Posts in Thought Tools

Leadership and Levitation

March 12th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 12 comments

A friend once invited me to join him and several other guests on a day sail off the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.  After his rhapsodic description of the classic sailboat and his praise of the captain whom I was going to be fortunate enough to meet, I could hardly accept quickly enough.  My enthusiasm ran high as we gently glided out of Cape Town harbor and beyond the sheltering mass of famous Table Mountain.

They only renamed the Cape of Good Hope because its original name, the Cape of Storms, terrified early sailors discouraging them from signing on to crew the ships of the Dutch East Indian Company.  That afternoon it lived up to its original name.  The winds howled, the waves tossed around our seventy-foot masterpiece of teak wood and canvas and we all struggled mightily to reduce the sail and bring the powerful vessel under control.

Strangely enough, the captain who had been resplendent in his smart blazer and cap during the calm first hour while offering drinks and regaling us with his adventures, was nowhere to be seen.  We were all too busy (and frightened) to wonder where he was.  In his absence, we did our best trying to learn one another’s strengths and skills as we exerted our last ounces of energy defeating the wind and water.  Once we were finally through the storm and calmly ghosting back into the harbor our captain reappeared in full regalia and blusteringly explained to our exhausted little group everything we had done wrong.  I whispered to my friend that I had just gained an unforgettable lesson in what leadership was not.

Leadership means being there with your people during the storms and wars of life.

Joshua succeeded Moses as leader of the Israelites.  Moses began his career when God appeared to him at the Burning Bush (Exodus chapter 3) and Joshua started his when Moses appointed him in accordance with God’s directive. (Numbers chapter 27) 

A notable difference between the launch of these two careers is that Moses is instructed to remove his shoes at the very start of his conversation with God.

… Remove your sandals from your feet,
for the place on which you stand is holy ground. 
(Exodus 3:5)

Joshua isn’t told to remove his shoes until five chapters into the Book named for him.

… Remove your sandals from your feet,
for the place where you stand is holy.  And Joshua did so.
(Joshua 5:15)

Shoes (like pants) haven’t changed their function for thousands of years.  Neckties come and go; hats, scarves and jackets sometimes have nothing to do with keeping warm, but regardless of their appearance or style shoes have always served to keep people’s feet off the ground.

The concept is that God created humans not as another kind of animal and not as an angel, but as something in between.  He created us as creatures exquisitely suspended between earth and heaven, which is to say, between the spiritual and the material.  We are not supposed to be so spiritual that we reject the joys of life and disdain its pleasures.  Neither are we supposed to be so material that physical pleasure is all we seek.

Walking barefoot on the ground suggests being so attached to the earthly that the heavenly and spiritual are way beyond our grasp.  On the other hand, think of levitation.  Whether in Christianity, Hinduism or some Hassidic sects of Judaism, the idea that super-spiritual and saintly personalities could spontaneously hover above the earth was quite popular.  In reality, God says, don’t walk on the ground; you’re not animals.  But don’t levitate above the ground either; you’re not angels.  Instead find your equilibrium between heaven and earth by standing on a layer of leather or rubber which keeps you just above, but not too far above, the earth

Here are two times when shoes are removed:

1.   When God speaks to someone as He did with Moses at the Burning Bush and with Joshua outside the walls of Jericho, the incandescent Divine power can be too overwhelming.  It can sweep the mortal heavenwards leaving him ill-equipped to continue normal life and fulfill his mission.  The antidote is to anchor oneself firmly to earth by removing shoes.

2.   During the first week of mourning for a close family member, the grief and the weakening, but still palpable spiritual connection with the soul of the departed, can easily dislodge the mourner from his normal position of spiritual-material balance.  Again, the antidote is to eschew shoes during that week, allowing the mourner to engage in the process of returning to the normality of life on earth as a living person.

This leaves us with the question of why Moses’ overwhelming encounter with God came right at the beginning of his life work while Joshua doesn’t encounter God’s angel until just before the attack on Jericho.

In order to make sense of this, we should examine Moses’ entreaty to God to appoint his successor.  He specifically wants Israel’s new leader to be someone…

…who shall go out before them and come in before them,
and who shall take them out and bring them back in.
(Numbers 27:17)

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that this verse refers to military leadership. Moses wanted a leader capable of leading the nation through the many wars awaiting them as they conquered the Promised Land.

