Our daughter is dating an old man!

August 21st, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Please give us your advice.

B.W.

Dear B.W.,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We pray that all turns out for the best,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Bye, Bye Baby

August 20th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 2 comments

Just over a week ago, Susan and I were blessed by the arrival of a new granddaughter. Along with her parents, we, her siblings and cousins are excited to welcome her. At the same time, we know many couples of ‘grandparent-age’  who have no grandchildren and, at the moment, see none on the horizon. 

Many of these folks chose to delay marriage and limit the size of their own families wanting to be able to nurture their careers, provide their children with “extras” and save for future college expenses. They encouraged their own children, both sons and daughters, to establish their careers, sample a variety of romantic relationships and enjoy the early years of adulthood before getting married and starting a family. Quite a few of them are still waiting for their now thirties-something children to begin thinking of marriage and children. Some of them have been informed that building a family   isn’t part of their children’s vision and even marriage may or may not happen.  

What seemed like a prudent and good idea for how to organize a family is now causing disappointment and pain. They are facing a yearning for grandchildren, or in some cases great-grandchildren, whom they assumed would naturally come along. They failed to recognize that building a legacy of generations is not an automatic  default condition. 

In the Book of Ruth, Naomi advises her widowed daughter-in-law to get to know a local nobleman by the name of Boaz with an eye to marriage. 

…get dressed and go down to the threshing floor…when he lies down…
you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down…
(Ruth 3:3-4)

Now I must explain that one of the marvelous methods encrypted into Scripture for decoding ancient Jewish wisdom is what, in Hebrew, is known as k’ree and k’tiv.  These two terms mean ‘the way the word is pronounced’ and ‘the way the word is spelled” respectively. K’ree and k’tiv words appear throughout the Bible and our job is to merge the two meanings thereby exposed in the text.

One of the most famous examples of k’ree and k’tiv is found in the above verses from Ruth.

In the k’ree version, the verse reads simply as I translated it.  However, as the words are actually spelled in the original Hebrew text, in the k’tiv version, Naomi indicates that she, rather than Ruth, would really be the one getting dressed and going down to meet Boaz at the threshing floor.

What can this mean?  Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that although Naomi was advising Ruth how to bring about a union, she herself would also be there in spirit, in order to assist the process that would bring her progeny. Ruth and Boaz joining in marriage would impact more than just  the two principals 

In a Biblical framework, having children is not just  a personal choice for only the couple to make. It serves the family and community, linking the past to the future. The more mature Naomi understood the blessing of children, and so she yearned for a child far more than the younger Ruth did. Indeed, it was through this adventure that Naomi attained immortality, becoming a grandmother and ancestor to King David, bringing hope not only to her own family but also to the larger world.

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Our Hearts – Then Our Children’s Hearts

August 20th, 2019 Posted by Practical Parenting, Your Mother's Guidance No Comment yet

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

I actually had many thoughts I wanted to share this week but, as happened most of this summer, I have raced through the days doing so much and also not being able to do so much. Let me try to get at least one thought down.

The words, “Hear O’ Israel the Lord our God the Lord is one (Deut. 6:4),” are known as the shema and observant Jews say it multiple times a day.  It continues: “And these matters that I command you today shall be upon your heart.  You shall teach them thoroughly to your children and you shall speak of them while you sit in your home, while you walk on the way, when you lay down and when you arise.” 

A great transmitter of ancient Jewish wisdom known as the Alshich notes two powerful points for parents.  The first is that if someone wants to teach someone else Torah or character development, he or she must first embody and contain those qualities.  That’s why the words first say, “upon your heart”. First, we have to make sure that God’s wisdom and the fruits of that are in our hearts.  They have to be part of us before we can pass them on. 

Once we have made God, the Bible and Scriptural behavior part of us, then they will be part of our children too.  If Torah is in our hearts, it will enter the hearts of our children.  That, explains the Alshich, is why the next verse doesn’t use the Hebrew word for teaching “v’limadtem,” in the phrase “and you should teach them.” Instead, it uses the Hebrew word, “v’shinantem.”  The root of this word is “SHiNuN” and it means something sharp like a sharp tooth.  (SHeiN is a tooth in Hebrew.) If the words of Torah are sharp like an arrow, and if they are coming from our own hearts, they will naturally pierce our children’s hearts.  The influence will be natural, piercing, and intense, because it comes from our hearts.

