Bossy Women – Like Me?

I have been watching a lot of one particular daily TV show lately. I actually recommend this show to you, though I am not an objective observer. The show is Ancient Jewish Wisdom, hosted by my husband and me. While I think the content is fascinating, I was trying to track one specific feature.  Do I interrupt my husband too much?

Two—not one, but two—recent letters accusing me of exactly that precipitated my reviewing past shows. Both letters were from women and to be fair, we have received many more than two letters from men and women telling us how much they enjoy the on-air interaction between us. However—please pay attention here—to my recollection, we have never received a letter saying that my husband interrupts me.

Let me state right away, that we have taped close to 400 Ancient Wisdom Shows. That adds up to about 200 hours of talking. My perusal of a few shows reveals that as professional as we try to be, each of us sometimes interrupts the other. On balance, I’m sure I definitely break in to my husband’s words more frequently than he does to mine, but there is a simple explanation for that. (And it’s not what you think!)

The Ancient Jewish Wisdom TV show is actually the second TV show we have hosted. The first was many years ago, on a local station out of Portland, Oregon. My husband was invited to tape a few shows there and we took the opportunity to drive there together from Seattle via the scenic route down the coast, rather than him flying there alone.  To my surprise, and perhaps a little dismay, when we arrived at the studio I discovered that I was expected to be part of the program as well.  Although I had occasionally filled in for my husband’s radio show, television was a new ballgame to me and not one in which I was sure I would feel comfortable.

After some back-of-room bargaining with my husband, I consented when he agreed that I could chime in whenever I wished, but he was responsible for ensuring that there was no dead air time. In other words, the onus was on him to keep the show moving.  To this very day we retain that arrangement whenever we appear in person together or tape broadcasts.  One of the results of this arrangement is that while I will frequently throw the discussion to my husband after I have said my piece, he rarely throws it to me because he has agreed not to catch me unaware. When I do have something to say (which is often!) I have no option but to fling myself into the conversation. Perhaps we should resort to a kick under the table, but I’m not crazy about that idea. Maybe we can come up with a more subtle clue.

Notwithstanding the dynamics of my own marriage, this idea of judging men and women differently is widely relevant. A few years back, the COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, wrote her book Lean In, encouraging woman to be aware and proactive in the business world. While I disagreed with a major premise of hers that a better world,  “…would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes,”  (and wrote about it here) I did find a number of the points she made to be quite valid. These include the idea that while an assertive man might be considered confident, an assertive woman might be considered aggressive. The exact same action that comes across as forceful in a man labels a woman as pushy.

I want to be clear that I give no credence to the claim made by Hillary Clinton supporters that she lost because she is a woman. Most voters who did not support her, including me, would happily have voted for a principled, competent, conservative woman. Like so much else in our culture (incredibly including a push back on the Lean In movement because it encourages women to help themselves rather than seeing themselves as victims who should demand privileges from government) this is a puerile, illogical and pathetic argument.

Nonetheless, the reality is that of course people do look at men and women through different lenses. There’s a very good reason for that—they are different! Sometimes being a woman is an asset and other times it’s a liability.  That’s true for being a man as well.

So, what do we do about the fact that people judge men and women differently and that can be unfair to individuals? Here is my suggestion: Live with it and deal with it. I know that the letters we receive come from affection for both my husband and me and wanting the best for us. By the grace of God, we live in a vibrant world filled with contrast and variety. We can each make an effort to respect all individuals and to be aware of our biases, but a world where we pretend that differences between the sexes don’t exist and any manifestations of those variations should be erased would indeed be a bland, colorless and miserable one.

61 thoughts on “Bossy Women – Like Me?”

  1. I love the interaction between you and the Rabbi. And, I think friends and couples that have been together a long time, sort of chime in and out like a dance, it ebbs and flows. It is interesting though that some people interpret something else, even something rude, that really isn’t there. You described your understanding/agreement between the two of you as well, which many people may not know about, so they prescribe their expectations on you, even though your arrangement works perfectly for you both. That’s a lesson all of us need to learn not to do! When my wife and I married, her parents expected “the man to be in the driver’s seat,” so when we left her parents house heading home after a visit, I’d be driving and she would be riding until we stopped to get gas around the corner. We then switched spots because she liked to drive and I liked to ride and navigate and take care of the music and so fourth on our journey home (Haha). We were newlyweds then and didn’t have the ego strength yet to “defy” others expectations so to speak, especially our parents, so we complied. Now that we are older, we spend less time conforming and more time being authentic even if it violates someone’s so-called norm, as long as it doesn’t violate God’s commands, its fine!

