Posts by Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

How should I teach my kids about evolution?

February 12th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 11 comments

Dear Rabbi Daniel and Susan,

I am an evangelical Christian who enjoys your program immensely on the TCT network.  I have gained much insight through your program and it makes Bible reading quite enjoyable when you understand the actual meaning of the Hebrew words. 

I have two questions that I hope you can answer or point me in the direction of where I can find these answers on your website or what reading materials you have available on these subjects.

1) I love reading the Bible, and for years I have come across directions, such as North, South, East and West that doesn’t always seem that it is actually talking about the direction on the compass, perhaps I am mistaken, are there deeper meanings, poetic meanings, errors in translation? 

2) I have many friends who choose to homeschool or send their children to faith-based schooling rather than the (American) public school system.  I have found it curious that the main reason they chose this route was on one core topic, evolution.  I also chose a faith-based school for my daughter but that wasn’t my main reason.  She was not taught evolution, at the time I was grateful, I don’t believe in evolution and I didn’t want that taught to my daughter.  My question is, should we teach this “theory” as a part of learning and understanding our world even if it goes against our religious beliefs? Should we let them make that decision as adults to learn what their peers were learning in secular elementary school? 

I appreciate both of you, and I look forward to your expertise and opinions. 

Sincerely,

Susan K.
(Pennsylvania)

Dear Susan,

We encourage people not to “slip in” more than one question, but since your first one is asking for a resource rather than an answer, we will make an exception. You are absolutely correct that directions mean more than they seem in Scripture. We give one amazing example in our audio CD set, Tower of Power: Decoding the Secrets of Babel and another one, regarding the words up and down as used in directions, in our DVD, Ancient Jewish Wisdom TV Show Volume 3.  Both of these will give you enlightening keys for understanding and interpreting the insights that slide right by the casual and unknowledgeable reader.

On to your question about evolution. You are raising a very important question. We feel that it is crucial that we guide our children in an approach to difficult topics rather than having them blindsided as they grow up. If we fail to provide a coherent and true worldview,  later, when they start hearing of those ideas from media or from college they would be justified in assuming that we simply ignored the topic because we had no answers.

You mention elementary school and, of course, discussions need to be molded to the age and mental ability of the child. For a young child, we need to be alert to point out, for example, that if a sign at the zoo says that baboons are our cousins, that is an anti-Biblical statement. However, as our children grow, we need to respect their intelligence as well as be aware of how strong the pressure on them will be on topics like evolution. There are very practical ramifications of this theory as we point out in the book we are actively updating, America’s Real War. (You can still sign up and catch the first class on the students-only website.)

Many parents—and teachers—are uncomfortable teaching subjects about which they have limited knowledge.  Math and science often fall into these categories. That is not acceptable. We need to educate ourselves as well as be facilitators connecting our children with those who know more than we do. Understanding the scientific method and holding evolution up to scientific scrutiny is necessary. We must introduce our children to the writings of many scientists like Gerald Schroeder, Phillip E. Johnson, Michael Behe, David Berlinski, David Gelernter, and Stephen Meyer, all distinguished scholars with the courage to defy academic bullying and doctrinal intolerance.   

There are disturbing similarities between the way the educational establishment treats evolution and how it treats climate change.   As I (RDL) have explained in a recent podcast, the entire area of climate change hysteria is more a false religion than it is science.  One reason I make this claim is that science works by explaining things that have happened and which we can observe and reproduce.  Science seldom makes preposterous and unprovable predictions.  Yet the fields of both climate change and evolution offer theories that are unprovable and indeed are filled with inconsistencies and factual errors and yet students are instructed not to question these doctrines.  For young people, being forewarned is being forearmed. 

We must continuously remind our children of the falseness of the oft-repeated secular-fundamentalist claim: religious, foolish and ignorant people believe in God while intelligent, curious and educated people believe in science.

Our children will respect our telling them that we do not have all the answers but we can help them connect with those who do.  We’d much rather they see we are unafraid of unanswered questions, unlike ‘science-believers,’ especially on college campuses, who insist on teaching answers that may never be questioned. Ignoring topics like evolution with our children, which is at the core of secular-fundamentalism, is tantamount to sending soldiers to battle with no training or weapons. We are preparing them for failure.

