Monthly Archives: November, 2017

Modern Games

November 29th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 3 comments

When you were younger, did you ever do those pages in Highlights magazine that featured “Spot the difference”? You were presented with two strikingly similar drawings and had to look for subtle changes between the two. Perhaps the flower in one drawing had four petals while the one in the other drawing had five.

Every once in a while I play a variation on that game. I pull up both CNN and Fox news on my computer and try to, “Spot the similarities.” It is striking how frequently I need to search before finding any story that both outlets are covering, let alone reporting the same facts.

Maybe it’s time to drop both CNN and FOX and go back to Highlights. It certainly would be more uplifting.

If I Lived in Alabama

November 29th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 67 comments

Go to jail. Do not pass Go; do not collect $200. If you grew up playing Monopoly, as I did, those words sound familiar. How about these words? You have scads of Get Out of Jail cards; pass Go whenever you want; and feel free to collect however much money as you can.

In a nutshell, the first set of rules applies to most of us while the second set applies to our elected officials. The sexual harassment spotlight is obscuring that fact.

I’m getting tired of reading that sexual harassment is a product of our patriarchal society or hearing politicians and pundits (especially females) paraphrasing the famous line spoken by Captain Renault in the movie Casablanca by pretending that they are, “Shocked, shocked to find that despicable behavior is going on here,” in the higher echelons of Hollywood, newsrooms and Congress.

Can we get real? People treating other people badly has existed since the Garden of Eden when Adam tried to evade responsibility for his sin by blaming it on Eve. Turn the page and Cain kills Abel. Keep turning pages and you will find examples of all sorts of human failings. If you aren’t drawn to the Bible, look at history and literature.

As Lord Acton famously said in 1887, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We have granted, and allowed our politicians to grab, way too much power. Certainly many, and very likely the majority, of  the anointed men and women have strayed far from public service and probity. In many ways the system is now designed to encourage them to do so. Sexual misconduct is one example of bad behavior, but focusing only on that is the equivalent of treating a high fever with aspirin. You may reduce or obscure one symptom of a serious problem, but you haven’t eliminated the underlying ailment.

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Maybe, possibly you made a mistake?

November 28th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 6 comments

I was watching Susan and yourself on TCT and you stated that the U.S.A. was the only country in the world to celebrate Thanksgiving. I was wondering if your neighbour to the north, Canada, celebrates Thanksgiving.

I enjoy your program immensely! Keep up the good work.

Respectfully,

Barry, Kingsville, Ontario, Canada

Dear Barry,

May we compliment you on your good manners? Rather than chiding us for being wrong, you gently asked a question. When we saw how you spelled ‘neighbour’ we began to suspect our mistake and when we saw that your signature included your location of Ontario, Canada, we knew we were in trouble.

Our television show on the TCT network, Ancient Jewish Wisdom, is not scripted. We sometimes surprise ourselves with what comes out of our mouths! Clearly, we spoke off-the-cuff and incorrectly here.

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Tesla and the Temple

November 27th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 15 comments

Though I am not an expert on stock prices, least of all on the price of Tesla stock, I am going to make a prediction.  And with the passage of time, I’ll either pull out this Thought Tool and wave it proudly to remind you of what I wrote, or else I’ll eventually bury it and hope nobody remembers it.  Meanwhile, I’ll provide some information so you can make up your own mind.

What makes me write about Tesla stock is not only that at the start of 2017 it was about $200 a share and by mid-year it was nearly $400 (though it has now sunk back to about $300).  I am interested in it for a more fundamental reason. You see, even at $200 it made no sense to me.  Tesla’s market capitalization, the value the market places upon the company, $60 billion, is now about the same as General Motors or even a bit more. However, last year Tesla sold about 75,000 cars while General Motors sold about ten million!  Although Tesla took in about $7 billion in sales revenue, overall it lost over $600 million.  Meanwhile, good old GM took in over $150 billion in sales on which it made a profit of nearly $10 billion.  Yet, the price of General Motors stock has fluctuated between $35 and $45 this year.  Doesn’t something seem off?

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Happy Thinksgiving

November 23rd, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 21 comments

No, that isn’t a typo; its a deliberate misspelling. We are heading out soon to share a Thanksgiving feast with friends. Since we had a family celebration last weekend, most of our out-of-towners are unable to come back this week and, unfortunately, our in-towners are under the weather.  Friends graciously invited us to join them.

A quick thought before I get ready to go. As a mother, one of the earliest words I taught my children was thank-you. Even before they could possible repeat the words, I voiced the syllables when I handed them toys or food. I don’t think I am unique; millions of mothers do the same.

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What’s up with Jonah?

November 22nd, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 16 comments

My question is about Jonah.

Why was he so angry with G-d that he would not go to Nineveh? Here is a man so stiff-necked that he would rather drown than obey G-d? Here is a man who kept himself in the belly of a sea giant for three days before he repented and agreed to do as G-d instructed him. After preaching in Nineveh, he sat down and again was angry.

