Why not Israel?

July 19th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 24 comments

I love puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, acrostics, Sudoku, logic puzzles…a book full of puzzles even keeps me somewhat content on a cross-country flight. I am telling you this to put into perspective my answer to a question that came to our Ask the Rabbi column.

Matt asked, “I’m always wondering why your family never moved to Israel?” 

While my husband and I always answer the Ask the Rabbi questions as a team, I’m going to make an exception for this one and let my husband answer in that venue while presenting my own answer here. You see, my husband and I received very different upbringings with regard to the modern State of Israel. While the land of Israel is unquestionably precious and special to all Jews and has been since the days of Abraham, how love for the land translates into action is a different matter.

I was brought up in a Zionist home and attended a Zionist school. We opened each day in elementary school saluting the American flag while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and we also faced the Israeli flag and sang HaTikva, the Israeli national anthem. Through high school we learned American and world history, math, literature and science in English for half the day and an equal amount of time was allotted to Jewish studies. Bible, Prophets, Hebrew literature and Jewish history and philosophy were taught completely in Hebrew with test, papers and classroom conversation taking place entirely in that language. (I was an adult before it dawned on me that my elementary school Hebrew studies teachers probably did understand and even -gasp- speak English.)

Had you asked me when I was in my teens where I would be living as an adult, I would have answered, Israel. That is exactly where about a third of my class now lives. Indeed, being able to get to Israel so easily and to live there in freedom is something that generations of my ancestors could only dream about. While, since the days of Joshua, there has always been a Jewish presence in the land, the community was often maltreated, impoverished and small. Today’s comfortable and thriving presence truly is a miracle.

What does this have to do with puzzles? The pleasure I get from puzzles is directly tied to the challenge. I would have little enjoyment doing the book of crossword puzzles that delights my six-year-old granddaughter, nor would I appreciate a book of puzzles that endlessly frustrated me because it was too hard. That is a metaphor for life. Attempting to live in accordance with God’s wishes is challenging. It isn’t easy, any more than being married, raising children, being a good friend, building a business, acquiring knowledge, staying fit or developing any skill is easy. Invigorating, inspiring, joyous, yes; easy, no.

While an evening of relaxation is wonderful, anyone who finds their entire life easy isn’t living it to the fullest. Each time we achieve a measure of growth we need to look for the next level. To do otherwise would be to stick with the easily solved Sudoku level; it would quickly become boring and demoralizing.

This week, Jews are in the middle of a period of mourning that culminates on Sunday. While our synagogues are usually centers of social activity, (although chatter ideally stops during prayers) this Saturday night and Sunday we will gather but not greet each other.  Lights will be dimmed and we will sit low to the floor, exactly as a mourner does during the week following the funeral of an immediate family member. For that is what we are – mourners recounting the loss of the Temple and Jerusalem along with our exile from the land of Israel. That exile entailed losing a certain level of closeness with the Almighty that was only reachable when the Temple stood.

The establishment of the modern state of Israel changes nothing about this annual period of mourning. It is observed in Jerusalem just as it is in Brazil or Boston. As wondrous a gift as the State of Israel is, we are still in the period following the destruction over 2,000 years ago. Although current attacks on the state of Israel by left-wing media, organizations and universities are a barely disguised form of hatred against the entire Jewish people, there is a core truth that the the modern State of Israel is not equivalent with the Jewish people.

While living in the land of Israel is generally accepted as one of the 613 mitzvot, or commandments, obligatory on Jews, it is one of 613. No single Jew has 613 obligations; some laws fall only on men, others only on women; some only on those from the tribe of Levi, others only on those who are not Levites; some only when the Temple is standing, others only when there is a Jewish king ruling the land. Suffice it to say that there are enough challenges in any place and time to keep any Jew thriving spiritually. Not infrequently, in real life, two commandments conflict with one another. Very real issues that people grapple with, for example, include whether honoring elderly parents by living and taking care of them outside the land of Israel takes precedence over living in the land. What if one wants to move to Israel and one’s spouse refuses? Is it a greater affront to God to be non-Sabbath observant in Israel than in any other country? If you are struggling with a terrible habit of gossiping is it better to stay in another country until you get it under control rather than gossiping in Israel where God observes you more closely? As you can see, living in Israel is a tremendous privilege that is amazingly doable in our days, but that still entails a personal assessment.

