Monthly Archives: May, 2017

Do I Believe Or Do I Know?

May 30th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 19 comments

The Beverly Hills tycoon was dismayed by his son’s decision to study in a yeshiva instead of joining the family business.  After several years the son returned home to his father’s sardonic question:  So what have you got to show for your years of study?  “I know that there is a God,” replied the young man.  Angrily the father leapt to his feet and pointed out the window at the gardener patiently mowing the vast lawns.  “He also knows there is a God,” shouted the older man.  “No father,” the boy quietly responded.  “He believes there is a God; I know.”

The challenge to the person of faith is to acquire so clear an understanding of how the world really works, that God’s role becomes obvious.  It’s not a matter of fervent proclamations of faith or moments of spiritual epiphany.  Instead, it takes disciplined devotion.  It’s not easy, but neither is body building.  In both cases, devotees consider the effort worthwhile; what is more, both provide highs along the way.

The path to knowing God, for me, is the Torah which I find to be a comprehensive blueprint of all reality.  I do not mean the book of stories that many view as nothing but mythology for children or, at best, for adults with childlike minds.  No, I mean the majestic and mysterious data stream of 304,805 Hebrew letters making up a Torah scroll and the ancient Jewish wisdom that accompanies them.

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Memorial Day

May 29th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

Wishing all Americans a Memorial Day where we prove ourselves worthy of the sacrifices made so that we can live in freedom.

Stay Awake!

May 25th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 49 comments

In July of 2013, I wrote a Musing where I referenced a book by authors Timothy Daughtry and Gary R. Casselman, called Waking the Sleeping Giant.  Less than a year into a second Obama term, I was disheartened and angry. My anger wasn’t directed at President Obama, Speaker Pelosi or those who voted for them. It was at the Keystone Kops who were running the Republican Party. The book expressed so many of my feelings.

Unfortunately, the Republican leadership didn’t relate to the book’s message, which many others articulated as well. This most recent election revealed a natural consequence of their indifference.  Millions of Americans rejected the party apparatus.  In my mind, President Trump’s election along with that of a Republican Congress was a heaven-sent opportunity—and one that is in danger of being squandered because conservatives and  Republicans are reverting to an old, losing style of behavior.

Shortly after reading Mr. Daughtry’s book, my husband and I met him and we have stayed in touch over the years. He is graciously allowing me to share a recent column he wrote. I think that its message is well worth contemplating.

Trump is not the Real Target; You Are by Timothy Daughtry

As we watch the daily barrage of accusations and innuendo directed against President Trump by the far left, the liberal media, and even some in his own party, those of us who voted to put him in the Oval Office need to remember one crucial point: President Trump is not the real target.  You are.

Even considering his outsized persona and the stunning phenomenon of an outsider who has never held political office winning the presidency against one of the most powerful political machines in American history, the new movement that elected Donald Trump has never been about Trump. In the 2016 election, the “forgotten men and women of America” were hell-bent to send a message to the powerful elites of both parties.

The message was that the Washington elites are serving themselves and their own agenda and ignoring the rest of the nation.  The message was that Washington has become a swamp of corruption and self-serving collusion among powerful interests and that Main Street America is ready to see that swamp drained.

Donald Trump was our messenger.

Because his candidacy was not about Trump the man but Trump the messenger, he was able to withstand the smears and assaults of the Clinton Machine that would have sunk any other candidate.  They siphoned all the way to the bottom of their slime barrel, and still the message prevailed.

That message was simple and grounded in common sense.  No country can survive unless it has control over its borders.  People coming into American should be vetted to make sure that they pose no danger to us.  After eight years of stifling taxes and regulations, we should once again make America a healthy place in which to do business, make products, and create jobs.  Political correctness may seem silly and laughable, but in reality it poses a serious threat to free expression and open exchange of ideas. If it’s terrorism, call it that.  Say what is obvious to our common sense even if it offends the delicate sensibilities of the elite.

Now the denizens of the Washington swamp are sending a message back to the forgotten men and women who voted for Trump and his reforms: “Forget you.”

