Monthly Archives: March, 2018

Problem or Progress?

March 29th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 27 comments

Do you wear a watch? The answer to that question may depend on your age. You could say that watches are the new handkerchiefs.

I rarely iron. Nonetheless, when I was a young girl my mother taught me to do so and the first items entrusted to my care were my father’s handkerchiefs. I remember taking great satisfaction in watching a wrinkled piece of fabric turn into a tidy, pressed and folded square. Yet, the box of handkerchiefs my grandmother gave me when I was a young teen lay  unopened in my closet for decades.

While disposable facial tissues are described in an account of 17th century Japan, in the United States Kleenex were introduced after World War I, slowly replacing handkerchiefs over the course of decades. While some very environmentally conscious individuals are urging a return to the cotton square, most Americans never think twice at the idea of grabbing a tissue from a readily available box.

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Is this prayer inappropriate?

March 28th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 12 comments

Should we pray for things that are within our control or that we can accomplish ourselves (e.g. working harder, being more patient, or being more disciplined)?

Thank you.

Justin A.

Dear Justin,

Many years ago, a South African immigrant to America (Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s mother, to be specific) asked a friend to pick up some strawberry jelly for her at the store. When the friend delivered the requested jars of jelly, the immigrant was confused. She was actually asking for a Jello type dessert mix, but in America jelly means something quite different.

Among the words prone to misunderstanding, prayer ranks rather high. We are often exposed to the idea of praying to God as children, yet what exactly we are doing needs constant refinement and growing awareness as we mature.

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Matzoh, Money and Marriage

March 27th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 20 comments

Here’s an unusual thought experiment: Imagine meeting a twenty-year-old man who is suffering from near total amnesia. He explains to you that he knows how to read and write, drive a car and live healthily, but has no idea at all of what he ought to be doing to prepare for successfully living the rest of his life.  What are you going to tell him?

Upon some reflection, I think I’d say to him, “There are two really important things that are vital for happy living and neither is intuitive, so I am delighted that you asked me.”

The two are money and marriage.  Nothing at all is taught about either one at GIC’s (Government Indoctrination Camps formerly known as public schools.)  Not surprisingly, the result is a huge number of twenty-year-old men who have never given a realistic moment’s thought to earning a living.  Public education’s indifference to marriage has also resulted in a significantly diminishing percentage of young men marrying.  If nobody teaches young males how money works and why marriage is important, how could they possibly know? 

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Can you do it?

March 22nd, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 21 comments

On March 3, 2018, Sir Roger Bannister died. As news of his death at the age of 88 hit the airwaves some might remember that this was the second time his death was publicly announced. 64 years earlier the young medical student became the first person to run a mile in under four minutes. As he crossed the finish line in three minutes and 59.4 seconds on that momentous occasion on May 6, 1954, he fell exhausted to the ground. One Pathé newsreel report declared that he had died in his attempt to break the four-minutes-mile just as doctors had warned would happen to anyone who tried to do the impossible. The reporter quickly reversed himself when Roger Bannister triumphantly stood up.

One particularly amazing fact about the aspiring neurologist’s accomplishment was that his record was broken only 46 days later. In the following year, six more people broke the world record and today many college athletes run the mile in less than four minutes. Clearly, the human body is capable of doing so which begs the question as to why young Bannister was the first. He didn’t even have any particularly special training! Yet, his name is famous while the names of those who surpassed his record within only a few weeks and months have faded into oblivion.

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Is an age gap in marriage a problem?

March 21st, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 29 comments

When considering marriage: Is an age gap (10-15 years) a bad idea (specifically for a girl being the younger)?

Rebecca

Dear Rebecca,

You have probably heard that a physician shouldn’t treat members of his own family and that a lawyer must recuse herself from cases that strike too close to home.

On that basis, we admit up front that we are not objective observers on this question since a bit more than ten years separates the two of us. It is with that awareness of some potential bias that we approach your question.

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One Reason the World Hates the Jews

March 20th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 50 comments

People understand some occupations far more easily than others.  A farmer planting seeds or harvesting a crop is easily understood.  A contractor building a house is easily understood.  We easily understand a miner digging coal underground then bringing it up to the surface and a railway worker laying track, as we also understand a mechanic repairing a car.  We get a doctor, a dentist and a factory worker.  We even understand why the football hero or movie star make the big bucks.  We know what all these people do in order to get paid.  We understand the value they add.

