Monthly Archives: October, 2020

Is Jewish financial success unrelated to Judaism?

October 6th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 9 comments

I have recently become a passionate audience of your ancient Jewish wisdom show on tct.tv. I do gain a lot of understandings of why Jewish people are so successful, especially in the business world. Many of the teachings I have learnt so far are related to the faith.

But that doesn’t seem to explain why so many secular Jewish people are also very successful in their trades. 

Could it be that the blessing of God to the chosen people regardless of their faith?

Thanks,

Howard L.

Dear Howard,

We are delighted that you are watching our Ancient Jewish Wisdom TV Show on TCT. Our shows, just like our ministry, revolve around applying ancient Jewish wisdom to the areas of family, finances, faith, friendship and fitness. In other words, everything in our lives that we really care about.

If you have had the chance to look at any of our financial resources, whether books, audio or video, we hope you have begun to find the answers to your question.

We all grow up in certain environments that lead us to take many ideas for granted. Only when we are exposed to a different way of life do we realize that our way is not universal or automatic. We can see this in so many different areas. For instance, there are many American citizens who grow up with loyalty to one of the two political parties because that is the party that their grandparents and parents and neighbors supported over the course of decades. Sometimes, they discover a new friend or a piece of information that leads them to actually explore what differentiates the parties and then they discover that their natural affinity lies elsewhere. But many, many people just blindly follow in their parents’ footsteps.

Similarly, if you grew up in a home awash with books, with parents who read aloud to you and supper discussions that revolved around articles and books, you might be blown away to eat at a friend’s house and find that watching TV is the main activity at mealtime. Until you joined that table as a guest, you simply did not know that not everyone reads avidly or that members of a family could sit at a meal with eyes focused on a monitor instead of sharing time and conversation together.

In this same way, there are attitudes towards work and money that pass down through generations of Jewish families even when the original source of those ideas, the Torah, has been banished as a main guidepost for life. The original impetus is no longer known, but the fumes of that fuel, those specific ideas, remain in the gas tank. In our resources, we share these ideas so that they are available to everyone, though we explain why being a person of faith makes them more accessible.

Having said that, we all realize that time will erode everything if there is no upkeep as surely as your car will stop traveling once it runs out of gas. The fumes of Torah wisdom will propel people forward for quite some time even after the tank is empty, but it will not last forever.

Wishing you financial success,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Maps, Graphs and Charts: Yes, They Still Matter

October 6th, 2020 Posted by Homeschooling, Practical Parenting No Comment yet

Over the course of the festival of Sukkot, Jews who follow a Torah path make every effort to eat outdoors in a Sukkah (a temporary “hut” built to certain Biblical specifications). This year, my husband and I did not build a Sukkah of our own as we do most years. Instead, we are relying on sharing the Sukkot of our gracious children and neighbors. In that way, we found ourselves this morning having breakfast with a 20-something young man, son of one of our host families.

This charming and accomplished youth asked us a question about our beloved boat trips in the Pacific Northwest. As my husband replied, he realized that our young neighbor, an east coaster,  wasn’t familiar with the area. From experience, I knew what was coming.

“When you are going on a journey or to a new place, do you look at a map to get the lay of the land?” my husband asked.

“No, I use my GPS,” came the expected reply.

Even today, our home is stocked with maps. We do not set out on a long trip without a paper record of the areas through which we will be going. The above conversation is one that my husband frequently has, especially with those under the age of 35. Each time, he is amazed at the answer. While GPS has its highly respected place in our lives, my husband cannot imagine not having a mental overall picture against which the GPS voice can be measured. Leaving oneself open to befuddlement if the directions mess up, as they certainly sometimes do, is anathema to him.

As the discussion continued, I remembered a homeschooling resource that I valued and enjoyed. It is possible that my children enjoyed it as well, but whether they did or did not, it bore its fruit. The series, Maps, Charts and Graphs by Modern Curriculum Press began with a first volume geared to second grade and then increased in complexity for quite a number of years. It taught how to read maps, graphs and charts, explained different types and uses of each of these tools, and imparted interesting information along the way.

I did a quick search and found that this series is still available. In all honesty, I last saw it many years ago so I cannot guarantee that the product hasn’t changed. I’m sure there are many newer competing products available now as well. But I do think there is value in practicing this material on paper rather than only via a computer or an app. This recurring conversation with young men and women who have little or no familiarity with maps led me to want to share this resource with you.

A Time for Everything

October 5th, 2020 Posted by Thought Tools 12 comments

Whether because of COVID-19 or due to governmental reaction to the virus, these past months have provided a stark message to the world that many things are outside our control. Businesses have failed no matter how hard their owners labored; people have fallen ill no matter how many health foods they consumed, and political currents have destroyed cities no matter how decent the people who live there.

Imagine a baby newly aware of his ability to deliberately move his arms, hands and feet. Lying on a blanket near a window, he sees that each time he waves his arms, the leaves outside the window dance. Delighted with this power, he repeats his gestures. Suddenly, the leaves stay rigidly still and our baby bursts into tears. Unbeknownst to him, the leaves were responding to an autumn wind, not to his machinations.

There are things in this world that we can influence and other things that we cannot. One of the secrets to sanity and happiness is recognizing the difference.