    1. Kevin, I don’t know your in-laws but maybe you and your bride were wise to avoid “pushing their buttons” early on in your relationship. You are so right that we have often expectations of others rather than simply respecting and loving them for who they are. We are living in super-judgmental times and social media and the ease of communication seem to magnify our tendencies to share our thoughts quickly. There was a lot of evidence of that in the news this week, and we can all take a lesson.

  2. The Torah or Talmud, teaches that God gives us men wives not always to be simply an agreeable, pretty, mirror of ourselves or our thoughts, but sometimes to challenge or supplement ideas we may have that may be flawed or incomplete.

    My wife doesn’t always agree with me and that’s a good thing.

    A good wife brings her womanly perspective and simply the perspective of another point of view.

    Neither of you is rude to the other in what you bring to the party. If that was the case, it would be a negative.

    Thank you both.

    1. David, that is one of the functions of marriage in general. To force us to learn to live with someone who is not us and in many ways opposite from us. It is a great training ground for learning to respect and care for others.

  3. I havebeen accused of not voting for Obama because he is black and Hillary because she is a women. My biggest disappointment in the last several election cycles is that Condeleezza Rice has not run. I would vote for her in a heartbeat.

    1. She’s not my first choice, Peter, but that has nothing to do with her color or gender. I would certainly give her consideration.

  4. Thank you Susan,
    I always enjoy you and my teacher’s muses.
    The last presidential primaries I was set to vote for the only woman running but she was no longer there by the time the voting came to Florida.
    I only supported her and other female candidates.
    I’ll meekly take my teachers rebuke that he had for the above Mark, for not watching your TV programs.

    And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. Gen. 16:2
    And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. Gen. 21:12

    1. I assume you mean Carly Fiorina? I was surprised at how poorly she fared in the primaries, but I would never have supported her if my only reason was that she was female, as I assume is true for you as well. I’m not quite sure why she didn’t do better, but I don’t think she would have been a match for Hillary. Maybe we will still see more of her.

    1. Glad you’re watching, Gary. We love running across viewers, which we do frequently at airports and conferences. Hope to see you some day.

  5. I think you each bring something to the table and blend your perspectives quite well. You are very respectful and considerate of one another. Part of what I enjoy about the show is the way you speak to each other and welcome the interruptions of one another. Respectful of one another and I love seeing it. Your insights are the meat and your interactions are the dessert.

  6. Thank you for explaining. I am sure there is pressure while being recorded and fast thinking has to be done at times. At times I also thought it was impolite to interrupt your husband. Now I am more understanding. I treasure your programs. Last season I had the option of watching at 5:30 pm or 10:00 pm. This season I can only watch at 6:00 pm therefore if I miss a program sometimes. God bless you and yours.

  7. Important thoughts, very well expressed. Thank you.

    I’ve never seen your television program, so I can’t comment on that. However from the way you describe it I doubt if I’d be bothered by your occasional interruptions, especially after reading your explanation of their background.

    When it comes to interruptions in general, I DO have some opinions! When there is a discussion between two or more people on radio or on television it drives me BONKERS how common it is now for people to interrupt and talk over each other. It’s CONSTANT. Not only is it rude behavior, but often the interruption comes near the end of a point someone was making, and the entire gist of what they were saying is therefore lost. Why? Because if two or more people are speaking at the same time it’s impossible to understand what ANYONE is saying—or at least that is my experience. Sometimes I get so frustrated I have to turn off the radio or television, as I am by then otherwise tempted to throw it across the room. Again, I’m not applying this to you at all. Although you did give me a convenient opportunity to get this pet peeve of mine off my chest.

    1. Never seen our program, Mark! That cuts to the quick! You can always see it from your computer or other devices at And I am cracking up because I just clicked through to the show that is showing ‘on demand’ right now and at 5:03 or so minutes into the show, my husband says to me, “I don’t want to interrupt you, but…”

      I agree with you about the screaming matches on TV today. Those shows are arranged so that anyone who doesn’t interrupt will barely get to speak. I don’t watch them.

