Monthly Archives: March, 2018

One Reason the World Hates the Jews

March 20th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 13 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.

Almost everyone knows that the value of something is set exclusively by what other people (the market) are willing to pay for it.  If two stores offer me two identical chairs, but one was built by a carpenter using only hand tools over the course of two weeks of labor while the other was built quickly and efficiently with power tools, Marx would have to say the first is worth more.  In reality, we’d pay the same for each chair; we really aren’t interested in how much labor went into the job.  Everyone knows that a new Ford truck loses much of its value as soon as its new owner drives it home.  This is not decreed by some mysterious deity of Detroit. Rather it is the recognition that should the new owner wish to sell his truck, nobody will pay him anything close to what he just paid.

Still, in his day, Marx persuaded many people.  His disciples, including one Joseph Stalin who was only five when his economics guru died, bought into what became known as Marxism.  But there was a problem.

One of the occupations that completely contradicts Marxism is commerce.  Even a child watching a blacksmith or a carpenter grasps what they are doing.  Not so with commerce.  The child watches a sales professional sitting at his desk making dozens of phone calls.  Some are to his suppliers to inquire about product availability and prices while others are to possible customers who might be in need of those products.  Then he calls the suppliers again to deliver orders and shipping instructions.  Not surprisingly, the child is clueless about what the business professional was doing and why he gets paid. 

Should the patient parents of this precocious progeny explain just what the sales professional was doing, the little person might reasonably ask, “Why can’t the customer bypass this trader and simply purchase whatever it was he wanted directly from the supplier?”  Doing so would enable him to avoid the markup inevitably added on by the sales professional who manifestly added no labor at all to the product. 

Not surprisingly, this was just how Joseph Stalin saw it and along with his noxious pal, Lenin, proceeded to starve, persecute, and murder all the small businesspeople in the Soviet Union during the 1930s.  After all, these ‘vermin-like Kulaks’ did nothing but add cost to wheat, dairy products, and meat while adding no value at all.  At least one million, probably many more perished miserably.  As a result, without these crucial cogs in the machinery of daily living, the Soviet Union experienced many deadly famines.  That really isn’t the right term because Soviet soil always produced food.  It was just that nobody who knew how to bring it to towns and villages was still alive.

Seeing people engaged in commerce and trade as horrible human beings started long before Marx, Lenin, and Stalin.  In fact, back in the 5th century, early Church theologian St. Augustine stated succinctly, “It is impossible for one to gain if another does not lose.”  In other words, if there is someone between the farmer and your dining table and he is gaining, then you must be losing.  Trade and commerce merely prey on hard-working people.  Using this same thinking, rioters in American cities from back in 1968 up to the present, tend to destroy the small stores and businesses that bring goods and services into their neighborhoods.  Since those storeowners are making a living, clearly their customers must be losing. 

Martin Luther, in his book On the Jews and Their Lies recommended placing axes, shovels, and hoes into the hands of Jews and making them earn an honest living through their labor on farms like everyone else.  Luther loathed trade and commerce.  Going back many years earlier, even the ancient Greeks despised commerce.  Plato saw the merchant as a loathsome person and argued that no citizen should ever engage in commerce.  It was suitable only for second class people.  Aristotle also saw anything to do with trade as vulgar and utterly lacking in virtue. 

In the meantime, while Athens was demonizing the role of the business professional, Jerusalem was elevating it.  Putting his own money at risk by purchasing wheat, meat, and cheese from various farmers and bringing it into the town market so housewives could buy all their household needs from one single local supplier, was taught to be a good deed.  About a third of all the laws in the Torah, the Five Books of Moses, are predicated upon a market place and the services of a vast class of merchants and traders. 

Throughout the Middle Ages, ecclesiastical authority kept Jews out of farming and out of most professions and crafts.  This left them little alternative but to engage in banking and trade which their own religious culture venerated in any case.  Not surprisingly, as merchants who made a profit, their gain was usually seen as everyone else’s loss.  Hatred of Jews became intense and ubiquitous. 