However, he did not want the future leader to be someone who sent Israel off to war from the comfort of his palace.  He insisted on a leader who would go with his people onto the battlefield and bring them safely home again. 

After being appointed in Numbers 27, Joshua’s first battle is the imminent attack on Jericho.  God now appears to assure him that if he follows instructions, the war will be won.  This precisely parallels God appearing to Moses at the Burning Bush and assuring him that he will successfully lead Israel out of Egypt. 

A real leader’s role is neither ceremonial nor symbolic; it is to be together with his people, helping them overcome and survive the frightening challenges that accompany all levels of achievement.  Each day, among our families and friends and in our business or professional lives, there are wars to be fought and won.  Every meaningful goal to which we aspire requires a hard fight.  It’s almost as if we can actually feel the universe resisting our efforts.  Being right there with those we lead is the task. Helping them vanquish the enemy and bringing them home safely again is what leadership means. 

I later discovered that our captain was far better known for telling tall tales around yacht club bars than for any real sailing prowess.  For really helpful leadership lessons, ignore the showy people in flashy clothing and study Biblical figures like Joshua.

The Scroll of Esther, read by Jews on next week’s holiday of Purim, is full of leadership lessons that are particularly appropriate as showy people spew hatred of Jews (and Christians) in Congress. Now is a great time to follow the fascinating trail linking Persia, Islam and Nazism that started in Genesis and continues through today. Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam, on sale right now, will astound you with its timeless truths.

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Angels, Actions and Achievements

March 4th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 22 comments

Gender is a smoking hot topic right now.  Depending on your world-view, you’ll either be offended or relieved to hear that for the purposes of this Thought Tool, there is no gender confusion.  The defining axiom is found as early as the 27th verse of the Bible—“…male and female He created them.” 

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that the implications of this verse go way beyond the creation of Adam and Eve.  Not only does biological reproduction of humans, animals and vegetables depend upon the collaboration of male and female, but all creativity springs from the engagement of those two complementary opposites.  In trying to understand how the world REALLY works, this sexual insight is so foundational that God even gave every noun in His language a gender.

The chief difference between a feminine noun and a masculine one is that typically the feminine noun describes something capable of ‘giving birth’.  For instance, the word for a minor argument, RIV,  is masculine while the word for an ongoing feud in which every disagreement gives birth to yet another, MeRiVaH, is, not surprisingly, a feminine word. 

The Hebrew words for a cup, KoS, or ball, KaDuR, are both masculine because neither gives birth to anything else, however the Hebrew word for a thought, MaCHSHaVaH is feminine since every thought can give birth to another thought.  Similarly, the Hebrew word for an investment, HaSHKaaH, is feminine for the same reason.

The general Hebrew word for woman is ISHaH, obviously a feminine noun.  Typically, a feminine noun can be converted into its masculine equivalent by lopping off the feminine suffix—aH.  Thus, our generic word for a man is ISH.

You might think that since a father is AV, a mother should be AVaH. It is actually an entirely different word, EM, because a mother is not merely a feminine version of a father,  but rather a unique creation.

Now that you have a basic working knowledge of Hebrew noun gender, you should be able to predict the gender of almost any Hebrew noun on the basis of whether it ‘gives birth’. 

Try the Hebrew word for a game.  Since we often say, ‘oh it was just a game’ we correctly signify that there are seldom any meaningful outcomes of a game.  Not surprisingly the Hebrew word for game, MiSCHaK, is masculine.  I am sure you got it right.

How about work?  Is work a male or female concept?  Since work almost always produces some outcome, we’re not surprised that both main words for work, AVoDaH and MeLACHaH are feminine nouns.

What is the difference between these two words that appear to mean the same thing?  We derive a hint from how they are used in the Bible:

And they (the Egyptians) embittered their (the Israelites) lives with hard work,
with mortar and bricks, and with all
work in the field;
all their
work at which they worked them was with harshness.
(Exodus 1:14)

All four instances of work in that verse are the Hebrew AVoDaH providing us with the sense that AVoDaH is grueling and arduous.  It is seldom rewarding at the time but of course eventually yields its benefits.

The other word for work, MeLACHaH is the more satisfying and creative component of work though it is seldom attainable without the AVoDaH also having been accomplished.