    2. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      My son, Mark, my son,
      As accustomed as I am to taking confession, to be honest yours shocks me! Never seen our show Ancient Jewish wisdom? And you felt no embarrassment telling us that? Say your face blushed in shame at this mortifying admission. What is more, my son, it’s not as if you have to trek the frozen wastes of Siberia to watch the show. No, it takes no such mortification of the flesh. It’s easy! Just point your Internet browser to and be uplifted, entertained, and inspired. What is more, you will be saved from future embarrassment. Now go, my son, and sin no more!

  8. “Welcome to the Alfred Hoffman Lectureship Series!”
    My brother decribed my recitals about books I read. Our mommy would ask this fellow about the books I read.
    Excitement about the topic, and reason to speak got me started!
    Listening to elders debate and discuss on a collegiate level made me a nerd. Here is my essay and rant.
    The novela or short story needn’t be at tight on fact, and flair makes interest.
    Bothyou Rabbi Lapin and your Mrs. keep study interesting by the interplay. Now, The concise shortness and long descriptions in parts of text show validity of Tanak.
    Now ,Sir Bookworm here looked up, ‘horns’, on Moses.
    The K.J.V. was protestant and Old English, commissioned by King James of Britain (ref. Encyc. of 1984 Brit 2:891c )
    The Italian variation could probably be what inspired DaVinci, from catholic influences as well as other extrabiblical sources common to the time.
    Also, My from study the linquistics and Strong’s Concordance carries no reference to horns in text on the reference to Moses.
    Thanks for the platform, and opportunity to research.
    Toss eggs for my breakfast.

  9. Susan, I loved this post because it was a slice of life the way life “reaaalllly works”! Relationships are a dance. You have to find your rhythm together or your toes are permanently bruised. You and Rabbi have figured out a way in this situation to move together in a way that works for the two of you. You have somehow taken the ordinary stuff of life and made it work for you and your readers/listeners/watchers. I found it beautiful and inspiring.

    1. Gerry, like all marriages, ours goes through different seasons. We actually have a wonderful time doing the show together.

  10. Dear Mrs. Lapin,
    You are definitely a tremendous asset and counterpart piece to the great calling upon your husband that BOTH of you take so very seriously, and are so very prolific in bringing it to pass with all your efforts, time, talent, and devotion in your time here on earth. Always be encouraged and strive for God’s constant approval and pleasure, as I can tell you always do! Oh, and I can tell you, the society would probably be a FAR better place…IF you took OPEN ENROLLMENT…FOR GRANDMA CAMP !!!!!!!!! Can I enroll???? I’ll bring my own sleeping bag !!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Keep on going and keep on producing what God has designed for you to do!!!!

    1. Celesta, it’s funny you should say that because last week I went on a girls’ night out from our synagogue. I can’t remember the last time I went out with a large bunch of women. We went to a glassblowing studio and had so much fun. A grandma camp for grandmas would be a blast.

  11. Carole Lee Carrara

    I also love the interaction between you and rabbi and it tells me that your programmes are spontaneous and not scripted. Unfortunately for you dear Susan, I am one of those who struggle with your bangs covering your eyes. When people talk I like to see their eyes and to be honest I am quite frustrated not seeing your eyes a good part of the time. Yes my comments are meant and hopefully received by you but the best of intentions on my part. I like your show very much I do not answer the phone for that half hour that your program is on.

    1. Carole, I can’t change shows that are already taped but I will try to be more aware of my bangs next time. I also got annoyed not seeing my eyes.

  12. Hi Susan,

    I am almost certain these commentaries are coming from wives, well trained in the traditional protocol of church etiquette, expressing the admonition that normally must be refrained from toward their own husbands, with only you, a wife who is, afforded this jealously guarded freedom to speak, as an outlet. I do get a kick when Rabbi Daniel makes the most of the opportunity to jest when this so-called frequent occurrence does, and most likely will again, happen. Noting that although I make my opening comment to my chagrin, considering that ‘well-trained’ may be a better suited description in reference to lesser creatures than the noble lady of any man’s house, I do speak of my sisters. In any case, I have been working on transforming minds about this peculiarity, from within. And Ancient Jewish Wisdom has provided me with more than a few good points of light that I can can shine on the subject, and for that I give you and Rabbi Lapin many thanks for delivering it, side by side.