Only once a Judeo-Christian world-view developed, chiefly in Protestant countries and later in the United States, did economic vitality appear and was productivity and trade viewed favorably.  It was no accident that friendliness towards and tolerance of Jews invariably went hand in hand with developing economies.  Countries began to view Jewish business professionals as the economic assets they are.  Tragically, in those cultural zones in which Biblical commitment has faded, such as universities and left-wing politics, we again see mistrust of the merchant, suspicion of free market capitalism and hatred of the Jew and his land, Israel. While this isn’t, perhaps, even one of the most important reasons Jews are hated, it is one of the least considered. 

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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.

Life is full of changes, surprises and unexpected happenings. Anyone who has lived for a number of decades has seen people who have lived honorably their whole lives become corrupted by dishonesty or immorality. They have also seen people living depraved lives make a complete turnaround and become scrupulously moral. We have watched society change its mind about what is good and what is evil and observed events uproot previously held definitions of normal.

We might have thought that one constant in our lives is our DNA. It turns out that we would have been mistaken. We can do things that will alter our very biology. Whether our actual genetic code changes, or the changes are at the epi-genetic level, the point is that our actions impact even the basic code of our bodies. I’m sure you won’t be surprised that this message has a spiritual companion. If you have listened to Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam or heard a number of our free teachings, you will have encountered the nation of Amalek.  Amalek, descended from Jacob’s twin Esau,  is Israel’s mirror-image. When Amalek thrives (like Haman in the Scroll of Esther), the Jewish people suffer. When the Jewish people behave righteously, Amalek suffers. In our time, Amalek is a spiritual rather than a racial identity. We can trace the nation through the Bible as it moves from Esau’s grandson to Agag to Haman and post-Biblical documents from ancient Jewish wisdom centuries prior to the 1900s talk of how Amalek will migrate to Germany.

However, the important point is that an Amalekite can convert to Judaism! A person born with that twisted spiritual DNA can make choices and do things that change his core essence. Indeed, in Israel today descendants of various top WW II Nazi officials live as Torah observant Jews. We do not have to allow our DNA to control us.

Of course, there is a flip side to this as well. As individuals and as a society we can take righteous DNA and corrupt it. Having been bequeathed gifts and blessings by those who came before us, we can alter ourselves until we squander that largesse. When we change our behavior enough, even our physical DNA may no longer match that which we inherited.

Do we improve or damage our physical and spiritual DNA with our actions? That decision is ours to make. 

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How do you know what actions to take? 
These resources can guide you on the right path. 

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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.

Of course, we need to be aware that people tend to conceal bad fortune that befalls them and advertise the good.  Most Facebook pages, Instagram and other social media, provide evidence of people parading their vacations, children, and new toys.  This is an equally destructive tendency and exacerbates this challenge.

Here is a very good rule of thumb. Anything that God forbids us to do is something that many of us humans will have a strong desire to do.  Adultery is also perfectly natural but also perfectly prohibited.  We are not cows who can contentedly graze on the grass. God built us in such a way that life is a constant challenge of overcoming many of our natural tendencies. In doing so, we feel the thrill of triumph.

The urge to feel envious of our friends’ success is so strong that in the Ten Commandments, #10 is, “Do not covet”. We already know that we can’t steal from our friends; #10 informs us to control our thoughts.

If you have listened to our Ten Commandments audio CD, you will know that commandments number 5 and 10 are linked. You will also know that they aren’t actually commandments but rather examples of principles of human connectivity. In short, the principle of these two commandments is accepting our boundaries and recognizing that what we have is ours and what other people have is theirs.

We damage ourselves terribly when we reject ourselves because we think that others have it better than we do. It is self-destructive to spend our time wishing we had other people’s lives. We must acknowledge that we owe special respect to our parents and special appreciation for what we have. Not doing so is a terrible display of ingratitude to God for what He has given us, with all its flaws and limitations. Then we can truly rejoice in the good fortune of others, because it is theirs and it would be as wrong to want what is theirs as it would be to steal their things and as foolish to spend time coveting what is theirs as it would be to want to have a mutual blood transfusion.

As for wanting honor, our obligation is to honor others. We should not try to make others celebrate us. At the same time, if we associate with good people as we should, they too will feel the obligation to honor others. However, we would advise you to replace the word ‘honor’ with appreciation. That is often privately given.