We find both words for work combined in the Fourth Commandment, instructing us to remember the Sabbath day. 

Six days shall you work(AVoDaH) and do all your work (MeLACHaH)…
Exodus 20:9

Why do we need both words? God is giving us a significant message.  MeLACHaH is the creative work that transforms our world and uplifts our lives, while AVoDaH is work that lacks that exciting element. Yet we do not usually get to enjoy our MeLACHaH if we don’t first do our AVoDaH.

Life in Egypt was tough precisely because slaves have only AVoDaH with no possibility of MeLACHaH. But don’t dream that you can enjoy MeLACHaH without AVoDaH.  Integrating the two types of work makes everything possible.

Seeing one’s toddler blossom into a responsible teenager and then a thriving adult with whom you share a close relationship is incredibly exciting.  But this requires many hours of consistent and sometimes AVoDaH-like parenting. 

Closing a big transaction is thrilling. But many hours of AVoDaH in the form of hard work, disappointment and dedication precede the excitement.  Sometimes it is years of AVoDaH-like perseverance that lead to that MeLACHaH moment. 

Understanding how the world really works means knowing that we must tackle the AVoDaH of life with zest, enthusiasm and gratitude for being alive. Only this way can we reach the sheer magic of MeLACHaH, that part of our work which is so thrilling and so energizing that it becomes almost self-sustaining.

If MeLACHaH had a masculine form, what might it look like?  You know the rule—lop of the feminine aH suffix.

        מלאכ      מלאכה

       MeLACHaH         MaLACH
work                   angel

By shining the spotlight on the masculine core of creative work, MeLACHaH,  we find ourselves with the word MaLACH—an angel.  Once we have performed the tough preparatory work of AVoDaH and then throw ourselves into the MeLACHaH moment, we often feel a surge of strength and confidence we didn’t know we possessed.  In some almost mystical way, we have conjured up an angel through our creativity. Sometimes we can feel the angel alongside of us assisting us while whispering irresistible words of encouragement.  That is why the creativity of MeLACHaH often causes amazing doors to open, partners to materialize, and unseen collaborators to push our projects forward.

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Tent on the Beach

February 26th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 10 comments

Lately I’ve been listening to the rhetoric of ambitious politicians both in the United States and Europe.  They tend to speak of business in very negative terms usually with adjectives like greedy, selfish, and unfair.  They blame corporations for everything from inequality to poverty and from depression to crime.  They preach that the institution of business is inherently flawed.

Business, like politics, education and the press is run by people who sometimes do illegal and immoral things. But an additional complaint against businesses is the notion of competitiveness. Implementing new ideas in itself is evil, they claim, as it results in the closing of less creative enterprises.

It is true that business does depend upon constant innovation as things change.  The man making, selling or repairing fax machines in the 1980s had to adapt to email and cell technology at the turn of the century.

Former finance minister of Austria and mid-20th century Harvard economist Joseph Schumpeter said that business depends upon creative destruction.  Humans’ constant march forward to ever-newer ways of doing things is not a lamentable side effect of commerce but is an essential element of wealth creation. 

Prior to his death, Moses addressed each of the twelve tribes of ancient Israel. 

And to Zevulun he said, Rejoice Zevulun in your going out,
and Yissachar, in your tents.
(Deuteronomy 33:18)

What does this verse have to do with Schumpeter?

The attentive student of ancient Jewish wisdom hears in this account, a faint echo of an earlier event.  Prior to his death, Jacob also delivered a prophetic address; this one to his twelve sons after whom the tribes were later named. 

Zevulun shall dwell on the sea shore and
he shall be a haven for ships.
(Genesis 49:13)

Ancient Jewish wisdom reminds us that, tourism being a fairly recent manifestation of affluence, shipping and sea travel always mean commerce in Torah nomenclature.  Until recently, the only reason for travel was for business.  This Genesis verse is telling us that Jacob foresees his son Zevulun representing the business professional for all time.

Now back to Deuteronomy:  “Rejoice in your going out…” 

The phrase “Going out” means that Moses is advising the business professional, Zevulun, to always be in a perpetual state of exiting his current comfort zone.  What a perfect description of a successful business professional!

However, if your only formula for success is constantly to shatter the boundary fences, you are surely being guided directly to the office of your friendly state prosecutor and/or to bankruptcy.  Simply breaking boundaries is no roadmap to successful living.