My husband’s life-mission, which became mine when we married, is making ancient Jewish wisdom accessible to everyone. Whether that was through classes in the synagogue community he founded in California or whether it is teaching both Jews and Christians as he does today, for a variety of reasons it is work best accomplished by living in America. That is one of many reasons that we remain in the United States though we do feel a tug at our hearts every time we return to Israel. Is that calculation correct or is God shaking His head at our not taking advantage of the opportunity we have been given to move back to His land? We can only do the puzzles we are given to the best of our abilities.

*  *   *   *  

Whether to follow Nimrod or Abraham is a challenge faced in and out of Israel.
If you don’t understand it, you may not realize how real it is.
Nine verses from Genesis that will change how you look at the news.

S

A

L

E

Tower of Power: Decoding the Secrets of Babel Tower of Babel: Decoding the Secrets of Babel MP3

Meeting my girlfriend’s children

July 17th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 24 comments

I first became aware of your work after having seen a talk that you gave on a program with Pastor John Hagee.  I subsequently purchased Thou Shall Prosper, and I think that it’s a fantastic book, and one that I often return to, not merely because of how eloquently it’s written.  

Recently, I fell in love with my friend’s wife. When we first met twelve years ago, I developed feelings of infatuation for her.  But in wanting to do the right thing, I talked myself out of them.  At the time, I thought to myself that it wasn’t appropriate for me to think such things about the woman of another man.  

Many years passed, and gradually I lost touch with my friend as our relationship began to dissipate.  I found that I remained in touch with her every now and then and would sometimes help her with assignments for her work. She eventually informed me that she hadn’t been close to her husband for a number of years, and I was shocked to hear such news.

Suffice it to say, our feelings grew for one another, and I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about her.  We’re together now as a couple, and I feel like destiny has made it so.  I have felt moments of guilt for this, despite her having reassured me that they no longer loved one another.  It nevertheless is a difficult predicament to find oneself in. 

We have been talking recently about how we should introduce me to her children.  She has two beautiful children from her previous marriage, ages 10 and 5.  She has stated that she would prefer to introduce me to the children gradually and as a friend, so as to not cause trauma to them, after having been through so much with the divorce.  I do respect this, and in my heart I want so much to have a good relationship with them, and for them to like me very much.  As much as I want to respect her wishes and make her happy, I feel that it would be more honest in the long run to be open with the children and tell them about our relationship, as it would engender trust. 

Instinctively I feel that I am right about this somehow, but I feel in our current society time-honoured wisdom is eschewed in favour of theories and new models for parenting.  I would be so grateful if you have any insights that you might be able to share that relate to our situation.  

Kind regards,

Karl

 P.S – I really admire the work that you do that goes towards creating understanding between Jews and Christians, I derive a great deal personally from such works, and have found that I’ve learned about Judaism in the process.

Dear Karl,

We appreciate your kind words about our work, though we suspect that you may not be as happy with how we respond to your question here. You were absolutely correct years ago when you recognized that it is completely inappropriate to fantasize about someone else’s wife. That is even a prohibition that ranks as the tenth of the Ten Commandments!

After acknowledging that you behaved correctly many years ago, we must say that we noticed too much focus on feelings in your letter. We think that it is important anytime one must make important life decisions,  for the brain, mind and objective morality to dominate feelings.

We did not understand whether you were saying that this woman and your former-friend are the divorced parents of her two children or if she had a previous marriage (with two children) and is not yet divorced from your friend.

If the latter is correct, then – we know of no way to say this gently – you still have no business being involved with a married woman. The fact that she is unhappy in her marriage is irrelevant. No good can come of this.

