Monthly Archives: July, 2019

Work Injuries and Workers’ Compensation

July 30th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 6 comments

I was a craftsman for 38 years until I was injured at work. I’ve had 3 shoulder surgeries and am having both wrists fused this year.

Am I immoral to receive unearned money from workmen’s compensation? I am referring to the Bible that a man that doesn’t work should not eat. I try to help my wife as much as I can to try to keep some form of value. I just don’t feel like I earned my existence even though I receive a good amount of money. I worked about 60 hours a week before.

James

Dear James,

Sounds like you are going through a difficult physical challenge with altogether expected spiritual challenges too. We wish you easy surgeries, a swift recovery, and a restoration of your sense of personal value.

The  verse to which you refer is not found  in the Hebrew  Scriptures, which is all we are competent to discuss. While working is an essential part of God’s plan for humans, the idea of abandoning the elderly or ill is definitely not part of His vision.

To our knowledge, workmen’s compensation is something that you earned through your years of work. As part of your employment agreement, premiums were paid to the insuring entity on your behalf.  It was, in effect, a mandatory savings/insurance plan that you are now drawing on. There is nothing immoral about benefiting from advance planning or any similar arrangement of this kind.

At the same time, we do think that, for your own psychic health, you definitely do need to know that you are productive. It is too easy to slip into acceptance of one’s limitations and just stagnating where you are now.  Helping your wife is something we hope you did for all the years of your marriage. Maybe you have more time to do so now, but that is not going to feed your spirit.

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Three Cheers for Desire and Ambition

July 29th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 14 comments

Sailing into Puget Sound in the spring of 1792, Captain George Vancouver of the Royal Navy anchored his boat in a sheltered bay he named Port Townsend.  Now, 227 years later, up on the quay in this pretty Washington town sits a decrepit-looking seventy-six-foot wooden fishing boat built nearby in 1937.  Western Flyer, sailed to Mexico’s Sea of Cortez by the great American writer John Steinbeck and his friend, “Doc” Ed Rickets in 1940, is now being adoringly restored by the master craftsmen of Port Townsend.  Steinbeck lovingly recounted that voyage in his 1952 book The Log From The Sea of Cortez.

That boating expedition was Steinbeck’s reward to himself for completing his famous novel The Grapes of Wrath although he himself regarded his later East of Eden as his greatest book.  I agree with him and am confident that I know the reason why the former is often assigned to American high school students while East of Eden is much less famous.  GICs (Government Indoctrination Camps, formerly known as public schools) approve of Grapes of Wrath because, with its themes of ruthless landlords and banks along with brave labor union organizers, it encourages teachers to engage in Left Wing advocacy.  East of Eden on the other hand is a staunchly religious book which cannot be understood without frequent reference to the Bible.

The very title, East of Eden is a quote from the Biblical narrative following God banishing Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.

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Shhh! It’s Private

July 28th, 2019 Posted by Practical Parenting, Your Mother's Guidance 2 comments

A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter

Numbers 24 contains the blessings that the prophet Bilam said to the Jewish nation when he was hired by King Balak for the opposite purpose.  Perhaps the most famous line of all of his prophecies is one that Jews say as part of each morning’s prayers, “Mah tovu ohalecha Yaakov mishkenosecha Yisrael.” “How good are your tents, Jacob; your dwelling places, Israel.” 

Rashi, one of the great transmitters of ancient Jewish wisdom, explains that the goodness of the Jewish people’s tents is that they were arranged so that the doorways of the tents were not facing each other.  No family could look through their tent entrance and see into another family’s home. Even though a camp of over a million people may seem to be a place where privacy is lost, the Jewish camp was deliberately structured to create and protect privacy.

