Monthly Archives: July, 2018

What do I tell my daughters?

July 31st, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 32 comments

Dear Rabbi and Susan,

After Adam and Eve eat and are questioned about the forbidden fruit, we read [in Genesis 3:16]:

Unto the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy travail; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.’

What is the real meaning of “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”?

I’m looking for an explanation I can share with my wife and six daughters, especially given the current Western world trend of promoting the empowerment and independence of women.

Thanks for your all your great teaching and your work creating the AAJC.

Just as an aside, you may like to know that your father, Rabbi A. H. Lapin married my parents in Johannesburg in 1956.

Dear David,

Your closing sentence was heartwarming for us as my late dad was a distinguished rabbi for many years in Johannesburg.  You reminded us of the time we were once chatting with a woman in a park. After hearing our name, she said, “Oh, your father married me.” At that point our six year-old daughter, Ruth, who was playing nearby, pulled herself up to her full 40 inches and said, “He did not. He married my grandmother.”

A direct answer to your specific question would entail sitting for many hours and studying those verses with your wife and daughters. However, there is a prerequisite to doing that learning. The Torah is a package deal. It doesn’t work well when verses are lifted out of context. That is why both sides of an issue whether it be slavery in America in the 1800s or immigration today can easily find “proofs” for their ideas by isolating a few words or phrases from Scripture.

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Ancient Solutions for Modern Problems

July 30th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 9 comments

Can you tell the difference between these two lists of questions?

List A

  • How do you build a self-driving car?
  • What is the best way to treat breast cancer?
  • What is the quickest way to get to New York from Los Angeles?
  • How high can a skyscraper be built?
  • What is the best way to obtain energy?

List B

  • What is the best way to cope with feelings of anger?
  • Can love be sustained or is it destined to fade?
  • How do we best find consolation in the face of death?
  • How do we raise children to respect their parents?
  • How do you balance work and family?

I am sure you got it.  List A comprises questions for which the answers regularly change. To find the current answers to List A type questions, we need only to study the latest scientific and technological data. Each year as we acquire more knowledge and achieve greater technological prowess (and sometimes as we unmask scams or discover errors) those answers change.

In List B, however, the answers never fundamentally change. Regardless of new advances in science, technology, or medicine, the answers to those questions remain the same. 

These kinds of questions gnaw away at people.  Long ago, people turned to Scripture for the answers.  About the time of the Renaissance, secularism started spreading its sordid stain and universities replaced the study of God’s teachings with literature.  People studied Seneca the Roman philosopher partly to learn his views on anger management.  They read Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina or Flaubert’s Madame Bovary to gain insight into the complex dynamics of marriage and studied Shakespeare’s plays for understanding the entire range of human emotions.

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Everyone Homeschools – Even You

July 30th, 2018 Posted by Homeschooling, Practical Parenting 3 comments

Maybe your children go to school. Maybe you don’t have children or they are no longer little. If you have breath in your body, you need to think of yourself as a homeschooler. 

Learning is a lifetime occupation. Unless you want to be boring, bitter, unimaginative and stuck in a rut, keep learning. Whether you are ten or eighty, childless or parenting a houseful, and whether you or your children go off to a building called school or not, every vibrant person homeschools.

In English, people teach and people learn. Those words are not linguistically connected. In Hebrew, the act of teaching and learning are variants on the same root; L-M-D. To teach is le-LaMeD while to learn is li-LMoD.


D  M  L (L)
ל) ל מ ד)
(to) learn/ (to) teach

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Rest in Peace, Mrs. Ziglar

July 30th, 2018 Posted by On Our Mind 9 comments

Some relationships are special blessings. For us, one of these was our friendship with Zig and Jean Ziglar.  Zig was the public face, but we had the privilege of meeting and spending time with “the Redhead” as well. There are countless number of people whose lives have been improved because they were touched by Zig and his tireless work as he helped others attain their dreams. We know, as he often said, that without Jean he wouldn’t have achieved his life mission. Theirs was a true partnership.

Jean was gracious, lively and full of warmth. She loved her family and church. She even made room for us in her heart and we send our heartfelt condolences to Tom, Cindy, Julie and the rest of the Ziglar family.

What Is This Page?

July 26th, 2018 Posted by Practical Parenting 6 comments

On my husband’s live chat podcast a while back, one listener asked for homeschool resources. My husband suggested that he ask me by writing in an Ask the Rabbi question on the topic, which he (and others) did.

Rather than list resources in an Ask the Rabbi answer, I thought I might try something different. I plan to write one or more short pieces each week and post them in this “Practical Parenting” column. While I am going to start by discussing some homeschooling ideas and resources, I hope to expand beyond that. 

Along the way, I will look through past Musings that had to do with children and add them to this page. 

Please let me know what you think of this new page and how it can best serve you. You can reach me via admin@rabbidaniellapin.com.

Enjoy,

Susan

Watery Reminders

July 26th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 14 comments

Our basement, like so many others in the Atlantic region, flooded during this week’s torrential rains. We are fortunate. Our damage was largely luggage, clothing, tools and other replaceable items. We stored very few pictures downstairs and after running the washing machine non-stop for a few days, clothing has been retrieved. Since—surprise, surprise—the flooding is not covered by our insurance, the flooding is going to be expensive in terms of replacement cost and the time it will take to clean up, but we are grateful it was not worse. The biggest loss has been books.

We are enormous fans of used bookstore. We don’t seek the latest best-seller at a discount. Instead, we search out old books, those that you can’t find anymore. Books that beam out wholesomeness and innocence. Books about healthy families and friendships with a noticeable absence of perversion and profanity. One sad victim of our flooding was a box labelled, “Teenage girl books,” that was waiting for our granddaughters to get a bit older.

