Monthly Archives: February, 2016

Choose Laughter

February 25th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 10 comments

“Sickle Your Funny Bone,” was the title of a joke book that circulated among downtrodden Jews in the now-defunct Soviet Union. When times are tough laughter beats bitterness, anger, sullenness or depression as a response that leaves you ready to rejoin life when circumstances improve. 

Since our matriarch, Sarah, laughed upon hearing the news that she would have a child and subsequently named her son Isaac (Hebrew for ‘he will laugh’) her descendants have always favored laughter as the best response to wildly irrational experiences. (Sadly, over the years, persecution has often been the illogical occurrence.)

I thought of this when I read a news story of adult Afghan asylum seekers claiming to be children in order to be admitted to England. Are you shocked to hear that after some of these “youth” are arrested for assault and murder, dental exams reveal them to be in their twenties? Rather than crying at Western countries’ deliberate blindness as they acquiesce in their own demise, I couldn’t help but laugh. I remembered the book, Her Father’s Daughter written by Gene Stratton Porter (1863-1924). Many fans of her more famous books, Girl of the Limberlost and Freckles are troubled by the anti-Japanese racism that pervades Her Father’s Daughter, published in 1921. The book features a “teenage” Japanese exchange student who turns out to be an adult spy sent to infiltrate himself into America. 

Is it possible to see the internment of Japanese-Americans, strongly abetted by liberal icon Earl Warren,  as a poorly executed and tragic policy, while recognizing that Japan was a serious enemy whose hostility was underestimated at great cost? Can we see England’s internment of Jewish-German refugees at places like Isle of Man as a poorly executed and tragic policy while recognizing that without England’s staunch and heroic stand against the Nazis, few of those interned would have survived the 1940’s? Has the “juvenile-zation” of our society been so complete that we think that real life mimics fairy tales? Cinderella =good; stepsisters = bad. Hansel and Gretel = good; witch = bad. 

Ancient Jewish wisdom tells a story of four rabbis walking near the ruins of Solomon’s Temple, after its destruction. Three of the rabbis cry and mourn, while Rabbi Akiba laughs. Taken aback, the other rabbis question his reaction. He replies that seeing a fox wandering where the priests used to work confirms prophecies (Lamentations 5:18) that foretold such punishment for abandoning God, but at the same time allows us to believe prophecies promising renewal and rebuilding when returning to Him. 

The insanities of our day, whether related to asylum seekers, to the idea that gender is assigned rather than inborn, the self-pitying infantilization of privileged college students or dozens of other examples are neither rational nor logical. The candidacies of Hillary, Bernie and Donald are mind-boggling, each for its own reason. We are reaping what we sowed by moving away from God’s directives over the past few decades. We can be moved to tears watching a great nation crumble or we can laugh, recognizing the ludicrousness in thinking that we could abandon His blueprint and thrive. 

We’re extending the sale on our Ancient Jewish Wisdom TV set.
After you’ve watched them, let us know your favorite show.

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What’s up with gender?

February 25th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet


I’ve noticed a change in your writings. Why do you now use the word gender instead of sex?

∼ Kristal M.


Dear Kristal,

What an astute observation. We’re a bit humbled that you are paying such close attention to our words. The answer to your question is simple, but the implications are not.



Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

February 23rd, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Bernie Sanders (with whom I’d much rather spend an evening with than Hillary Clinton) is almost comical in his sputtering fury against “Wall Street.”  When he panders to students, it’s “Wall Street” that imposes draconian interest rates upon their loans.  When he panders to groups based on skin color, it’s again “Wall Street” that causes their troubles.  No doubt it’s again “Wall Street” that is responsible for this winter’s poor snowfall in Vermont.

It goes without saying that one could easily find human beings who have worked in companies located in buildings on Wall Street that have behaved reprehensibly.  In just the same way, there are more than 700 teachers still employed by New York public schools accused of offenses ranging from violence against students to sexual misconduct who are being paid their full salaries to sit around in what are called ‘rubber rooms’. That fact doesn’t discredit the idea of education any more than miscreants in finance discredit the free market. (more…)


A Few Pictures

February 18th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 5 comments

Thank you for your prayers, blessings and good wishes. I am remembering what nighttime feedings are like, but more importantly, I’m remembering newborn deliciousness. I hope to be back writing Musings next week. In the meantime, here are a few pictures of our latest blessing.

Also, please enjoy a special price on our Ancient Jewish Wisdom TV Show set. If I can’t ‘visit’ by writing, we can still spend some time together.

Judah E85d37e72944b31b5e3b9ec30e831e18 IMG_0429

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Why are you hiding your marriage?

February 18th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet


I think I have heard that Daniel and Susan are married. She wears at least an engagement ring but Daniel has no ring nor a mark of wearing a ring. What is the story behind this?

∼ Steph B.


Dear Steph,



Republicans-0; Democrats-0; Baby Declared Winner

February 10th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 15 comments

Like all of us, I juggle many hats. On rare occasions, bright lights on one hat start flashing so that it is the only one visible. That happened to me last week when my husband and I were woken up at 5:30 a.m. by a hospital nurse telling us that they were wheeling our daughter into emergency surgery. By God’s grace, the best possible doctors were on hand and a short time later she was stable after an emergency cesarian section. Her premature newborn son was sent to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit). 

Both mother and baby, thank God, did well and they are now recuperating and growing at home with the new father and myself providing full-time support. We are assisted by tremendous help from one of my other daughters and a group of friends who keep dropping off meals and even picking up and delivering laundry. Amazon’s shipping of necessities the new parents didn’t think they would need for a while deserves a mention as well. 

This should explain why our ministry had a virtual blackout last week: no Thought Tool, Ask the Rabbi or Musing. Truthfully, I’m not sure when I will be back at my desk full time. Right now, I am remembering what new motherhood is like. Little sleep, lots of diaper changes and overflowing prayers of gratitude. 

Thanks for your patience and support while my mother and grandmother hat rules.

Judah Judah2


Why should I work when the world is crumbling?

February 10th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet


Listening to you is one of the best things I did last year. You have introduced me to the issues of physical life along with spiritual life and how they go hand in hand. I battle with discouragement due to the bleak future of the economy and nation.

Can you offer some encouragement?  I want to set new goals and pursue them but I can’t help but think what’s the point.

∼ Eduardo


Dear Eduardo,

A tale is told of a prisoner who is forced each day to transport painfully heavy rocks. He consoles himself by imagining the great building he is helping to build.  One day, a guard tells him that each night, his back-breaking work is undone as another prisoner has the job of moving the rocks back. Every day he merely undoes the back-breaking work of another prisoner. There is no purpose to the labor other than punishing and exhausting the two prisoners.



Tis the Season for Much Folly

February 8th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet


Months and months of political advertising still ahead.

It’s bad enough that the fate of a once-great nation should be determined by how much money politicians spend on television advertising. It’s even worse when one torments oneself masochistically by actually watching some of the ads.  How sad to suspect that some of our fellow citizens are swayed by sanctimonious sycophants spouting such self-serving drivel. (more…)

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