Posts in On Our Mind

What Is a Jewish Issue?

August 14th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind 6 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.

Will Wonders Never Cease

July 26th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

I don’t agree with Senator Elizabeth Warren about much, but this morning was the exception to the rule. I read a statement of hers suggesting that people buy houses they cannot afford in order to have access to better public schools.

I can’t speak to how much of reaching beyond one’s means to buy a home is attributable to this, but I do agree that it is a disgrace that public schools in so many areas (poor ones in particular) are disastrous. I would love to ask the Senator why and how she thinks they got to be so. Only two generations ago my very poor parents and their siblings got an excellent education in the public schools.

My answer to that question is that liberal policies and Democrat domination of the inner city, including selling the futures of poor children for contributions from the teachers union, destroyed public education.  What is her answer?

Join Us in Prayer

July 15th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind 6 comments

Most of the time in formal Jewish life, men and women are referred to as, “So and so, the son/daughter of (insert father’s first name). So, on a marriage contract or when a man is called up to the Torah that is the nomenclature that is used. The exception is when we are beseeching God to restore good health to someone who is ill. Then we say “So and so, the son/daughter of (insert mother’s first name). 

In Hebrew, the word for mercy shares a root with the word for womb. When we want to invoke the deepest mercy, we make a connection to a person’s mother, “reminding” God of the love that allowed a mother to share her very body with her child. 

Our very dear friend, Pastor Tiz Huch of New Beginnings Church in Dallas is undergoing serious surgery this coming Wednesday. We ask you to join us in praying to God to provide a complete healing for Tiz, daughter of Gwendolyn.

 

Fourth of July

July 4th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

Wishing everyone a wonderful Fourth of July with time to reflect with gratitude and love on the founding of the United States.

Our Loss; Our Challenge

June 19th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

These past few weeks a number of great people who were all over the age of 100 passed away. I have seen notices of the deaths of Frances Oldham Kelsey, Tom Derek Bowden and Nicholas Winton.

You may be unfamiliar with some of these names, but each of them stepped up when there was a desperate need for responsible, humanitarian and courageous action. Each of them saved lives when others turned away.

Their famous actions took place decades ago, yet all humanity was blessed by the lengthy years that followed when they were still among us. When Jacob goes to Haran in Genesis 28:10, the verse makes the point of saying that he left Be’ersheba. Rather reduntant, no? You can’t go somewhere without leaving where you were. Ancient Jewish wisdom points out that the extra wordage tells us that Be’ersheba lost something with Jacob’s going. While he was there, the city benefitted simply by the presence of a great person.

When we read of great exploits of those who lived before us, we can stay a bit disconnected. It makes for wonderful, adventurous reading, but it is history—our times are different. Sharing this earth with those who did great things prods us to recognize that bravery and sticking out our necks for what is right is a current need as well. As long as these individuals were on this planet, their very presence brought blessing to the world. Now that they are gone, the onus is even more on us to compensate for that loss.

Tesla’s Reality Check

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

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

Well, that clear things up.

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

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

The great author and playwright, Herman Wouk, today returned to the Lord, aged 104

May 17th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 4 comments

Herman Wouk spent time with Susan and me in our home in Los Angeles while his classic books, Winds of War and War and Remembrance were in television production.

His book that I tend to recommend more than any other is his depiction of Judaism entitled This Is My God.  It is named for the Bible verse   This is my God and I will beautify Him (Exodus 15:2) and I don’t think it has ever been improved on.  In that book Herman Wouk described what Shabbat meant to him.  This is part of what he wrote:

 

The Shabbat has cut most sharply athwart my own life when one of my plays has been in rehearsal or in tryout.

The crisis atmosphere of an attempt at Broadway is a legend of our time, and a true one; I have felt under less pressure going into battle at sea. Friday afternoon, during these rehearsals, inevitably seems to come when the project is tottering on the edge of ruin. I have sometimes felt guilty of treason, holding to the Shabbat in such a desperate situation. But then, experience has taught me that a theater enterprise almost always is in such a case. Sometimes it does totter to ruin, and sometimes it totters to great prosperity, but tottering is its normal gait, and cries of anguish are its normal tone of voice.

So I have reluctantly taken leave of my colleagues on Friday afternoon, and rejoined them on Saturday night. The play has never collapsed in the meantime. When I return I find it tottering as before, and the anguished cries as normally despairing as ever. My plays have encountered in the end both success and failure, but I cannot honestly ascribe either result to my observing the Shabbat.

