TRENDING TODAY

Immigration and the Protesting Rabbis

On Monday, February 6, some 200 rabbis and rabbinical students protested outside Trump International Hotel in Manhattan.   19 of them blocked traffic and were arrested for disorderly conduct.  The group was protesting President Trump’s executive order placing a 90-day hold on immigration from seven countries which lack adequate security programs to vet the peaceful nature of visa holders: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of Teru’ah, the left-wing rabbinical group that organized the protest, said it was meant to show that many Jews oppose the ban.

“We remember our history, and we remember that the border of this country closed to us in 1924, with very catastrophic consequences during the Holocaust.  We know that some of the language that’s being used now to stop the Muslims from coming is the same language that was used to stop Jewish refugees from coming“, she said. 

As the great-grandson of a rabbi who immigrated to the United States in 1924 because of religious persecution, these words caught my attention.

My Zaida, Rabbi Jacob A. Dubrow, was a rabbi in the Vinnitsa region of Ukraine.  During the Russian Civil War, he was marked for death by Ukrainian Whites.  Fleeing to a large city he survived the threat, but was at risk for deportation to Siberia when the Reds were victorious.  He escaped Ukraine and acquired a hard-to-get visa to the United States.  His wife and daughters followed and arrived in New York in 1926.

I wonder what Zaida would have said about the travel ban.

Zaida was a Lubavitcher chasid, an Orthodox Jew.  He passed away decades before I was born; even my father knew him only as a child.  Nonetheless, having followed in his path as an Orthodox rabbi, and having close friends within the Lubavitch movement, I am confident I know what he would have said.

Zaida was a quiet man, a scholar.  He was thoughtful, benevolent, but firm.

Undoubtedly, he would have been against a blanket ban on immigration from war torn countries. He would have advocated that America accept peaceful refugees of war seeking a better life for their families.  He would have supported families being allowed to reunite; without that, my grandmother and her sisters would have never been allowed to join him in the United States.

Yet, he was a wise man.  He would not have supported, for example, the immigration of the Ukrainian Cossacks who tried to kill him.  His passion for justice would have led him to do all he could to stop barbarous murderers from entering this country.  Being benevolent does not mean being a fool.

Zaida would not have relied on a letter from Cossack leader Admiral Alexander Kolchak, certifying that a potential immigrant was upstanding.  He would have advocated a vetting system to make sure people from cultures that embrace murder and mayhem, were indeed peaceful and of law abiding.

A rabbi who escaped death by telling his neighbors he was traveling north and instead travelled south, would have never accepted the liberal concept that all people are inherently good, that all humanity would be sweet as apple pie if only we welcome them into our homes.  Zaida saw human beings at their worst, and he would have passionately advocated keeping those who embraced evil away from these hallowed shores.

The very notion that the United States should rely on Iran – a country that threatens to destroy Israel and America – to vet visa holders to make sure they don’t want to destroy America, is madness.  The idea that Syria, Sudan and Somalia have the will and ability to separate 100 Muhammad Attas from 1000 of his peaceful coreligionists is absurd.

Ignoring evil is not a Jewish concept.  It is a liberal concept.  Liberal rabbis protesting in support of unchecked immigration from countries where large swaths of the population seek to destroy the West are sorely misguided. To be Jewish is to be benevolent.  But to be Jewish is to recognize the reality of good and evil.  Judaism values doing good, selfless and endless good – within the context of supporting good and destroying evil.  Sadly, those who don’t recognize the reality of evil are least prepared to stand against it.

I pray that God give President Trump the strength and fortitude to protect the citizens of this great country, and that America continues, for centuries to come, to accept millions of peaceful immigrants, whatever their religion or lack thereof, who embrace the Judeo-Christian values that have made this country great.

This article appeared first in The Jewish Press.

Sadly Saying Goodbye to My Friend, the Late Great Michael Novak

Michael Novak has gone home to our Father in Heaven. He was a good friend, mentor. I always felt privileged to stand stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him whenever we shared a platform defending God’s plan for human economic interaction. About ten years ago he showed me a book he was working on with his daughter Janna and soon thereafter that wonderfully moving book was finished and published. In the 90s Michael encouraged me to write a regular column for his newly founded magazine Crisis which I did.
http://www.crisismagazine.com/search-results?cref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.crisismagazine.com&ie=utf-8&hl=&q=Lapin&sa=Search The process taught me more than my columns taught my readers I am sure.

