All or Nothing

Sadly, but readily, I’ll confess that I am no dancer.  It’s not that I wouldn’t like to be Fred Astaire on the dance floor.  It’s just that when I dance, more than anything else I resemble a drunk trying to trample a cockroach.  One of my many problems in this arena is that I remember only one thing at a time.  I can remember a kindly advisor (actually it was a contemptuous teenager) at a family celebration telling me to wave my arms.  This I can do, but since the rest of me stands as rigidly as the Statue of Liberty the overall effect is less Astaire and more like a seizure.  When I remember to bounce lightly on my toes while syncopating my feet, well, we’re back to stomping cockroaches.  It really is important to apply all elements of an integrated solution; to use all the recommended ingredients in a recipe.

Running a business means taking care of production, marketing, accounting, and several other key areas.  No matter how proficiently you pursue only one of those, if the others are neglected, you won’t see success.  Building a happy and tranquil family also depends on simultaneously progressing on a number of fronts.  A military campaign is another example of this principle.  If an invasion is successful but the air cover and supply lines are neglected, all is lost.  No complex task or project can be accomplished with blinders on.  One must understand all the components that taken together comprise success and then figure out how to move forward on them all at the same time.

Part of Israel’s success as a modern, democratic state is surely due to her ability to focus simultaneously on defense, tourism, industrialization, infrastructure, immigration, and many other concerns.  In all likelihood, understanding the total picture entered the DNA of Israel from the following Scriptural source:

And you shall guard them and do them [the laws and statutes] for doing so
[is evidence of] your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations who,
when they hear about ALL these statutes will say,
“Surely this is a nation of wisdom and understanding”.
Deuteronomy 4:6

Ancient Jewish wisdom describes how this verse would have read almost identically had the word ALL been omitted. 

…when they hear about these statutes (they) will say, “Surely
this is a nation of wisdom and understanding.”

See what I mean?

Nonetheless, that word ALL is vital.  If the nations see Israel observing and doing only selected laws and statutes, perhaps only those they feel emotionally drawn to, the result would be quite different.  The nations will not say, “This is a nation of wisdom and understanding.” Instead, they are more likely to say, “How weird, bizarre, and generally inexplicable is this nation!”

Revering only the parts of the Bible we like the sound of does not make us effective children of God; it subjects us to ridicule.  Seeing the Bible as the comprehensive life plan that it is, not only makes us effective but it also makes us admired.

There are those who take the Bible seriously on family matters but who ignore it at work.  There are those who meticulously study the Bible and obey its edicts on charity and justice but who regard its rulings on other social issues to be anachronistic.  All the folks in these examples are getting as much benefit from the Bible as they would from eating a culinary delight prepared by a careless chef who omitted a few key ingredients.

When you respect the Biblical statutes, that important word ALL is the key.  If you try to make a bed so perfectly that a sergeant’s coin bounces off the blanket, you need to pay equal attention and apply equal tension to ALL four corners. God’s word is no different. Perhaps certain concepts resonate with us while others baffle us. That is irrelevant.  We do well to recognize that they are all intertwined.

We met some of you because you were drawn to our business teachings; others of you first found guidance in our family resources. Our goal is to keep the various parts of your lives and ours in balance, casting an ancient Jewish wisdom lens on these four essential areas: Family, Finances, Faith, and Friendship.

We’d like to give you a heads up that, due to an increase in our costs, we will be raising prices on most of our resources on July 1st. If you have been eyeing any of our teachings, now might be a good time to make it your own.

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6 thoughts on “All or Nothing”

  1. Dr. Vickie Sanderson

    It is 3:30 am at my peaceful kitchen table. My daily Bible study completed to my right, along with the sound of the soft murmur of the refrigerator. And it surprised me, as I read the start of this week’s post from you, to hear my own laughter bubble up freely. Thank you, Rabbi, for the joyful start of this day and for the words of wisdom. It is greatly appreciated.

  2. I had to go back one verse to find the four W’s: who, what, when, where.

    “Look, I have taught you laws and rulings, just as Adonai my God ordered me, so that you can behave accordingly in the land where you are going in order to take possession of it.” Deuteronomy 4:5

    And sometimes I have to go back several verses and sometimes forward several verses to get the point.

    I think the nations see Israel as God intended and that is as an example of following His statues in order for His blessings. We clearly see that you have a greater purpose.

  3. Rabbi, I follow your analysis in text and podcast. I put a lot of time during the shutdown to read the Bible. The Holy Book calls me. I am confused by book ofDaniel?

  4. Jeff Nykolayow

    So, the five F’s are like a hand’s five fingers, usable but not as effective if one or more are missing. Thank you, Rabbi and Susan Lapin.

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