Take My Advice?

June 13th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 20 comments

Let me go out on a limb and suggest that you not run your life based on the experiences of, or advice given by, Bill Callahan, Paul Dolan or Ann Landers. Like some of you, the only one of the three whose name was familiar to me before today was advice columnist Ann Landers (actual name Eppie Lederer). She, along with her twin sister of Dear Abby  fame, had an outsized influence on Americans in the second half of the twentieth century.

However, recently two reviews crossed my desk. The first was of musician Bill Callahan’s latest album where I was intrigued by the discussion of the evolution of his music. According to reviewer, Mark Richardson, Mr. Callahan’s earlier 15 albums share a theme of alienation. Mr. Richardson shares one of the musician’s quotes from an interview in 2009. “I’m not afraid to die lately. I don’t have any kids to look after. I don’t hold any great worth for humanity.”

While neither Mr. Callahan nor I believe that the only way to have worth to humanity is to have children, his current music is different. His latest work, produced after he bought a home, married and had a child, reveals his feelings on being needed.

The second review I saw was of a book by Professor Paul Dolan. He argues that studies show that women, in particular, are happier and better off without spouses and children. This seems to echo a much circulated Ann Landers’ column from 1975 where she asked readers if they would choose to have children again, if they had the opportunity to change their pasts. At the time, the results caused quite a stir when about 70% of respondents said they would not. While her poll was debunked as unscientific and follow-up surveys produced completely conflicting totals, Professor Dolan (whose book I have not read) suggests that intellectually rigorous studies would support Ann Landers’ conclusions. I register my skepticism.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Professor Dolan’s book becomes standard reading in Women’s Studies courses. It echoes the Left’s prejudice against marriage and family. I, too, am not objective, though my own biases suggest that both women and men are happier when devoted to a spouse and children. Singer Bill Callahan’s experience rings far more true to me.

In today’s fractured, false, and corrupt society, many social and political arguments are stated as “proven”. Yet, as our culture moves away from timeless truths and abandons the compass of morality, we become easy prey for ephemeral fads and passing whims. That portends much regret and disillusionment down the road for those who follow the crowd rather than seeking the truth. ‘Question authority’ may have been a rebellious slogan of liberals in the Sixties, but it should be the mantra of every independent-minded person today.

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Should I quit my job?

June 7th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 17 comments

I have been listening to you for several months now and I have greatly appreciated the wisdom you share. However, I am currently struggling to apply some of it to my profession because I work at a public school.

Yes, I teach high school music in a GIC and thus am paid by the tax payers of my school district. As such, I do not have a ‘customer’ whom I serve in any direct manner. Additionally, my salary advancement is dependent upon taking more graduate and continuing education courses rather than my job performance.

That said, I try very hard to be conscientious in my work and diligent to serve my students and the community which is paying my salary. However, even I have found it difficult to be motivated at times to do my best work when I know it will make no difference in my paycheck.

I should note that I am a Christian who really believes God called me into this position five years ago, but I am not certain I should stay long term. Based on ancient Jewish wisdom, what would you recommend to someone in my situation? Should I stay in the teaching profession and attempt to counteract the ‘government indoctrination’ of which you speak? Or is my young family best served by me pursuing a different line of work?

Thank you for taking the time to consider my question!

David V.

Dear David,

We’re delighted that you have been finding value in the weekly podcast. You may have heard me (RDL) say that my job is not to massage listeners with warm butter but to tell them the truth. Since you asked this question about your professional life, we are going to show you respect by answering it honestly and directly without any sugarcoating.

You are most likely filling an important function at the GIC (Government Indoctrination Camps formerly known as public schools) where you teach. Not only are you exposing your students to music but you are also, we are confident, exposing them to an excellent example of a Christian man.

However, while you are doing your students some good, as the years go by you will probably not be doing the same for yourself or your family. There are a number of reasons why this is so and you have articulated one of them. (We are going to be incredibly non-politically-correct now and note that we are writing this answer for you as a man, husband and father. We would give a different answer to a woman, wife and mother.) When increasing your salary has nothing to do with how you perform your job, you will be very susceptible to gradual and incremental loss of self respect. As an honorable man you will strive to give your best at your job, but already you are beginning to feel the lack of motivation. As your family responsibilities grow along with your economic needs, you can already see the writing on the wall that will relegate your teaching to what energy you have left over. After all, your paycheck won’t change.

