Posts in On Our Mind

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.

Passover

April 15th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

As we head into the exciting week of Passover, please note that our online store will be closed from Friday night, April 19 through Sunday night April 21 in honor and observance of the opening days of this Festival.

On California’s Radical Policies

March 7th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 3 comments

We loved this line from Professor Charles R. Kesler in the Wall Street Journal and thought you would enjoy it too:

“Karl Marx called his kind of socialism “scientific,” as opposed to his predecessors’ “utopian” fantasies. California appears to be pioneering a third kind, which might be called “infantile.”  Our Democrats strongly suspect their programs won’t work and know they can’t be paid for—but want them anyway.”

When Reality Mimics a Musing

February 27th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 2 comments

In my February 14, 2019 Susan’s Musing, I reflected on the TV show Hogan’s Heroes as a way of thinking about how to view the pictures of VA Governor Northam and the pictures of him that surfaced from his medical school yearbook. My conclusion was that it is dangerous and stokes the fires of hatred to look at everything through the eyes of “ism,”  be it racism, anti-Semitism or any other type. Many of you commented and a lively discussion ensued.

A few days ago, one of the trustees of and major donors to Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania resigned because a picture surfaced of him as a college sophomore wearing a swastika armband at a Hogan’s Heroes-themed party.

Chalk up one more victory for intolerance.

 

Honoring a Brave Man

February 14th, 2019 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

On February 6, I, like many others, was shaken to hear of the death of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. I am honored to have been asked to eulogize him for one of the most important Jewish newspapers.

You can read excerpts from my words on our American Alliance of Jews and Christians page here.

Jews Do Believe in Heaven

February 6th, 2019 Posted by AAJC Happenings, On Our Mind 8 comments

Twitter is often the platform of ignorant blathering and best ignored. But when the tweet is by someone who is White House Correspondent for The New York Times and it concerns Judaism, we think it worthwhile to publicly refute it.

We understand that not everyone loved President Trump’s State of the Union speech as much as we did. Yet Annie Karni objected to the president’s words when he quoted a Holocaust survivor saying, “They came down from heaven,” about the American troops who liberated him from the Dachau concentration camp.

 

(Anni Karni: Trump just ad-libbed “they came down from heaven” when quoting a Holocaust survivor watching American soldiers liberate Dachau. Jews don’t believe in Heaven.)

Note to Ms. Karni. Judaism does teach of Heaven—rather extensively. Those Jews who are faithful descendants of our ancestors believe in an afterlife, Heaven, and judgement after death. We acknowledge that many Jews, tragically, often know little of the traditional, vibrant and enduring faith that is their heritage. So, we think you made an honest mistake, but as an intelligent woman we encourage you to expand your education. There’s a wonderful world of Judaism waiting for your exploration. Perhaps you will join us for a Shabbat dinner and we can talk further.

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