Moses very carefully added a vital phrase to the advice he gave Zevulun, the business professional.  He didn’t just say, “Rejoice in your going out.” He added, “and Yissachar in your tents.”

These are the only two brothers or tribes treated together in one verse in Deuteronomy 33.  In ancient Jewish tradition, “tent” implies, not a primitive dwelling, but rather an entire framework of moral and philosophical coordinates. 

Yissachar is regarded as the tribe whose function it is to serve as a repository for Torah knowledge.  ( I Chronicles 12:32)  Now we can see that Moses instructed Zevulun to maintain a close connection with the entire framework of morality and emphasis on human relationships by keeping close to Yissachar’s tent. 

Only by clinging tenaciously to the unchangeable fundamentals does one gain the freedom safely to break down boundaries and innovate profitably.  Among the Torah’s many unchangeable fundamentals about business are these three:  Business is about satisfying other people; neither eyeballs nor tax benefits can replace real profit; and all transactions should be transparent and honest.

Business success does depend upon constant adaptation to constant change. It just as surely also depends on unchanging commitment to timeless truths and everlasting values.  Perhaps one reason that ambitious politicians despise business is that citizens who either own a profitable business or work for one are more independent and have little need for government hand-outs and favors.  Not surprisingly, ambitious politicians resent that which makes the their stock in trade less necessary.

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Friends Forever?

February 18th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 13 comments

Go ahead; list the ten most important relationships in your life.  Some will be family and others will be business and work relationships.  There will probably be a few friends on the list too.  Family relationships are fairly well defined.  The obligations and expectations of those relationships are, for the most part, known quantities. Business relationships are also clear, governed as most are by contracts.  But what about friends?  What are the obligations of friendship? What are reasonable expectations of friendship?

While the Five Books of Moses are packed with rules and rituals that shape both family and business relationships, it is notably light on mention of friendships.  We know just what employees owe their employers and vice versa, and we know what parents owe children and what children owe their parents, but if we ask people what they owe their friends, the answer could be, “It depends on the friend.”

Everyone knows the answer to the question, “For how long will your parent be your parent?”  If asked for how long a marriage is intended to last, the correct answer is, ‘This is forever.’  But if one is asked for how long one’s friend will be one’s friend, the prudent answer is, “I don’t know.”  The true answer might be, “For as long as we both want to be friends.”

The fine Irish poet, William Butler Yeats whose wonderful poem, Sailing to Byzantium, donated its opening line “That is no country for old men” to the title of a Coen Brothers 2007 crime movie, also penned an even better known line:

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.” 

The line hints at an uncomfortable truth, namely that the line between friends and strangers can be a bit blurry.

Which presents us with a puzzling problem: how do we build lasting frameworks for friendships?  Ancient Jewish wisdom provides a pathway by noting the parallels between the first two commandments of the Torah and the last two.

#1:  Have children

Be fertile and increase…
(Genesis 1:28)

#2:   Circumcision

You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin.
This shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.
(Genesis 17:11)

#612:   Annual gathering, a sort of State of the Union Address

Gather all the people—men, women, children, and the strangers in your communities…
(Deuteronomy 31:12)

#613:   All must have their own copy of the Torah

Therefore, write down this prose…
(Deuteronomy 31:19)

The first two commandments link the individual to both the past and the future.  God wants me to reproduce which links me to the future. Furthermore, I’m directed to circumcise my sons. This is an immensely powerful, emotional ceremony which locks me to the past.

The last two commandments link the nation to the past and to the future.  We’re told to hold an annual gathering at which we all listen to the Torah and relive our history.  Then the Torah’s final instruction directs each member of the nation to write our own copy of the Torah; an arduous undertaking that only makes sense if the resulting book is going to serve as our roadmap to the future. 

Thus we see that the Torah, the constitution of the Jewish people, is bookended by a pair of rules that give the individual his or her life context, and another pair of rules that give the people its life context.  As an individual, I am not an alienated orphan dropped into a cold lonely life.  I am linked to a future by my children and I am linked to a past by the timeless covenant of Abraham.  The nation, in turn is also linked to its destiny in the future and its origins in the past. 

Many Americans fear greatly for the future of their country because new citizens, whether by birth or immigration, are no longer taught to value the country’s origins.  Even more concerning to many is that current citizens no longer share any sense of a purposeful national future based on shared American ideals. 