In addition, you will almost inexorably find yourself drawn to political positions that will selfishly serve you even if they hurt the community, such as increased taxation for teacher pensions and anti-charter school activity. As you claim more benefits through your job it will sometimes be at the cost of hurting the students and their families. Please understand, we never blame anyone for acting in their best economic interests as long as they act morally and honestly.  But we are questioning whether placing yourself in such a situation for the long term is in your best interests.

There is another problem that you didn’t mention. Your livelihood is not secure. Should budget cuts be necessary and the system cuts back on arts education you will be left high and dry. You are relying on others to ensure that you are employed rather than taking control of your future. Additionally, at the moment, you are basically being paid a wage dependent on your being in a certain place at a certain time. There is no way to grow that algorithm by having others work for you or by earning money when you aren’t on call. We believe every man should try and adjust his circumstances to be in business rather than being merely an employee.  In your case, we aren’t sure whether that might mean starting to develop a private music instruction business on the side or something else quite different.  But we encourage everyone, even the person pouring your coffee at the corner coffee shop, to consider himself to be an entrepreneur in the beverage business even though he currently might have only one “customer” for his services, namely his employer.

Lastly, have you considered what you will do if the GIC demand that you teach in a way that conflicts with your values? We can think of any number of events that the administration might want to celebrate with music that would run counter to your own ethics.

David, as you probably already know, we are ardent supporters of using some of one’s money, skills and time for volunteerism and charity. We recommend that you channel your desire to help youth into those activities.

Meanwhile, we do think you should be pursuing something (that may or may not be music related) that is more of a business rather than a position.  Growing a marriage and raising a family is ever so much easier when financial stability is part of the picture and when you respect the man in the mirror.

Keep making music,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Don’t Go Bananas

June 7th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 12 comments

Our bodies need potassium to help maintain normal blood pressure and heart function.  The good news is that a banana supplies about 10% of the potassium we need each day.  The bad news: potassium is toxic.  Potassium poisoning is called hyperkalemia, not a pleasant condition.  Before throwing out all your bananas, read on.

Tenure made it possible for university professors to teach without fear of being fired regardless of prevailing politics.  Making it impossible to terminate a teacher seemed a good idea.  Yet, tenure has allowed professors to indoctrinate students with their own prejudices and beliefs rather than teach them.  Some tenured professors also get sloppy about teaching, seeing no need to engage with their material or students.

Unions once served a vital need. However, many have told of gaining a union job where it is almost impossible to be fired and being sternly warned by fellow workers to slow down productivity. After all, one hard worker highlights the lack of industry of others. He or she also makes it harder for the department to demand more employees.

Slow is the operative word.  Have you noticed how slowly some post office clerks saunter to serve you?  How about Department of Motor Vehicles workers? In Washington DC most of the people rushing are on their way to lunch.  In fact, few government workers exhibit the slightest urgency about their work.

If you’re trying to obtain a job, a promotion or a raise, never meander. Stride purposefully even if you’re going to the washroom.  Few behaviors irritate the person paying your salary more than seeing you amble around as if on a seaside promenade. 

Always act as if there is a shortage of time.  You know why? Because there really is a shortage of time.  Here’s a bonus: acting with urgency brings professional advancement.  As the wise King Solomon put it:

See a man urgent about his work—he will stand among kings.
(Proverbs 22:29)

It is bad enough that dawdling makes you look listless and lethargic to others.  Far worse, that is also how you begin to appear to yourself. Drifting through your day makes you feel complacent and fills you with an illusion of security.  Few of us do our best work while feeling overly secure.

When your boss says, “I want you to feel at home here,” he doesn’t mean he wants to see you draped lazily over a couch for the afternoon.

For best results, even in our homes, husbands and wives shouldn’t feel too much at home! Taking the most important relationships in our lives for granted is a recipe for disaster.

God’s wisdom ensures that even on your own land in Israel, you shouldn’t feel too laid-back and over-secure. You thought it was your own land? Well, guess what! You can’t sell it completely.

