Monthly Archives: March, 2016

I did not grow up poor

March 10th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 2 comments

Have you noticed how fashionable it is among politicians to proclaim the poverty of their childhoods? I was brought up in a two room house on the wrong side of town. I grew up in a one room house outside of town. Well, my family lived in a tiny log cabin near the forest. So what! Me and my brothers and sisters all lived in a tent eating berries we picked in the forest. And so on… If you believe them, you’re more gullible than they are duplicitous.

Well, I enjoyed a more than comfortable middle class childhood, thank you very much. And that was a good thing not only for me as a child, but also for me as an adult. I know how wealth is created by strong marriages and strong values. (more…)

Follow the Trump —Get Divorced?

March 3rd, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 13 comments

Would a Trump nomination lead to a spate of divorces? You might think so after reading Michael M. Phillips’ article last week in the Wall Street Journal, where he interviewed Republican couples with opposing views of the candidate.  Not surprisingly, the featured men support Trump while their wives are horrified by him. 

My own marriage is somewhat represented by the article, though our views don’t come close to the extremes depicted. In a perfect world neither of us would support Donald Trump, but we are in an emergency situation where drastic risks may be necessary to save America.  I am more worried than my husband is about what a President Trump might do and he is more convinced than I am that only Trump can handle Hillary Clinton dirty tricks. Still, for the first time since we married (and our choices have often been unorthodox) if our state was voting right now, my husband and I might vote for different primary candidates. 

Here’s how I assess the three top Republican candidates. Of Trump, Rubio and Cruz, Ted Cruz is the only one I trust. I feel confident that I can anticipate how he will govern and that most of the time it would be in accord with my thoughts. Even if he could somehow survive the Clinton onslaught, I simply do not trust Marco Rubio to stand firm when necessary. I worry that as president he would be too naive to win battles against seasoned Democrats and that he desires to be liked too much to withstand constant attacks by the New York Times and other media. 

As for Donald Trump, I have a strong, visceral negative reaction to vulgarity and crudeness. He revels in both. I have no confidence that his Supreme Court nominations would be principled Constitutionalists or that his governing would advance America internally or on the international scene. However, I know that Hillary Clinton will do neither, so if he is the nominee, at this point, I see voting for him. I would hope that a Republican Congress would be less wimpy with him as President than they have been for the past eight years. I do see Trump as electable—a word that I increasingly detest. Many Democrat leaning voters will support him and unlike Hillary, the more you see and hear of him the more you like him. He can be very charming.

Would I see a Republican Trump nominee as a proud moment for America? No. But I was not proud of a Romney or McCain candidacy either, although for different reasons. There are things about Trump that I greatly appreciate, including some of the things that drive so many Republicans crazy. I actually am glad that he did not grovel about the David Duke endorsement. I don’t think that Trump is racist and I believe that the word, along with words like anti-Semite or homophobe has been rendered meaningless. If Ben Carson was the Republican nominee he would be labeled racist. If Martin Luther King was the Republican nominee he would be labeled racist. It is a tactic of the Democrat Party that has been effective and it’s about time someone refuses to play the “I’m guilty” game. 

Starting a few years ago, I believe that the Republican establishment made a disastrous mistake. Instead of recognizing that Ted Cruz represented hundreds of thousands if not millions of conservative Americans who were feeling ignored or attacked, they chose to shoot the messenger. Even today, they desperately won’t consider him as the best alternative to Trump, ludicrously suggesting instead that he step aside and anoint Rubio. Rather than listening carefully to him and working with him, they helped make him the detested outsider. In my opinion, the result is the Trump bandwagon. 

We are living in scary and interesting times. A strong marriage and family are vitally necessary to survival. For those couples who have agreed on politics until now, I suggest a deep breath and a recognition that your spouse has not morphed into an unrecognizable creature. We are reaping the seeds of over fifty years of cultural decay, albeit interspersed with some bright moments. Maybe we do need to hit bottom before we can work our way up. 

When the debate is over, watch some truly enlightening TV
(last few days of the 3 for the price of 2 sale)

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Should I stop my child playing?

March 3rd, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet


Dear Rabbi Daniel & Susan Lapin,

I am a Christian woman who is enjoying the journey of learning our Jewish roots. I recently ordered your library collection and I am quite enraptured in the wisdom that is shared. You are absolutely right when you say, ‘You need a rabbi!’ 

I have a question regarding children and playing pretend. Growing up I often played pretend, most often pretending to be different people in different careers. Occasionally though, I would pretend to be a cat or dog. I never thought anything of it as I have so often heard and seen children pretend to be animals at some point in time. After listening to your teachings though on how God made us in His image, I question whether pretending to be an animal in playtime would be forbidden in a Jewish home. When we pretend to be a grocer, doctor, mother or superhero, we are serving humanity and setting our mind on things that God would want us to do or character traits God wants us to have; whereas if we pretend to be an animal, we are not preparing ourselves in any way for growth. 

Am I taking this too far? I am not a wife or mother yet but should I ever become one, I hope to raise my children in a way that pleases the Lord.


Fail Your Way to Success

March 2nd, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

The vice chairman of the 150 year-old company, Dun & Bradstreet, wrote a wonderful article for Harvard Business Review. Jeff Stibel’s observation impressed me for three reasons: First, he is not merely a cloistered academic concocting arcane theories for other people to try out. Second, his point applies equally to parents as it does to business professionals. Third, his point is part of ancient Jewish wisdom’s insights into successful living which means it is a timeless truth.

Jeff was determined to create a corporate culture wherein employees could take risks and fail without fear. He rightly realized that people who take no risks seldom enjoy great success. Since it goes without saying that when a parent or business leader tolerates failure people can start lowering their own expectations of themselves, Jeff’s brilliance was helping his people learn from their failures. (more…)

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