Monthly Archives: May, 2018

Our Palestinian Angel

May 31st, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 17 comments

I have a story to tell you. I have been thinking about this for a week and would love to hear your reaction as well. But first, as Sgt. Friday used to say on Dragnet, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

Two and a half years ago, one of our daughters had a pregnancy complication. With God’s grace, she and her husband welcomed a small but healthy son a few weeks early and via an emergency C-section. As grateful as we are for the conclusion, it was scary and traumatic.

Because of her history, our daughter’s second pregnancy was automatically classified as high-risk. Along the way, the doctor repeatedly told her of serious problems she was potentially seeing on the ultrasounds. God answered our prayers and each ominous warning faded away. Eventually, when the baby was almost two weeks past due date, labor started.

Our daughter was adamant about doing whatever was necessary to have a natural delivery rather than another C-section. Being a nurse, as she is,  comes with advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side her insurance is incredible. The down side is that she needs to use whatever doctor is on call and even today many doctors are not fans of VBACs (vaginal delivery after Caesarian).

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What is my son’s father’s role?

May 30th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 21 comments

I trust you are well, I am a South African single mother.

My son is 10 years old and is starting to get difficult to deal with. The other day he lied for two weeks about his ear phones that he lost and said they were at school in his locker.  I called his dad to assist in disciplining him and he was very dismissive and said he must just go look for the earphones. For me it was not about the earphones but about the fact that he lied.  How do you think I should have handled this? Should have I done the disciplining just by myself or was I right by including his dad? I grew up in a household that had both parents present and when disciplining happened it was done by both my parents.

I am actually so confused and afraid I will not raise a good boy without involving his dad therefore I always see the need to include his dad even though he is not that useful. It may be because he was raised by his grandmother and mother.

I hope you can assist me and point me to scriptures I can get encouragement, guidance and strength from.

Kind regards

Bulelwa M.

Dear Bulelwa,

Our hearts go out to you.  You are bravely facing the reality that raising a son to be a good man is vitally important but not an easy task. Doing so in a home without a father is certainly more difficult.

One of our hardest life lessons is learning to deal with our reality. It is so tempting to say, “If only” and think that if we were richer, prettier, wealthier, smarter, healthier, had different parents or were born in a different place our lives would be so much better. Yet, we all have to deal with what is truly in front of us.

It sounds like you had parents who acted as a devoted team. “If only” you could provide your son with the same. You cannot. Once you accept this truth, you will be better able to face the normal challenges that come with an adolescent boy. You will have to shoulder that responsibility yourself.

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Sneaky Snakes

May 28th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 27 comments

Evil exists. It is a fatal mistake to think that it does not. Yet, it is very hard to find anyone who is doing an evil act who will admit to doing so, even to themselves. Most often, sophisticated people doing great evil will justify their actions, convinced to the depths of their souls that they are doing what is absolutely good, right, and noble. Indeed, the right course of action is rarely obvious. Truth and falsehood; right and wrong; these  are not simple distinctions.

Not surprisingly, the word of the Lord and the language in which it was written offer us a tool to help cut through the moral fog.

The nation spoke against the Lord and Moses,
“Why did you take us from Egypt to die in the desert,
there is no bread or water and our souls are disgusted
with this lightweight bread.”
Numbers 21:9

This complaint is about the miraculous Manna from Heaven, one of God’s great blessings! In response, the Lord sends venomous snakes to attack the nation, killing a great number of people. Realizing the gravity of their ingratitude, the nation approaches Moses and acknowledges that they erred in grumbling. Moses prays to God on their behalf. God instructs Moses to make a serpent and place it on a stick. Moses makes a copper snake and miraculously, any stricken person who looked at this snake survived.

Isn’t this more work than is necessary? Why offer a cure for the snakes rather than simply removing them?

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Memorial Day

May 28th, 2018 Posted by On Our Mind 3 comments

Our daughter shared the following quote from a book she is reading that is written by a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor, who served on the USS Arizona.

“We were ordinary men. What was extraordinary was the country we loved. We loved who she was, what she stood for. We loved her for what she meant to us, even in those meager times. We all did – more than the states we left behind, our homes, the careers we gave up. As too many would prove, we loved her more than our very lives.”