One of the most frequent expressions of public honor is reserved for those who give generously and charitably.  There is nothing wrong with publicly lauding the charitable philanthropist.  However, the reason this lauding is done publicly is to encourage others to follow in the same footsteps. While it is commendable when someone gives privately and inconspicuously, it is better that someone should give a large amount in order to get recognition than not to give at all. You might want to consider taking the necessary steps to increase your revenue so that you can make larger charitable gifts to organizations that will appropriately recognize you.

If you feel additional need for a public shout-out then we would recommend looking deep inside yourself and asking what you can do to build your self-respect. Knowing that you are doing the right thing and growing each day should fill you with a satisfaction that the biggest celebration cannot match.

Wishing you much joy in your life,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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March 12th, 2018 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

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…

Routine Rehab

March 12th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 16 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.

While converting frequent activities into automatic habits is quite natural, that doesn’t mean that it is always desirable.  We engage in many regular activities that should certainly not be automated.  Many of us are blessed to be able to say, ‘good morning’ and ‘good night’ to our spouses every day.  That should be personal, authentic and heartfelt every single time.  Neither do we want autopilot switched on when we interact with children, friends or clients. 

What about praying to God or learning Bible each day?  Want that to be meaningless rote?  And if you do feel that merely mouthing the words today just as you did yesterday is okay, would it be equally acceptable if God began treating you the same way?

Allowing our repeated prayers and study to become automatic routines is such a real danger that God explicitly warns against it.   Regular Thought Tool readers will remember this rule of Ancient Jewish wisdom; any word repeated exactly seven times in a passage is the crucial word in that section.

Leviticus chapter 26 contains horrifying details of the consequences when God’s covenant with Israel is shattered.  The word repeated exactly seven times is KERI.  (Leviticus 26:21, 23, 24, 27, 28, 40, 41)  It means casual, random and mindless.  These verses indicate that of all the damaging results of relating to God with unthinking casualness, the worst is that He subsequently relates to us in exactly the same way.  Obviously God intends us to exert effort to ensure that our relationship with Him remains forever fresh, vital, and genuine.

In exactly the same way, we should constantly struggle to relate authentically to God’s other children be they family or friends, customers or clients.  It is fine to drive your regular commute on cruise control and it is fine to pick your toothpaste out of habit but it is really not so wonderful to relate to different, individual human beings in that automated way. 

Instead, try to delight the people with whom you interact regularly with an unexpected activity or a novel service.  Look at the world around you with renewed appreciation. While we’re at it, praying deliberately and thoughtfully would also be an improvement.

I admit to being especially thrilled when someone tells me that something I taught gave them an entirely new perspective on a piece of Scripture. It is wonderful to be familiar with the Bible, but along with that comes the challenge of always digging deeper and learning something new. It is too easy to default to viewing God’s word as we did when we were children, especially on well-known passages.  That’s why I have a soft spot for our audio CD, The Ten Commandments: How Two Tablets Can Transform Your Life. On sale now, its shocking revelations will dramatically change how you relate both to God and to those around you. This CD converts familiar text into a magnificent manual for human connection. Don’t be surprised if the world responds back in kind, treating you with renewed appreciation as well.


P.S. We were delighted by the response to our 1/2 price sale on Business Secrets from the Bible: Spiritual Success Strategies for Financial Abundance. Our stock sold out, but we expect more soon. Order now at this special price and we will ship when they arrive.

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This Thought Tool was updated from February 2012

And this is relevant because…?

March 7th, 2018 Posted by On Our Mind 2 comments

I read the opening sentence in the newspaper more than once. It was about a man convicted for ID theft.  Here is the sentence: “From a townhouse near a megachurch in Atlanta, Kelvin Lyles recruited about 300 accomplices to embark on a crime spree.”

What exactly does the megachurch have to do with the story? I finished the entire article waiting to find the answer to that question. It didn’t help. This leaves me wondering if an editor would have let the article run as is if the opening sentence had been, “From a townhouse near a Planned Parenthood office in Atlanta, Kelvin Lyles recruited about 300 accomplices to embark on a crime spree.” Somehow, I doubt it. Do you?



