Posts by Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

She’s offering me security. Is that enough?

October 16th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 28 comments

I am in my late 30s and not doing so well financially (but that’s absolutely about to change having come in contact with your teachings).

I am currently with a lady who is 5 years older than myself and doing pretty well for herself. Should I for financial security settle down with her even though I am not totally confident when I am with her in  public, or leave her and take my chances?

Francis H.

Dear Francis,

While we take great pride in our books, CDs and DVDs and our many other resources and we are elated about the many thousands whom they have benefitted, we’re afraid that we have to question your assumption that they will help you. We are not sure you are ready for them.

We say this because your letter reveals a very unmasculine passivity. One can be in his late 30s and go bald without having done anything to have caused that to happen. You can be in your late 30s and be less agile than you were at 18 even if you eat healthily and exercise. You don’t get close to 40 “not doing so well financially” without having taken some wrong steps in the past and having failed to take some very necessary right ones. Our resources, we feel, are superb but they are not magical elixirs— in order to be effective, and they can be stunningly effective, they need commitment, hard work and willingness to significantly change. Are you ready for that? Think seriously; are you really ready for that?

If you are even thinking of marrying a woman in the hope of her providing you with financial security then we ask you to consider that perhaps there has been a little role reversal going on in this relationship?    We ask you to consider whether, at this point,  you have  the backbone for really hard work. Marriages between younger men and older women are, of course, not automatically doomed, but five years is quite a difference and we detect a desire on your part to be taken care of rather than to be her provider and protector. How can you expect her to respect you when you confess to a lack of confidence when you are with her?  What exactly are you offering her? What do you bring to the table?  That is both a legitimate and an important question.

While it flies in the face of today’s dreadfully defective cultural norms, we would like to remind you that a woman brings herself to a relationship.  And her grateful  man, in turn,  brings his performance, his power, and his productivity.  She gives herself to her man. He gives her the world. Every dating website survey confirms ancient Jewish wisdom that women seek ambitious doers. They are right to do so.  While the whiny boys of our culture decry women as ‘gold-diggers’ and worse, real men recognize that women galvanize their drive.  This is why other than in a few outlying cases, married men vastly outperform their single brethren. 

You ask whether we think you should leave her and take your chances.  Those words you used strongly suggest that you view her as your lifeline to security.  Not good.  We certainly don’t suggest leaving her and “taking your chances.” What we do  suggest is breaking off the relationship and allowing her to find a man with something to offer her.  We suggest that you throw yourself into rebuilding yourself from the ground up physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. The very good news is that you wrote to us, indicating that you are well aware  that something in your life is off.  Reaching out for help is a wonderful first step You know that you are at a turning point and that you really  can have many productive and successful years ahead of you. We  suggest you avoid thinking of involving a woman in your life until you see concrete proof that you are on your way to being a new man. You can do this—go ahead and seize the opportunity.

Give it your all,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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How do you keep current events from getting you down?

October 7th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 18 comments

Hello Rabbi Lapin and Susan,

I am generally an optimistic person, and the Jewish faith we share teaches us to be optimistic, even in difficult times. However, I am finding it increasingly difficult to feel optimistic about our country’s future, given the vitriolic, hateful language and actions employed on a daily basis against President Trump and conservative values in general.

This, combined with the lightning speed with which the PC forces are seeming to “have their way,” forcing us into either silence or acquiescence with things we are against morally and ethically, has given me the blues.

Do you see hopeful signs, and if so, where? Thank you.

Your friend and student,

Judy G.

Dear Judy,

We think you are speaking for many when you say that there are times that you find it hard to be optimistic about the future of the United States. As you also say, Judaism fundamentally teaches optimism, but it is not a “sit back and do nothing” optimism. The Torah demands action aimed at propelling things in the right direction.

If we may say, your own story, which you tell so eloquently (and humorously) in you wonderful book, The Skeptic and the Rabbi, is a large part of our answer. Could you ever have imagined writing the letter you just wrote us back when you were a devotedly liberal woman? People and their ideas are capable of change. 

Much of the reason you were liberal was because of a caring nature and because of your belief in core values, among them independent thinking, intellectual exploration and compassion. Back then you thought that those values belonged to the Left.  Today, however, it is clear that genuine liberalism is scorned by leaders of the  Democrat Party, colleges and media.