The land shall not be sold in perpetuity for the land is mine and
you shall be strangers and temporary residents with me.
(Leviticus 25:23)

God wants us always to feel like strangers?  Right! He doesn’t want us ever to feel too secure because excessive security destroys drive, annihilates ambition, and kills creativity.  Being a stranger means not feeling at home and thus it means putting your best foot forward, and doing so swiftly not slowly. Tenure? Unions that make it impossible for anyone to lose their job regardless of malfeasance?  Well, when they create a sense of excessive security, they are not so good. Not for the people who can’t be fired and not for the people who depend on their work.

A certain amount of security allows us to sleep at night; too much security encourages us to sleep during the day.  A little potassium — just what the doctor ordered.  Too much — danger. And those bananas?  Yes, eating about 10,000 in half an hour could be perilous.

Not only is there a problem in taking those closest to us for granted, we should not relate lightly to any human being in our orbit. And—for a most successful life, we should constantly be expanding our circle of relationships. Learn why and how to do so with our audio CD set, Prosperity Power: Connect for Succe$$.  This resource, on sale now, will amaze you with its power to improve your finances among other areas of your life.

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What a Burden!

June 5th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 10 comments

When the word “burden” appears three times in an article (with an additional showing in the subtitle) and the word “privilege” is nowhere to be seen, it isn’t hard to detect a bias. That was my first impression after reading Wall Street Journal food columnist, Bee Wilson’s essay entitled, “Feeding a Family Isn’t a Job for Mothers Alone.” 

I don’t want to talk about the premise of the article, though I do (surprise, surprise) have some thoughts on it. The subtitle: “In an era of processed foods, wholesome home cooking is more important than ever—and men need to share that burden,” pretty much lays out the author’s views. For my part, I was more struck by a sentiment underlying the whole article that is rather common today. I speak of the sentiment that life should be pleasurable and easy.

I’m a self-inflicted victim of this thinking myself. I generally expect to have a certain amount of time each day for reading, exercising and relaxing. My normal schedule allows me a night’s sleep. I assume that much of my day, including work, will be enjoyable. For this, I should be overflowing with gratitude.

What happens instead, however, is that my expectations increase along with my blessings. If my grandmother almost never ate out in a restaurant, and my mother did so a few times a year, I think it perfectly normal to have food prepared for me a few times a month. If my grandfather was grateful for any job that allowed him to feed and clothe his family, my generation expects that work should be emotionally gratifying. Instead of being overwhelmed with the blessing of having the financial means, safe environment and abundance of food with which to feed a family, we feel the burden of having to cook and prepare meals repeatedly.

I vividly recall the first time I supplemented our eldest child’s feeding with some solid food. I was swamped with a panicky feeling as I realized that, after months of relative ease where my milk could supply all her needs, she was soon going to want to eat numerous times a day. It would be years before she could take care of herself in that regard! I also know well the tired feeling of having no idea what to make for dinner and little energy with which to make it.  I am certainly not yearning for a return to the days of working in sweatshops or as sharecroppers.  I have no desire to see men and women dying young as years of exhausting labor takes its toll. Nonetheless, Ms. Wilson’s article reminded me of how easy it is to pity ourselves when, in reality, even our problems are those of the blessed and fortunate.

P.S. Please note that our office and store will be closed from Friday night, June 7 through Monday night June 10 in honor and observance of the holy days of Shavuot (Pentecost). Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. In recognition of that, in addition to the 2 books that were already featured on sale this week, until we close for Shabbat, we are also offering The Ten Commandments: How Two Tablets Can Transform Your Life audio CD for a reduced price.

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Tesla’s Reality Check

June 5th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind 4 comments

In an article about how far fewer people are buying Tesla cars and the subsequent decline of Tesla stock, the reporter quoted Tesla founder Elon Musk reassuring Wall Street analysts, “The inhibitor is affordability. It’s got nothing to do with desire.”   Musk was explaining that all is okay because countless customers still desire Tesla cars, they just can’t afford them. 

Well, that clear things up.

However, I’d like to add a few things to the wish list that I too desire, yet can’t afford. My husband and I would very much like to have homes in Jerusalem and a number of other Israeli cities. We’d also appreciate houses in a number of other places around the world including British Columbia. While we’re at it, if affordability is just a pesky side issue, let’s make some of these waterfront houses. 

