Monthly Archives: November, 2018

This Agenda May Be Harmful to Your Health

November 28th, 2018 Posted by Homeschooling, Practical Parenting, Susan's Musings 52 comments

I originally started writing this with the intention of posting it on our website as a Practical Parenting column, but then I realized that the problem I’m describing actually affects all of us. While the examples I mention have to do with children’s literature, every detail of the culture surrounding us impacts us, often in ways we don’t recognize.

Some years ago, a member of the California synagogue that my husband and I led worried that she was exhibiting tendencies of paranoia. She revealed that she had multiple locks on her apartment door, wouldn’t open the door to accept packages, and was constantly looking over her shoulder on the street. After a bit of discussion, it became clear to us that she lived in a high-crime neighborhood and rather than being paranoid, she was simply being realistic.

Whenever I see the news, women’s magazines, children’s books or many other media, I find myself hyper-sensitive to underlying agendas. In Stalinist Russia, young students were told to place their heads on their desks after praying to God for candy. Not surprisingly, when they lifted their heads their requests had gone unanswered. Then they were told to ask Stalin for candy and once again lay down their heads. Not surprisingly, candy seemed to rain down as their teachers distributed it while the children’s eyes were squeezed shut.

That approach may have lacked subtlety, but the message was clear. In some ways, more delicately delivered messages can be more dangerous. We don’t even realize that our minds are being directed and our beliefs formed.

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Thank you

November 28th, 2018 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

We would like to thank everyone who participated in Giving Tuesday. We are still tabulating the results and will soon announce the recipient of the Income Abundance Set (within the U.S.) or the Genesis Journeys Set download (overseas contributors). All of us at the American Alliance of Jews and Christians appreciate your support.

Does the Bible have advice for losing weight?

November 27th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 24 comments

I’m trying to find areas in the Bible that deal with overeating and weight gain.  I have had this struggle, like countless other women I’ve known, for my entire life, especially now after having our first son, and I’m wondering where I can find more information from God on this so that I can have more success in this area.

Thanks so much!

Melissa M.

Dear Melissa,

What an understatement it is when you say that this is a struggle many women have. While the Bible and ancient Jewish wisdom have a great deal to say on eating, it isn’t explicitly focused on overeating or weight gain. 

For instance, here is the first occurrence in Scripture of God issuing a commandment to man:

And the Lord God commanded the Adam saying,
“Of every tree of the garden eat you must eat
.
(Genesis 2:16) 

 Many English translations get it wrong by translating, “…of every tree of the garden you shall surely eat”

The original Hebrew does not say “surely”.  Instead it repeats the commandment to eat.  Here is what the Hebrew would look like if accurately translated:

“…of every tree in the Garden you must eat, you must eat.”

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Giving Tuesday

November 27th, 2018 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

We always appreciate your support for the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, but today Facebook and PayPal will match contributions, maximizing your support for our work. In addition, we would like to express our appreciation for your help in a tangible way, and anyone who donates today (via any method) will be entered into a drawing to win one of Rabbi Lapin’s most popular teaching sets.

Reach for the Stars – Stay Grounded

November 26th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 9 comments

When I was seven, my parents signed me up for swimming lessons. For the first three days, the teacher discussed buoyancy, backstroke, and breathing.  We dunked our heads into basins of water and blew bubbles. We never even got our feet wet. 

The next weekend my parents took us to a pool.  My father, eager to see what I had learned, asked me to demonstrate.  I explained that I would need a blackboard.   This did not impress my father.  He walked me to the deep end of the pool deck, picked me up and promptly threw me into the water. After a moment of shock, I began swimming.

This method of instruction, let alone fathering, may not be in favor today.  Personally, I remember feeling rather proud of how quickly I learned to swim.  But whatever you think of the methodology, there is a lesson to be learned. The best way to own new information is to apply it. Few of us would want to be operated on by a surgeon who aced his written exams but never wielded a scalpel. There is a reason that driver education courses take place in the car as well as the classroom.

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Psst! Want the Secret to a Great Education?