My Country is Greater than Your Country

March 7th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 16 comments

When I wrote a Musing about comfort reading, I received a number of gifts from readers in the form of book suggestions. One of these was from my friend, Judy (who happens to be the author of the highly recommended book, The Skeptic and the Rabbi). She suggested the 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith. While I haven’t started that series yet, her suggestion prodded me to read the first book in the writer’s  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. 

I am hooked. Along with enjoying these charmingly written, evocative and delightful books—I am currently reading the eleventh in the series—I am intrigued by something I have noticed. The protagonist of the books is Mma Precious Ramotswe, founder and owner of the only detective agency in Botswana. I admit to knowing little of Botswana before starting these books, but Mr. McCall Smith is clearly in love with the country in which he lived for many years.

Mma Ramotswe is warm and wise. She is also highly patriotic and convinced of the superiority of her country as well as proud that she is a Motswana (member of the Tswana tribe). On occasion, she compares her country to others on the continent of Africa and her tribe to other tribes. There is no cultural equivalency here; her heritage is clearly superior. At the same time, she is a loving foster mother to two children of Bushman background and helps people from all countries and tribes, often at no charge.

I began to wonder what the response might be if a similar series was written extolling, shall we say, the United States among other North American countries. Or perhaps, claiming that Oklahoma was more praiseworthy than New York? Is it all right to compare one’s ethnic heritage with someone else’s to the detriment of the second? Mma Ramotswe’s pride is endearing. Why don’t I find it xenophobic and racist?

My answer is that her delight in her country and tribe are a part of her coming across as a real character. They help make her the gracious, loving woman that she is. How she feels about her country is an extension of the gratitude and love with which she remembers her father, Obed Ramotswe. Despite losing her mother at a young age, she had a secure and protected childhood that allowed her to grow into a confident and giving woman who can overcome challenges and rejoice in her life. 

I think that one of the failings of our modern culture is the suggestion that somehow ‘belonging’ is a negative thing. The impression given is that we must act as if everyone and everything is equal. Yet, human beings have a very natural need to belong whether to a family, a neighborhood, a city, state, country, religion, ethnicity or any other sort of group. It is through that opening that we can expand and relate to others.

In the sandlots of previous generations, young boys taunted one another saying, “My dad can beat up your dad.” While they, usually, outgrew that level of childishness, there is a feeling of safety in thinking of your family as powerful. Only when we are safe can we emotionally make room for caring about others. Loving, and being loved by, the close and the particular leads to our loving the broad and general.

To our detriment, much of our educational and cultural system has reversed this idea. We are encouraged to focus on our family’s dysfunctionality, our nation’s sins and our group’s victimization. There is a place for recognizing failures and disappointments and sad historical truths. However, that should not come prior to or in place of learning anything about greatness.

Starting from a place of gratitude for the circumstances of our birth, no matter what they objectively are, establishes a launching pad for a healthy life. Even, or perhaps especially,  for those few who are truly born into  personal and communal terrible circumstances, it is vital to find some source of specialness. This is, perhaps, one of the evils of the theory of unaided materialistic evolution forced on our schoolchildren. How much greater to be created as a child of God rather than to be descended from an ape.

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Too Ill to Work?

March 6th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 37 comments

I just completed the audio version of Business Secrets From The Bible. In one word the content was wonderful. The book spoke to me.

My dilemma is unique. Because of serious life threatening physical challenges and learning issues it is difficult to work a so called regular job. 

I need and want more money and I sincerely desire to serve my fellow man and in that mix I can honestly say that retirement is not an option. What you say about retirement in the book is true. It’s detrimental to a man’s mental, physical and spiritual life. 

I need and want help in this area. In other words I want to get back to work now. 

Do you have any suggestions? It’s fine with me if you have tough words so please don’t sugar coat reality. 


Larry A. G.

Dear Larry,

First, thank you for your kind words about our book Business Secrets from the Bible: 40 Success Strategies for Financial Abundance.

The most challenging aspect of writing answers to people who “Ask The Rabbi” is to make sure that we are responding only from a place of love and empathy.  Nonetheless, our duty frequently includes telling truths that can hurt, as truth often does.   Not only does ancient Jewish wisdom prohibit us from administering painful words with arrogance and indifference but in such circumstances,  the Help we receive from Heaven would undoubtedly be withheld.  You can see that even had you not invited us to tell you the tough truth without sugarcoating we would have done so once we were certain that we were writing with compassion and a spirit of wanting you to be uplifted.  By the time you get to the end of our words, we hope you’ll agree that we have provided you with the escalator by means of which you can lift yourself. 