The leftists who worked to radically transform the nation under Barack Obama are telling us that they hold the reins of power and that we the people don’t run anything.  They are telling us that their agenda will prevail regardless of how we vote or what we want.  They are telling us that they can subvert, attack, and destroy any messenger that we send into their territory.  And feckless leaders in the GOP seem, at best, more afraid of displeasing the Democrats than betraying their own voters, and, at worst, in cozy collusion with the opposition.

What is at stake in the barrage of innuendo, twisted news, and “investigations” is not just the future of the Trump presidency, but the future of the very idea that governmental power rests ultimately on the consent of the governed.

Of course there is much at stake in the actual policy questions facing the country.  But underneath the debates about border security, court appointees, tax and regulatory policy, and so on lies a deeper question that is at the very heart of our system of government: Can the American people still change the direction of the country if we believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction?  Or will the powerful and self-serving elites impose their agenda even when we don’t consent to it?

When the voters put leftists in power, as they did with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, the country moves left.  But when voters try to change course, as we did in the elections of 2010 and 2014, the country still careened towards open borders, government control of healthcare, rule by rogue judges, and lawless license for those in the power elite.

And so we went outside the traditional path and elected Donald Trump in 2016.  The liberal news anchors had barely dried their tears after Election Day when the left began to cloud the real meaning of Trump’s election by pushing the bizarre claim that the Russians had somehow hacked the election.

In their gaslighting version of reality, you didn’t really vote to drain the swamp.  You didn’t really vote to secure our borders.  You didn’t vote to repeal and replace Obamacare and put doctors and patients back in charge instead of Washington bureaucrats.  You didn’t vote to restore rule of law and common sense to Washington.  The Russians somehow threw the election to Trump.  You can go back home now and let the experts run things.

It’s swamp gas.  Don’t breathe it.

There is plenty in Washington that merits investigation, from foreign influence through the Clinton Foundation to Obama’s use of intelligence data for political purposes.  Congress has the power to do just that, but we need to give them the will.

Let’s remind our representatives that they might forget us, but we won’t forget them.

Tim Daughtry is a conservative speaker and co-author of Waking the Sleeping Giant: How Mainstream Americans Can Beat Liberals at Their Own Game.  Follow him on Twitter @TCDwriter.

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There will be no Musing next week as we honor and celebrate
the feast days of Shavuot (Pentecost). Our office and store will close from sunset Tuesday night and reopen Thursday night.

For greater insight into what message God gave on Mt. Sinai 3,329 years ago next week, take a look at The Ten Commandments: How Two Tablets Can Transform Your Life

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What’s the point of a blessing before eating?

May 23rd, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 13 comments

Would you or Susan write about the appropriate way to pray before meals? I’ve heard two different views. One view indicates that we shouldn’t “ask” for our food to be blessed, as God already said, as His people, He will bless our bread and water. Instead, we should simply bless & thank Him, as our provider, etc. The other view indicates we should, indeed, ask His blessing on the food, prior to partaking of same.

Please advise…

Thanks 🙂

Christine B.

Answer: 

Dear Christine,

Although this isn’t your question, we (at Ask the Rabbi you get both of us!) would like to explain one of the major misconceptions about kosher food. Many people think that kosher food is food that is blessed. When a company has kosher certification, as thousands of large and small brands do, rabbis visit the company’s manufacturing facilities. However, they are not coming to bless the food but to supervise the production. Depending on the food, a rabbi might stay on the premises full time or alternatively drop in for sporadic visits. Every ingredient and its source, the methods of cooking and even the delivery containers are scrutinized.

Back to your question, Christine.  We would come down on the side of thanking God.  After all,  whatever food the earth brings forth is already blessed.  Consequently, we recommend thanking God for providing us with food and blessings us with such tasty sustenance   We ourselves,  say a blessing both before and after eating. The short blessing before eating is a formal acknowledgement (and it is important that our own ears hear our own mouth utter those words) that God supplies our food.  This blessing changes slightly according to the type of food. For example, before eating an apple we say, “Blessed are You, King of the world, who created the fruit of the tree.”