That very same media drives a great deal of the pessimism to which we  too easily succumb. They do not cover stories of Americans, young, old, male, female and of all religions and races who are horrified by the vituperation, hatred and lock-step thinking you describe. Many of them have a voter registration card with a “D” on it, but they are paying attention. It is incumbent on each of us to keep making connections and forming relationships, not in order to convert others to our politics, but to defy the fracturing of society that the extreme Left is promoting.

America has a tradition of religious Great Awakenings. The first played a pivotal role in the break from England while a later one was critical in leading up to the moral battle of the Civil War. We anticipate and pray for America’s third great religious awakening.  We do believe that returning to God must be part of any path to survival, and in America’s case that means a revitalized Christianity. And it is important to note that today, unlike in medieval times, a revitalized American Christianity is crucial for Jewish welfare. The threat against Jews today is not fervent, philo-Semitic, Israel-loving Christians, but America’s sinister slide into socialism advocated by the extreme Left.

Central to socialists in the Democratic Party is the idea of carving out special zones of immunity from the law and from Judeo-Christian values for selected groups. The resulting chaos of group violence, public filth and depravity and continued family breakdown imperils the survival of Jews and all other law-abiding Americans.  We are certain that only the revitalized faith of fervent Bible-believing Christians and Jews can slow down and stop this terrifying juggernaut of destructive secular socialism tearing down upon us.

This won’t be easy but a cornerstone of faith is the courage to stand up for what is right despite threats and bullying. We know that you and your family do exactly that and we believe that if enough of us do so, this nation will turn back to its founding promise. The American Alliance of Jews and Christians which we are privileged to serve, was founded to allow Jews and Christians to bravely work together to support those values on which this country was built.

Forming friendships and alliances with likeminded people is something important that each of us can do.  The Left focuses on fracturing a people into many separate groups in order to require ever larger central government and to ease its trajectory into tyranny.  Thus our antidote must surely be building community and connection.  Your uplifting book is helping to do that and we through our AAJC are dedicated to doing the same. 

The very ‘lightning speed,’ lack of tolerance and lack of restraint of the Left today, may well be the trigger that wakes enough up in order to start the process of restoring sanity. Like the proverbial frog who will allow itself to be boiled to death if the heat under the pot in which he sits is gradually raised while he will jump to safety if a blast of heat is applied, we have faith in American’s “jumping out” of the road to destruction as long as Americans are aware of it and courageous enough to stand for the truth.

Wishing you, your family, America and the world a blessed 5780,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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We’re Moving Towards God, but Come from Different Faiths

October 2nd, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 24 comments

Thank you so much for your podcast and your books, your work is tremendously enlightening and has enriched my life immeasurably.

I grew up as an atheist and discovered God as an adult. I am struggling finding the right path for me to learn about God and follow his teachings.

My own family background is Jewish on my mother’s side, but my husband comes from a Christian background (but secular). We have started attending church because he is now also yearning to follow God’s word. I enjoy church and Bible study but feel somewhat uncomfortable there due to my Jewish background. However, I want to support my husband and show a united spiritual front to our children, and I want my children to grow up in a Bible-believing community, instead of around the toxic secular values that my husband and I grew up with in school and society.

What is the right path for me?

Sincerely,

Anita

Dear Anita,

Thank you for your warm and encouraging words.  We really appreciate hearing that we are adding value to your life.  We think that you are a wise and courageous woman. We say this without knowing you because you understand the importance of presenting a united front with your husband and of giving your children a spiritual reality and a safe community.

Little did you or your husband think that it would matter that two people, both of whom came from families with a secular mindset, had different religious backgrounds. Yet, like most couples who have blithely ventured down these perilous pathways only to discover eventually that it does matter, you too have seen the same. It sounds like you are both on a growth trajectory and that takes honesty, courage and strength.

We encourage you to allow the process to play out. While there are huge theological differences between Torah observant  Judaism and Christianity which we’d never try to blur, the truth is that when contrasted with an atheistic or secular worldview, they have much in common.

We discourage trying to raise your family as both Jewish and Christian.  Sometimes house-bound people try to look at the beautiful garden outside from the windows in two separate rooms. Unfortunately they spend so much  time darting from room to room that they actually spend very little time gazing at the garden. Far better to remain in one room and derive all the benefit possible through the windows right there in front of you.