However, if what you meant was that she was once married to your ex-friend and is  now divorced with two children, and her divorce had nothing to do with you, then we don’t understand why you should have any guilt feelings. Hence, our confusion.

Nonetheless, you must recognize that, no matter how strongly either of you feel for one another, her primary obligation is to her children. As a mature adult, you should also put their welfare ahead of your own. Depending on the details of the divorce and how long ago the divorce was, it might be wrong for you to meet her children at all at this point. (In fact, it might be wrong for her to be in any romantic relationship, though you didn’t ask us about that.)

As to your specific question. Children are not stupid. We doubt very much if you can be introduced as a friend without her ten-year-old asking her pointed questions. We would recommend that until she is entirely free to remarry, her children and she have adjusted well to their changed circumstances, and you are willing to assume a lifetime commitment to her and complete responsibility for the children’s well-being, you stay away from her family unit.

Once all those criteria are met, we would agree with you that the children should meet you as someone who has a special place in their mother’s and their future. A sign that you are ready to be introduced would be this woman and you agreeing on what to do as you both put the good of these children ahead of your own desires. Despite the increased frequency of divorce and remarriage in our society it still can be a traumatic event for the children involved who are dealing with a personal situation, not statistics. Do not underestimate the hurdles you may face. It is very possible that you and this woman should get guidance from pastors or professionals experienced with assisting couples through this type of event before moving forward.

Karl, we have done you the honor of assuming that you wanted the truth and that is what we have given you.  And these principles are not just our feelings.

With tough love,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin 

*   *   *   *  

Would Nimrod be comfortable in today’s society? Would Abraham?

Tower of Power: Decoding the Secrets of Babel

S

A

L

E

 

Summer in The City

July 16th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 14 comments

It was on a clear but cold winter afternoon that I landed at JFK Airport on my first visit to the United States.  After clearing customs and immigration and being granted a three week tourist visa, I climbed into a taxi on my way to my Manhattan hotel.  Half an hour later, as the sun was starting to set, the cab swept around a curve in the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and for the first time in my life my eyes fell upon a sight of which I have never tired.  The towering skyscrapers of lower Manhattan silhouetted against the still blue sky took my breath away.  I found myself silently mouthing these words, “How great are your works, Oh Lord!” (Psalms 92:5) as tears started up in my eyes.  It was then, only a couple of hours after first setting foot upon the continent of North America while driving up the East River towards the Brooklyn Bridge that I resolved to stay.  And, though no longer on a tourist visa, I’m still here.

Why did this sight move me so deeply?  Because the Grand Canyon, Mount Rainier, and the giant redwood trees overlooking San Francisco Bay might all have conceivably come into being as the result of a lengthy process of random, unaided materialistic evolution.  Primeval winds and wild rivers might have shaped canyons and mountains while undisturbed saplings grew and grew.  But a colossal hub of millions of human beings all cooperating to build and maintain Manhattan with its buildings and bridges, its streets and subways and its unimaginably vast system of human enterprise could only have been built by creatures touched by the finger of God.  I was immeasurably moved realizing that I was gazing upon the proof of God’s goodness. 

Beavers build lodges and dams that are wonders of hydraulic engineering.  Bees build hives of energetic productivity and ants create huge invisible underground nests.  But none of these examples of animal instinct matches a city.  Every beaver, bee or ant habitation almost exactly matches every other, but each city that humans build looks different and each houses its own unique culture.  Every animal endeavor is predictable while cites collapse when their cultures fail as Jane Jacobs explains in The Death and Life of Great American Cities.  While some cities become shining jewels gleaming with every facet of human creativity, others lose their central life force; they deteriorate and die, becoming garbage heaps and cesspools. 

Just as a culture builds a city, so a city grows and protects its culture.  And when the city dies, so does its culture.  For this reason, Germany concentrated its bombing blitz during eight months in 1940-1941 upon London and not upon the green fields of Devon which provided such agricultural abundance.  Likewise, the Royal Air Force bombed Berlin and Dresden and not German farmland.  To end the Pacific war, we bombed the great cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, utterly ignoring the rice paddies that fed 70 million Japanese. 