November 26th, 2018 Posted by Homeschooling, Practical Parenting, Reading Recommendations No Comment yet

When I was actively homeschooling, I would occasionally see humorous lists citing the top reasons to homeschool.  One that resonated with me (and seemed serious to me even if it lent itself to funny illustrations) was that homeschooling validated hours upon hours of reading. Not only did I get to read in order to prepare for teaching, but there was a practical need for reading books about education and learning.

With that in mind, those of you in the trenches of parenting whether you are homeschooling or not, might enjoy reading two books that I recently finished. Lenora Chu is an America journalist whose parents immigrated to the States from China. When she and her small town, Minnesota-bred, blond and blue-eyed husband attain career opportunities in China, she utilizes her skills to explore and compare education in China and her home country. Since the couple has two young children, one of whom they enroll in school, her writing is conflicted, passionate and very human.

Little Soldiers: An American Boy, a Chinese School and the Global Race to Achieve is a fun read that will make you think. Like Ms. Chu, you may find yourself alternately horrified, envious, curious and forced to analyze exactly what your goals for education are.

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AAJC Happenings – Update from Rabbi Daniel Lapin

November 25th, 2018 Posted by AAJC Happenings No Comment yet

Dear Friend—

In hoping to enlist your support for our work here at the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, I could list our activities, events, appearances, and publications—and I shall do so.  But first you deserve a picture of the umbrella beneath which everything we do flourishes.

Let me try this metaphor: Imagine plucking a beautiful rose from your garden and placing it in a vase on your dining room table. Your first impression is that you made a pretty smart move.  No longer do you need to go outside, cross your lawn and stoop down at the rose bush to enjoy the flower’s beauty and its fragrance.  It is right there on your table.  However, by the next day or two, you begin to have doubts. Your severed flower has begun to droop, and its colors are fading while its sisters, still on the plant outside, are flourishing in their loveliness.

Initially, when our culture detached the frighteningly fragile flower of society from its roots, the eternal Biblical values of the Judeo-Christian tradition, it looked like a pretty smart move.

It looks a lot less smart now.  It is now apparent to us all that what distinguished life in America from life in most other places, was widespread acceptance of the Judeo-Christian underpinnings of civilization. Until the early 1960s, people were mannerly, kind, and compassionate because of our Biblical heritage. People were basically law abiding, family-minded, and hard-working for the same reason. Can you believe that the phrase “…under God…” was easily inserted into our Pledge of Allegiance as late as 1954? Can you imagine this happening today?

Yes, there is a canyon cutting through our culture. But no, contrary to the propaganda messages that attempt to indoctrinate us, the canyon does not separate rich from poor, or men from women, or people with black skins from people with white skins, or Christians from Jews. These are false and secular divisions. They are artificial.

The canyon does seem to separate those who view Judeo-Christian, Bible-based values as vital for civilization’s survival from those who view those values as primitive obstructions to what they see as progress.

Working together, you and I are making a difference in protecting that vital set of foundational values, and I appreciate your partnering with the American Alliance of Jews and Christians to do so.

We continue to change the hearts that will change the culture by consistently publishing three weekly resources, Thought Tools, Susan’s Musings, and Ask the Rabbi. We put out a weekly audio program carried on The Blaze, iTunes, YouTube and other platforms, and we put out a daily television show, Ancient Jewish wisdom with Rabbi Daniel & Susan Lapin produced by the TCT Television Network.  The AAJC has sponsored my appearances before more than a thousand pastors and Christian leaders during 2018 as I strengthened their hearts and encouraged their passions. My regular synagogue speeches carry the same goal.

This work and more, will continue in 2019 as we see enthusiasm for our efforts grow. 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 2019, we have planned a program requiring a budget of $600,000. Our leadership is discussing expanding our work beyond the borders of the United States of America. In an increasingly connected globe, bad ideas spread quickly; but good ideas and true beliefs can be spread just as effectively. To that end, I have been privileged to carry the banner of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians to the United Kingdom, Taiwan, and Switzerland. In all three countries I was amazed to see such receptivity to timeless truth.

God brought about the Exodus to give the Israelites freedom to follow Him. He warned Pharaoh, “Let my people go so that they may worship me in the desert.” (Exodus 7:16) By following God’s rules, people would interact in a way that would create a safe and secure community. Tyrants understand that once God is out of the picture, they can reverse that equation, seducing citizens into trading freedom for the promise of safety and security, which will never be delivered.