Nonetheless, this might be  an opportunity for you and your husband to become more familiar with both religions. We don’t know where you live, the ages of your children or what church you have found but many churches we know appreciate the Jewish origins  of their faith. You can supplement church and Bible study with some Jewish sources (perhaps online) and begin to get knowledgeable about Jewish holidays and practices. Maybe there is a local synagogue you and your husband could occasionally visit as well. As with churches, you need to be careful to choose your guidance carefully—there is a great deal of nonsense available out there and there are both churches and synagogues that sadly have little to do with the Bible and God’s dominion over the world.

The important thing is finding a faith family with which you can affiliate as a family and in which each of you finds individual fulfillment as well as that warm surge of deep inexpressible happiness when engaged in something meaningful together with your family.

Initially, simply accepting the idea that there is a Higher Authority and rules for living is a major step. Recognizing that those rules for how the world REALLY works are formulated in God’s message to mankind which he presented to Moses on Mt. Sinai is next.  You and your husband ought to engage in a weekly Bible study together and into which you can include children as they reach appropriate maturity.  Way down the road, it is entirely possible that members of your family might choose different paths and you will need to figure out how to make that work, but right now you are at the very beginning of your explorations.

Meanwhile, we applaud the steps you are taking and your commitment to your family and its exciting spiritual odyssey all together down one spiritual path.

May you thrive in your journey,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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I Can’t Sleep, but I Don’t Want Medication

September 25th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 19 comments

I have been having trouble sleeping lately. I know I should go talk to my doctor about it but I don’t want to be put on medication. I have been having these anxiety attack for over 4 months now.

I find comfort and instant relief when I read the bible. Do you have any other suggestions for me?

Thank you.  I look forward to your answer

Enid

Dear Enid,

We “coincidentally” saw your question as we were having a discussion about the increase in anxiety in society today. It is hard to avoid the word, whether you are talking to educators, medical professionals, reading ads touting medication or simply keeping one’s ears open.

This should not surprise us. At one and the same time our society has been increasing the voices sounding doom and gloom while removing those constants that anchored us. For years now, schoolchildren have been used as pawns to attend rallies and write politicians and newspapers in order to preempt terrible consequences. It didn’t matter if the feared enemy was loggers (presented as a menacing threat when our children were growing up in the Pacific Northwest), corporations, or political positions and candidates. Something or someone was/is always threatening their world. More than one generation of adults has now not only failed to protect the innocence of the children with whose care they were entrusted, but has actively hurt them. The first generation of those children are now grown and, not surprisingly, increasing numbers of adults find the world a scary place.

We are bombarded by news reports delivered in anxious voices. A constant barrage of negativity assaults us. That is what grabs our attention and sells the products paying for the sites delivering the news.

At the same time, faith in God, in family and in country is eroding. While believing in God does not mean that bad things don’t tragically happen, it does mean that there is an ultimate plan and that the plan is good. It means that we are not dependent on weak and changeable people to decide how we should act and what we should believe. Strong families mean that we don’t have to face trouble on our own.  The Bible tells us that it is not good for any people to be alone (Genesis 2:18) yet today more people are living alone than in any earlier period of American history.  One of the best antidotes to anxiety is being together with other bright and upbeat people.  The nation’s psychic health was one of the benefits of the ancient pilgrimage to Jerusalem undertaken by most citizens three times a year. Imagine what a boost those visits must have been.  Finally, taking pride in our country empowers us to strive to keep it strong. If we have to face the world alone there is, indeed, much about which to be anxious.

Enid, we aren’t surprised that turning to the Bible helps you. We would encourage you to be proactive in other ways as well. Some ideas include  limiting your exposure to the news, building relationships so that your troubles are shared, and seeking out as friends those who express gratitude and joy rather than fear, anger and resentment. Find time each day to  make  others happy, even if it is something as small as complimenting the scarf a checker at the supermarket is wearing. Make sure your days include physical activity, ideally with some time outdoors. In other words, Enid, we can’t rule out a problem that a doctor might uncover, but living with calm is a revolutionary activity today and needs to be actively pursued.

Sweet dreams,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Why Don’t Men Get It?

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

Hello Rabbi and Susan Lapin,

Thank you for all your useful teachings, which I enjoy on a daily basis.