That is just for a start. Desire can be an endless master.  The beauty of a price-based economy is that it helps people know what they can afford and helps keep them within their budgets.  One of the reasons that the private sector runs more effectively than government is that it only provides things that people can afford as well as desire. Our skyrocketing national debt, as well as cities and states whose budgets don’t balance, is a result of offering citizens and employees things they want (in exchange for votes) without worrying about whether they are affordable. Mr. Musk’s company received this kind of hand-out from the Obama administration. It’s time for him to re-enter the world the rest of us inhabit.

Didn’t the Levites retire? Why can’t I?

June 4th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 22 comments

In your teaching on ancient Jewish wisdom you say two words that are not in the bible but which are commonly used are retirement and coincidence. While coincidence implies God is not in control yet all things are clearly designed by Him, when I came across the age limit in priesthood I thought that is retirement. Please explain the 50 years limit of a priest. What does it say in Hebrew?

Simon M.

Dear Simon

If we can rephrase your question a bit for those who haven’t heard the teaching, we explain an ancient Jewish wisdom principle that that if a word doesn’t exist in Hebrew then the concept doesn’t exist. We are not speaking of “things” —obviously a telephone isn’t found in Biblical Hebrew—but of universal concepts. So there are words for the idea of communication but a telephone is just one example of a method of communicating.

One chapter in our book, Thou Shall Prosper, is entitled “Never Retire.” In it, we make the point that the word retirement is not Biblical, hence the concept is incorrect. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to elaborate on the seeming contradiction you noted in Numbers 8: 24-25.

To begin with, the Hebrew word is “yaShuv” from the verb “to return.” Although the English commonly translates that as “retire” it is more in the sense that a novel in the 1800s might have said that the man “retired to the country.” That did not mean he wasn’t going to be active the next day, simply that he was withdrawing from a certain place and going to another one.

If you read further in Numbers to verse 26, you can see that the Levite above the age of 50 is not heading off to play golf but simply switching tasks. Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that the “retirement” refers to the specific job of carrying items on his shoulders in the Tent of the Meeting. However, he remains responsible for other jobs.

As a society it makes sense that certain jobs that require extreme physical skills such as fireman might have age restrictions.  The way in which the Biblical concept differs from that of our society is that as long as the person is mentally and physically capable of contributing to society in any form whatsoever, they should do so. Certainly, one might have to move from one function to another, but sitting at home waiting for one’s pension check and focusing only on pleasing oneself tends to hurt the individual as well as the society.

Hope this clears things up a bit,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Ace the Interview

June 3rd, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 9 comments

Finding a terrific job is not easy.  One way to ruin your chances is by projecting over-confidence. While employers certainly want to know what you can do for them, being too full of yourself will turn off most interviewers. Strangely enough, in one of the few job interviews in Scripture, the prospective employee seems to display exactly this wrong attitude—yet he gets the job! I am talking, of course, about Joseph. Understanding his behavior will provide us with some specific strategies for interviews and meetings.

After failing to find satisfying interpretations to his two disturbing dreams, Pharaoh recounted them to Joseph. (Genesis 41:8 & 15) Joseph then explained how the dreams foretold seven years of economic abundance followed by seven years of famine.  Astonishingly, he then offers unsolicited advice.  Joseph suggests that Pharaoh hire a wise administrator (implying that he himself is the ideal candidate) to supervise the economy.

Pharaoh should have said, “Thank you, Joseph but I asked you for dream interpretation, not for advice about economic policy.”

Pharaoh might have added, “Regarding your explanation of my dreams, I’ve heard many zany interpretations.  Perhaps your explanation is true; if so you’ll be rewarded. Meanwhile, return to the dungeon from which we took you.  If your interpretation turns out to be correct, we’ll release and reward you.”

Instead, Pharaoh listens intently while Joseph speaks at length.  When Joseph finishes, Scripture tells us that Pharaoh and his servants liked Joseph’s ideas. (Genesis 41:37)

I would have expected Pharaoh’s courtiers to tell their monarch, “Your Highness, it’s always better to promote from within.  The people will respond more obediently if directed by an experienced Egyptian bureaucrat rather than by this arrogant Hebrew ex-convict.”

Yet they accepted Pharaoh’s appointment of Joseph.  What could possibly have occurred that day to persuade Pharaoh and his court that Joseph was special?

To understand the answer, we need to look at Psalms 81:6. While many translators struggle to make sense of these words of King David, the simple and direct translation of the Hebrew is:

He (God) gave testimony to Joseph when he went out over the land of Egypt; “Banks of I didn’t know I would hear.”

