Posts by Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Our daughter is dating an old man!

August 21st, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 41 comments

Dear Rabbi & Susan, my wife and I have enjoyed watching your show on TCT for several years.  We have also appreciated reading several of your books and listening to your podcasts.

 A little background: we are a blended family; I am Jewish, and my wife is a non-denominational Christian. Neither of us have been regular attendees of any church or synagogue. We have one daughter, 41 years old, who lives a few hundred miles away; and who we see 4-5 times per year.  Sadly, we did not introduce her to either Judaism or Christianity during her upbringing, and she is now an agnostic. We love her dearly, and respect that she has made herself a self-supporting and independent woman.

 Our problem: our daughter has recently told us that she is “exclusively” dating a 62 year old man. She has apparently known him for about two months, and the exclusivity began about one month ago.  We do not believe they are living together. He has been married, and has children and grandchildren.

 Our daughter has never been married, but once had a 5-year live-in relationship; and she is childless. She recently stepped up her on-line dating, because she said she realized that the pool of eligible bachelors was getting smaller as she grew older.  This was how she met this man.

 We have not yet met her “boyfriend”, and are quite reluctant to do so until after we have first had an opportunity to visit with her alone and face-to-face.  We told her that a few days ago when she called to arrange a visit from the both of them.

 We are both having great difficulty with accepting the idea of her having an intimate relationship with a man easily old enough to be her father.  Frankly, from a photo we’ve seen, we think it’s likely he’s actually older than the 62 years he claims to be (which we understand is common with on-line dating).  My wife and I are in our early 70s, and he doesn’t look any younger than us.

 When we next visit with our dear daughter, we plan to discuss the difficulties we see, should she continue this relationship; not the least of which being the statistically-likely steep decline in health he will suffer over the next ten years.  We will try to use our best logic to overcome her apparent emotional attachment to the man. In the meantime, I’m looking at public sources to try to find out more about him.

 We are really baffled by her choice. Regardless of whatever good qualities he might possess, his age is the real issue for us.  Are we wrong to feel this way? We certainly don’t want to alienate our only daughter, who we love deeply. But we do believe we should try to discourage the relationship.

 Please give us your advice.

B.W.

Dear B.W.,

Oh dear. As painful as it is to watch our children fall off their bicycles and scrape their knees when they are little,  it is harder to watch them head for what we are certain is unhappiness when they are grown. The almost irresistible urge to protect our child doesn’t disappear at a pre-ordained birthday.

You clearly love your daughter and, just as clearly, she has been an independent adult for many years. We hope our words don’t cause you pain, but we don’t think you are in the best position to offer her advice in this situation. 

Had you asked us initially (and we say this not to hurt you but hopefully to help someone in the future) we would have suggested holding your tongues and professing happiness at her happiness until and unless you found more red flags than age.  We are saddened to have to tell you that you made a mistake in telling her that you won’t welcome her and her man in your home until you’ve spoken to her alone first. Think about how that sounds to her and you’ll understand why we say this. You are indeed fortunate that she wants you to meet someone who is becoming important in her life. At this point, after your negative reaction, she is probably less willing to share any concerns with you than she otherwise might have been.  

There are a few possible rays of sunshine. Let us play this out and see what might happen. Your daughter is a mature and sensible woman who is probably quite lonely and has made a conscious decision that she wants to be in a long-term relationship, possibly marriage. At 41, she is probably not thinking of children and she is probably very aware of common age-related health issues. Perhaps she has made a very concrete analysis and decided that this man is so wonderful that even if they only have a few good years together, she wants those few years. And as we all know, he may turn out to be the healthy one in the relationship – there are no guarantees. 

Opposing her relationship only on the basis of age tarnishes your opinion in your daughter’s eyes.  We’d have recommended you enthusiastically welcomed their visit. During that visit, you might have uncovered other flaws than age which you would have been able to discuss rationally with your daughter.  Alternatively, you might have been so impressed with him that even you would have seen the age question diminish in importance. Either way, your stance would have enhanced rather than eroded your relationship with your daughter.  

You don’t say if this man is divorced or widowed, but his children and grandchildren may be an asset in your daughter’s eyes. Maybe she sees herself being welcomed into a loving family. Not only shouldn’t  this man’s age alone automatically disqualify him, but his age may have some benefits. Again we can’t help mentioning how happy you should have been that she values your opinion enough to bring him to visit you.  A visit, we might add, which would have been awkward for the man too. Give him credit for having been willing to do you the courtesy of visiting you.