To fully grasp how cities are really an amazing manifestation of our Godly origin, we can glance at these Bible sections. 

In anticipation of inheriting the Land of Israel, the tribes of Reuben and Gad request the east bank of the Jordan.  After much nuanced-filled negotiation, Moses instructs them:

Build for yourselves cities for your small children and pens for your flocks…
(Numbers 32:24)

Then Moses instructed Israel to give the tribe of Levi 48 cities!  (Numbers chapter 35)

Did the small children of two tribes really need a few cities?  Wouldn’t a handful of childcare facilities suffice?  And did one tribe of Levites really need nearly 50 cities?

And, while we’re talking of unnecessary cities, why did Cain build a city for all of about half a dozen human beings on the planet?  (Genesis 4:17)

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that whenever Scripture mentions a city it is teaching us that a new culture is being introduced.  This idea is not without modern precedent.  When the Australians began to see themselves as an independent nation early in the 20th century, they set about building their new capital city of Canberra where no city existed and where almost no people dwelled.   Fifty years later, Brazil did the same thing, building the capital city Brasilia, not in response to any growing local population but to attract a population.  Of course today both Canberra and Brasilia are large and thriving cities.

Thus when the Children of Israel were anticipating their arrival into their own land for the first time ever, building cities was an essential first step.  Reuben and Gad built cities, not for their existing small children but to provide a future-looking culture for those children.  The Levites didn’t possess the numbers to warrant 48 cities, but they were the guardians of a culture that placed worship of God at the center.  Naturally they needed cities to help implant that outlook.

Conversely when enemies attack, they have always known that if they destroy the cultural heart of the country by eradicating the city, the rural farmlands will also cease to exist. 

This Sunday, we observe the most mournful day of the Jewish calendar, known as Tisha B’Av.  This is the date around which almost every calamity inflicted upon the Jewish people throughout history is clustered.  We tend to heave a heartfelt sigh of relief when the day passes each year.  One of the calamities mourned is the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple some twenty-five hundred years ago.  On Sunday we shall read the book of Lamentations whose opening verse reads:

Oh how has the city [Jerusalem] that was once so populous become so lonely!
She has become like a widow…
(Lamentations 1:1)

We see that just as the happy new culture that would arise with the Jewish arrival in Israel needed cities built, so the tragic new culture heralded by the eviction of the Jews from Israel needed cities destroyed—starting with the capital city, Jerusalem.

The condition of American cities sheds considerable light on the health of the cultures of the states in which those cities are situated.  It is not hard to see that Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix and Charlotte are in better shape than Baltimore, Detroit, San Francisco and New York.  The rural countryside can pretty much survive without a God-centric culture.  However, once cities go secular, there’s not much that can save them other than the fervent revival of the Biblical beliefs and values that built those cities in the first place.

I do enjoy the natural beauty to be found in the United States of America.  But I am spiritually inspired and emotionally moved far more by the good people to be found maintaining and growing those still-healthy cities that I am privileged to visit and in which I am often blessed to appear and speak.  I pray for that Biblical revival among America’s believers and the first sign of its success will be the return of our cities.

                                                                                                      Adapted and reprinted from Tisha B’Av teaching summer 2016

Why did the people of Shinar need to build a city long before
they laid out fields and established farms? (Genesis 11:4)
To understand today’s political climate and recognize
what is threatening your family and livelihood,
you need to answer that question.

We lay it out in our audio set,
Tower of Power: Decoding the Secrets of Babel,
on sale this week. Don’t listen to the news without it!

S

A

L

E

Wonderful news!

July 16th, 2018 Posted by On Our Mind 2 comments

A few weeks ago, we asked you to pray for the infant grandson of dear friends of ours. We are thrilled to share that Lion Huch, son of Pastors Luke and Jennifer Huch and grandson of Pastors Larry and Tiz Huch has been discharged from the hospital and is cancer-free. Here is Pastor Luke’s announcement:

“INFANT LEUKEMIA SURVIVOR Baby Lion Update: Special announcement from Pastor @lukehuch! Thank you so much for your continued prayers! We have the victory!!! Lion is healed, Lion will live, and Lion will thrive! Repost and share with others so they can hear the good news!!!”