Since we don’t know you, what we have to go on is only what you told us. You told us what you cannot do, but not what you can do. You said nothing about your skills or experience, only that you cannot work a “so called” regular job. You ask for suggestions but tell us nothing of what you have to offer.

The phrase “so called” in this context usually imply a skepticism about the object of the sentence.  It’s as if you don’t believe a regular job exists.  Why didn’t you write merely “it is difficult to work a regular job”?  Why is it ‘so called’?  Do you perhaps, deep down,  feel some contempt for a regular job?  Or perhaps you mean a 9-5 job and that if you can’t do that, you have no options? Again, that would be focusing on the negative rather than the positive and possible.

One phrase jumped out at us and we think may be the key point. You inform us that your dilemma is unique.  No, Larry, as painful or debilitating as it is, it isn’t unique!   We don’t need to know the details of your dilemma to know that you are not the only person in the world with that particular dilemma or one of similar severity.

Each of us, as a creature of God, is unique.  The symbols of our creativity, our fingers, are unique.  Our thoughts are unique, but our challenges, problems, and dilemmas are far from unique.  And what is more, others with exactly the same dilemma as you, have overcome and triumphed.  You can too,  once you rid yourself of untrue thoughts, false ideas and bad beliefs.

We want to see you invert your thinking.  Instead of leading with, “I want more money” and then following up with “I sincerely desire to serve my fellow man” we want you to be intuitively thinking, “I really want to serve my fellow humans and I know that the money will follow if I do.”

Here is a critically important and frighteningly true statistic:

98 out of 100 people failing to find work fail, not because of a shortage of jobs but because they manifest a  shortage of conscientiousness, punctuality, desire to serve, diligence, humility, cheerfulness and ambition.  We’re sure that you, like so many of us, are handicapped by one or more of these seven shortages.

If you really and truly desire to serve your fellow man, you could quickly find a way to do so.   It is possible you are hampered if you have found an easier way of living….and you didn’t confide in us just how you are currently paying bills. It is terribly difficult to give up an easier way of life for the demanding and ultimately satisfying life that comes from doing a good day’s work for a good day’s pay even when you recognize that it is damaging not to be earning one’s way.  

You are clearly a decent man with core of honesty.  Most people don’t even care about self-respect anymore, preferring to substitute the fake self-esteem. But you desire the real thing.  That is wonderful.  Now all you need is a launch pad.  If you haven’t worked for a while this won’t be easy but it is entirely within your ability.  Get rid of the mistaken notion that you are uniquely handicapped in your quest for work.  From any job, no matter how far it may be from your perfect choice, you can later move towards a better option or some entrepreneurial activity but this is much, much easier after you have already succeeded at a job. Dig deep into your heart and discover which of those seven shortages you experience and cure them. 

No matter what your challenges are, Larry, we could show you someone somewhere equally challenged or who is suffering from worse handicaps and working productively. We are happy that our book launched your query.  It is wonderful that you are not complacent about your situation or content with your lack. 

Now is the time to “reach for the sky”.  This by the way, was the title of a book by a pilot, Douglas Bader, who during the crisis of the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940, got the Royal Air Force to put him in the cockpit of a Spitfire fighter aircraft,  in spite of the fact that his legs had been amputated a few years earlier.  Here was a man who had a dilemma.  It wasn’t unique but it was certainly a challenge.  But it didn’t stop him from shooting down record numbers of enemy aircraft neither did it stop him organizing and participating in several escape attempts from German prisoner of war camps after he had bailed out of his damaged aircraft and been captured.

So please know that if you really want to earn money—you can.   If you really do, go for it and reach for the sky.  Please let us know how it goes.