I have another marriage question for you. It is interesting to me that while many women are, rightly or wrongly, the main breadwinners in their homes, they still continue to do more household tasks than their husbands do.

Why do you think men seem to be so unaware of the professional and domestic burdens their wives are assuming?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

We’re delighted that you find our writings valuable and regret that we cannot answer your question just as you asked it. In order to do so, we would have to agree to be constrained by the corner in which you are painting  us.

You are making several  assumptions in the way you phrase  your question. We, too, have read surveys that show that women do more household chores than men. We have read other surveys that show an increasing number of families where wives out-earn their husbands. We’re not sure we have seen any accurate studies showing the overlap between these two sub-groups of families and that drill down into relevant details of these families. There may well be some studies like that, but our first instinct when we see studies on just about any politically hot-potato topic is to ascertain how objective and statistically accurate they are. Very few meet this reasonable standard.

You then make a huge leap into assuming that in those families where wives do out-earn husbands and in which they also assume the greater domestic burden, this uneven distribution is a result of a lack of awareness on the part of husbands. That is one assumption too many for us.

However, we aren’t going to leave you empty-handed. We often use the phrase, “how the world REALLY works.” That is a phrase that makes social engineers extremely uncomfortable. For example, how the world REALLY works is that the overwhelming majority of marriages come about when a man asks a woman to marry him. Surely, that should be a thing of the past? In today’s day and age, after more than half a century of gender egalitarianism,  why aren’t proposals 50% of the time instigated by men and 50% of the time by women? You might attribute this obvious imbalance  to men not realizing   that they can just as easily be on the receiving  side of a proposal as on the active proposing side, but that would be misleading.. You’d be ignoring  the fact that God built a world where men pursue women and both men and women (in general) prefer it that way.  Deuteronomy 22:13, “When a man marries a wife,” is where God informed us that it is seldom a case of, ‘when a man and woman marry’ or, “when a woman marries a man.” 

Every individual is a unique creation and every marriage is unique. Of course, today many people avoid marriage altogether so when we talk about married couples we are already dealing with a self-selecting  group. (Incidentally, many sociological and political studies and many media outlets, on policy, do not distinguish  between live-in lovers and spouses, referring to everyone who shares a home as married. This muddies the data water terribly.)

The questions we would rather ask—and we are working on a book that discusses this idea—is, “Do men and women relate differently to the process of earning money?” “Do men and women relate differently to their homes and families?” Our short answer is yes, which means that we reject your question as you ask it. Instead we would suggest that only people who do not understand how the world REALLY works think that earning money and taking care of home and family can or should be divided 50/50 among husbands and wives. Only people who do not understand how the world REALLY works would expect traditional roles to be reversed in a seamless and painless fashion.

Obviously, every couple can and should make its own decisions. However, we do think doing so without acknowledging the laws that God built into the world and by which most people will thrive is akin to taking up smoking a few cigars a day on the basis that George Burns did so and he lived a long and healthy life. Maybe you are an exception to a general rule, but more than likely you are not.

Hope you don’t find this non-answer  too disappointing ,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Is what I read about abortion and Judaism correct?

September 10th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 27 comments

Hello!

Please comment on a USA Today article claiming the Jewish faith teaches that abortion is permitted.  The article was published on July 27, 2019. 

Are they accurately quoting the teachings of the faith?

From:

Carole P.

Dear Carole,

Thank you for bringing this shameful,  painful and misleading article to our attention. The short answer is, no, they are not accurately conveying the teachings of the Jewish faith as expressed in our Constitution, the Torah. You can either build your worldview  around your religion or build your religion around your existing worldview. The latter is what most people quoted in the article are doing. Either religion means something or it doesn’t. You can’t just call on it and define it as you like.

The sad fact which we have to set before you is that about 70% of all self-identified American Jews have values that are not shaped by God’s vision as revealed in the Bible.  As has happened many times in history, they don’t merely wish to scuttle the Bible-based values of Judaism, they wish to change Judaism.   Among the many Jewish values that they have eviscerated is the value of life.  You can take it as a given that the more an American of Jewish ancestry supports today’s radical abortion views, the less he has to do with the faith of Moses and Aaron. That faith, while it does emphasize mercy and compassion, is nonetheless based on laws. When God’s laws are abandoned and only emotions are left, after a long and winding road, what started as compassionate concern for a desperate pregnant woman can step-by-step slide into support for infanticide, though no one back at the time of Roe v. Wade in 1973 would have believed that possible.