Maybe this isn’t the best outcome for your daughter. Two months is not a very long time. We imagine that her friends as well as her own awareness will lead her to assess the situation if it continues.  At age 41 she is probably not unaware of what is involved in becoming a step-mother and step-grandmother. Looking at it from his family’s point of view, it is possible they are concerned at the age gap from the other side. They might be viewing your daughter as a fortune-hunter! Yours may not be the only objections. 

If you told us that your daughter had two identical suitors except that one was fifteen years older than the other, we would agree that the older age was a liability. But she isn’t asking you for help in choosing between two men; she is letting you know that she is interested in one man. In this case, we actually see no reason that this man’s age should automatically disqualify him from getting your approval. You may still be seeing a young woman when you speak to your daughter; it sounds like she is acknowledging that she is no longer in that category. 

However this progresses, your daughter and you need to continue in a loving relationship.  Try your hardest to undo the hurt caused by telling her she’s not welcome with her friend.   If she is making a mistake, she will need your support and if she is making a rational and wise move you will want to share in her joy. 

We pray that all turns out for the best,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

SALE
THOUGHT TOOLS SET
(books also available individually)

Increase your sensitivity to God’s message to humanity.

Thought Tool SetThought Tools Volume 1Thought Tools Volume 2Thought Tools Volume 3

 

 

Political Correctness in the Workplace Part II

August 13th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 26 comments

Dear Rabbi Daniel and Susan,

Well, last week’s answer to the Ask the Rabbi question about an employee being directed to use a co-worker’s pronoun of choice caused more controversy than just about any previous answer. That isn’t surprising because it touched a nerve.

Any alert Bible-believer is aware that currently there is a strong attempt to marginalize, condemn and, dare we say, destroy traditional faith and its adherents in the United States. As such, people are aware that if a similar dilemma hasn’t accosted them at work yet, down the road it most likely will.

Can we respond to some of the points raised and elaborate on our answer?

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Dear Ask the Rabbi readers,

First of all, we must thank you for sharing your views and interacting with us and your fellow readers in the comments section. We disappointed some of you and pleased others and a few of you accused us of not being clear enough. 

We plead guilty to the last charge. As always, we know no more than our Ask the Rabbi questioner tells us. We do not contact the writer personally and conduct a lengthy interview. So, we are always in the dark as to many important aspects of the person’s life. In this case, we have no idea what William’s field of work is, what his position is and what family or other responsibilities he has. We have no idea if he has other work options or not. When you accept employment you surrender a certain independence in return for a pay check. While each of us can make decisions to act on principle no matter the cost, we did feel it would be irresponsible for us to tell William to behave in a way that had a good probability of causing him to lose his job. We can think of questions where that might be our duty—but the point we wanted to get across is that we do not see this as one of those cases.

What might be a harder question? If a doctor or nurse was told that their job was on the line if they did not perform an abortion or participate in an operation mutilating someone who wants to get rid of body parts that identify his or her sex, he or she would have a very serious moral and religious question to ask. If one of William’s female co-workers is told to go on a business trip and share a room with the person who now calls himself a woman despite his DNA showing him to be a man, she would have a very serious moral and religious question to ask. If a teacher is told that he or she needs to teach immoral and anti-Biblical ideas to students, he or she has a serious question to ask. Even in those extreme cases we are phrasing our answer somewhat ambiguously and we’d like to tell you why.

We work within the Jewish system. In that system, complex questions with great ramifications do not get answered en-masse. For example, when our mother was in the hospital in a coma, there were decisions the family had to make. Medicine can do a great deal today, some of which is incredibly life-saving and life-enhancing and some of which is extreme and causes additional problems. We, like other Torah-observant Jewish families in similar situations, worked hand-in-hand with a rabbi who specializes in medical issues. There are only a dozen or so such rabbis in the world today.

Even if friends of ours had gone through what looks to us like an identical situation, we would not have relied on, “Well, this is what they were advised,” to make our own decisions. Each case has its unique and distinct details and needs in-depth analysis. When we were leading a synagogue and someone approached us with a question of the same sort, we “moved up the chain” to get a response from one of these “medical specialist” rabbis. In other words, you cannot find the answer to vital and serious questions by perusing Google or asking even a wise and learned person who is not immersed in that specific area of knowledge. You certainly can’t get the answer in our Ask the Rabbi column. Risking your source of income is a vital and serious issue.