With confidence in you,

Rabbi Daniel & Susan Lapin

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Only the Lonely

March 5th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 30 comments

1999:  Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were described as loners…

2007:  At Virginia Tech, Cho Seung-Hui presented a chilling portrait of a 23-year-old loner

2010:   The man accused of shooting two children at a Carlsbad elementary school was described by neighbors Saturday as a loner…

2011:  Brazilian school shooter, Menezes de Oliveira, described as a loner…

2012:  Adam Lanza was a quiet, withdrawn loner…

2012:  The alleged shooter, TJ Lane, was described by Chardon High School classmates as a loner…

2018:   Classmates, relatives and neighbors have described Cruz as a loner…

The above direct quotes from news coverage of different school shootings share only one feature—loner.  I discussed my analysis of the Parkland school shooting on my podcast here. In this Thought Tool, I present to you something quite different. 

God created a world dependent upon connection.   Words, musical notes, and even the chemical elements of the periodic table all must connect before they are useful to humans.  Most importantly, we God’s children were created to connect.  Connectedness is necessary for our own sense of identity.  Loneliness is painful partially because it alienates us from ourselves.  Admittedly, killing other people is an extreme and thankfully rare response to excruciating loneliness.  Nonetheless, while most of us do not react violently to the pain of disconnectedness, we still suffer. 

Being without authentic human contact does to our souls exactly what oxygen deprivation or starvation does to our bodies.  God created us with obvious physical needs but He also created us with spiritual needs.  Connectedness with others is one of these needs and being deprived of this harms us just as surely, though perhaps not as quickly, as deprivation of oxygen or food.

You may well have experienced this very problem without diagnosing it.  Perhaps you felt a subtle difficulty at summoning up feelings of happiness.  Perhaps you felt a little depressed and could think of nothing about which you could be happy or for which you could feel grateful.  Seek no further.  The first and most likely explanation is insufficient authentic connection. 

Ancient Jewish wisdom helps explain what authentic connection is.  It was first achieved in that most perfect of all places, the Garden of Eden. After God said, “It is not good for man to be alone,” (Genesis 2:18) He solved the problem by creating Eve. Loneliness ended because Adam and Eve lived together in God’s garden, an environment of spiritual compatibility. 

Unfortunately, life of spiritual compatibility in the Garden came to an end.  Adam and Eve were evicted from paradise but they were still married and got to spend the rest of their lives trying to rebuild the spiritual umbrella of their relationship. 

After driving Adam and Eve out of the garden, God placed at the east of the Garden of Eden two Cherubs “to guard the way of the Tree of Life”.  Some mistakenly assume that their purpose was to prevent man from ever reaching the Tree of Life. 

However, the true meaning of the words is that their purpose was to protect the pathway to paradise.

In only one other circumstance throughout the entire Five Books of Moses do we again encounter the two cherubs: they are found upon the gold lid of the Ark of the Covenant in Exodus 25:18 and Exodus 37:7.

If you are becoming more familiar with the ancient Jewish wisdom that my wife, Susan, and I teach, you will know that the reappearance of the cherubs is the vital clue.  How can those two cherubs guide us back to Eden and help us banish loneliness?

The avenue back to Eden and the end of loneliness is through the Biblical blueprint contained within the box guarded by the cherubs.  The same cherubs that protect the path to Eden also point the way to the Torah within their ark. That source of enlightenment details the shared core beliefs that will allow the children of Israel to truly connect. This is why the cherubs never appear in the Torah as individuals but always as a pair of them.  They represent the ultimate metaphor of friendship and connection.

We might have thousands of ‘friends’ on social media and hundreds of friends we meet by our membership in various clubs, jobs, churches or synagogues.  We might even be at a different social engagement every night.  It is not the quantity of people we know, it is the quality of our connections with them.

Being connected with people of similar outlook is far more important than being connected with people of similar socio-economic level, skin color, or even with similar interests and hobbies.  Religious beliefs are one type of shared outlook and this is why some people feel closer to friends in their faith families than they do to their real biological families.

Wise business owners understand the importance of a corporate culture. When money represents materialism it drives people apart as each individual is focused on his or her own acquisitions. When money represents proof of serving others, money corroborates a shared vision of societal interaction.

Instead of frantically seeking crowds of friends, seek out the few with whom your connection can be Edenic.  Build spiritual compatibility into your relationships.  Instead of spending most of your free time with your spouse at meaningless movies, spend it building your spiritual umbrella.  Make sure that your connection with your family is not only biological.  A corporate culture that instills core shared beliefs makes for meaningful work relationships. In all parts of your life, build spiritual bonds of shared ideas with those you care most about.