There is so much I want to say on this and so much for each of us to think about!  For today, I’d like to focus on the value of creating and protecting privacy for each family.  We live in an age where on all levels, privacy is being lost.  Basic assumptions that we used to have of what was protected and private information are overturned as so much information is now public and easily accessible.  Since the culture is so overwhelmingly one that does not protect privacy, I believe we, as mothers, need to be proactive in teaching our children the Biblical value of privacy, and not just assume they will pick it up or understand it on its own.

For example, I live on a block with many wonderful families and many, many precious children.  Fairly frequently an emergency vehicle is called to our block.  The innocent natural inclination of children is to stand around in groups watching. What child isn’t fascinated by fire engines and ambulances?  In order to teach my children privacy I make a point of calling my children inside when an emergency vehicle is outside and we close our window blinds.  They know that at that moment we aren’t able to help the family that called for assistance, but we can give them the dignity of privacy. We can proactively choose to not look.  I feel strongly that this is important for me to teach my children.

Similarly, when I get off the phone there is often at least one child who asks, “Who was that?”  You would think they would learn by now that I don’t answer that question!  I say, “It was someone calling to talk to me, not you, so I’m not going to give out their name.”  I’m not trying to hoard information or act as if I’m not being open with them, rather I am teaching that privacy is important and if there isn’t a need to share someone else’s information, I won’t do so.

I believe that the message my children also receive is that just as I’m protecting other people’s privacy, so too I will do that for them as well.  I hope it’s understood that I won’t read their diaries, listen in on their calls, or enter their rooms without knocking.  Privacy is important!  (Just so you know, as far as computers in my home we stress that nothing that happens on a computer is private.  Anybody can access it even if you think it is secure, and we do monitor our children’s computer usage, openly telling them that we are doing so.)

As always, and I haven’t said this in a long time so new readers may not know how I feel: I can only share with you what works for me and my family, I don’t believe that I or anyone else can tell you what you should do with your family.  God gave each of us the wisdom and insight to know what is best for our families and please don’t take anything I share as anything more than what works for me.  As always, my hope is that you will listen with an open mind and then apply these thoughts in a unique way for your family.  Privacy is an important Jewish value, and I believe we can all think about how we teach it and model it in our homes, but your ways may be different from mine and that’s terrific!

First Do No Harm

July 26th, 2019 Posted by Homeschooling, Practical Parenting, Reading Recommendations No Comment yet

As a young adult, I spent some time in Israel. One bonus of being there was meeting people who came from so many different places and backgrounds. When a rare snowstorm hit Jerusalem it was the very first time that a number of my friends had ever seen snow fall. While there is always something beautiful in watching falling flakes, it was especially exciting experiencing that event alongside those for whom it was new.

As adults, parents and teachers have the awesome opportunity of introducing so much of life to innocent children. We may take snow or stories or physical laws like gravity for granted, but one of our gravest responsibilities is making sure not to diminish the wonder of these things for the next generation.

Ann Patchett is a successful novelist and the co-owner of a bookstore in Tennessee. In that capacity she said, “I find myself flipping through the giant green binder of summer-reading lists from all the area schools and being struck by how many seem committed to wringing every ounce of joy from a young person’s relationship to a book.” She then proceeds to describe the often boring and cumbersome instructions that accompany the list of required reading.

What a condemnation! I can think of few skills more important than knowing how to read, but it is a wasted skill if a passion for reading doesn’t accompany it. A talented parent or teacher can peel open a book revealing depths not necessarily evident on a first reading and guide a young reader to get more from a story. A mentor can point a child towards books that will help the youth become a greater person. Those same educators can crush a love of reading, impoverishing and harming a child.

There are a few more weeks of summer. What books have you been reading aloud to your children during these longer days? If you aren’t confident in your reading, there are wonderful audio books to listen to alongside your children. One can hope that their teachers are not among the Grinches stealing the pleasure from reading. If they are, your role is even more important. Just as I enjoyed my Jerusalem snowfall more because of the friends sharing it, little will make your children enjoy reading more than sharing it with you.