Defy every instance of doctrine replacing science and question, question, question!   Yes, many if not most people out there remain firmly wedded to untrue theories. But as the great German scientist, Max Planck once said, sometimes wrong-headed belief in untrue theories only ends when that generation of believers dies out.  (Even the Israelites who had been removed from Egypt had to remain in the desert long enough for a generation to die so that Egypt could be removed from the Israelites. Only then were they ready for their own land.) Don’t be intimidated and help your children escape the confusion between science and the belief of scientism. 

You might wish to listen to this podcast: http://rabbidaniellapin.libsyn.com/science-yes-scientism-no-dont-be-duped-by-devious-dogmatism

Be strong and of good courage,

Rabbi Daniel & Susan Lapin

This one is for you, Susan K.

ON SALE

The Ancient Jewish Wisdom TV Show Set

Should men pursue women or the other way around?

February 5th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 12 comments

I have been taught all my life that a man is to pursue a woman to marry her. The only scripture that comes to my mind is proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.”

Yet, going back to Genesis, God brought Eve to Adam. Adam didn’t have to find her, also it doesn’t sound like Adam had to pursue her since she was the first and only woman on earth. Correct me if I am wrong.

Thank you!

Kenneth O.

Dear Kenneth,

As we discuss in some detail in our practical marriage guidance audio CD, Madam, I’m Adam: Decoding the Marriage Secrets of Eden, God could have chosen to begin populating the world in many ways. Among other choices, He could have created a number of people at one time, He could have created woman first and He could have created man and woman at the same time.

Kenneth,  the Bible is not a history book about what happened millennia ago, instead, it is really an instruction manual about how to live your life today. , It, therefore, makes sense that the Bible’s account of Adam’s and Eve’s creation is full of messages as to how the world really works. One of these lessons is that by creating Adam first, a protocol is being set that the world works best when a man invites a woman into his world rather than the other way around.

We also see the man choosing the woman in Deuteronomy 24:1, “When a man takes a wife…” The Torah never says, “When a man and woman decide to marry.”  It also never says, “When a woman or a man decides upon a mate.”  Written the way it is, serves to confirm your wording. Indeed, the best way is for a man to choose a woman.  (It is her prerogative to accept or reject him.) We see the world’s adoption of this ancient Biblical principle in the widely observed practice of a woman marrying and taking her husband’s name.

Confirming the wisdom we already know from the Bible, it is interesting  that decades after the rise of feminism, we are not seeing 50% of marriage proposals being made by men to women and the other 50% being made by a woman going down on one knee and holding out a Rolex watch to a man while saying, “Please make me the happiest woman in the world by marrying me.”  The overwhelming majority of marriage proposals are and will continue to be made by men to women. There is an additional aspect to this. The Torah is sensitive to protecting women’s emotions. Every time a proposal is proffered, it contains the risk for stinging rejection. Better for a man to face that humiliating experience rather than a woman.

The way the first marriage is described in Genesis, Adam and Eve both knew there was literally nobody else for either of them.  Similarly, once married, the husband and wife in every marriage should feel that their spouse is the absolute best and only choice for them. That’s the way commitment works.

However, as you note in your second paragraph, Adam did not choose Eve from a number of possibilities even though, by definition, she was the perfect mate for him.  While we do discuss in our CD what messages God was teaching us about how the world He created really works by creating Eve as Adam’s only matrimonial choice, we are also shown that this lack of choice brings problems in its wake. Only a few verses down the road, after sinning, we see Adam retorting to God, “ “The woman whom You gave to me, gave me from the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12) Adam is subtly placing the blame on God rather than accepting complete responsibility for his actions. After all, this is the wife that God picked for him!

Ancient Jewish wisdom takes that lesson to heart. While children usually must obey parents, one of the exceptions is when it comes to marriage. One is not obligated to marry the man or woman whom one’s parents prefer. Each individual must accept responsibility for the success of his or her marriage and not say, “Well, I married the person you picked for me. This is your problem, not mine.” Every marriage has its bumps and difficult times, especially during the early years. Both husband and wife should know that this was their choice and their commitment to uphold.