When past and future are shared with others, friendships often result. Each stranger can truly be a friend, “you haven’t yet met.” When people’s ideas excite them today, but have no bedrock in the past nor sustainable hope in the future, strangers can walk together temporarily, but true friendship is unlikely. For friendships to thrive our lives need to be firmly rooted in the past and foreseeable in the future.

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More? Sure! Everything? Never!

February 12th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 26 comments

A business professional in Michigan named Ken Lingenfelter owns about 230 cars.  Entertainer Jay Leno has about 170 and Jerry Seinfeld owns about 150.  Each of those avid car collectors has a list of a few more cars that he’d really love to acquire but knows he probably won’t.  Healthy people eventually recognize that nobody gets everything they want. 

Even when we acquire what we want, we usually find ourselves wanting more, putting us back to square one.  God created us with infinite desires. Happiness depends upon knowing that not all ambitions and longings can or should be realized.

This message is so important for humans to absorb that it is presented as a set of bookends to the Torah, appearing both at the beginning and at the end.  It is as if the good Lord is saying, “Look, life has a huge paradox.  I have created you with limitless ambition, countless hopes, and inexhaustible dreams.  I want you to pursue those boundless visions but I don’t want your happiness to depend upon attaining them.” 

The first person mentioned in the Five Books of Moses is Adam and the last  is Moses.  Both men experienced three steps; (1) Presentation of abundance; (2) Limitation; (3) Death notice.   

First, the presentation of abundance:

Adam:

From all the trees in the Garden you are free to eat and you should eat. (Genesis 2:16)

Moses:

Moses climbed up from the plains of Moab up onto Mount Nebo… and the Lord showed him the whole land…(Deuteronomy 34:1)

Second, the limitation:

Adam:

And from the tree of knowledge of good and bad, you may not eat of it…(Genesis 2:17)

Moses:

This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not cross over into it.  (Deuteronomy 34:4)

Third, the death notice:

Adam:

…On the day that you eat of it, you will die. (Genesis 2:17)

Moses:

And Moses the servant of God died there…  (Deuteronomy 34:5)

Adam saw a garden with more delectable resources than any person could imagine.  God immediately informs him that he doesn’t get everything.  Nonetheless,  Adam and Eve try for everything and are reminded for all time that life has its limit.  The secret is enjoying what one does have.

Born in the exile of the Egyptian diaspora, Moses dreamed of the land of Israel which he knew had been promised to his seven-time-great-grandfather, Abraham.  God selected him to bring to fruition the Hebrews’ return to Israel.  For forty interminable, trying years in the desert, Moses longed for Israel. He is then shown the land.  Scripture uses as many as thirty-three words to describe the full expanse of Israel that he saw.  However, his vision was limited to seeing it from the top of a mountain outside the land. Shortly after, he transited to the spiritual world in which there are no limitations. 

Whether we are driven to acquire automobiles or anything else, we must remember that the urge for limitlessness is a Godly impulse ingrained in us.  It is from our limitless Creator that we inherit our desires for the infinite.  As humans, we should enjoy the process and find happiness in the quest without mortgaging our fulfillment to attaining everything—an impossible task.

In relationships, too, we sometimes sacrifice our happiness on the altar of ‘wanting it all.’  Sometimes we concentrate on the flaws of children and friends rather than appreciating their strengths. In dating and marriage, this tendency can be even more pronounced. So many people never marry as they wait for “the perfect match.” Focusing on a spouse’s imperfections provides a quick path to frustration. For those looking to date and stay married more successfully, take a look at our Lasting Love Set. Save money by purchasing three complementary resources at one time and use them wisely as you strive to fulfill the inborn desire to share life with one unique partner within a world of limitation.

Through the Fog

February 4th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 18 comments

While serving the synagogue it was my privilege to establish in Southern California, my wife and I frequently sailed our forty-four foot cutter to Catalina Island.  On that 26 mile jaunt, we often saw dolphins, whales, and other beguiling sea life.

When fog set in, I’d think of Florence Chadwick, who in 1952 set out to swim from Catalina to the mainland.  When fog obscured her goal, she lost her drive and abandoned her attempt. Despair defeated Florence.