We can now look at these two Genesis verses:

A. …and Pharaoh dreamed and behold he was standing upon the river.
(Genesis 41:1)

B. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream, behold, I was standing upon the banks of the river.”
(Genesis 41:17)

Ancient Jewish wisdom reveals that God told Joseph not only what Pharaoh’s dream meant but He also told him exactly what Pharaoh had dreamed in the first place.  In his dream, Pharaoh saw himself standing literally on the water of the River Nile.  Fearing ridicule when recounting his dream to Joseph, Pharaoh modified it.  Instead of reporting how he’d seen himself standing on water, he added the words ‘banks of’ saying, “I was standing upon the banks of the river,” even though that was not how he had dreamed it.

When Pharaoh uttered those words, Joseph softly murmured, “I didn’t know I would hear the words ‘banks of”.”  This shocked Pharaoh greatly and he confessed before his entire court that he had not, in fact relayed the dream exactly.  This proved to Pharaoh and his staff that nobody more qualified than Joseph existed.

While we can’t expect God to give us inside information before a job interview, a successful applicant does homework and arrives prepared, knowing details about the company, the position, and how to add value. Calm confidence coupled with deep knowledge makes one appear desirable, not arrogant.  A candidate who shows that he possesses extensive familiarity with the company causes the interviewer to think, “Can we find another like him?” (Genesis 41:38)

Communicating effectively in an interview means blending three elements: ‘confidence’—I am going to get this job; ‘communality’—I’ll be part of your team; and ‘reciprocity’—hiring me will be great for us both. Are the same elements useful in social and romantic relationships? Check out the Torah-grounded advice in these two books from Jerusalem relationship experts. Hands Off! This May Be Love and I Only Want to Get Married Once (both on sale now) are full of wisdom to smooth your path.

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Vacuous Vacation or Summer Holiday?

June 3rd, 2019 Posted by Homeschooling, Practical Parenting, Reading Recommendations No Comment yet

Marrying a man born and raised in the British Empire, who speaks “authentic” English expanded my vocabulary. While some words, like queue, made it into my daily speech, others, like bonnet for the hood of the car, never did.

But there is one British word that I have gladly adopted and think is much more joyful and suitable than its American counterpart. I love the way that the British go on holiday rather than vacation. After all, vacation focuses on what you are leaving behind. You are vacating work or school or your daily routine. Holiday is full of mystique and charm, focusing on thrilling activities that will take the place of everyday life.

Holidays are distinct from “holy” days, set aside by religious or even civic duty. When Arthur Ransome titled one of his children’s books, Winter Holiday, he wasn’t talking of Christmas, but rather of what Americans might call winter break. Not surprisingly, as a winter holiday it was not used for going to the dentist, watching TV and sleeping late but instead was a period of adventure and excitement for the protagonists of his story. You might sleep away a break but who would so mistreat a holiday?

There is another dimension to this seemingly minor vocabulary difference. When you vacate or take a break from something, there is an implication that it is a burden you are happy to shrug off. In contrast to that, a holiday means that there is a fleeting (after all holidays can’t last forever) opportunity on the calendar. A subtle point, perhaps, but subtleties can have big impact.

So, as students come to the end of their school year, I don’t want to wish them a happy vacation. Anyone with a few unencumbered days should have plans to execute, ideas to implement, and dreams to realize. If imaginations are too shriveled to think beyond the ordinary, I would suggest tossing the electronics and investing in copies of some classic British children’s literature like that of Richmal Crompton, Enid Blyton, E. Nesbit, and of course, Arthur Ransome. Expand your vocabulary as you read them aloud to your children on a blanket at the beach or park. After all, how often do holidays come around?

 

Take Time to Make Time

June 3rd, 2019 Posted by Homeschooling, Practical Parenting, Your Mother's Guidance 4 comments

A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter

Our son celebrated his bar-mitzvah this past Shabbat, which included reading aloud in synagogue from the weekly Torah portion. His portion began with the words,  “If you walk in the way of my laws,” Leviticus 26:3.  The obvious question is why the Torah uses the word  ‘walk’?  Ancient Jewish wisdom says that this phrase is referring to Torah study.  How is walking part of studying Torah? 