We would like to address some of your specific concerns, especially the question as to whether addressing a person by a name that doesn’t match reality is lying. Those wonderful people who care for Alzheimer’s patients give advice to “embrace the patient’s reality.” If your father with Alzheimer’s asks when his wife will visit and she has been dead for fifteen years, they do not recommend explaining that fact to your father. Rather, they suggest answering something along the lines of, “Mom isn’t able to come now. Why don’t we take a walk in the garden.” If he gets very agitated you could say that Mom might come tomorrow. You aren’t lying to your father, you are meeting him in his state of confusion.

It is not a coincidence that as our world moves defiantly away from a God-centered view, depression, anxiety and confusion are increasing. Meeting individuals with warmth and respect is completely separate from agreeing with their false ideas. It is worlds apart from giving up on the political front and not doing our utmost to keep out of power those who want to bully and terrorize religious individuals. We encourage everyone to contribute to organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom which works tirelessly to defend Americans who are punished for acting in accord with their traditional Christian and Jewish beliefs. (Of course, we hope you support us at the American Alliance of Jews and Christians as well as we work on strengthening the culture.)

We would add that a lie is defined as something in which someone is misled. If I use  a pronoun as instructed by my supervisor, in most cases, there is nobody at my workplace who will say, “Wow, so I guess old Fred really is now Fern.” People’s minds are largely made up on this subject. If this makes you uneasy, by all means quit and find another job with like minded people if you can, but that is different from being required to lose your job.

We did mention in one response to a comment that there are three instances where Jews actually have to be willing to die rather than transgress. There are obviously complexities to each of these instances, but here are the three. If you’re threatened with death unless you publicly denounce your faith in God and worship an idol, we have to stand tall and say, “Pull the trigger.” If we are threatened with death unless we have sex with a married woman, or a man with a man or many other Biblically prohibited sexual relationships, we have to stand tall and say, “Pull the trigger.” If we are threatened with death unless we murder an innocent human being we have to stand tall and say, “Go ahead, pull the trigger.”

If the culture continues moving in the wrong direction, then we will each have to decide when and where to draw a line in the sand. We do think the ensuing discussion to last week’s Ask the Rabbi question highlighted the importance of this fact. While we weren’t able to respond to each issue raised, we hope this makes clearer why we stand by our decision not to tell William that he was under a moral and/or religious obligation to make this his moment.

With gratitude to you all,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

SALE
Have more fascinating discussions about Biblical ideas.
THE THOUGHT TOOL SET
3 years’ worth of short teachings that increase your sensitivity to God’s message for humanity

(also available individually)

Thought Tools SetThought Tools Volume 1Thought Tools Volume 2Thought Tools Volume 3

 

Taking a non-politically correct stand at the workplace

August 7th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 71 comments

At my place of employment, I was recently taken aside and told that I needed to address a man in our shop that is currently “transitioning” into a “woman”, by the “proper pronouns”. I believe if you were born a man, you are a man, no matter what you have cut off or added.

 The question is, is there a Biblical reason I should not use their chosen pronouns? I don’t believe I should, but also am not sure how to back it up with Scripture. Thank you for your time, and I enjoy your responses.

William M. 

 Dear William,

The workplace for many has rapidly become  a hornet’s nest where having the “wrong” ideas is punished. What constitutes  “wrong” ideas is proliferating at a tremendous rate and we have no doubt that productivity, pleasant relationships and profit will all fall prey to this frenzy of political correctness.

 We are not fans of “Scriptural proof” because, as we have often noted, picking isolated phrases or verses from the Bible allows one to support the insupportable and oppose what is right. However, we can speak in terms of what we understand to be a “Biblical worldview.”

 Treating others with respect based on the fact that they too are created in the image of God, is a fundamental of faith. Opposing ideas that diminish God’s presence in the world is also fundamental. Figuring out how to reconcile  those two, sometimes conflicting ideas, is a great, personal challenge.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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. 

(more…)

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?

(more…)

Socialism and atheism – why do they go together?

July 16th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 6 comments

Could you further explain the following passage from your book Business Secrets from the Bible?

“One would have expected the political left to excuse what it calls the “greed” of capitalism and to recognize it as nothing other than Darwinian law applied to the life of modern man. Yet, this is not possible; something as truly spiritual as commerce simply cannot coexist with socialism. The atheist himself recognizes that, to be true to his credo, he must reject the free market because of its godliness.”

Why can’t socialism exist with commerce when socialism also helps those that are less fortunate?