Leaving the gloomy theater, the littered coffee cups, the jumbled scarred-up scripts, the haggard actors, the knuckle-gnawing producer, the clattering typewriter, and the dense, tobacco smoke has been a startling change, very like a brief return from the wars.

My wife and my boys, whose existence I have almost forgotten in the anxious shoring up of the tottering ruin, are waiting for me, dressed in holiday clothes, and looking to me marvelously attractive. We have sat down to a splendid dinner, at a table graced with flowers and the old Shabbat symbols: the burning candles, the twisted challah loaves, the stuffed fish, and my grandfather’s silver goblet brimming with wine. I have blessed my boys with the ancient blessings; we have sung the pleasantly syncopated Shabbat table hymns.

The talk has little to do with tottering ruins. My wife and I have caught up with our week’s conversation. The boys, knowing that Shabbat is the occasion for asking questions, have asked them. We talk of Judaism. For me it is a retreat into restorative magic.

Shabbat has passed much in the same manner. The boys are at home in the synagogue, and they like it. They like even more the assured presence of their parents. In the weekday press of schooling, household chores, and work — and especially in play producing time — it often happens that they see little of us. On Shabbat we are always there and they know it. They know too that I am not working and that my wife is at her ease. It is their day.

It is my day, too. The telephone is silent. I can think, read, study, walk or do nothing. It is an oasis of quiet. My producer one Saturday night said to me, “I don’t envy you your religion, but I envy you your Shabbat.”

Listener feedback: Gratitude

May 8th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

We wanted to share this lovely letter that came to our:

Dear Rabbi,

I recently came across your video on making money where you recommended starting a day with writing down five things that you are truly grateful for.

I got your message and now its 30 days since i began doing it.  Let me attest to it that my life has greatly changed and my perception about things has drastically changed from looking for negatives to positives.

One day our garden boy was slashing the grass outside and a stone hit the window of the car on the driver’s seat and it broke.  When I was called to see what had happened, I naturally wanted to storm out wanting to question him why he couldn’t wait until I moved the car for him to slash, but inside me came a smile and saw that the window on the driver’s seat was much easier to replace than the front windshield screen which was also vulnerable at the time the stone was flying towards the car.  I then couldn’t get angry at him but instead I said thank God it didn’t hit the front screen! In my small journal which I have entitled ”My Thank you Note to God” I wrote ”Thank you Lord that you spared the windshield””

Rabbi, this thing works! Today, I have found that the number of things that I am grateful about are way more than the things that are likely to bring worry.  The sound of the birds singing in the morning, the morning breeze, the flowers in the gardens, the beautiful artistic drawings of the skies that keep changing like themes. etc.

When you develop the spirit of gratitude, you can never run out of what to thank God for.

Thank you for your message Rabbi

Yours sincerely,

Mathews S.

P.S. I am 33 years aged Zambian, Married with 1 child.

Prayers

April 22nd, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind 2 comments

Our hearts and prayers go out to our Christian friends whose co-religionists were massacred on one of the holiest days of their year. This is a crime not only against them, but against all humanity.

Notre Dame Will Rise Again

April 16th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind 1 comment

Landing an American on the moon and bringing him home again in 1969 was a multi-year project that involved all Americans. A few directly but most through willingly paying their taxes that underwrote the huge expense. Building Notre Dame Cathedral on its island, with its sandstone walls, its rib vaults and its flying buttresses took about a hundred years and must have also involved a large part of the population. For the 12th century, it was no less a technological miracle than was the moon landing in the 20th. So ahead of its time was Notre Dame that it retained its title as the tallest building in Paris for hundreds of years. Wars, riots and revolutions over the centuries inflicted severe damage on the cathedral but it was always restored and often improved. Again this time, many generous benefactors along with the French government promise repair. They do so because to many, the cathedral is no more than an irreplaceable artistic and cultural legacy; a national monument. The fervent Christian faith that inspired its creation and made it possible has faded into obscurity in modern day France. But in reality, it was the fuel of Christian fervor that hoisted those colossal oak beams two hundred feet up in the air to form the base for 200 tons of lead sheeting as the roof. Along with many massive stone blocks, all this was raised and placed into position with no electrical power, no steam power, and no hydraulic power. As has happened on many occasions during the past few hundred years, Notre Dame will again be restored but let’s not forget that regardless of the secularization of France today, that cathedral was built by the Christianity that shaped western civilization and for the best part of a millennium it has stood as a monument to the faith that built it and that was practiced within it. That won’t change.

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