Long live marriage,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Different views of marriage are one of the dividing lines we will discuss in
America’s Real War Master Class
This 10-part class starts next week. You can still join us, but time is running out. 

America’s Real War

January 29th, 2020 Posted by On Our Mind 2 comments

We are super-excited about updating our book, America’s Real War. This best-selling book helped launch a new relationship between Christians and Jews. Much of it was prescient but being written before 9/11 it desperately needs to be brought up to date. We hope you will join us in this project: Go HERE for more information.

Why don’t you speak up?

January 29th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 18 comments

I listened to your podcast about The Real Reason the Left Silences Conservative Speakers and Suppresses Pro-Family Voices (November 2018). It was a most brilliant and stunning analysis.  You are obviously calling the position of the Left as anti-Biblical. 

My question is:  Since you are a major voice in America today to both Christians and Jews, and since both Reformed and Conservative Jewish Communities vote almost 100% Left as well as the Secular Church, why not call them out specifically? 

If not for hypocrisy, then at least for the glaring contradiction that they worship Bible but vote against it? Then we, who agree with you, could build on your statements of perfect logic with people in our circles of influence.

Susan B.

Dear Susan B.,

We were looking through our rather large stack of unanswered ‘Ask the Rabbi’ questions and came across yours. It is extraordinarily appropriate this week since our conversation is filled with exactly this topic as we prepare for our long-awaited Master Class updating our book, America’ s Real War.

Let us correct your impression that we might have been remiss in failing to ‘call out’ the Jewish culprits. When you read America’s Real War, either as a participant in our upcoming Master Class program or else by awaiting the rewriting and publication of the new updated edition, you will discover that we exercised very little restraint in naming the bad actors in the Jewish community. These include the communities you identify as well as other Americans of Jewish ancestry whose entire value systems are shaped by modern secular fundamentalism rather than by the values of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  We exposed the villains so thoroughly that when America’s Real War first came out in 1999, our family was targeted so aggressively that today’s social justice warriors and cancel cowards would have been impressed. Without dwelling on it, it was an unpleasant period for us and for our children.  But it was also annealing in the way that steel is strengthened by fire and we all grew from the sometimes frightening experience.

When we wrote that book just before the terror attacks of 9-11,  we wrote it as a response to the horror we felt upon discovering that the loudest Jewish voices in society were those that seemed to oppose much of what the Bible stood for and support that which the Bible condemns. We were not shy about this problem.

Since that time, we have continued to condemn loudly and forthrightly all those attempting to silence the Scriptural view on current topics. Our voice and the voices of other Jewish and Christian leaders, ranging from rabbis and pastors to opinion-makers like Ben Shapiro, Matt Walsh, and others are all ignored or vilified by Left-leaning leaders.

America’s Real War: An Orthodox Rabbi Insists That Judeo-Christian Values are Vital for Our Nation’s Survival was written precisely for the reason that you mention in your closing paragraph. We wanted to provide intellectual ammunition to those wishing to base their views on the Bible. In addition, we wanted to explain about the cultural fractures undermining what we call the Jewish community that are not well understood by most Christians, or to be honest, by many Jews as well.

As you know, Secular Fundamentalism is an extremist form of religion and heretics are not tolerated. It is incredibly hard to change people’s minds with logical arguments; we can, however, feel strengthened in our own views and work to change hearts.

America’s Real War played an important role in the culture wars of the time and we are eager for the updated version to do so at this time. We do hope that you have checked out and will join us in this Master Class.

Be strong and of good courage,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

How much of a priority is paternity leave?

January 21st, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 14 comments

The closing pitcher for tonight’s baseball playoff game is taking 3 days of paternity leave because of the birth of his daughter this morning. He will miss 2 games as a result.

Given that his wife had no medical issues with the birth, shouldn’t he be out there doing his job the next two nights?

Thomas P.

Dear Thomas,

We’re sorry to only get to your question now, although you submitted it closer to  October 2019, when Washington National player, Daniel Hudson, took paternity leave at the time of the National League Championship Series. However, the issue has cropped up before and since. This is not surprising when you consider that baseball teams are made up of men, many of an age when they are establishing families. In fact, baseball adopted an official paternity leave policy in 2011. Many players and officials made comments expressing the sentiment that baseball is important but family is more important.