    Best Wishes,
    The Boss’s Bossy

    1. Well, Nancy, by your signature I guess that you outboss me! Thanks for the support and sharing our teachings.

  13. Honestly, I think that the only person whose objections you should listen to (objectively) is that of Rabbi Lapin. He is your husband and partner in this program. Myself personally, I love your shows and your interactions.

    1. Thanks, Mary. I know my husband sometimes feels that he can’t get a word in edgewise when all our kids and grandkids are around. But, no one else can either. It is one hubbub of activity.

  14. Susan, strictly my opinion. What you all are doing is wonderful. People need what you all have in Ancient Jewish Wisdom. Both of you.
    Now as for as cutting in on Rabbi Lapin I find it a bit disrespectful as it should be for anyone to do this. I completely understand why since Rabbi rarely comes up for air when he’s talking. I would suggest that you work out a way to indicate to Rabbi that you would like to interject something so he could back off and give you the floor. I also would like to see you bell him out more when he is stumbling in trying to find the word that he is looking for. He does look to you for help time to time and all I see from you is a blank stir a million mile away. I know you have your own thoughts that you are working on which is different from Rabbi’s. I feel and know that in our latter years our minds are not as sharp as they once were. Rabbi needs your help in this area. Work with him, this should be more of a team work than trying to work two angles. I did not intend this to be bad or disrespectful in any way. We all need Ancient Jewish Wisdom.

    1. Gus, if I don’t help my husband out it’s because I don’t know the answer. The “blank stare” is me thinking. I think our team work is working from two angles. That is why we don’t marry a clone or work in isolation. More people give more perspective.

    2. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      How dare you, Gus!
      Rarely comes up for air? Really? You certainly know how to bruise a guy’s ego! And then, dear Gus, as if that crushing insult wasn’t enough, you calmly drop that our minds are not as sharp in latter years! Really? Do you perhaps have any other pithy and insightful comments for me? Well I’m relieved that you conclude by assuring you mean no disrespect. I can’t wait to see what you’d write if you did!
      But as always, it’s wonderful to hear from you and know you’re watching,

      1. Ladder fears ..? What do ladders have to do with Jewish wisdom…?
        56 and I have no problem understanding anything. Right?

  15. Susan, I simply love the way you and “my Rabbi” (I’m a Christian) interact on ACJ. Whenever you interject, your words are filled with wisdom and I appreciate you being so assertive. I tell everyone how lucky Rabbi Lapin is to have a wife who can hold her own (a very tall order considering his wit, intellect and wisdom); I simply love your spunk. I am sure the criticism is well-intended. Yes, sometimes you can come across a little pushy, but the rabbi handles it all with aplomb and you keep him on his toes. He is a better man because of you.

    1. What a nice thing to say, Karla. I think that we have made each other better people. That is one of the primary goals of marriage, after all.

    2. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      You can’t even begin to guess just how very blessed I really am. Without Susan–nothing! Nothing at all.

  16. An appreciation of the essential differences of men and women pops up all over the place. Here is a pithy Swabian ‘proverb:’ ‘Men are hairy and strong and women are beautiful and dangerous. What kind of world would it be if the men were beautiful and dangerous and the women hairy and strong?’ I rest my case. Yet women are like lionesses, guardians of our familial imperative and culture. And they should remain so. If that means ‘bossy,’ then so be it.

    1. I have never heard that saying, James. I’m not even sure what Swabian is. But message received.

      1. Sorry! Swabian is Schwäbisch, a highly idiosyncratic dialect of High German akin to Swiss German, spoken mostly in Baden-Württemberg. It even contains some choice, peculiar loan words from Vulgar Latin, French and even from Yiddish, such as Kittel (meaning ‘jacket’ today).

        1. You have the most eclectic knowledge, James. Thanks for the explanation. BTW, I got Farmer Giles of Ham (I hope I’m remembering the name correctly – I’m too comfortable to go look) out of the library and am looking forward to reading it.

  17. Dearest Susan, You are a breath of fresh air from a woman’s point of view. You and Rabbi obviously work together very well and I admire that Rabbi does appreciate your point of view. I have great hopes that more marriages will be radiant because of your example. We are in such a sad society when divorce is so easy and marriages crumbling for very small reasons.
    You are contributing so much on your program and every time I listen, I glean something new. I can see very clearly that your husband holds you in very high esteem as you do him.
    That respect you hold for each other speaks volumes without a word. May you receive as much and more from all you give to anyone who wants to walk and live a worthy life.
    Thank you for all that you hold dear and for keeping the Law of the Bible as your inspiration and guide.
    If you were to be called, I would vote you for President!!