Why?

Catherine G.

Dear Catherine,

Like you, we are fascinated by the book of Jonah. In fact, it has been the topic of at least four Thought Tools as well as one section of our audio CD, Day for Atonement: Heavenly Gift of Spiritual Serenity. (Go here and type Jonah in the search box to find the relevant Thought Tools.)

This correctly suggests that the topic is too large for an Ask the Rabbi answer. However, we wanted to focus on one of your sentences. You write: “Here is a man so stiff-necked that he would rather drown than obey G-d.”

We would like to suggest that you can go to any mall, airport or university and find that the majority of people there fit that description as well. Sadly, you can go to many churches and synagogues and find the same. Obeying God is easier in theory than in actuality. We all tend to resist being told to do things we don’t want to do or to refrain from those things that we do want to do. We often rationalize and  intellectualize our refusal; sometimes we simply pretend that God has nothing to say about the issue at hand.

Don’t you know people who are drowning in unhappiness rather than obey God’s vision for family and society? There are pieces of Jonah in all of us. Studying him should encourage us to look in the mirror.

Wishing all of us Bible study that makes us uncomfortable,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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We hope you had a chance to read our annual AAJC letter.
If you missed it, you can see it HERE
.

 

Giving Thanks

November 22nd, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

Wishing everyone a day of gratitude for our many blessings. May it remind us to give thanks every single day of the year.

We at AAJC are thankful for…you

November 21st, 2017 Posted by AAJC Happenings 8 comments

Dear Friend—

With our uniquely American celebration—Thanksgiving—fast approaching, I want to thank you for your consistent and generous support of my work here at the American Alliance of Jews and Christians.  This year we have been focusing our efforts on these four challenges:

  • Teaching Jews what Christians do for Israel and the fight against anti-Semitism.
  • Fighting anti-Bible bigotry in education, entertainment, and politics.
  • Defending the dignity and morality of the profession of business.
  • Building Jewish support for Christian leaders attacked by militant secularists.

We are grateful for the many successes we have enjoyed and thank you for your participation without which, little could have been accomplished.

It’s already a year since I last fulfilled one of my responsibilities as president of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, namely reminding you of our need and asking for your support.  It’s time for me to do it again but first, just a few paragraphs on our history:

I first began building bridges between Jews and Christians twenty-six years ago.  I was still serving as a congregational rabbi in Los Angeles when I realized that Jews lived more benignly, more tranquilly and more prosperously today in the United States than anywhere else in the world during the past two thousand years.  It was clear to me that this was precisely because America is a Christian country.

Yet it was also clear to me that Bible-believing Christians in America are vilified, insulted, and denied respect by many in media, entertainment, education, and government.  I thought then, and I still do today, that it’s crazy that more Jews are not defending Christians who are being attacked for holding those very values that we all, Jew and Christian, share.  After all, these values were not only the values of the forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but they were also the values of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America!   They need to be defended, not just by courageous Christians but also by Jews.

There are those in this country who try to discourage meaningful communication between Jews and Christians, because united we would present an almost irresistible force for spiritual renewal.  AAJC is determined to bring about communication and alliance.

I was blessed with some wonderful Jewish and Christian brothers and sisters who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with me as we began building the bridges that would one day become the American Alliance of Jews and Christians.

We felt bonded by the Bible.  We recognized that the central core of our culture was a majestic and mysterious book that has never been out of print since Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press in the middle of the 15th century.

Out of this came the American Alliance of Jews and Christians. 

I am asking for your help and support today.  I value your time and I appreciate you and the many other ways you help defend all that is good.  I know you support many worthy causes.

But if you’re still reading my words, you might like to know more about our work and perhaps help our work continue by means of an appropriate gesture of financial support.  Let me tell you a little more about the idea behind the AAJC and its goals and dreams.

The American Alliance of Jews and Christians grew from my deep conviction that despite theological differences, millions of Jews and Christians share a common vision of civilization and furthermore, definitely prefer civilization to its alternative—barbarism.

Civilization prefers tranquility to violence; it prefers men to treat women with respect and deference; it prefers freedom to centrally planned tyranny; it prefers people enjoying economic independence through their own efforts to socialism; it believes in charity by choice rather than in government redistribution by force; it believes that marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman devoted to one another and to their children, and it believes that both the beginning and end of life should be in God’s hands alone.  Civilization engenders friendship, beauty, compassion, and courtesy rather than brutishness, filth, and vulgarity.  Like the American Founders, we prefer a Biblically inspired culture to the sordid stain of secularism and the socialistic society it tends to inspire.

I believe that America’s great blessings as well as the tranquil haven of prosperity she has provided for members of so many religious groups and nations are a result of these Biblically-inspired principles.

The ideas and systematic spiritual strategies of ancient Jewish wisdom were well known to and appreciated by most Christian leaders of colonial America.