The world-record for the biggest-selling popular song with the oldest lyrics belongs to The Byrds’ rendition of Turn, Turn, Turn from 1965, containing words from the third chapter of King Solomon’s book of Ecclesiastes. This book, Kohelet in Hebrew, is read during the holyday of Sukot each year, a joyous week that we are currently celebrating. It contains a credible explanation for our mystery.

A time to be born         And a time to die

      A time to plant             And a time to pluck…

(Kohelet 3:2)

The seven verses of Ecclesiastes we are examining (3:2—3:8) contain twenty-eight events for which “there is a time.”  Some events are under our individual control. Other times, we can only respond to events in our world.  By scrutinizing each verse from the perspective of strong individual control, we find that verses (3:2—3:4) deal with events in our lives where we need to follow external triggers.  Verses (3:5—3:7) deal with events under our control.

In Kohelet 7:8, Solomon provided the clue to the pattern he followed:

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning…

This verse tells us to look at the end of the section we are studying for a clue.

A time to love         And a time to hate

A time for war       And a time for peace

(Kohelet 3:8)

This verse contains both types of events. Loving and hating are decisions made by each of us.  Whether our nation is at war or peace lies outside our personal choice.  King Solomon teaches that our lives contain both kinds of events and we need to learn to distinguish between them.

Fatalistic people deem everything in life to ‘just happen’ so they attempt little and achieve less. Foolish people imagine they can control every aspect of their lives and fritter away their time and energy fighting reality. Those of us who follow King Solomon’s guidance recognize that while everything is ultimately in God’s control, we must spend our time and efforts on those things our endeavors are likely to impact while adapting to and accepting those things the wind blows our way.

It is always the right time for Biblical wisdom
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A Disastrous Debate

October 1st, 2020 Posted by Susan's Musings 47 comments

I completely understand the desire to relegate memories of the first 2020 presidential debate to oblivion, but for those of you who will bear with me, I need the cathartic experience of writing about it. I also think it is important to do so to distance myself from those who think that President Trump showed himself to be forceful and in command. He did not. Both Chris Wallace and Vice-president Biden presented themselves poorly as well but, in my opinion, the president was the worst of an embarrassing bunch.

From the outset, let me say that I will be voting for the current president. I am voting for and supporting, as I have for the past five years, policies rather than choosing a person who will be my family’s guide to character and morals. I look at what President Trump has done rather than at what or how he speaks. I support almost all of his record. I further believe that no other Republican who was running in 2016 could have stood up against the Clinton and media machines. We needed, and we voted in the primaries, for a bulldozer, a maverick, a Hulk Hogan. President Trump’s actions have fulfilled my expectations and I am grateful for what he has done during his term of office.

Having said that, he blew an opportunity at the debate. I have heard the president in State of the Union speeches and at other times speak articulately, clearly and strongly. On each of those occasions, he countered the image of the media and the Left. During this debate, he matched the parody that they constantly and unfairly portray him to be. His worst self was on show.

Did the president not prepare for the debate at all? Did he get terrible advice from those around him or did he reject good advice? I don’t know. I would like to address just one question that the moderator asked him and that could have been answered in a majestic Trumpian way that would have magnified one of his best assets, that of being in touch with real Americans.

The question was whether he would denounce white supremacists. He should have known that question was coming and he could have turned it to his advantage rather than fumble the opportunity as he did. I assume that no one in the campaign is reading my words. I write my suggested answer in case it might provide a balm to anyone’s soul that, like mine, was battered by that ridiculous evening. Here is how I think the president could have answered that question:

Chris, I’m glad you asked that question so I can explain how it is based on a lie. The media doesn’t talk about this, but to this date over 400,000 citizens have walked away from the Democrat Party. The movement they joined, called #Walkaway was founded by one man who hated me for what he was told I said about the Charlotte event. A friend convinced him to uncover the true story and this young man realized that CNN and other media were lying to and manipulating him. He posted a video explaining why he was walking away from the Democrat Party. It has caused a revolution and over 400,000 people, largely young, black and white, many from groups stereotyped as automatically Democrat, have written or videoed their similar stories. They are choosing truth over propaganda, unity over divisiveness, love of country and God over hatred.They know that your premise about what I said is incorrect.

However, you ask whetherI oppose white supremacy? If you mean what the term meant in the traditional sense, I absolutely do. If, you mean it as many in my opponent’s party has changed it to mean, that every individual with a white skin is automatically a racist and white supremacist, then I don’t. When Mr. Biden said that you are not a real black if you don’t vote for him, I found that offensive. I object to anyone, of any color, denouncing others based solely on the color of their skin. I have canceled Federal programs that, in the spirit of Communist re-education camps, forced good, loving people to stand up and say they are racist only because of the color of their skin. I still believe in Martin Luther King’s words that we should be judged by our character and not by the color of our skin. I am sorry that my opponent does not.

Under two minutes and, in my humble opinion, a response to the question that could have won, rather than lost, votes.

I’m stepping off my soap-box. We Jews have just finished celebrating Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, both of which emphasize that God already knows what will be in the coming year. However, these holy days also emphasize that we human beings need to put forward our best efforts to earn the blessings that God wants to shower on us. I pray, as I am sure many of you do, that President Trump’s flaws do not obscure his strengths and amazing achievements, condemning us to the greater flaws of those who are partnering with people and groups who wish to destroy a magnificent country.  Their methods include violence and bullying as well as opposing and marginalizing people who wish to remain faithful to traditional religious and patriotic values. Compared to that, I don’t find a  bombastic Donald Trump to be the most frightening peril I need to fear.

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