Please keep praying as Lion is scheduled for further treatment to ensure that the cancer doesn’t come back. This is truly a miracle and we are rejoicing.

Don’t Clone Your Senator

July 12th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 20 comments

Rather than being a science-fiction fantasy (or horror) scenario, cloning of animals seems to be reality. When Barbra Streisand mentioned in an interview a few months ago that she had cloned her dog, it brought the subject to the forefront of people’s minds. When I read a bit about it, it reminded me of my husband’s joke that living with a clone of yourself would be terrible because every time you started to tell a joke your clone would yawn and say, “I know that one.”

Donald Trump’s selection of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court reminded me of one of the advantages of having 50 disparate states with their 100 varied Senators. I have written a number of times in these Musings about my frustration with Republican leadership, a dissatisfaction that many shared with me as evidenced by Donald Trump’s election. However, the other side of the coin deserves to be voiced as well.

Having specifically mentioned Mitch McConnell in a less than flattering light in some Musings, I was remiss not to laud his steadfastness in preventing President Obama from appointing a third Supreme Court Justice. Senator McConnell’s unwavering stance paved the way for Justice Gorsuch.

This week, eyes turn once again to the Senator and I pray that he lives up to the praise he is being given in advance for knowing how to shepherd a nominee through a contentious process. The opposition to President Trump’s choice, while having little to do with the proper role of the Senate in confirmation hearings, is loud, powerful and nasty. Somehow, a soft-spoken, meek-looking, and gentlemanly man needs to face the storm.  There are many Senators whose active words and demeanors I prefer, and I still think those traits are necessary to regain the culture, but this case reminds me of the importance of knowing the ropes and working behind the scenes.

Sale ending this weekend – Don’t just dream of wealth; start moving

On Sale – The Income Abundance Set

 

Reacting to the Morgue

July 10th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 37 comments

Dear Rabbi and Susan,

This year I became a med student. Therefore, with anatomy lessons I go to the morgue. It’s a great way to learn, however, I can’t help but feel rather uncomfortable.

That got me thinking – Is it an appropriate way to learn?

God bless you.

With kind regards,

Julie

Dear Julie,

First of all, congratulations on getting into medical school. That is quite an accomplishment.

As you go through school and residency and embark on a medical career, you are going to be called upon to do many things that will make you uncomfortable. Not only will you dissect cadavers but, among other things, you will be cutting into living people and be exposed to intimate and hidden parts of people’s bodies. You will be surrounded by people in deep emotional trauma. You will sometimes make mistakes that have the most serious consequences as well as blessedly do just the right thing at the right time with amazing results.

In order to be effective, it can be helpful to remember that you are in the process of fulfilling your God-given mission to heal.  “…I am the Lord your Healer” (Exodus 15:26)  Just as He heals us, so should we emulate Him and also become healers.  You know that you will need to learn to act professionally and overcome your feelings. That doesn’t mean to cauterize your feelings but it means to control them.  The danger is that you can do that so well that you end up slightly  dehumanizing  yourself in order to do what needs to be done.

So, we are happy to hear that being in the morgue makes you feel uncomfortable, because it reflects an understanding of the awesomeness of life and death and the responsibility you are taking on yourself by training to be a tool of God’s healing.  Medicine needs to be a calling, not a job. Part of that calling is entering a “zone” where you can work effectively despite the nature of what you are doing.

We encourage you to precede every shift with a prayer acknowledging your partnership with the Almighty and asking for His support. You might also choose, like some other amazing doctors we know, to make a ‘spiritual’ demarcation after working with a cadaver (or losing a patient) by filling a cup of water and deliberately pouring it over each hand three times. Water is the universal symbol of life and this would mark an acknowledgment of what you just experienced and a return to a life-giving environment as you continue your day.