We can learn an answer to this question from the behavior of King David.  David, like mothers, had many competing demands on his time.  He was the king of the nation and had national, political and military decisions to make.  He was also a Jew who carried his own personal obligation of Torah and self-development.  How did he balance the competing demands? 

The answer is that each morning instead of just waking up and starting to tackle his to-do items, King David would go to the Torah study hall to gather his thoughts.  There, in the study hall, he would organize his schedule for the day and decide how much time to devote in each part of the day to each of his responsibilities.  By making these scheduling decisions in the inspiring atmosphere of the study hall he was able to prioritize more effectively and leave more time for Torah study in his day than he would otherwise have had.  So in essence, walking to the appropriate place to plan his schedule led to more spirituality in his day. This is one of the reasons that walking in the ways of God is the introduction to this section of the Torah.

You and I probably can’t go to a study hall as we plan our day each morning with our cups of coffee.  But we can learn not only the importance of planning our days and schedules but doing it within the context of a spiritual connection. This will help us align our priorities correctly and schedule accordingly.  For me, spending time each morning, not just praying, but taking a few minutes in my room for what my children call, “Mommy’s private prayers,” gives me a chance to connect to God, orient, and center myself, and think through my day with my head in the right space.  When I come out from my private time I feel more prepared to tackle the many items on my calendar for the day wisely and well. 

We can all learn this lesson: taking the time to plan our daily schedules within a context of connection to God will enable us to focus on what is truly important to us and must be in our schedule, and which items can be dropped or delayed on each day.

When Divorce Wasn’t an Option

May 30th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 14 comments

Department stores continue to disappear and the crowds in the remaining ones are increasingly poorly behaved.  Just about anything you want is available online.  I find myself  rarely stepping foot in a mall. Yet, there is one category of store that I still enjoy visiting in person. Second-hand book stores get my heart racing. I have difficulty walking away empty-handed.

And what gems I have found! One of my favorite discoveries was a copy of Pink and White Tyranny. While Harriet Beecher Stowe is universally known for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, she was a prolific author with other volumes to her credit. Pink and White Tyranny tells the tale of a New England man accustomed to competent, intelligent, God-fearing, principled and diligent women such as his sister. On vacation he meets and marries a different type of girl, one whose entire life training has been to catch a husband; she is a bit of mindless pink and white fluff.  The book is sad and humorous; depicting his arrival home with his new wife and his slowly growing comprehension that he has made a disastrous choice in his life partner.

The book should be heralded today as a feminist tome. Just as she railed against slavery in her best-seller, in this book Mrs. Stowe makes a passionate case for cultivating women’s minds rather than focusing only on their beauty. Yet I doubt if Pink and White Tyranny is going to enjoy a resurgence of popularity. Unlike the typical hero of today’s fiction, the protagonist doesn’t end up divorcing his unsuitable mate and starting anew. His wife doesn’t end up rebelling against her upbringing and becoming the CEO of her own company while finding true love with a more forward-looking man. Instead, the protagonist acknowledges both his stupidity and his responsibility and concludes that walking away from a commitment would only add another wrong to his life’s reckoning. His wife stays ignorant and self-centered, only realizing that she wasted her life once it is too late.

Ancient Jewish wisdom tells us that divorce is one of life’s sad realities. A few lives may indeed improve after a divorce. Nonetheless, divorce is always a tragic reality that causes suffering to both people and God. There is great harm in allowing the idea of divorce to become culturally neutral or normative. The hero of Pink and White Tyranny decides that it would be unmanly and unethical to send away his wife in the hope of salvaging his own chance for happiness, In contrast, today’s novels often deal with divorce as an accepted and even lauded factor of life. In “chick lit” in particular, second marriages tend to provide sunshine and light that was absent from the first.

Our nine-year-old granddaughter is an avid writer.  She regularly producing extensive adventure stories for us to read. A few weeks back she expressed her sympathies for her mother who, in her mind, without a computer, clearly wasn’t able to write prolifically when she was a little girl. This younger generation was unable to conceive of writing by hand for hours on end and painstakingly copying the final version as her mother indeed did. 

We tend to define “normal” by what we know. I am grateful to be able to read books from a time when society as a whole treated marriage with the respect and seriousness that it deserves. And I am grateful to Harriet Beecher Stowe and numerous other authors who wrote, revised and copied when doing so took an effort that is long-forgotten.

Speaking of marriage…
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