Will Wonders Never Cease

July 26th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

I don’t agree with Senator Elizabeth Warren about much, but this morning was the exception to the rule. I read a statement of hers suggesting that people buy houses they cannot afford in order to have access to better public schools.

I can’t speak to how much of reaching beyond one’s means to buy a home is attributable to this, but I do agree that it is a disgrace that public schools in so many areas (poor ones in particular) are disastrous. I would love to ask the Senator why and how she thinks they got to be so. Only two generations ago my very poor parents and their siblings got an excellent education in the public schools.

My answer to that question is that liberal policies and Democrat domination of the inner city, including selling the futures of poor children for contributions from the teachers union, destroyed public education.  What is her answer?

Back to you, Mr. President

July 24th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 93 comments

As the massive Republican presidential candidate field narrowed down in 2016, I wrote quite a few Musings sharing my thought processes. Donald Trump was not a natural choice for me, though by the time election night came I was fully on board. This time around, only a few avid never-Trumpers are even thinking of a Republican primary challenger and some of those are openly declaring  that they would prefer a Democrat to our current President. I think they are grossly mistaken and astonishingly self-destructive, but they aren’t interested in listening to me. However, some of you might be.

I spent a lot of time during my most active mothering years trying to convey the power of speech to my children. One daughter had a hard time understanding that if she lashed out at a sibling with cruel words, by the next day she might have forgotten her hurtful outburst , but her sibling hadn’t. Other children found my recommendation that when something went wrong they should say, “Dearie, me!” laughable (o.k., it was laughable) but they knew that I had better not hear them saying anything stronger. Name-calling, gossip and crude language was absolutely frowned upon in our house.

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Should I realistially hope to find a quality man?

July 23rd, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 9 comments

I read your books on love and marriage and listened to the audio CD. I hear a common theme on your show and with various pastors saying that a woman should respect her husband or husband to be, and marriage is the ideal situation. My question is what should one make of the marriage statistics of black women versus others (I don’t have the exact numbers- but I hope you are familiar) considering the high incarceration rates of black males.

I would genuinely like to know if your advice applies to black women. Is it possible for most accomplished black women to find a mate they can look up to, respect, and marry?

Finally, I heard you say on your show that any studies ending in the word studies is not worth studying… (such as any cultural studies). My question then is, is it a waste of time to do personal study on Judaic studies or receive a degree in Biblical Studies?

Thank you very much! I value your perspective, and am anxiously awaiting a response. God Bless!

Jessica

Dear Jessica,

We usually discourage those using our “Ask the Rabbi” feature from sneaking in two questions in one letter, but  in your case, we’re happy to make an exception!

Your second question is quicker to answer than your first. In general, we do not recommend Judaic studies or Biblical studies. Instead, we do recommend studying Jewish history, the Bible, and especially, the Bible through the lens of ancient Jewish wisdom. Sometimes the label ‘studies’ is  being used innocuously  or as a marketing ploy, but we start out suspicious and would want to make sure we know who is doing the teaching and what their qualifications are. The word, ‘Studies’ often suggests that there is an agenda that is not conducive to an honest learning environment. 

Now, on to your  harder question.  We are indeed knowledgeable of the sad statistics to which you refer. At the same time, we are not locked into the notion that people must marry spouses of similar skin color.  Similar values are crucial and indeed we have known and been friendly with many so-called interracial (not a term we like) couples that we have met through the many churches at which we have appeared. 

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Snake in the Grass

July 22nd, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 2 comments

I often meet profoundly confused people. Sometimes a fellow isn’t sure if he is ready for marriage or a woman is struggling to deal with her difficult neighbor. Sometimes we need to make a business decision and we’d like to believe that both choices are equally honorable. The right course of action is seldom readily visible. Truth and falsehood; right and wrong; these are not simple distinctions. People take opposing attitudes on politics or social issues, everyone convinced to the depths of their souls that they are absolutely doing what is good, right, and noble.