Raised as a Roman Catholic, Novak believed as a young man that socialism was the ideal economic arrangement. But he began to notice a flaw: While socialism sounded good in theory, in practice it didn’t work—and non-elites fared the worst.
Capitalism had little high-minded theory, but in practice it literally provided the goods. If ordinary folks did so much better under capitalism, maybe the caricatures—e.g., that it is all based on greed—were wrong. Maybe free markets had their own virtues and were defensible, and even superior to other economic systems on moral grounds.
From this recognition sprang his most important work, “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism,” which changed America’s public debate when it was published in 1982. “Democratic capitalism,” he wrote, is “neither the Kingdom of God nor without sin. Yet all other known systems of political economy are worse…….

https://www.wsj.com/articles/michael-novak-crafted-a-moral-defense-of-democratic-capitalism-1487948401

Three Cheers for Generation Z

Can a video make you want to cry and cheer at the same time? Well, that was my reaction to this amazing video created by sixteen-year-old Autumn in reaction to a foolish and, dare I say, downright evil, article that ran in Teen Vogue magazine trivializing abortion. 

In her video, Autumn discusses the idea of female empowerment, dismissing the claim that ridding yourself of the bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh is empowering. Even if, to some degree or other, you accept abortion, each one is a tragedy not a triumph.

You won’t be shocked to hear that I do not read Teen Vogue. Nevertheless, Autumn’s video led me to take a look at its webpage. Here is their tag line: “The rebellious, outspoken, empowering magazine that you need right now.” A quick look at the titles suggested that their definition of rebellious is  walking in lock-step with academia, entertainment and most of the media. Outspoken, I grant them. Nevertheless, my biggest question had to do with the word empowering. 

What I saw on their website was a fair dose of social and political indoctrination. I saw articles that will sow confusion in teen lives that have enough inherent confusion due to hormonal and psychological changes. I saw the expected amount of consumerism. I looked for empowerment and realized that I have no idea what that word means.

Is empowerment perhaps a substitute for self-esteem? The self-esteem movement has withered. Studies showed that criminals ranked higher in self-esteem than law-abiding citizens. So did American schoolchildren, who thought of themselves as proficient in math and English despite doing less well on tests in those subjects than schoolchildren from other countries.  Those foreign students who did not consider themselves outstanding easily outscored the Americans. Self-esteem produced a cadre of people who spoke well of themselves rather than behaving in ways that would produce self-respect as well as generate respect from others. 

Has the self-esteem movement morphed into the empowerment movement?  Does empowerment mean being the best you can be or making sure that others cannot succeed? Is it defined as being able to do whatever you want no matter the cost to anyone else? Does it mean a hundred different things to a hundred different people or something completely different at a hundred different times? 

Looking at Teen Vogue, like looking at so many other parts of our culture, can be depressing. Listening to voices like Autumn reminds me that there are many teens and young adults who are rebelling far more than a left-leaning, jump onto the latest bandwagon magazine is. They are actually willing to stand against the tide to fight the hedonistic, secular culture. They  are articulate and outspoken messengers for empowerment in the best sense of the word.

If you know a teen whose life perspective comes from magazines like Teen Vogue, comedy apps and left-leaning teachers, make sure you provide a counterpart. Here’s one suggestion that will spark non-conformist thinking as well as opening up a valuable conversation.

Order by Mail

 

Gender and Geography

As a child growing up in South Africa, National Geographic magazine was not just something to pick up idly in the dentist’s waiting room.  It was a monthly magic carpet ride that enchanted me so much that a subscription bringing that familiar yellow cover to our mailbox each month was one of my favorite birthday presents.

It wasn’t only the spectacular photography of faraway places, it was also the advertisements.  In my mind’s eye, I still clearly see that rapturous red 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air.  There were intoxicating ads for cameras carrying names like Leica and Haselblad that I could but dream about.  There were pictures of housewives in American kitchens that I gazed at in wonder.

Mostly, however, the magazine sparked my life-long love for travel and appreciation of scientific exploration.  It taught me that wherever in this big, colorful world they were, humans want pretty much the same things.  From icy landscapes to the Sahara Desert, from mountain top communities to valley villages, people try to build families and make it possible for their families to thrive.

I haven’t looked at the magazine for years now, so I was quite shocked by a recent issue of National Geographic.  Its cover carried a picture of a boy dressed to look like a girl and bellowed out GENDER REVOLUTION.  Huh? In National Geographic? Really?

I know of course that, prodded by secular fundamentalists in academia, politics and entertainment, American culture is trying to indoctrinate us into accepting that gender is of no significance.  But why is joining this nonsensical crusade important enough for NatGeo to risk destroying a 125 year legacy?

The colossal cultural canyon cutting across this country divides those who believe the Bible is God’s Message to mankind from those who believe it to be no more than a repressive anachronism.  Those who soothingly concede it to be a ‘literary masterpiece’ are actually on the latter side of the debate.  Since the Bible is best defined as God’s depiction of how the world REALLY works, the debate underpinning nearly all political and cultural arguments can be defined this way.  One side believes that there is a reality that includes many unchangeables, immutably implanted in human nature, while the other side insists that all can be changed.