Much more cultural energy is being pumped into the anti-Christian propaganda campaign than was ever delivered to the anti-smoking or anti-drunk-driving campaigns of years gone by. Fervent zealots of secularism are flinging themselves into this anti-Christian war with fanaticism.

If they succeed, Christianity will be driven underground in America, as it has been elsewhere, and her benign influence on the character of America will be lost. In its place we shall see a sinister secularism that menaces Bible believers of all faiths. Once the voice of the Bible has been silenced, the war on Western Civilization will be strengthened and we could see a long night of barbarism descend.

Without a vibrant and vital Christianity, America is doomed, and without America, civilization is doomed.

Which is why I, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, am so terrified of American Christianity caving in.  I believe that we Jews and Christians must stand together replacing our timidity with confidence and our diffidence with daring and determination.  Almost every day, we see the battle lines being drawn. Defense will be far harder down the road if we ignore the danger signals now.

We feel that it is important to have prominent Jewish and Christian voices on the right side in the struggle for America’s future and your gift helps us recruit and train those voices.  We pray that your heart leads you to support our work at the American Alliance of Jews and Christians and are grateful to you for joining our mission.

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). We have several different ways now that you can make your tax-deductible donation:

With my deepest gratitude,

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, President
American Alliance of Jews & Christians

Wishing Everyone a Grateful and Faithful Thanksgiving

November 21st, 2018 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

Abundant Gratitude

November 21st, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 16 comments

I hope that you are too busy preparing for a grateful Thanksgiving with relatives and friends to have time to read a long Musing. We are looking forward to welcoming two of our grandchildren (5 and 8) from out-of-town who will remain with us for the weekend after joining us for a Thanksgiving feast at the home of gracious friends.

Like many Jews around the globe, I utter a formal prayer of thanks for the privilege of living another day as soon as I open my eyes every morning.  Additionally, I have also been trying to highlight one aspect of my day for which I am  grateful before going to bed at night.

I would like to share three events in my life from the past week that illuminate why I am so grateful and humbled to live in this wonderful country.  My Musings often focus on problems, but I do believe that the number of Americans whose values I share is still larger than the number whose values I see as dangerous.  That’s why I am optimistic about this country continuing to flourish as a beacon of goodness around the world.

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Am I doing wrong by taking government money?

November 20th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 24 comments

Is it wrong to receive EBT and cash aid? Am I being selfish by not working?

I’ve considered your topics on serving others and receiving money for it, would this be making money without serving others?

I would appreciate your general thoughts on this subject, but I want to describe what my personal situation is like currently.  Maybe you can address both?

For my personal situation… I am 20 years old.  I am single with no children or dependents.   I am not in any way disabled or unable to work.  I am working to get financial licenses and become self-employed (100% commission or even become business owner/broker in the future.  In the meantime, I have accepted EBT and Cash Aid in order to pay bills if I fall short on my income goals rather than (in my eyes) restrict my time to hourly paid position, leaving me less time to pursue something I feel I am more qualified for and can do-  I also have accepted EBT and Cash Aid because I felt an hourly job would/could my distract my mental focus or take energy away from the project I really want to pursue.

I really appreciate any thoughts you can share even if it simply points me in the right direction!

Thank you, (Rabbi) Daniel, Susan, and team!

Stephanie

Dear Stephanie,

The fact that you are asking these questions tells us that you want to live a life of principle and morality, for which we salute you. We would like to answer on two levels, one of objective morality, but also that of your own personal good.

On one hand, you are not lying to the government in order to get these benefits. In fact, the government tells you that you are entitled to them. Nonetheless, as a moral person, we think that in your head and heart you feel uncomfortable. In this case, your feelings are correct. The fact that the government allows or even encourages something makes it neither moral nor prudent.

We would suggest that you randomly pick a name out of the phone book and say out loud to that fellow citizen, “Gretchen Johnson, I thank you for paying high taxes to support me, and I appreciate your putting off getting your daughter a winter coat so that I can have some of your money without having to work.” “Mr. Henderson, please thank your wife for understanding that you couldn’t celebrate your anniversary with dinner out, because your taxes were raised to allow me not to work.”  We think that because of the person you are, saying those words out loud will make you feel uncomfortable.

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