After the fog lifted she was horrified to see that she had quit only half a mile from the beach.  Two months later, with the coastline visible, she tried again and succeeded.

Let’s understand this principle from Moses, who in one Scriptural account responds to Israel’s provocation with steadfast leadership while elsewhere in the Bible he responds to similar provocation with exasperation, hopelessness, and even despair.

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Slaying the Giants

January 28th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 11 comments

“Leave the light on, please” says the child, “I’m scared of the dark.”  One of the most common emotions expressed by little children is fear.  Long before they become comfortable articulating happiness, excitement and sadness, small children speak of feeling frightened.

Though we speak of it less as we grow up, we still feel it.  Just ask the adult who has been invited to give a speech before a large gathering.  People fear approaching strangers, they fear harmless insects and they fear looking over the edge of tall buildings; there are all kinds of phobias.

To be sure, there is a healthy fear that keeps us from doing dumb and dangerous things, but what about the fears we all have for utterly harmless activities?  I don’t know what your particular fears and phobias are but I’m sure you have them.  I know I do.

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Fake News? I’m Shocked

January 22nd, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 10 comments

Hypocritically assuming a false mantle of virtue by pretending horror at discovering someone else’s transgression is so unattractive.  We all recognized the dishonesty when Captain Louis Renault in the movie Casablanca (1942) said, “I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

The hysterical shrieks we’ve been hearing these past couple of years about “Fake News” are equally disingenuous.  Until 2016, did we simply accept as reliably true everything we read or saw?  Of course not.  The rule of Caveat Emptor – let the buyer beware-has been part of the prudent person’s arsenal forever. 

Sadly out of print is Robert Spero’s wonderful book, The Duping of the American Voter: Dishonesty and Deception in Presidential Television Advertising in which Spero showed how the television ads as far back as the 1960s and used by presidential candidates Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter were “the most deceptive, misleading, unfair, and untruthful of all advertising…” 

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Don’t Build a House; Build a Boat

January 15th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 31 comments

I’ve noticed that when someone in a group casually says, “Oh, I live on my boat down in the harbor” everyone hearing him perks up with interest.  Eager questions quickly follow.  But when someone says, “I live in my car behind the supermarket,” people go quiet and someone changes the subject.

There are, of course, many differences between living in a car and on a boat, but I enjoy this observation by an author, Arthur Ransome, who plays a big role in my family’s reading.  “The desire to build a house is the tired wish of a man content thenceforward with a single anchorage.  The desire to build a boat is the desire of youth, unwilling yet to accept the idea of a final resting place.” 

Someone living in his car is, well, living in his car.  (Living in a fully-equipped RV is quite different.) But someone living on a boat is on a journey. At any point he could cast off the mooring lines and head to Haifa, Honolulu, or Hong Kong.

Feeling settled is very seductive but feeling unsettled is more productive.  To their parents’ dismay, God arranged things so that when approaching those teenage years, children start feeling unsettled.  Other than when with their friends undergoing the same stage, young people approaching adulthood often feel they don’t really belong anywhere.  The last time they felt comfortably ‘at-home’ was as children cocooned in the security of parents and family.  The next time they are going to feel ‘at-home’ will be once they’re in their own homes. 

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Get Ready for Mother’s Day

January 8th, 2019 Posted by Thought Tools 5 comments

Mother’s Day is sacrosanct. It is almost a law of nature. Nobody dare disparage the purchase of those boxes of chocolate and the saccharine-flavored greeting cards that accompany them. Few would discourage dragging mom out to a crowded restaurant for that obligatory Mother’s Day meal. Were I to  question its value as a revered date on our calendar closer to its date in May, I would be excoriated for blasphemy. This week however, my Thought Tool can be welcomed as, oh say, research.

You see, here is what bothers me about it: Most would agree that the Ten Commandments lie at the core of Western civilization. Well, the Fifth Commandment doesn’t instruct us only to honor our fathers and mothers on two special days each year, does it? No, the Commandment is valid for 365 days each year and 366 in leap years.

My wife and I have always suspected that observance of an annual Mother’s Day or Father’s Day actually diminishes observance of the Fifth Commandment. Not wanting to run the risk of that happening, we just declared from our children’s infancy that in our home, every day would be Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

To my relief, our children accepted this, but on growing a little older, they inquired about another verse found early in the 19th chapter of Leviticus.

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