In other words, what excites us, excites our children.  What bores us, will also end up boring our children.  We can spend these last few days of summer developing ourselves, learning, growing, and strengthening our own connection to God and His wisdom. That alone will have a powerful effect on our children.

Dear Senator (Lindsey) Graham

August 16th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 52 comments

Dear Senator Graham,

I’m going to get right to the point. Do you remember how during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings the veil over your eyes lifted and you realized that some of your esteemed colleagues on the Democrat side of the fence were willing to use vile and underhanded methods to achieve their goal? Keeping another Trump nominee from getting on the Supreme Court was so crucial that they trampled honesty, integrity and the Constitution.

Many in the media and many in Congress have spent every day since President Trump triumphed over Hillary Clinton doing whatever they could to get him out of office. Millions of dollars have been wasted , government institutions have been badly damaged, flagons of ink have been spilled and venomous and vicious words have been hurled like grenades  trying to undo the last election. I’m not positive you and some of your long-time colleagues understand that you are as hated as the President. So are those of us  who voted for him. Some of you may wake up every day saying, “If only we had a more diplomatic president with more gravitas, this extreme hatred of conservatives and Republicans wouldn’t exist.” Please, please channel back to the Kavanaugh hearings and realize those views are mistaken.

Like you, I am appalled by wanton violence in our society and grieve at lives lost and families traumatized. However, I do not for one minute think that concern for Americans is motivating the push for more gun control measures by your esteemed colleagues on the Left. As Rahm Emmanuel famously said, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”  And they see an opportunity now to win the next election despite a field of candidates with unpopular and impractical ideas.

They remember as I do, that President George H.W. Bush lost his  second term in 1992 because, at the seductive urging of Democrats,  he betrayed those of us who elected him after he promised them, “Read my lips. No new taxes.” If they can get President Trump to betray his base, they hope that betrayal will also cost him a second term and lead them back into power, as well it might.

Can we do something to actually restore a culture of life and mutual respect to our society? I hope so. I even have some ideas. Part of the package might indeed have to include stronger background checks and red flag laws, albeit with full recognition of the potential dangers of such steps. However, if those are the only steps taken, then my dear Senator Graham, you will have been played. If any legislation addressing this issue does not cause as much political pain to Democrats as it does to Republicans, then this is not about making a more peaceful America. It is about undoing the last election.

All the best,

Susan Lapin

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What Is a Jewish Issue?

August 14th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind 5 comments

My husband and I have many friends and relatives who grew up in America and now make their home in Israel. Some of these people served with distinction in the American military; others contributed to the United States through their businesses or other means. All of them are grateful to the country of their birth even though they no longer live here.

On their behalf as well as on the behalf of those of us who currently call the United States home, I felt compelled to respond to the following social media post I saw.

“…I only feel sorry for family and friends who are infected with Trumphobia and blinded to recognizing that there is no current Democrat candidate who would NOT be a disaster for Israel and the Jewish People. [that should be ] The only Jewish concern.” (my bolded emphasis)

I immediately submitted my opposition to this post on social media and I wish to share that response with you. I am expanding it slightly since my reply was off the cuff and I now have more time to review it, but the gist of what I said is the same:

I’m afraid I have to disagree with your words, Mr. X. I am concerned for America and actually get annoyed when politicians think that because I am Jewish I only care about Israel and those of my own faith. I care deeply about the United States of American and her citizens, whatever their faith.

I happen to think that in today’s world what is bad for Jews and Israel is bad for America and vice-versa. If those interests ever separate, then one group will be behaving in ways that violate Biblical values. We will need to oppose whichever it is— either America’s policies or those of Israel. I don’t mean on minor disagreements which have to occur if each government cares primarily for its own citizens as it must, but I mean a real rift because one nation sides with Godly values and direction while the other doesn’t. Standing with the Jewish people always means lining up with Biblical Truth and both the United States and the State of Israel have many policies that do that and some that don’t. Standing strongly for those values is my “Jewish concern” and I am grateful to live in a country where so many Christians share that concern.