You also need a large human support system. That should include those who have been in your shoes and who have managed to combine medical professionalism with a well-adjusted human life. It will also be important to have people you can lean on for physical, emotional and spiritual support.

If all this sounds like an immense undertaking, that is because it is. You are not choosing an easy path in life, but you are choosing one with immense opportunities to help God’s other children. Take care to keep yourself healthy and well as you do so.

Wishing you success,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

  *    *   *   *

It’s easy to see being a doctor as a calling.
To do your best, it’s vital to turn every job or business into a calling.
Need help?

The Income Abundance Set

 

Bury the Blame

July 10th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 30 comments

With immigrants in the news, let me tell you about fifteen-year-old David Sarnoff whose father died shortly after his family immigrated to America.  To support his mother and siblings, David got a $5/week job as office boy at the Commercial Cable Company in New York.  (Government funded welfare programs weren’t to arrive for another 30 years.)  On his own time he taught himself to use the telegraph key making himself more useful to the company’s telegram business.  On Monday morning September 17, 1906, he explained to his supervisor that he’d be unable to come to work on Thursday and Friday on account of the Jewish holyday of Rosh HaShana.  He was promptly fired. 

Ten days later, on Saturday, September 29, 1906 he observed the holyday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and on Sunday morning he began working for the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America.  Two months later Guglielmo Marconi, himself, visited the New York office.  Young David brashly introduced himself to the great Italian inventor who took a liking to his young employee.  While off duty, David took correspondence courses in mathematics.

At work on the night of April 14, 1912, David Sarnoff received the distress signals being telegraphed from the doomed Titanic. He passed the tragic information to William Randolph Hearst’s newspapers.  This turned the new-fangled radio into a household term. Meanwhile, despite his fascination with the technical side of radio, David Sarnoff moved to the financial side of the business saying, “…the place to make money is where the money is coming in…”

Marconi eventually became Radio Corporation of America, or RCA. Sarnoff tried in vain to interest his bosses in his idea of commercial radio for entertainment. Taking the initiative, on July 2, 1921, he broadcast a boxing match in Jersey City between Jack Dempsey and Georges Carpentier.  Nearly half a million enraptured boxing fans listened in that Saturday afternoon, mostly on homemade radio sets, and heard Dempsey knock out Carpentier.  Sarnoff enjoyed a phenomenal career until his death in 1971. 

Whether at Commercial Cable Company or at Marconi, David Sarnoff was never heard complaining about the anti-Semitism which in those days undoubtedly made his youthful years difficult. He never spoke of having been passed over for promotion in favor of non-Jewish candidates though it undoubtedly occurred.  Much later, as a successful and prominent business leader, he participated in attempts to defeat anti-Semitism. We see this behavior foreshadowed in Genesis.

As a young single man, Jacob started working for his uncle, Laban, as described in Genesis chapters 29 and 30.  Laban was not a pleasant boss (or father-in-law), but Jacob never confronted him.  Twenty years later he departed as a hugely successful man with substantial assets, four wives and many children.  Laban pursued him, and only then, for the first time, Jacob exploded in righteous indignation at how Laban had mistreated him.  (Genesis 31:36-42) 

Had Jacob focused his emotions on Laban’s persecution of him, the energies he wanted to bring to bear upon improving his circumstances would have been dramatically diminished.  Using energy to complain and whine about others who might be making your life more challenging means that you have far less energy available to improve your own life.  Once Jacob reached a state of stability and success, he felt free to tell Laban just what he thought of him.

I would like to draw your attention to another Scriptural example of delayed reaction.  In Numbers 31, God told Moses to wage one more war after which he would die.  This war was to be against the Midianites who had earlier caused Israel some dreadful tribulations.  After the war, Moses was dismayed that the army had allowed female survivors.

This is how he chided the army:

They [the Midianite women] were the very people who involved the children of Israel [in immoral and adulterous behavior] on Balaam’s advice to betray the Lord over the incident of Peor, resulting in a plague among the congregation of the Lord. 
(Numbers 31:16-17)
 

Here Moses makes it perfectly clear that Balaam was the responsible party for inciting the Midianites to send their women to entice the Israelites into conduct that he knew God would punish severely. 

