Don’t Complain – Act!

Have you ever grappled with one of those wooden puzzle boxes that has a secret compartment? If you manipulate the different pieces correctly, a hidden drawer pops open and you find the concealed prize.

This type of puzzle can be extremely frustrating. I was once handed such an item at a dinner party. After a while, I became convinced that there was no answer. The whole thing was simply a sadistic game. At that point, the friend who gave me the game took back the box and showed me exactly how to solve the puzzle. Once I knew how it was quite simple.

In a similar manner, a full 30% of the Book of Exodus is taken up by a long and detailed description of how Israel got out of Egypt.  We Jews read those Torah portions every single year, and in addition, once each year we actually live out the entire experience in a ceremony known as the Passover Seder.

The Book of Exodus serves to instill into our bloodstreams the belief that there is always a solution and a possible redemption.  Each of us suffers in our own form of Egypt, but it is not terminal.  There is always a way out allowing us to emerge from darkness to light and from slavery to freedom.

Verses that may not make sense if Exodus is viewed as just a storybook, begin to shine bright beams of brilliance when we realize the book is an instruction manual.  The details that are given direct each of us how to pave our own pathway from stagnation to growth and from despair to triumph.

For example, look at this verse:

And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron and He issued a commandment to Israel and to Pharaoh king of Egypt for the Children of Israel to exit the land of Egypt.
(Exodus 6:13)

The basic understanding might have been that God spoke to Moses and Aaron and instructed them to make Pharaoh allow Israel to leave. But why is God issuing that commandment not only to Pharaoh but also to the people of Israel themselves?

After all, Israel is the victim, right?  Pharaoh must be made to release his slaves, which is exactly what God directs.  But His directive is also issued to Israel. Why?

Ancient Jewish wisdom supplies the shocking answer.  Israel was not to be a passive people being delivered by Moses and Aaron and expelled by Pharaoh.  God never wants His children to be inert tennis balls floating down the gutter of life.  God commanded them to become instruments of their own deliverance.  Passivity and victimhood never propelled anyone anywhere.

Today we need this reminder more than ever.  We are culturally indoctrinated to think that we have all sorts of rights that others have the responsibility to deliver to us. The rights to an education, to food, to a job, to health care and to housing are only a few of the rights we are urged to claim. Some politicians are now extending this principle to a right to basic income regardless of any actions we might take—or choose not to take.  The more that citizens reject the principle of responsibility for their own lives, the more they transfer those responsibilities to the government.  It follows that they are increasingly comfortable with government growing ever bigger, ever more powerful and ever more intrusive.

The Bible, out of which emerged the Judeo-Christian values on which the United States of America was founded, teaches differently. Each of us has many obligations; to our families, to our communities, to our nation and to God. Today, increasing numbers of citizens reject that viewpoint.

15 thoughts on “Don’t Complain – Act!”

  1. Kathleen Hendriks

    Dear Rabbi,
    I just listened to your interview on your warning to American Christians. You have such a gift of resin and faith. I loved listening and would like to buy you book
    America’ real war. Should I wait for the rewrite?
    Thank you and I plan to look you up on Facebook!

    1. Kathleen, the original book is out of print, though of course there are second-hand copies available. We are eager to get cracking on the update. We do hope you will sign up to receive our weekly Thought Tools, Ask the Rabbi, Susan’s Musings and podcast announcements. As you get to know us better, we’re sure you will find resources that best serve you.
      Of course, we’d be delighted if you would join our Master Class on the book which will give you a pdf of the original book and a free copy of the new book when it comes out.

  2. Vickie Sanderson

    What I gleaned from each story is that along with being pro-moving-forward, we would also benefit from asking for wisdom from the one/One who holds the knowledge of the puzzle/challenge. Thank you, Rabbi.

  3. Neweverymoment, Deb:
    “There are no accidents.” Whatever happened, what I received was just what I needed on a particularly bad morning. Being anti-Social, I won’t be able to share your book-update sessions, either, but I rejoice at the thought that there are others working to help get us all “out of Egypt” in our thinking. Haven’t read any Exodus in a while, so I will go back and get cracking.
    The only Jewish service I ever attended was eons ago, at a famous temple in Chicago, on Yom Kippur. accompanied by an Episcopal priest in mufti (we were all guests of the organist). It did feel a bit strange until we got to the first hymn, “The God of Abraham praise”, at which point I was totally at home!
    Please know that you are doing great good in exactly your own way.

  4. I don’t understand your blogs. You was speaking of a family in a terrible area where there were few men if any around who actually worked but your friends were in that neighborhood he worked very hard and went to school at night while his wife taught the children morals and a good home for her family and then READ MORE as I clicked to see MORE of the story, you immediately started talking about Egypt. This has happened to me many times and it’s so frustrating. We have turned off cable so I can’t watch you, I only can read this and I never get a finished story. I’m very upset and I don’t understand when it says MORE where does the ending to the story you was 1st telling go. I needed to hear it, thus I click on it so why does it ALWAYS change. I get 1/2 of 2 stories!! Frustrated!!

    1. Our apologies, Karen. We didn’t mean to frustrate you, but it was human error. Here is the link to finish the story of the family and the house: Thanks for pointing out the mistake to us.

  5. Thanks for this great tools, will sure put into practice now. This came as answer when I needed it the most.

    1. I totally agree. I’d love to participate, but will not use Facebook because of their history of disreputable business practices and the offensive/unpleasant ads. There are better services that could be used, such as, but they aren’t as well known. Facebook is the “lowest common denominator” in several ways.
      But I will certainly buy the new book edition when it is finished.

      1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

        Thanks Hans–
        This was not fully understood by us and our team. I don’t think we knew the depth and extent of anti-FB sentiment. Tomorrow night, Tuesday Feb 4, we are doing a live broadcast on YouTube.

  6. Looking forward to yet another insightful teaching by the master. Many thanks RABBI LAPIN!!!

    1. Dear Rabbi Lapin and Susan,
      My wife last month found your America’s Real War book at Good Will in excellent condition and I right away read it from cover to cover It was like finding an expensive ring in the bottom of a large pond. I learned a lot I had no idea about before and felt it was as though you knew already when writing this book all the events I had experienced from living through them these last 22 plus years.
      I’m excited about your wonderful project you are sharing with us and I will click on the link for getting more information as soon as I send this.
      Thank you for giving us the chance to participate in this timely important venture.

      1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

        Thanks Lee–
        Hope you can join us. I love your metaphor of a diver discovering a valuable piece of jewelry in a large pond. The Lord was with us while writing this book twenty-two years ago. It was only a prophetic spirit that helped us because most of our predictions came exactly to pass. We pray that our rewrite, which is going to make similar prophetic predictions, will also find favor before Him. What will be the future of the bizarre alliance between Islam and western secular fundamentalism? Where will today’s young people’s fascination with socialism take us? Will America’s plague of abortion continue? We will be working through many of these questions during our upcoming Master Class program.

Comments are closed.

Shopping Cart