Political Correctness in the Workplace Part II

August 13th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 24 comments

Dear Rabbi Daniel and Susan,

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

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

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

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

Dear Ask the Rabbi readers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With gratitude to you all,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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I’ve Been Working on the Railroad – Not!

August 12th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 21 comments

The Second Continental Congress, acting as the national government of what was soon to become these United States, met in Baltimore from December 1776 until February 1777.  During this time, Baltimore was the largest seaport through which most of the young country’s imports and exports moved.  It wasn’t until the 1830s that New York supplanted Baltimore. 

What was responsible for New York replacing Baltimore as the largest trading city in the country?  In my view it was nothing but a great big ditch about forty feet wide and four feet deep that stretched 363 miles from Albany on the Hudson River to Buffalo on Lake Erie.

It was the largest, most daunting and most expensive engineering project imaginable. Tens of thousands of men dug it with their picks and shovels.  The earth was moved by horses pulling primitive equipment.  The Erie Canal took eight grueling years of men relentlessly driving through limestone mountains and cutting through dense forest.  Rocks and tree stumps were blown up with black powder since dynamite would not be invented for another forty years.  It rose 600 feet from the Hudson River to the Great Lakes necessitating the construction of 48 magnificent stone locks to raise and lower boats.

The canal was completed in 1825 and began carrying passengers and cargo across New York State at a fraction of the cost of wagons.  The economy of New York grew meteorically as it rapidly became the busiest seaport in the country.

Though the Erie Canal was the defining engineering project of the 19th century, it was not the end but the beginning of grand projects in America.  Railroads quickly followed. The 20th century saw great bridges like the Golden Gate, the George Washington, and the Verrazano.  That century saw Americans building the world’s tallest buildings, the biggest dams, and the finest Interstate Highway system in the world.

Then America started sliding down the sordid slope of secularism. Grand construction ceased.  Is this a coincidence?  I don’t think so. 

Consider these two conflicting verses written by King David:

…the earth and all that fills it is the Lord’s…
(Psalms 24:1)

The heavens are the heavens of the Lord; but He has given the earth to humans.
(Psalms 115:16)

Well, which is it?  The earth and all in it belong to God or else He gave the earth to humans.  Either the earth is His or it is ours.  It can’t be both.

Or can it?  Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that King David was not inconsistent nor did he write Psalm 115 after forgetting what he wrote in Psalm 24.  He was illuminating a timeless truth vitally necessary for understanding how the world REALLY works.

King David was explaining that to begin with, the entire earth and all it contains belongs to God.  However, if we, His children, trust Him, bless and thank Him, then he gives the earth to us.  Deep down, within the hidden recesses of our collective cultural souls, we recognize that if our relationship with God is strong and loving, we have a right to the earth.  We have a right to carve canals through its forests and mountains; we have a right to throw bridges across its gorges, gullies, and waterways.  We have a right to dam up the mighty rivers to provide food and power to great cities.  We have a right to sculpt highways across its landscapes.

However, should we reject Him and embrace a grotesque worldview that attempts to make us masters of the universe, paradoxically, masters is exactly what we don’t become.  Instead, we rightfully recognize that the earth and all that fills it has not been given to us.  Consequently, we cease all creative activities that improve a property. After all, these are typically performed only by owners, not the tenants or squatters that we have made ourselves.

Taking our place are countries in Asia and Africa, building the grand projects that improve the lives of millions.  Those bridges, buildings, dams and roads are, for the most part, being built in countries whose populations are becoming more and more Bible-centric.  A coincidence?  I don’t think so.

Your life, like mine, is punctuated by grand projects.  Some of these concern your home, family, marriage or child-raising.  Other grand projects you’re working on involve making money and developing a business or career.  Just like the grand projects of nations, yours are also fueled by faith and carried on conviction.  The forces that sap the will of nations and individuals are not new. I pray that Thought Tools brings you encouragement and direction. While you can read old Thought Tools online, for a few dollars (on sale this week) you can acquire the Thought Tools Set (or individual volumes) composed of three years’ worth of teachings. Bring them to the supper table, read them on your commute and share them with friends. Ground your projects in ancient Jewish wisdom and see them soar!