In other words, we easily grasp Karl Marx’s labor theory of value.  He insisted that anything involving labor is valuable and the value of a good or service is proportional to the labor involved.  We might challenge Comrade Karl by pointing out that labor doesn’t seem to have much to do with it.  The dentist who labored for only half an hour to end my dreadful toothache gets paid far more than the coal miner is paid for half an hour of his labor.  But to give him credit, Marx would respond by explaining that the dentist labored long and hard in advance of my visit by acquiring the knowledge and skills to repair my tooth. Nonetheless, it isn’t hard to refute Marx’s views on value.

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Don’t Like Your DNA? Change It!

March 15th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 33 comments

If you, like me, have been learning from my husband for any length of time, you will be familiar with the idea that the physical world reflects the spiritual world. The fact that our eyes project an upside-down image of whatever we see unto our retinas isn’t a failure of evolution, it is a Divine message. Our eyes can easily lead us astray whether it is when we see a decadent piece of chocolate cake, a beautiful person or a ‘must-have’ gadget.

In contrast, our balance mechanism is located in our ears. Evolutionarily speaking, this makes little sense.  Our heads are in constant motion. The only reason we don’t lose our balance when we tilt our head is the equivalent of thousands of lines of software compensating for our head’s motion.  Evolution should have ensured that our balance mechanism would be in a more stable part of our bodies like the shoulders or hips. This isn’t a failure of evolution, it is a Divine message. We process information more rationally and unemotionally when we hear or read it rather than when we see a picture.

The media is agog with the news from NASA that, after spending a prolonged amount of time in the zero-gravity environment of space, astronaut Scott Kelly’s DNA differs from his earthbound twin brother Mark’s DNA. While scientists will discuss how strongly controlled the experiment was and whether the DNA changed permanently or it is only expressing itself differently, we should be asking what spiritual message we can draw from this.

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My friends’ success bothers me

March 13th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 18 comments

I was doing great one Saturday morning. I had my morning devotion and meditated on the word of God. I was enjoying time with my family when I went online and saw how a friend of mine had an outpouring of love during a celebration, then I instantly felt sad.

I wondered why don’t I get people to celebrate and honour me? My question is this, how do I overcome instant feelings of sadness when I see my friend celebrating and enjoying life?

How can I get people around me to celebrate me, is it wrong to desire honour and celebration?

Thank you.

Dear Wan,

You are asking two very real and very human questions that affect most of us during our lives. The first question is how to feel happy rather than envious when good things happen to your friends. The second question is whether it is wrong to desire honor and celebration.

We have good news for you and bad news for you.  The good news is that feeling envy when good things happen to others and feeling joy when bad things happen to them is perfectly natural.  The bad news is that natural does not mean acceptable; God expects you to overcome this natural tendency and root out that part of your nature.

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March 12th, 2018 Posted by On Our Mind 1 comment

Regular listeners to my podcast know that I’ve been explaining this to you for a long while already. Today, beautiful validation in a Wall Street Journal story you’ll enjoy.

Doomsday Climate Scenarios Are a Joke
One study says world GDP will drop 20% by 2100, but Iceland and Mongolia will be rich beyond imagining.
By Oren Cass

Debates over climate change are filled with dire estimates of its cost. This many trillions of dollars of damage, that large a share of gross domestic product destroyed, so-and-so many lives lost, etc. Where do such figures come from? Mostly from laughably bad economics.

This has nothing to do with the soundness of climate science. The games begin when economists get their hands on scientific projections and try…
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Routine Rehab

March 12th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 17 comments

Have you fallen into any fixed habits?  I know I have.  I have uttered some phrases so many times that they are often the first expressions that come to mind. Not surprisingly, I occasionally overuse them.  It is also why I tend to buy the same brand of toothpaste year after year.  No, I do not know which brand nine-out-of-ten dentists prefer.  My brain just prefers not to think about toothpaste brands.

Do you greet customers or clients exactly as you did four years ago?  Do you respond with almost the same words no matter what question your child asks?  Do you welcome friends with the tired cliché you’ve always used?  Do you view a sunrise with habitual jaded indifference?  I began by asking if you’ve fallen into any fixed habits, but I already knew the answer.  I don’t know exactly what they are, but I do know that you’ve got them.

How do I know?  Well, because we all do it.  Over the last decade much research has been done on human habits.  For instance, a Duke University study concluded that habit rather than deliberation shapes over 40% of the decisions you and I make every day.  Both Columbia University and the University of Alberta measured the vital role that habit plays in exercising.  Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified how our brains convert repeated behaviors into habits thus reserving our real brain power for unpredictable circumstances.

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