Why would you assume an atheist would reject a free market because of its spirituality when his basis for understanding spirituality is different from yours and he may himself benefit from capitalism if it allows him to benefit himself?

I am trying to test my previous ways of thinking and understand ideas and thought processes that I have never considered before.

Alo

Dear Alo,

We are delighted that you are reading Business Secrets from the Bible so carefully and actually thinking through each point.

We disagree with you that socialism helps those who are less fortunate. Its proponents gain control by promising to do so, but the reality has never matched the promise. As Winston Churchill said in the House of Commons on October 22, 1945,

‘The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.’

The only ones who do not share in the miseries of socialism are those in power. Somehow, they manage to live quite well, even opulently, as those who foolishly bought into their promises suffer, some of them even starving to death. We encourage everyone to learn history from fair and honest sources. Sadly, the information taught in schools and universities today is often neither. Unfortunately, you needn’t restrict yourself to history. Search out information about what is happening in Venezuela and other socialist paradises today.

Now, to get to your main point. We must acknowledge that when we write words such as, “the atheist,” we do not mean to say “each and every atheist.” Individuals do not fall 100% into categories. The atheist philosophy rejects the idea that humans are uniquely  touched by the finger of God. We insist that this spiritual distinctiveness is precisely what allows humans to make individual decisions on thousands of large and small subjects. No lion decides to be a vegetarian and no kangaroo chooses to carry her babies on her back rather than in a pouch. People, however, can live not only with great variation but even with inconsistency. By “the atheist” we mean a philosophical idea rather than a specific person.

(more…)

Join Us in Prayer

July 15th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind 6 comments

Most of the time in formal Jewish life, men and women are referred to as, “So and so, the son/daughter of (insert father’s first name). So, on a marriage contract or when a man is called up to the Torah that is the nomenclature that is used. The exception is when we are beseeching God to restore good health to someone who is ill. Then we say “So and so, the son/daughter of (insert mother’s first name). 

In Hebrew, the word for mercy shares a root with the word for womb. When we want to invoke the deepest mercy, we make a connection to a person’s mother, “reminding” God of the love that allowed a mother to share her very body with her child. 

Our very dear friend, Pastor Tiz Huch of New Beginnings Church in Dallas is undergoing serious surgery this coming Wednesday. We ask you to join us in praying to God to provide a complete healing for Tiz, daughter of Gwendolyn.

 

Marriage Disagreement about Interracial Marriage

July 10th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 24 comments

Greetings: My question is what does scripture say about interracial marriage?  My husband and I have recently had occasion to discuss this and I am asking for wisdom to respond to some of his concerns.  We both were raised in rural WV where our culture frowns on this.  I used to agree with the reasons we were taught growing up.  1. Ham & descendant of Canaan were cursed 2. God told the Israelites not to marry from other groups 3. God separated the continents during Peleg’s time to divide nationalities. 4. Moses couldn’t enter the promised land because he married a Cushite from Ethiopia.

But as I’ve matured as a believer, I’ve read the scriptures they drew from and didn’t find God mentions this but that it was more likely [people] read how they wanted it to speak. The only separation I found was from pagan nations, or unbelievers.

I’m not searching merely to have a topic to discuss or argue but my husband is truly upset that have changed my mindset. While I would  prefer my grandchildren not marry interracial it’s more due to the reality of the family division it would bring.  I will however advise their potential mate be a believer. He however is frustrated because my change of heart challenges his prejudice. He is beginning to blame my church for teaching me this and while I have been believing he will come to have a relationship with Jesus and come with me, this seems to be a backwards route. I’m sure I’m not alone in this culture/religion shift.

Deborah L.

Dear Deborah,

Having just returned from speaking at many churches in Ghana (RDL),  I had the opportunity to see a number of outstanding marriages  between people with black skin and people with white.  We have noticed this also at many churches we admire here in the United States.  However, and this is huge, these marriages are between two believing Christians.  We also know several interracial couples in Israel and of course both spouses are deeply committed Orthodox Jews.  Shared belief is what matters. We would like to discuss  this question from a few more  angles, starting with correcting some Biblical misinformation.

Taking your points in the opposite order:

(more…)

Fourth of July

July 4th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

Wishing everyone a wonderful Fourth of July with time to reflect with gratitude and love on the founding of the United States.

Sign up to receive our AAJC newsletter and our free weekly teachings!

Sign Up Now!

Follow AAJC on its new Facebook Page!
X