That sounds warm and cuddly but it camouflages reality. These men are able to play professional baseball, not because it is important but because enough people enjoy watching them do so and are willing to pay for that privilege. As you suggested, this is a job.  Your local dry cleaner might close for a few days when his wife gives birth but he wouldn’t say, “Dry cleaning is important but family is more important.” The main reason he goes off to work each day is to support his family. If he has concerns that his livelihood might be imperiled if his store closes, then he will not take paternity leave but will stay open. If it came down to being with his wife and new baby for a few days or being able to provide them with a roof over their head and food on the table, there isn’t really a choice as to where his obligation lies. If baseball fans stopped attending games because their team, let’s say, loses the World Series because the star pitcher is off on paternity leave, the players will find themselves out of very lucrative jobs. That calculation should be an internal and unforced decision for the individual store owner or a baseball League to make. 

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Is it time to go into debt?

January 14th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 10 comments

My wife and I are out of debt except for our mortgage which we are trying to quickly payoff. My business has some opportunity to expand but I am unsure if getting a business loan goes against Biblical or ancient Jewish wisdom.

Thank you for your time.

Bob F.

Dear Bob,

We’re certain that you and your wife have practiced admirable discipline and restraint over the years to have achieved the enviable position of being debt-free other than your mortgage. Congratulations!

Now, on the threshold of expanding your business, you are naturally concerned about perhaps having to take out a business development loan.  This can feel like a step backward into debt especially after all your hard work ridding yourself of loans. 

Let’s try and understand God’s intentions with respect to money.  The very first time that God registers displeasure in the Bible is, “It is not good for man to be alone.”  (Genesis 2:18)  Because of His desire for us to connect with one another, God established two ways for strangers to become closely involved with one another and to care for one another’s welfare.  The first of these is marriage by means of which a man and woman who may not even have known one another a year or two ago now care deeply for each other and their families are interconnected as well.  

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Cheating thoughts vs. cheating actions

January 8th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 14 comments

Dear Rabbi and Susan,

Is cheating in thoughts as bad as bad as cheating in reality? And how does one drive away those sinful thoughts?

Kind regards,

Julia

Dear Julia,

A piece of useful parenting information is to avoid phrases such as, “You’re such a good girl.” Obviously, it is a terrible mistake to tell a child that she is a bad girl even if she has just used your favorite lipstick to draw a mural on the wall. She did something naughty, but it does not touch the essence of who she is.  But what is wrong with the reverse?

Let’s imagine that you just watched a toddler snatch a toy from your five-year-old son. Your son gets another toy, distracts the baby with it and reclaims his prized possession. Why wouldn’t you admiringly tell him that he’s a good boy? (No, Julia, this is not mistakenly a Practical Parenting column. It is all relevant to your question.)

Your son did a good thing, maybe even a great thing. He withheld anger and did some effective problem-solving. However, inside he may have felt angry with a strong urge to punch the toddler. Telling your son that he is good contradicts his feelings and confuses him. Complimenting his action (and maybe even rewarding him) is a better idea. Our ultimate goal for him down the road is for him not to even feel angry, but acting correctly is a vital first step.

Back to adults. God does instruct us to control our thoughts. Here are two examples: Leviticus 19:17 tells us not to hate our brother in our hearts and the Tenth Statement (Commandment) tells us not to covet in both Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21. Clearly God expects us to control our thoughts and feelings.  My (RDL) mother, one time, reacted with a long, forceful and unforgettable lesson when as a child, I retorted to one of her admonitions with, “Well, I can’t help how I feel!”   I have never uttered that phrase since. 

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I want to be smart in my charitable giving. Can you help?

January 1st, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 17 comments

Dear Rabbi and Susan,

I have a question for you and I hope you can guide me through with ancient wisdom.

Let’s say that  I have decided to donate  a certain portion of my income to charitable causes… So one day while standing in the pharmacy I see a person in need to get medicines for $50. Would I be a better human being if I decide to use my 50 dollars helping one individual that I come across in person or by sending my 50 dollars to an overseas region where I could potentially help 50 people to get something like sandals or penicillin?

What is your insight into this?

Juan Manuel M.