Wife vs. Friend

May 24th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 13 comments

I’ve been married for 18 years and we have 3 beautiful kids.

I think we have a problem. My husband is helping a friend by letting him borrow his truck a for little more than 2 months now. Every Thursday my husband drives the 2 youngest ones to school in our two passenger van. I asked him to ask his friend to return our truck so he could drive the kids to school safely, but he said that he is helping the friend and can’t ask him that yet.

Help me understand if I’m being selfish when my concern is the safety of the kids? On top of that his friend has been using the truck for more than two months. I think this has been enough time to get on his way, since his is getting paid regularly.  I assume he’s doing okay because I heard that the friend even loaned money to someone.

Do you think I’m being mean to my husband and his friend? I also laid out my views and concerns for my husband, on the first day he let the friend use the truck. I was even concerned that we may be holding his friend back from moving forward and  getting the better things in life for himself. 

Thank you so much for everything that you and Susan do. I watch your show every day on TCT and I’m now reading one of your books. I have a much better idea of things now because of you.

Love,

Gina S.

Dear Gina,

We’re delighted that you find our shows and books helpful. That encourages us to keep taping and writing.

You are actually asking three different questions:

  1. Is your husband driving your children in an objectively unsafe way?
  2.   Is your husband giving his friend help in a way that keeps his friend from taking responsibility for his own life?
  3. What say do you have in how your husband helps his friend?

It is possible that your husband thinks that doubling up on seating is perfectly safe but you don’t. However, we have a suspicion that your concerns do not stem entirely from the safety issue or you wouldn’t have let your husband drive the children even once in an unsafe manner.

You might be right that it would be good for the friend to become more independent, however you can’t know that for sure. It is possible that your husband’s friend has shared confidences with him that you don’t know about or that other factors are in play.

The third question is really the pivotal one in terms of your marriage. We feel that your question is far more of a state-of-marriage question than it is a child-safety question or your concerns about the friend’s own situation.

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Ditch the Doldrums

May 23rd, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 10 comments

There are many life-metaphors to be found in the wonderful world of boats. Boats and people both embark on journeys and both can reach their destinations or sink.

When a boat is in the doldrums it is in that notorious windless zone near the equator. Old-time sailing vessels were often stuck there for weeks.  When a person is listless and despondent, he is also said to be in the doldrums.  But there is one major difference. While sailboats must await changing weather, humans have the miraculous capacity to bring about change in their lives themselves. 

Being marooned in stagnant circumstances is enough to make anyone miserable.  Change, growth, and progress are amazingly effective antidotes to depression. Most of us feel energized and optimistic when taking actions to improve our lives. Often, the changing calendar serves as a useful catalyst. But wait!  What’s the point?  We all know that most New Year resolutions fade away by spring.

One way to retain resolutions is to feel authentic, durable excitement in our souls about the spiritual magic of change.

Isn’t it rather strange how God introduced Himself to humanity on Sinai 3,330 years ago? 

I am the Lord your God who…
(Exodus 20:2)

Who did what?

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Exposed

May 16th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 23 comments

Even as I wrote it, I was disturbed by my last week’s Musing. The Musing’s premise was that we shouldn’t be surprised by hypocrisy in our politicians. I think, sadly, that this is true.  When many citizens demand that elected officials sanctimoniously parrot standardized phrases and then vote on the basis of those politically correct formulations we shouldn’t be surprised that the words of those running for office don’t match their personal actions.

This is not confined to politicians, of course. Our society keeps on pushing people to say one thing and think, believe and do another. For example, for many years now students taking a variety of exams, have been forced to choose between marking what they know to be the officially correct answer or responding with the truth according to their beliefs and, often, according to science. Recently, the MCATs, taken by aspiring doctors, added ideological questions that compel religious Christians and Jews to make exactly that deeply disturbing choice.

However writing about Eric Schneiderman, who resigned as New York’s Attorney General after allegations of disturbing personal conduct were made, troubled me. This resignation follows a pattern in a continuing series of stories that fling private matters into the public realm.

