciated. It is good that it is no longer socially acceptable to speak like that. Let’s make an effort to hear how we talk about our children and insure that they—and we—know that if we send them to school it is for their benefit and that we sacrifice our time with them for that reason alone.

Come Out Fighting

A funny thing happened on the way to last week’s Musing. Actually, it wasn’t funny and neither is it rare. My thoughts, the ones that seemed so organized in my head, did not translate well onto paper. What was unusual was that the deadline for publishing the Musing loomed so close last week that I had to abandon my efforts.  Instead, I took one part of what I wanted to say and built the Musing around that, specifically my conviction that any gun control legislation must be linked to legislation that attacks a sacred cow of Democrat politicians. Otherwise, any changes will be a disaster for both the country and the Republican Party.

I’m going to try again to expand my ideas. Some of you were appalled that I might even consider red-flag legislation. I am aware of the potential abuse of those laws and how dangerous they could be. However, I do believe that refusing to discuss those laws or other gun-control measures puts conservatives in a losing situation. Those concepts sound so eminently reasonable to any voter for whom 2nd Amendment rights are not a priority. Faced with a picture of mourning families and media that only presents the side of the story that fits its agenda, many citizens cannot even imagine what there  is to discuss. 

It is almost impossible to underestimate the ignorance of the American populace. I don’t even mean this as a slur. Personally, I am juggling a marriage, a family, friends, a profession, a ministry and a slew of other responsibilities. There are tons of important issues of which I am relatively ignorant. It is almost impossible to keep up with everything that affects my world. The lack of honesty and professionalism among the current crop of reporters and information gate-keepers makes understanding complex issues even more difficult. We have to actively search out opposing viewpoints rather than assuming that they will be given fair treatment. Second Amendment rights are not most American’s priority.

For years, Republican candidates and politicians resembled Charlie Brown when Lucy yanked the football away from him at the last minute—over and over again. They would submit to interviews and then be shocked when the reporter blindsided them with an accusation, often on an unrelated topic. They naively thought their views were being sought, when in actuality the goal of the interview was to destroy their credibility. One of the key factors in President Trump’s successful campaign was his refusal to be put on the defensive. Instead, to the cheers of millions, he played offense. He set the agenda. 

Here is what I wish Republican politicians would do. Instead of going on the defense when told, for example, that 97% of Americans favor some change in gun registration, they should counter by saying, “You know, 97% of Americans reject the dismemberment of perfectly viable babies in utero, let only leaving a baby born as a result of a botched abortion to die, also known as infanticide. Both violent crime and these abortions show a disrespect for the life of ‘the other.’ Let’s make a joint statement that we need to move back to a time when Americans valued life. Let’s link a revision of any gun laws to a revision of abortion laws. No good person wants someone to mow down a room of people and no good person wants a baby killed. Let’s have a conversation about these things.”

Incredible as it may sound, i believe that, due to the extreme Left’s infatuation with abortion, Democrat politicians will run from this issue as if they were vampires being pursued by large heads of garlic. If by some miracle, enough politicians were open to linking these two issues, we would actually open the door to a valuable discussion of the spiritual ills this country is facing. Either way, every Republican and conservative politician would never respond to a question that includes the name of the NRA without introducing the name of Planned Parenthood. Rather than being painted into a corner, they would come out fighting. 

That is part of what I wanted to say last week although I didn’t manage to do so. I believe that it is illogical and historically inaccurate to think that acts of violence targeting large groups of innocent people will end because of the  implementation of stronger gun control measures. We need to create the opportunity to explain why that is. If the media has its way, only those who already agree with me will ever hear the reasoning behind that thought process. You don’t get that opportunity by allowing guns to be isolated as an issue as if they are the sole factor in the sad story of violence. 

P.S. I did hear back from Senator Lindsay Graham’s office saying that he only has time to read messages from citizens of S. Carolina. That is perfectly reasonable  (except that he keeps asking me to contribute to his campaign). Any of you from his state are free to share my words with him.

P.P.S. I apologize. I was unfair to Sen. Graham. Here are the exact words from his office: “Due to the large volume of mail I receive, I regret that I am only able to respond personally to inquiries from South Carolinians.”

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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.

If you enjoy going behind the scenes and having access to ancient Jewish wisdom such as this teaching, be sure to pick up a Thought Tools Set while it is on sale. Get three years worth of inspiring messages to spur your own growth and to share with family and friends.

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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 Rabbi Daniel and 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

  • Come Out Fighting August 22, 2019 by Susan Lapin - A funny thing happened on the way to last week’s Musing. Actually, it wasn’t funny and neither is it rare. My thoughts, the ones that seemed so organized in my head, did not translate well onto paper. What was unusual was that the deadline for publishing the Musing loomed so close last week that I… 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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