Yet, earlier when the incident actually happened, Balaam’s role is omitted and only the Israelites themselves are blamed as we see here:

Israel settled in Shittim, and the people began to commit harlotry
with the daughters of the Moabites.
(Numbers 25:1)

Scripture omits Balaam’s role in causing Israel to sin so catastrophically to stress that  Israel’s progress would have been handicapped by a “Blame-Balaam” movement.  They were a nation on the road from slavery to freedom, responsibility and accountability.  The cry “Balaam made us do it!” would have hindered them from starting to take responsibility for their own lives.  Later, once Israel had been severely punished for their dalliances with the women of Moab, and once they had successfully defeated Midian/Moab in battle, Balaam’s true role could be mentioned.  Given that Balaam was himself punished for his role, the nature of that role needed to be explained.

When confronting challenge, which any business professional has to do frequently, any tendency to blame other people or external circumstances for one’s problems only detracts from the mental energy and stamina available to triumph against whatever adversity threatens.  Jacob focused on doing the job rather than on Laban’s nastiness. 

This is true in our community and personal lives as well. Israel took responsibility for what they had done and rose to defeat their tormentors.  This victory would never have been possible had they been focused on how terrible it was for Balaam to lure them into a trap. 

David Sarnoff had many opportunities to rail at the unfairness of his situation.  He was a new immigrant who had to learn the language.  As a teenager, he was left as the only support for his family.  He had to work in a climate hostile to Jews, especially those who wished to observe their faith even to a small degree.  Nonetheless, he apparently wasted no energies crying out at the unfairness of it all.  He focused on learning new skills, taking on new responsibilities and seizing opportunities as they occurred.  Not surprisingly he prospered.

This is one lesson that we can all apply.  We all encounter tough situations in which we experience a desire to protest the unfairness of it all.  We even feel a little satisfaction at indulging our internal desire to see ourselves as hapless victims in a maelstrom of malevolence swirling around us.   But this indulgence is terribly costly.  It erodes our willpower, our energies and our mental stamina.  By not allowing any whining or self-pitying to creep into our worldview, we can see an immediate increase in our ability to triumph over tribulation.  We are not victims but captains of our own destinies. 

More lessons springing from Scripture, as applicable and as valuable as this one, are contained in our Income Abundance Set. Thousands have improved their financial situation by changing their approach to money and by using the tips and techniques in these books and audio CDs. Through this week, you can get this life-changing set on sale. Use this summer to chart a new and better financial destiny for yourself!

ON SALE! The Income Abundance Set

 

Please Don’t Tout Independence Day

July 9th, 2018 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

How fortunate we are that the celebration of the United States’ founding became best known as the Fourth of July rather than Independence Day. That name has kept the holiday from being moved to a convenient Monday such as has happened to President’s Day which morphed from George Washington’s birthday partially so that it could not be tied to a specific date.

At a time when the founding principles of this country are largely forgotten and/or under assault, it is a soothing balm that the Fourth of July still reigns rather than being a day off (largely for government employees) positioned to make it most convenient for vacationing rather than for honoring.

Perplexed by Precedent

July 5th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 26 comments

I am perplexed. The response on the Left to Anthony Kennedy’s resignation and the resulting open seat on the Supreme Court has been utterly predictable. I expected their  hysteria and fear-mongering. The response on the Right is what has me puzzled.

Senator Susan Collins, a Republican (though I wouldn’t call her a conservative), said, “I view Roe v. Wade as being settled law. It’s clearly precedent, and I always look for judges who respect precedent.”

But she is not alone. Conservative sources that I respect  are suggesting that it is too late to overturn Roe v. Wade or to reverse the 2015 Obergefell decision that legalized homosexual marriage. They are citing a respect for precedent and the danger of rulings that would disrupt huge numbers of lives. Now, that confuses me.