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Journeys

August 12th, 2019 Posted by Practical Parenting, Your Mother's Guidance 1 comment

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

The Torah calls Numbers 33 through Numbers 36 by the collective name, “Journeys of.”  In these chapters, the Torah records all the journeys and encampments of Children of Israel during our 40 years in the desert.  Numbers 33:2 says, “Vayichtov Moses,” “and Moses wrote” their goings out and journeying. Then verse by verse the Torah tells us where we started to travel from and where we camped and again where we journeyed from and where we camped.  Over and over, 42 times!  We know the Torah doesn’t waste any words and we also know we don’t need these places as an exercise in mapping skills or historical geography.  It must be that we are supposed to learn something vital from this list of our journeys.

One lesson we can glean here is recognizing that it isn’t only destinations in life that are important, but the journeys are as well.  We fall into the trap of living our lives waiting for the next big accomplishment or stage; our own and our children’s. We miss treasuring the process day by day independent from when we actually reach the goal.  We wait eagerly for the time the baby will finish teething, the preschooler will be toilet trained, the teenager will wake up early on his own, and on and on.  The message for us here is the process is also valuable, not just the end product.  Enjoy the journey!  Appreciate it!  Recognize the process as being worthwhile and beneficial, apart from the hoped for future accomplishment.

Interestingly, the great transmitter of ancient Jewish wisdom known as Rashi, provides an allegory to help us understand these 42 journeys. He tells a story of a king whose son was ill. Father and son traveled far away to find a cure.  On the way back the father recounted to the son each place they stayed on the way and what had happened there.  This is a message of being able to look back in time and retroactively appreciate the process that led to healing and growth. 

I’m sure we can all relate to this and look back in our own lives at our own life journey where looking back allows us to see how each step led us to where we are today.

Another great transmitter, the Ohr HaChaim, says that Moses actually had a little notebook and each time they traveled and camped he wrote down a verse describing that journey in real time.  Then when they reached Arvos Moav, God told Moses to assemble all the verses recounting the journeys and put them in one place, the section we are looking at now.  In other words, Moses recorded the journeys as they happened, place by place.  To me, this is a message of valuing and appreciating life’s journeys as they’re happening, not only looking back in time but finding the meaning in our journeys day by day, in real time.  Together, these two transmissions tell us to focus on each journey as we are on it as well as looking back and getting the bigger picture that is only available over time.

For today, let’s try to savor each stage our children are in and the stage we’re in as well.  The journey itself can be beautiful and meaningful.  This section reminds us to appreciate the process rather than just the destination.

Nothing Positive on the Horizon

August 8th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 31 comments

If you watched the recent  Democrat debates, you could be forgiven for thinking that the United States of America is beset by an evil and malevolent force, the National Rifle Association. Candidate after candidate spoke of the NRA as a dark and sinister organization responsible for violence and death. 

In the week after the debates, two tragic mass shootings, not to mention other “regular” gun deaths, spotlighted these remarks. As I write these words, my membership renewal notice from the NRA is on my desk.

I’d like to explain why I intend extending my membership. Of course, there is no amorphous blob “THE NRA.” It is a membership organization that represents millions of Americans. We are hunters and non-hunters, old and young, male and female, and made up of individuals belonging to many religions, colors, ethnicities and backgrounds. 

Here’s the salient point: Leftist media and the Democrat candidates on those stages present a picture of  a spectrum with kind, loving people who intelligently support gun control on one end. In this mistaken view, the opposing side must be made up of cruel, hateful and stupid people who support the NRA.  (Alternatively, and since casting millions of Americans as Deplorable didn’t seem to work so well last election cycle, they present the NRA as if it has a life of its own, rather like Athena who sprouted full-grown from Zeus’ head.) 

(more…)

Taking a non-politically correct stand at the workplace

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

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

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

William M. 

 Dear William,

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

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

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

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