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Moslem Murder In Manchester

May 23rd, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 2 comments

Manchester is home to the second-biggest Jewish community in the United Kingdom. While a student in England, I regularly spent Jewish festivals with my cousins in Manchester. Needless to say, back then, even as a visibly identifiable Jew, one could safely walk almost anywhere in Manchester. For many years now, that has not been true. Starting in the 80s Muslim men attacked Jews walking home from synagogue with increasing frequency. Walking home from school became a terrifying ordeal for Jewish youngsters. Vandal attacks on Jewish property became endemic, yet the authorities did nothing. Why not? Because western leadership has become cowardly. Moslems often react violently to criticism while Jews do not so ignoring Jewish victims carried little cost. As the years went by, Moslem assailants became less fastidious when choosing their victims and the mayhem began to spread. By then cowardice was the default reaction from political leadership. Placating the Moslem population was seen as the avenue to peace. Last night the harvest was reaped. It goes without saying that not every Moslem is violent neither does every Moslem endorse violence. (Though the Palestinian Authority lends respectability to endorsing violence by compensating families of murderous terrorists.) Thought Experiment: If all the perpetrators of the last fifty savage attacks against innocent civilians happened to all be ballet dancers, how long before every ballet group in the world issued strong and definitive denunciations of terror? When a Jewish man killed 29 Muslim in Hebron about twenty-three years ago, Jews denounced him so widely you’d have thought nobody had ever done anything like this in all of human history. The government of Israel, every Jewish organization around the world and every rabbi condemned the murder. I’m just saying…
Meanwhile, Jews continue to serve the role of canary in the coal mine. I am nostalgic for the Manchester I used to know. These days large numbers of English-speaking people I meet in Israel are former residents of Manchester. Like France, Manchester is swopping its Jews for a considerably less peaceful population. Let’s hear how that’s all working out.

Vital Values

May 23rd, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 4 comments

On July 4, 1826, exactly fifty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, two of the men most instrumental in its drafting died. Former presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died within a few hours of each other.

To me, it was God linking these two statesmen for all time.  I can just see them approaching the Throne of Glory, arms around one another’s shoulders in eternal bonds of brotherhood.

On May 24, 1844, Samuel Morse transmitted the words, “What hath God wrought,” (Numbers 23:23) from Washington to Baltimore using electrical pulses and his Morse Code.  That year, May 24 fell on the Bible holyday of Shavuot/Pentecost, which this year begins after sunset a week from tonight, on May 30th.

Serendipitously, Shavuot, the anniversary of the day upon which God gave His message to mankind through Moses on Mt Sinai, was the first time in the history of humanity that people thousands of miles apart could communicate almost instantaneously.  Of course, for those of us who believe that serendipity or coincidence are simply words that people use to mask God’s involvement in the world, the date of the telegraph’s launch is striking.

What lesson did the Lord intend when He guided Morse to give the world electronic communication precisely on the Festival commemorating His bestowing upon us the Ten Commandments?

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Adams, Revere and…Trump?

May 18th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 21 comments

One of my lovely daughters just treated me to three glorious days in Boston. Tamara and I immersed ourselves in 18th and 19th century history, wending our way along Boston’s Freedom Trail. I left my computer at home, didn’t access email, and our eyes and ears were tuned to the past rather than the present.

We respectfully stood at the graves of Sam Adams, Paul Revere and Increase Mather. We visualized life aboard the USS Constitution, the battleship nicknamed Old Ironsides, as it faced the British Navy in the War of 1812 and we saw too many names on too many memorials for boys who died fighting America’s wars.

We peered up at murals in the Boston Public Library by artist John Singer Sargent and at the same location smiled at Robert McCloskey’s sketches for his charming book, Make Way for Ducklings.

As we stood at the site of the Boston Massacre and at the location where thousands gathered before the Boston Tea Party, we discussed whether we would have sided with the Loyalists and King George or the rebellious Patriots had we been alive in those tumultuous times. We never came to a conclusion. Would we have wanted to be associated with aristocratic snobs who looked down at us or conversely with those who looted and tarred and feathered their adversaries?

Waiting for my flight home, after three days immersed in the noble, and sometimes ignoble, founding of our country, it was initially somewhat jarring to be surrounded by hysterical and shrill voices projecting from the airport TV screen. Although I wasn’t looking at the monitor, for the hour I sat there waiting for my delayed flight I couldn’t avoid hearing the President’s name repeatedly linked to the words impeachment and obstruction. Partisan people with predetermined conclusions were passionately pontificating about uncertain events.