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My Parents are Separating

May 15th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 7 comments

Dear Rabbi and Susan Lapin,

First off, thank you for all that you both do and the wisdom you dispense through your podcasts, books and teachings. I find them all tremendously valuable and you have impacted my life for the better.

I have a question regarding my parents. Their marriage has been on the rocks for the past five years and they are now choosing to separate, but not divorce, because of their beliefs. Their issue is not due to infidelity but seems to be a communication and pride problem. They have been married for over forty years and have raised five children together, of which I am the youngest.

My question is what should our response be as their adult children? My instinct is to not get involved or share my opinions because it could be seen as taking sides and it doesn’t seem respectful.

As for background: we all live near our parents, there are many grandchildren in the family, we are all Christians, and we see each other often. I am struggling to identify what my responsibility is in this situation while still honoring my parents. My wife and I disagree with them not choosing to work harder on their marriage but we don’t know if it is our place to confront them on it.

One of my siblings suggested talking to them as a group, what do you think?

Any insights you could provide would be most welcome. Thank you tremendously.

Blessings,

Sam

Dear Sam,

Your sad situation reflects an important truth. No matter how old one’s children are, divorce is going to affect them. Of course, it also affects more distant relatives, friends, social circles and work groups. We are very sorry that you and your siblings and children are facing this situation.

Having said that, your instincts are spot on. In our audio CD on the Ten Commandments we explain why the Fifth Commandment about honoring parents is related to the Tenth Commandment, “Do not covet.” In short, recognizing one’s specific place in relationship to others is something that leads to happier interactions. We also explain why the Fifth Commandment is placed on the first tablet that otherwise deals with the interaction between people and God, while the second tablet deals with interactions between people and people. Honoring parents seems to be in the wrong place. Correctly understanding why there were two tablets clears up this confusion but even on a basic level it is clear that one’s parents occupy a position that no other people do.

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Mitt Romney Supremely Unqualified for Public Office

May 15th, 2018 Posted by On Our Mind 5 comments

One vital characteristic for leadership is knowing how the world REALLY works. By this sure standard, Mitt Romney is supremely unqualified for public office. He labeled the pastor of First Baptist in Dallas, Robert Jeffress a bigot for professing normative Christian doctrine. How shocking! A Christian leader believes in Christianity. Every morning I awaken grateful to be living among millions of devout Christians, many of whom aren’t sure whether I am destined for heaven or hell but who do absolutely nothing to hasten my arrival at either destination. America has been a place where we have traditionally accorded others the freedom of belief along with the freedom to speak what they believe. Now, Mitt Romney and the New York Times wish to abrogate those freedoms for Christians but grant them only to Moslems and atheists. Every group that stands for anything defines itself exclusively. That is how the world REALLY works.

Shhh! It’s a Holy Day

May 15th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 23 comments

This coming Saturday night will see immense numbers of Jews studying Scripture until sunrise.  They will be observing the sixth of the month of Sivan, Shavuot 5778, the 3,330th anniversary of the events described in Exodus 19, when God handed over His book to Moses.

What happened on Shavuot plays a crucial role in the daily lives of Jews.  For instance, every circumcision of a Jewish male infant commemorates God’s gift of the Torah. Without that Scriptural commandment, it is extremely unlikely that this minor operation would have been so consistently performed on every Jewish male. 

Every time a Jew declines bacon with his morning eggs, he is recognizing that most important event of Jewish history which took place on Shavuot.  Jewish marriages are properly solemnized,  “…according to the laws of Moses and Israel,” once again with a firm foundation in what took place on Shavuot. 

It is therefore puzzling that Shavuot, the day on which God presented the Bible, gets trumped in popularity by other festivals that wouldn’t even be celebrated at all were it not for that Bible.  For example, many more American Jews celebrate Passover than celebrate Shavuot.  Many more Jews celebrate Chanukah than celebrate Shavuot.  It is hard to think of a holiday bearing greater religious significance than Shavuot; it is also hard to think of a Jewish holiday that gets less attention.  Just try asking a non-observant Jewish acquaintance about Shavuot—you’re likely to get a puzzled look in return.  Why are so many Jews indifferent to Shavuot?

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