Not surprisingly, Scripture offers us a tool to help cut through the confusing 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 then 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.

Notice that the solution to the plague of snakes did not involve getting rid of the snakes themselves. Why offer a cure for the snakes rather than simply removing them?

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Different Strokes for Different Folks

July 21st, 2019 Posted by Practical Parenting, Your Mother's Guidance 4 comments

A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter

Recently, I found myself with two children who, one right after the other, made identical comments that were not appropriate for that time.  You may or may not be surprised to hear that I responded very differently to each child even though the issue was identical.  Why would I do that?  Well, the same reason you do it!  As any mother or teacher knows, the point of responding is not to get anything off my chest or to play my scripted role and simply say lines that are pre-determined as the response for this particular action.  No.  My response isn’t for my own sake, but for the sake of my child. Therefore, my reaction had to be different to each child because each child is different and each one needed something different from me in that moment. 

We have a reminder of this principle in chapter 20 of Numbers.  Here, we have the very enigmatic story of God commanding Moses to speak to the rock to bring forth water for the nation. Instead Moses struck the rock, leading to the decree that Moses wouldn’t lead the nation into Israel.  There are so many questions and so many lessons we can learn from this story, but I would like to share just one angle with you today.

Forty years before this point the nation also needed water (Exodus 17), and believe it or not, God commanded Moses to hit the rock to make water flow.  Why was hitting the right response at that time, but 40 years later hitting was inappropriate and talking should have occurred?  What’s the difference? 

The audience is different!  40 years earlier, the children of Israel had just left slavery.  They were just beginning to come together as a spiritual nation and they still, so to speak, spoke the harsh physical language of slavery. Hitting and physical force seemed a natural and appropriate step for people who had just come out of 210 years of physical slavery.  But now, 40 years later, it is a new generation which needs water. This generation has had 40 years of Moses’s leadership and Torah learning, and they are about to enter Israel, a land sensitive to subtle spiritual behaviors.  This generation didn’t need to learn about physical force, they needed to learn how to use subtle and spiritual powers like speech to influence nature. 

This explains why God tells Moses, “Since you HIT the rock rather than speaking to it, you will not lead the Jewish people into the Land of Israel”.  The nation needed a different style of leadership at this point in time than the one they needed 40 years earlier.  The desired result was identical – water from a rock, but the response was different because the nation was different and needed to learn something different.

I believe serves as a powerful reminder to us parents to modulate our responses to each child individually.  One size does not fit all; rather it’s different strokes for different folks!  It’s empowering for our children to know that we speak to each of them h individually and treat them individually because they are individuals. We honor and respect their individuality by acknowledging who they are apart from their siblings and trying to give each one what they need from us one by one.   We can ask ourselves before we speak, “What tone of voice, what words, what response does my child need from me right now?” and try to act accordingly.

This Women-for-Trump Group Isn’t for Me

July 18th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 45 comments

For years, mainstream media has pretended that women make up a monolithic, liberal group. A number of years back, one could expect most articles concerning women to include a quote from a NOW (National Organization for Women) spokeswoman despite the fact that it represented its members only, not the totality of women. Conservative women’s groups, no matter how large, were routinely ignored. Today there is still a pretense that abortion rights are a united liberal “woman’s issue” even though the majority of women are not in favor of the radical abortion policies the Left is increasingly espousing.

Portraying President Trump as an enemy of women is part of this media lie. As a female supporter of the president, I would like to add my voice to those women brave enough to make their stand public, despite the bullying that often follows. I eagerly clicked on this article: Women for Trump -There’s No Conceding the ‘Women’s Vote’ to Liberals in 2020.

Unfortunately, I can’t march in this particular parade. As one of their “selling points,” this group mentions President Trump’s support for paid family leave. While it doesn’t diminish my support for the president’s other policies, one of my biggest concerns is how to make sure that the president and members of Congress know how many women think this legislation would be a terrible idea. I certainly do.

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