Generations after a Boston silversmith named Paul Revere copied a propaganda drawing misrepresenting the shooting of colonists at the hands of British soldiers, personalities continue to inflame emotion and incite fervor by bending the truth. Generations after average citizens rose up in anger at an elitist, taxing, ruling class, their descendants continue to demand a more representative government. Generations after families, including that of Ben Franklin, were split apart as members supported different factions, people are finding politics imperiling their most intimate relationships. We can only pray that generations after a group of men with uncommon abilities, principles and courage gathered to form a nation, we don’t seek in vain for their worthy successors.

If you haven’t heard this 2 audio CD set and shared it with everyone of voting age, you should. The promises being made today aren’t new, nor are the dangers facing us. Look to Genesis to reveal the past, present and future.

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I’m trying to cut expenses, but my wife won’t get on board

May 16th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 6 comments

I have been listening to your podcasts for about a year now and find them very insightful. I was raised a Baptist and am now a confirmed Roman Catholic. I find that every week your subject matter always seems to address something that is going on at that moment. 

I have had a lot of changes in my life recently, some by choice, others by necessity. At 38 I have realized that my wife and I need to start being good stewards of our money and to stop living beyond our means.

 I now have a career that requires that I have good credit but is a decent paying job. My problem is that I am having trouble getting my wife onboard with the idea. I realize that we need to tighten our belts for the time being. 

Do you have any advice on how to convince her of this?

Thank you for your time and God bless you.

Sincerely,

Frank G.

Answer: 

Dear Frank,

Congratulations on the new job as well as on entering the world of economic adulthood. Living beyond your means isn’t a good idea at any time, but recognizing that in your late thirties rather than later hopefully gives you time to turn things around.

You don’t mention how long you’ve been married, but it sounds like you are unilaterally changing the rules of the marriage. If until now, you and your wife have been spending indiscriminately and somehow making do, it shouldn’t be a surprise that you can’t just come home and announce a new way of living. You may have had an epiphany but your wife hasn’t.

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In with the Old; In with the New

May 15th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 28 comments

I’ve never met my friend in San Francisco. Hanna was a regular caller to my three-hour show on the Bay Area’s KSFO.  In the radio business we discourage regular callers and most shows have a rule about how frequently they will accept calls from any one listener.  With Hanna, the rule went out the window.  She was so passionate, her voice quivered with emotion.  She always had an original take on the topic. Much of my fan mail mentioned Hanna admiringly.  One of my ongoing conceits on the show was my general assumption that every male listener to my radio show was handsome and virile and every female, young and nubile.  Nonetheless, I suspected that Hanna had seen a few years.  Her voice and accent suggested she immigrated in response to World War 2.

One day during an on-air conversation, I discovered she was without a computer and determined to humorously influence her to acquire a laptop or tablet.  She resisted with great resolve, irritating me by insisting she was too old to learn new technology.  During the ensuing few months I begged, cajoled and beseeched.  I began to feel my credibility was on the line so I threatened to start a fund among listeners to buy her one. She finally agreed to visit a store.  End of the story:  She bought a tablet.  She fell in love with it and it changed her life.  She often called the show  explicitly to thank me for encouraging her to leap forward into the email age.  I just got another welcome email from her last week.

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Too Sophisticated for Scandal

May 10th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 44 comments

When I was a teenager, I knew my friend Toby’s grandparents as gracious, attractive and generous pillars of the community. When Toby shared their story with me we both thought it highly romantic. It seems that Mrs. D. was engaged to a friend of Mr. D. At the engagement party, Mr. D. came to celebrate with his friend and meet the fiancée. Shortly thereafter my friend’s future grandmother called off her betrothal. In only a few weeks, she announced a new one—to Mr. D.

When one of their children repeated the story on the occasion of Mr. and Mrs. D.’s 50th anniversary, it was indeed a charming tale that brought smiles to their children and grandchildren’s faces. Only years later did I stop to think how upset and worried Mrs. D.’s parents must have been and how painful and embarrassing this was for the jilted groom and his family. The scandalous event probably animated neighborhood gossip for many months. Fifty years down the road revealed a happy end, but at the time it would have been perfectly plausible to see this as a catastrophic and immature infatuation.

What does this have to do with the recent French election?

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