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Nothing New Under the Sun

September 9th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind No Comment yet

Thank you to our son, Ari, for reminding us of this quote by Alexander do Tocqueville (1805 -1859) in his magnificent book, Democracy in America.

“There is in fact a manly and legitimate passion for equality that spurs all men to wish to be strong and esteemed. This passion tends to elevate the lesser to the rank of the greater. But one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom.”

 

Should schools be co-educational or single gender?

September 3rd, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 6 comments

Co-education mean girls and boys taught together in one school. This subject is relative and it depends on societies, but in general it is useful educationally. It creates more devotion to studying as boys will be more serious because girls in general like to be serious which inspires the boys. Also  it helps more cooperation and understanding among the girls and boys. Is this narrative correct?

Vinjay C.

Dear Vinjay,

We thought it appropriate to answer your question on a day when many schools are beginning their  new year. You posit two reasons why co-education is a good idea, though if we were making a list of pros and cons, each column would have many more items than just those  you mentioned. If either co-education or single-gender education produced only positive or only negative results, the decision would, of course, be easy. 

However, you aren’t asking us for our opinion but rather what the Biblical prescription for education is, so we must answer from that perspective. . The Biblical command is, “And you shall teach your children…” (Deuteronomy 11:19). Each parent is obligated to teach his and her own offspring and, as we see from Jacob’s blessings to his sons, to be aware of each individual’s particular talents, abilities, weaknesses and needs. Furthermore, Proverbs 22:6 famously advises “Teach each youngster in the way most suitable for him.”  This is enormously challenging because all parents have a tendency to favor their own styles and to employ these styles on every one of their children regardless. Turning down their own instincts in favor of generating just what their children most need from them is surely one of parents’ most exciting and demanding challenges. Parents are required to provide a religious education as well as whatever is needed for a full life, including workplace and home skills. 

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How much work is too much work?

August 21st, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 3 comments

First off, I must thank you for all of your insights that have made my life – and the life of others whom I have stewardship over better. Thank you.

I think I’m losing balance in my life and I want to see what your (and the Bible’s) views are on the situation. My conflict comes from my employer who requires me to travel 1-3 times a month on weekends and I also work full time during the week (6 am to 4pm). I know my employers are my customers and I want to make them as happy as I can. 

Recently they approached me and requested I ‘think and pray’ about working more hours during the week. They want me to take 1-2 more days to work in the evening. They told me I can just ‘come in later,’ which is fine, but it takes time away from my family.

My family isn’t awake at 4 am when I work now, but they are when I get home at 4. If I was to wake up at 8 and get to work at 9, my family is still asleep – and it just takes 3 hours a day away from them.

When can I say no? Can I say no? If I was to adopt this schedule I would only see my kids for around 4-6 hours a week – especially on the weeks I travel. 

To complicate matters, 2 years ago I wanted to increase my value to my customers so I started a company that supplies my employers with half of their clients. (My side business funnels business to my employers) So finding another job will cut into my income substantially. The only reason I’m in business is because I’m employed by them.

Essentially I’m asking: Should I do everything my employers ask to make them (my customers) happy? 

What’s the line if there is one?

Thank you,

Ben

Dear Ben,

As always, to give you specific advice we would have to be in a position of holding many hours of conversation with you and your wife to understand what you do, what your options are, how financially healthy your bank account is, your children’s ages and a slew of other pertinent factors. (This is exactly what we do in our personal coaching program.) All we can do is raise issues that you should consider.

When we were actively serving the synagogue we founded in Los Angeles, we also started an associated elementary school. Since our synagogue initially was composed mostly of singles, the school drew its students from  other sources, for example Jewish families in the neighborhood who were not affiliated with any synagogue. As part of the admission process, parents agreed to attend a number of “parent educational evenings” which I (Rabbi Daniel Lapin) led. 

The question you ask is similar to one that I posed to these parents early on. I asked each mother and father to write the answer to the following question on a piece of paper:

How many days am I willing to be  away from home each month or agree to my spouse being away from home on business travel per month, in order to double our family income?

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Our daughter is dating an old man!

August 21st, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 44 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.

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