If there’s someone with whom you’d like to build a deeper connection, may I suggest that together you take a look at my book, Business Secrets from the Bible. It’s on sale right now so that you can both get one. Reading it yourself will ignite your financial progress; reading it with someone will do so while building a meaningful relationship.

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See Something; Say Nothing

March 1st, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 31 comments

Today is Purim. Among other things this means that, this week, many people with an agenda are trying to validate their ideas by quoting verses from the Scroll of Esther. Are you a staunch 2nd Amendment advocate? You can find Scriptural support. Do you think that gun ownership should be outlawed? You can find Scriptural support. This doesn’t mean that Scripture has nothing to say on the topic. It means that the ancient Jewish wisdom that emanates from Scripture can’t be easily absorbed or transmitted in one quick column lacking context, subtlety and serious arguments and debate.

On the other hand, it is Purim, so I am going to join the crowd and link to the holiday, not directly on the gun issue, but on two news media items I saw in the press this week. The first was an article by the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency claiming that the speech given at CPAC by the NRA’s executive-vice-president could exacerbate anti-Semitism. Since Wayne LaPierre mentioned Saul Alinsky, Michael Bloomberg and George Soros, his speech could be seen as a dog whistle to anti-Semites. To the author’s credit, he acknowledges that it is hard to discuss the gun-control movement without mentioning Soros and Bloomberg as leaders in it, but he thinks that it, somehow, well, kind of, shouldn’t be said because even if Wayne LaPierre isn’t anti-Semitic himself, he might be seen as encouraging others to be so.

The second item was a news report that BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) in San Francisco was refusing to share surveillance video showing groups of teenagers terrorizing passengers. The reason? Debora Allen, a member of the BART Board of Directors, reports that, “To release these videos would create a high level of racially insensitive commentary toward the district,” she was told. “And in addition it would create a racial bias in the riders against minorities on the trains.” This is similar to reports from other areas of the country where citizens feel that crime information is suppressed if the alleged criminals are African-American.

The link between these two commentaries is the mindset that if we don’t identify groups, people won’t notice that there are certain group tendencies. I remember hearing from a friend who lived in the old Soviet Union that airplane accidents on internal flights happened not infrequently. However, since talking about them would tarnish the image of the successful Communist state, they were not publicly reported. It is as if when nothing was said, people might not notice that their loved ones never returned home. Note to the Politburo – people did notice.

In the movement to eradicate the First Amendment that has gained momentum on American college campuses, the ruling elites share a conceit that if they don’t acknowledge information, the stupid masses won’t figure it out for themselves. The same idea is seen in other countries. That is blatantly untrue. People do notice and do know that Jews are, unfortunately, disproportionately members of the far-Left and Black teenagers are, unfortunately, disproportionately involved in crime. Recognizing reality makes you neither anti-Semitic nor racist. But acknowledging a problem does help those who wish to counter these pathologies in the Jewish or Black community to do so. Do these realities give support to people who truly are hate-filled? People filled with hate don’t actually need reality to support their feelings. By not speaking openly and intimidating good people to be quiet, you simply drive the conversation underground which is fertile territory for hyperbole, exaggeration and prejudice.

How does this tie in to the Purim story? Do you notice that despite the Scroll of Esther emphasizing that ancient Persia was made up of different and diverse communities, there was no difficulty in identifying either the Jews or the Amelekites?  Each of us is a member of many groups. Our age, gender, nationality, religion, ethnicity, level of education and geographic location are only a few of the ways with which we are labelled. Sometimes we fit stereotypes, sometimes we do not. But it is futile to pretend that if we are not told so we won’t notice identifying features of one another.

I personally find George Soros’ behavior despicable and am frequently embarrassed by Michael Bloomberg’s activities. It is actually not irrelevant at all that Saul Alinsky is another Jew, even if that causes me shame. Neither is it irrelevant that many noteworthy scientists, entrepreneurs and jurists who contribute immeasurably to the world are of Jewish descent. I believe that God’s promise to the nation of Israel means that as a people we have the potential to soar higher or plummet lower than other nations. No one needs to point out either of these realities for them to be easily seen.

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