Firstly, while I don’t have legal training and am not an ardent Court follower, I don’t think it is that uncommon for the Supreme Court to rule in ways that make earlier decisions obsolete. Certainly, both Sonia Sotomayer and Elana Kagan were confirmed in spite of (or perhaps because) both looked to establish new ideas and social norms rather than relying on the Founders’ intentions. Isn’t the whole rallying cry of many liberal judges not to be tethered to the past?

In the great moral issues of the day, specifically slavery, I can’t imagine any Senator explaining that noted civil rights cases like Plessy v. Ferguson needed to be upheld because of precedent and the great disruption that would come if they were overturned. In 1954, the 1896 decision confirming that “separate but equal” was constitutional, was unanimously reversed by the Warren Court in Brown v. the Board of Education.  Fifty-eight years of precedent and huge societal impact didn’t stop the Court undoing a grave wrong a previous Court had affirmed. Abortion on demand is another such great moral issue. Perhaps precedent demands that great issues that cause egregious damage need to be corrected.

If precedent was as important as is being claimed, neither Roe v. Wade nor the Obergefell decision would be law. Roe v. Wade found a right in the Constitution that had never been there to the point that many legal scholars, including those who favor abortion, admit that it was terrible law.  Obergefell undid over 2,000 years of precedent that established marriage as between a man and a woman.  As for affecting society, both caused and continue to cause immense challenges to the millions of Americans whose First Amendment religious freedom rights conflict with these rulings.

Politicians and pundits are notorious for speaking out of both sides of their mouths. With straight faces and without a hint of embarrassment Democrats will tell you that you must vote for a candidate because of her female body parts unless she is a Republican in which case her biology is irrelevant. So, to hear people who have advocated splintering established norms and establishing a brave, new world discover that precedent is their current favorite word isn’t a surprise. However, I am truly puzzled by conservatives, including those who disagreed with convention-shattering Supreme Court decisions, shrugging their shoulders and saying that it’s too late to return to saner jurisprudence. What am I missing? 

  *    *    *   * 
Whatever the headlines, challenges are easier to face with more financial resources.
Invest in yourself and your future.

Serious Savings Right Now
The Income Abundance Set

 

Is it wrong for us to ask for help?

July 3rd, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 8 comments

I heard your podcast recently regarding the United Nations and how damaging it is to give money to poor nations without them earning it.  My wife and I are currently in the adoption process, and started an online funding page.  The adoption is very costly, so we know we needed help.

However, after hearing the before mentioned podcast, was it wrong for us to ask for donations?  Should we focus on earning the money needed for the adoption, and not ask for donations or gifts from other people?

Vinny P. 

Dear Vinny,

How wonderful to hear that you and your wife want to open your hearts and home to a child. And thank you for listening to my (RDL) podcast.

There is a world of difference between individuals asking for and receiving help and government bodies distributing money gathered involuntarily from taxpayers.  The United Nations, in a way that would horrify its early supporters who placed such faith in the body, has become a gargantuan behemoth that today frequently provides money that enriches cruel despots rather than helping those for whom it is intended. It has also become a dung heap of corruption and high-living by its bureaucrats. 

If people choose, of their own volition, to help you and your wife, they will usually do so because they know, trust and like the two of you. They will want to join you and share in the opportunity to participate in this exciting and beautiful endeavor. If, through the incredible reach of the internet, people who do not know you find your page they will hopefully do due diligence and convince themselves that you are for real and that your home will be a blessing to some child. The point is that you are giving people an opportunity which they are free either to seize or ignore.

We would be remiss if we did not also encourage you to expand your financial resources in a way that will allow you to do more for the child who eventually joins your family. And perhaps counter-intuitively, for reasons that we explain in our resources, the presence of children in a home boosts the money-earning power of that home. It is people like you who use their wealth for good that we had in mind when creating resources like our Income Abundance Set (which happens to be on sale this week).

May you continue to reach out to God’s other children,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Thank you to Thought Tool reader Mike G. for sharing the following quote with us:

‘Money is congealed energy and releasing it releases life’s possibilities.’
                                                                                                                     Joseph Campbell

The Income Abundance Set

 

  

X