Dear Juan Manuel,

We love this question for so many reasons. First of all, we think highly of our readers/listeners and your question provides a wonderful example of why we are correct to do so. Not only do you want to be charitable, which is a good thing in and of itself, but you want to do so in the smartest way. Rather than simply trusting your emotions or giving just in order to feel virtuous, you want to ensure that you are actually helping the most you can.

Let’s make a case for each of your choices. There is something wonderful about a person-to-person connection.  Seeing someone in need and helping them directly and immediately is tremendous. The individual feels the concern of another human being and the knowledge that you made an impact on someone’s life has a positive effect on you, most likely making you more prone to give again. In the example you gave, you even know that the money is not going to support a drug habit or to buy liquor. You are providing someone with needed medicine. Furthermore, you are not burdening your gift with the administrative overhead which is an inevitable part of organizational charity.

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Should women be preaching?

December 25th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 39 comments

My question is very frequently asked in Christian circles and the answer is split. I must know what your response would be. 

The question is very simple. Are women allowed to pastor and preach? Yes or No? Please explain in detail and reference from verses. I appreciate all of your work. I look forward to your response!

Anthony

Dear Anthony,

We hope you enjoyed anticipating our response because we are pretty sure you are not going to enjoy our answer. 

If you have followed our teachings for a while, you will know that while we treasure Scripture, we find simplistically seeking substantiating verses to be rather meaningless. Partially this is because one can easily find many seemingly incompatible verses that appear to contradict one another. That is why we peruse and base our answers upon the ancient Jewish wisdom on the Bible that has been handed down for thousands of years rather than doing no more than simply reading the words themselves. So, as to your last demand, we can probably find verses making the case both for and against women pastoring and preaching, but they wouldn’t be so helpful.  

We also cannot answer with a clear-cut yes or no. How simple life would be if we could tackle life’s challenges in that way! We can answer only very few questions with no more than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and none of life’s most challenging and most important questions fall into that category. 

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How do we explain to our son why circumcision matters?

December 18th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 26 comments

Dear Rabbi Daniel and Susan,

Could you help me out? We are reading a Torah Sidra [portion] every Saturday evening as a family.  We happened to read the Sidra that included Genesis 17.  I have three children and the oldest is a boy of 9. I am sure you can guess where this is going.  He had many questions about circumcision. 

  Circumcision is very important to me. My father, brother, husband and son are all circumcised.  My brother’s wife and my brother changed their mind and chose not to circumcise their two boys when they were born. 🙁

I would love my son to be just as proud as we are that he his circumcised, not that he isn’t. But, I am sure someday when he may have awkward conversations with his cousins camping or sports friends.

I just want to make sure that we, as parents, have done everything that we should explaining this very Holy covenant to my children boys and girls.  I would be heartbroken if twenty years down the road my grandchildren were not circumcised just because I didn’t convey things to my children properly while they were in my care.

Thank you so much,

Gina

Dear Gina,

Your question is a very apt one for this time of year as Chanukah starts this coming Sunday evening. Among the Jewish observances that the Greek-Syrians outlawed, was circumcision.  They also made the studying and teaching of Torah prohibited on penalty of death.   These acts of religious oppression led to the rebellion of Chanukah.

So extreme was the Greek aversion to circumcision that the historian Josephus tells us that Hellenist physicians performed plastic surgery operations ‘restoring’ the foreskin. In a culture that extolled the gymnasium and athletic games one needed to “look the part” in order to fit in. This, of course, is the crux of the episode of Chanukah—it was most of all a battle between those Jews eager to shed their connection to God and Judaism and those Jews who remained faithful to their heritage.

Chanukah is the only festival in the Jewish calendar that lasts eight days. Notably, circumcision takes place on the eighth day of a Jewish boy’s life. In ancient Jewish wisdom, the number seven is associated with nature: 7 days of the week; 7 colors of the rainbow; 7 notes in a western musical scale. The number 8 is associated with partnering with God to transcend nature. Circumcision is a statement, both to the young boy and to the community, that the incredible power of sexuality is part of his connection to God and the ability to create life is holy.  We are commanded to overcome the animalistic impulse to act as if sex is solely physical.  This rejection of secularism is central to both circumcision and Chanukah. 

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