This is why Mayflower Pilgrim, William Bradford, wrote the first few pages of his book of the history of the Plymouth Plantation in the Hebrew language.  This is why great spiritual leaders like Ezra Styles, later to become president of Yale University and pastors like Cotton Mather all knew the Lord’s language, Hebrew.

One New England pastor, Abiel Abbot wrote in 1799 these words, “The people of the United States come nearer to a parallel with Ancient Israel, than any other nation upon the globe.”  By the way his parents named him Abiel because in Hebrew the name means God is my father.

The eminent 19th century Irish historian, William Lecky wrote:  Hebraic mortar cemented the foundations of American democracy.  Here at the American Alliance of Jews and Christians we work on supplying that mortar.

Just as ancient Israel arrived in the Promised Land with nothing but a set of Biblically-based ideas and proceeded to carve a civilization out of a wilderness, those great early Americans did the same thing.  They crossed an ocean bearing little more than those timeless truths of the Bible and they too carved a great civilization out of a great wilderness.

Now plucking a flower from its roots and bringing it indoors to enjoy might seem like a good idea but pretty soon we discover that anything severed from its roots dies mighty quickly.  Similarly, the great ideas of western civilization have roots too.  Those roots are enshrined in the page of Scripture. And trying to disconnect civilization from its roots assures it of a rapid demise.

Therein lays the sacred mission of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians.  Keeping civilization attached to its Judeo-Christian spiritual roots to maintain it as a fresh, strong, and influential force.

Our weekly Thought Tools as well as the books and audio CDs we help make available, our daily TV show on TCT Television Network, and our podcast are part of how we provide the intellectual ammunition for good men and women all over the world to deploy in the struggle to defend civilization and protect all we hold dear.

Today, steadfast vision and calm courage is needed to defend that civilization, the culmination of two millennia of Judeo-Christian achievement.  Helping it remain attached to its roots, able to draw nourishment and endurance from those roots is our task.

Your generosity has enabled the AAJC to bring the tools and the inspiration to millions of people via radio, television, personal appearances, and our books and audio CDs that today are found on every continent.  You enabled us to bring aboard the well-known Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt of Dallas as director and you helped make it possible for me to address audiences in over forty synagogues, churches, and business organizations during 2017. 

This coming year, 2018, we hope to do even more.  We would like to expand the scope of AAJC’s activities reaching many more.  We hope to increase the opportunities for injecting the civilization-protecting principles into all corners of the culture.

With your help this can be done.  I am not going to suggest how much you should or can give. This is an intensely personal decision; however I will tell you that for our programmed activities in 2018, we have planned a program requiring a budget of $1,400,000.

This is a lot of money but I have prayed about this and know that with our large body of active supporters it can happen.  It is up to you and up to me.  If you give us the tools, I can assure you that we will do the job.

Whatever support you can give to our work will be very much appreciated. American Alliance of Jews and Christians (AAJC) is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization (EIN 26-07642520). You can make your tax-deductible gift by clicking HERE, or by mailing in your gift to AAJC, P.O. Box 58, Mercer Island, WA 98040 or by calling (888) 722-2441 and saying that you want to support AAJC.

May God bless you and protect you and may we all be privileged to do our part in protecting the legacy He entrusted to humanity on Mount Sinai over three thousand years ago.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin

President

American Alliance of Jews and Christians

 

Donate to AAJC Today!

The Non-Musing Musing

November 16th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 29 comments

Here are some of the things I considered writing about this week:

  • Venezuela and Zimbabwe
  • Why no one (not even women or the Democrat Party) is a winner in the Roy Moore matter
  • What Mitch McConnell did right—and what he did wrong
  • How quickly murder rampage stopped being front-page news

Here is why I am not writing about any of those things:

Even though I love writing, in the continual juggling act called life, cooking and baking won out this week over my Musings. Our grandson, Eliyahu, becomes a bar-mitzva this Shabbat. Despite the frequent misunderstanding that a Jewish boy turning thirteen is all about throwing a grand party, it actually is the age when the yoke of religious obligation descends on a pair of developing shoulders. The boy can shrug off the yoke, be crushed by it, or as we pray will be true in Eliyahu’s case, the yoke serves as a soul-building weight.

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As a single mom, should I be thinking about marriage?

November 15th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 4 comments

What’s the biblical instruction for a single mother who met the Lord during pregnancy? I feel I’m not called to be single, but have not dated for over 11 years, as I was dedicated to mothering.

From a biblical perspective, should I seek marriage or seek singleness?

Thank you!

Mka

Dear Mka,

There’s a phrase, Kol HaKavod, used in Israel when someone has done something exceptional. It literally means “all the honor [to you],” and is a way of acknowledging actions that go above and beyond the norm. We say to you: Kol HaKavod.

Firstly, you changed the path of your life, and that of your child, by findng the Lord during your pregnancy. Since then, you devoted yourself to being a mother and, we assume, making a fulfilling life for yourself. By not dating, you focused on the relationship already in your life, with your child. When a single mother dates it frequently introduces emotional, psychological and often physical, instability into a child’s life.

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