Naturally, for the secular fundamentalist, if God is not the Ultimate Power, then human beings must be.  Furthermore, anything the Bible decrees, is by definition wrong if not actually evil.  This helps explain seeming paradoxes such as that most people who oppose the death penalty also support abortion.  The explanation is simple; the Bible supports capital punishment and opposes abortion.

The irrational cultural fury against smoking is explained by the desire to demonstrate moral virtue by discovering a secular sin.  The Bible prohibits suicide and discourages all activities that damage the body though it does not explicitly prohibit smoking.  Not surprisingly, a secular fundamentalist culture encourages euthanasia (or assisted suicide), but fiercely fights tobacco.

Rejection of reality is a paramount characteristic of the belief system that I call secular fundamentalism.  Anyone with eyes in their head (and without an advanced degree) knows that the nuclear family unit works best.  Not only does it produce the best children and future citizens but it promotes societal stability and prosperity.  But the Bible advocates for the basic unit of society to be a man and woman united in monogamous marriage along with the children they raise.  Therefore, the obvious position for secular fundamentalism to adopt is implacable hostility toward the traditional family.

Again, most people whose souls haven’t been scarred by six or seven years in a university know that all of history but particularly the recent 20th century proves that large government running a centrally controlled economy doesn’t work.  But secular fundamentalism routinely rejects reality.  What is more, the Bible teaches a system of religious morality informing a free market system of what I call ethical capitalism.  Thus it is inescapable that a secular fundamentalist culture must promote a progressive agenda tending to socialism.

Finally, and most importantly, the Bible entirely ignores skin color as a distinction between humans but no more than only three hundred words into its total of nearly half a million words, it unequivocally establishes male and female genders as the fundamental difference in humans.  Male and female He created them.  Naturally, secular fundamentalism has to take the opposite position.  Defiantly screaming “Gender Revolution” is secular fundamentalism’s response to the Biblical, “Whoever is for the Lord, come with me” (Exodus 32:26)

Thank you National Geographic.  You always teach me something.  While you were still faithful to your original stated mission, “to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” you taught me about world geography.  Now that you have abandoned that mission in the hope of being admired by the world of secular fundamentalism, your recent issue helps me understand that almost all of so-called modern culture is based on rejection of the Bible and its values.

This means that much of modern culture is based on rejection of reality.  Succumbing to this culture of secular fundamentalism that permeates almost every corner of our environment can disconnect us from our instinctive tie to reality. This will almost certainly inflict real damage upon our relationships and upon our finances.  Meanwhile, a reliable anchor to reality remains the Bible.  The more of it we absorb and the more clearly we grasp its inner meaning, the more firmly will be our link to reality and the more reliable and effective will be our actions and pronouncements.

Societies do fail. History is full of examples and Genesis lays out the steps that led to the first such failure at the time of the Flood. Much is obscured by an English reading.   I recommend that you avail yourself of the benefits from the insights of ancient Jewish wisdom. You will be better prepared to confront the realities of today’s challenges if you learn this section thoroughly. You can do so with The Gathering Storm: Decoding the Secrets of Noah, a 2 audio CD set. Both the download and physical versions are on sale this week making it an appropriate time to begin your study.

The Gathering Storm

THOUGHT TOOLS

  • Gender and Geography February 22, 2017 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - As a child growing up in South Africa, National Geographic magazine was not just something to pick up idly in the dentist’s waiting room.  It was a monthly magic carpet ride that enchanted me so much that a subscription bringing that familiar yellow cover to our mailbox each month was one of my favorite birthday Read More

ASK THE RABBI

  • I can’t afford your books. February 22, 2017 by Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin - Question: your books are very expensive for me to buy as i am currently unemployed is there no other way that i can get hold of your books Desmond Answer:  Dear Desmond, We appreciate that you recognize that our books have the potential to help you advance in your financial life.  We think there may Read More

SUSAN’S MUSINGS

  • Three Cheers for Generation Z February 23, 2017 by Susan Lapin - Can a video make you want to cry and cheer at the same time? Well, that was my reaction to this amazing video created by sixteen-year-old Autumn in reaction to a foolish and, dare I say, downright evil, article that ran in Teen Vogue magazine trivializing abortion.  In her video, Autumn discusses the idea of Read More

ON OUR MIND

  • Sadly Saying Goodbye to My Friend, the Late Great Michael Novak February 27, 2017 by Rabbi Daniel Lapin - Michael Novak has gone home to our Father in Heaven. He was a good friend, mentor. I always felt privileged to stand stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him whenever we shared a platform defending God's plan for human economic interaction. About ten years ago he showed me a book he was working on with his daughter Janna 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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