After a tiring day of clean-up, I curled up in bed needing even more distraction than reading provided. A few weeks ago in a Musing I mentioned the 1960s TV show Family Affair and a search of Amazon Prime showed that it was available for viewing with a click of the mouse. I clicked. (more…)

Why don’t you live in Israel?

July 25th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 9 comments

I’m always wondering why your family never moved to Israel?

Matt

Susan and I did something unusual last week. While we always work on the Ask the Rabbi column together, our answers to this question diverge somewhat because of the different way each of us was raised. Susan answered this question in her Susan’s Musing and I am going to initially answer here, although Susan will join in at some point – you will see us switch from singular to plural.

As Susan said in her response, the commandment to live in Israel is one among many. While she was raised in a religious Zionist atmosphere that does encourage Jews from around the world to move to Israel, I was not. In the worldview of my family and my teachers,  the political State of Israel, founded largely by atheistic socialists in the early years of the 20th century, certainly did make it easier to live in Israel.  However,  from a religious point of view, the obligation for a Jew to live in the holy land had been no less stringent earlier while the land was under Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman or British rule. In other words, the mass return of Jews to the land after the State’s founding in 1948 was not really the equivalent to the return under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah around 400 BC. 

Not only was the State of Israel merely a political entity, in its early years there was a great deal of hostility towards religion. My great-uncle and teacher, Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian, relocated to the land of Israel late in his life and opened a Yeshiva (Bible school). My parents sent me as a 12 year-old to live and study with him for a few years.  I clearly remember the taunts and provocations that came my way from anti-religious Israelis. On our part, we loved the land as Jews have for millennia, but the founding of the sovereign State of Israel in 1948 didn’t really change much.  That was how I was raised.  Needless to say, both the State of Israel and my views have changed over the years.

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Letter to the Editor: Wall Street Journal

July 24th, 2018 Posted by AAJC Happenings 8 comments

We submitted the following to the Wall Street Journal and  an abridged version appeared in the August 1, 2018 edition:

I appreciated Liel Leibovitz’ article (Is Brett Kavanaugh Bad for the Jews? July 24, 2018 ) confirming that the Anti-Defamation League currently serves more as a partisan branch of the Democrat Party than fulfilling its founding mission as an organization combating anti-Semitism.

However, I want to point out that while Jonathan Greenblatt has moved the ADL further to the Left, that shift was already well under way during the tenure of the organization’s prior president, Abe Foxman. During the 90s, the ADL became actively hostile toward Evangelical Christianity as seen in many of their publications such as “The Religious Right: The Assault on Tolerance & Pluralism in America”.  This notorious 200 page polemic, for which the ADL eventually was forced to apologize, excoriated leaders like Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Sr. and Phyllis Schlafly.  The American Alliance of Jews and Christians was founded in response to the leftward tilt of many Jewish groups like the ADL.  Our credo is to “promote traditional values while opposing bigotry against traditional faith, particularly the war on Christianity.” 

Sadly, many groups founded by Jews express hostility to Judeo-Christian values, not only abandoning their lofty founding goals but  converting them into vehicles hostile towards religious Jews and Christians but nearly always supportive of Moslems.

Mr. Leibovitz wrote that the ADL should, “…realize that the threats to Jews these days come as fiercely from the left as they do from the right.” That is not entirely accurate. Anti-Semitism on the right is from the fringe, while anti-Jewish and anti-Israel bigotry  from the left increasingly represents the position held by rising stars in Democrat politics who are seldom denounced by the establishment. 

Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Mercer Island, WA

President, American Alliance of Jews and Christians

Don’t Disturb Me Now

July 24th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 16 comments

“Don’t disturb me now!”  How often have we used that phrase?  Looking back, whenever we’ve muttered, “Don’t disturb me now,” hasn’t it usually been said to a child?   The years inevitably go by and eventually you wish that your child would disturb you now.

Occasionally, we might say it to a spouse.  Then the years go by and you realize how much you’d give if only your spouse was there to disturb you now. Or any time.  Sometimes a customer walks into your store just as you’re getting ready to close up for the day.  You may not say it, but you’re thinking, “Don’t disturb me now!”  It’s good to remember those early days when you prayed for a customer to walk through the door.

It can happen that one is overtaken by an urgent call of nature at an inconvenient time, say, in the middle of an important meeting.  It would be perfectly normal to silently beseech one’s body, “Don’t disturb me now!”  A better response is to take care of bathroom business and then thank God for one’s body and its multiple complex orifices all of which open and close at the appropriate times.  Being able to relieve oneself regularly is a big blessing.

Blessings of all kinds come but we often miss them because they don’t necessarily come on our schedule.  “Don’t disturb me now” is just one way of banishing blessing.  Being so inwardly focused is another way of remaining oblivious to a blessing in the shape of an opportunity.  A business professional seeking to hire an associate can sometimes have such an overly defined candidate in mind that he ignores someone who’d be a spectacular employee.  A single man assuring all his married friends about how eager he is to find a spouse but with such a fixed picture in mind of the woman he imagines marrying that he all but eliminates the possibility of blessing finding him.

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Why not Israel?

July 19th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 27 comments

I love puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, acrostics, Sudoku, logic puzzles…a book full of puzzles even keeps me somewhat content on a cross-country flight. I am telling you this to put into perspective my answer to a question that came to our Ask the Rabbi column.

Matt asked, “I’m always wondering why your family never moved to Israel?” 

While my husband and I always answer the Ask the Rabbi questions as a team, I’m going to make an exception for this one and let my husband answer in that venue while presenting my own answer here. You see, my husband and I received very different upbringings with regard to the modern State of Israel. While the land of Israel is unquestionably precious and special to all Jews and has been since the days of Abraham, how love for the land translates into action is a different matter.

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