    1. Joanie, I am grateful not to have the calling to be president. As my husband says, dictator maybe, but not president. Thank you for your kind words.

    2. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      You’re right, Joanie,
      I do hold Susan in very high esteem. And I appreciate our audience too.

  18. I found this pertinent to my life as I lost a good friend over it, a friend from grade school. We are in our mid 60s now, but during all those years he told me he never could adapt to a woman interrupting him. He found it acceptable for men to interrupt women at any time, but a woman must always wait for a man to finish! ANd yes, that did include telling him his roast was burning when he was expounding on politics. LOL

    Maybe our granddaughters will have a little more leeway… but I fear it is at the cost of a much nastier social setting.

    1. Leslie, I can’t stand watching shows today that feature a panel whose members basically cut each other off. I long for the old William Buckley Firing Line type of show where ideas were actually presented and debated. So, I hope we don’t rudely talk over each other, but rather sometimes do have something to interject.

  19. “Live with it and deal with it.” That sentence, applied to most of the professions of outrage, professions of offense, etc. in this country (and many others) would be so welcome. How peaceful our society would be! It might even begin to seem that the 1st amendment might actually mean something, too.

    1. There are egregious wrongs that need to, and must be, addressed. But when everything is treated as a cause for a nuclear response, life gets tiring. I agree with you that a more peaceful society would be welcome.

  20. I can tell you were touched by these letters. ( Smile ). I really think, Susan that you are a true asset to your family. And your contributions are excellent, you two have helped me so much. There is so much I did not know that you two teach. I love our G-D so much and I am totally flabbergasted at what I don’t know! So much for thinking what I thought I knew. Ha ha. I tell everyone I meet to listen to you and thank you, for helping.
    Kindest regards,

    1. Debbie, we, too, are flabbergasted at how much we don’t know. As an excellent fifth-grade teacher pointed out to me when I shared concerns about homeschooling, the time to worry is when you think that there is nothing new to learn or any need to improve. Thanks for spreading the word.

  21. Dear Susan,

    keep up the good work , You and Rabbi are blessing Mankind and fulfilling your purpose .
    No matter what you do there will be critics
    Feedback is always welcome but not all is taken in

    God bless you and Rabbi Richly

    I am new to your teachings , i discovered Rabbi by “Divine accident “, i am learning as i listen hoping to improve myself every way i can

    May the light of God continue to shine on all your ways & may God continue to bless you richly & multiply the fruits of your righteousness. In Jesus name Amen

    1. Anita, we get so much positive feedback and I do think any criticism we get is meant in a loving way. And after hearing that my bangs were too long, I looked at some shows and completely agree. My eyes are obscured in too many episodes.
      So glad you found us.

  22. Hi Susan,

    As a daily listener to Ancient Jewish Wisdom (to be clear I do just listen and not watch because I am at work), I have not and do not have the opinion that you interrupt. In fact, as a woman that has been indoctrinated by the progressive message I appreciate hearing you and what you have to say! I look to you and Rabbi Lapin as role models of what a Godly relationship looks like. More importantly, I look at you to see what a Godly woman should look like. I love what you offer and say keep it up. Just my humble opinion! Thank you, Glyn

    1. I’m glad that you are able to listen at work, Glyn. While I fail sometimes, I do try to be a Godly woman while bringing a different perspective into the conversation.

      1. You’re an amazing presence and I appreciate your humility and input. You never interrupt rudely, and you both dance gracefully. Thank you for making yourself vulnerable to public scrutiny to bring us valuable lessons of Judaism. As for gender differences that are the source of much debate, “Vive la différence”.

        1. Aw, shucks, Heidi. Because we don’t have a studio audience, we do count on hearing from people to get feedback. We are both having fun reading these comments.

        2. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

          Thanks Heidi
          Yes, Susan is an amazing presence (even if she is just a tad bossy; have you ever seen her waggle her forefinger at me?) We appreciate you reading and writing to us.
          Indeed, vive la difference.

    2. Charlene Garrard

      Susan, your input often helps me better understand the lesson being taught. Women can come from different angles that a man would not consider helpful. I truly value your input and the interaction between you.

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