Forged in Steel

You may have heard of the possibly apocryphal tale of the Detroit manufacturer of buggy whips early in the twentieth century.  Although he heard rumors of a newfangled horseless carriage that some chap called Ford was building down the road, he made no changes to his profitable business.  Needless to say, he was soon out of business.

When steel eventually was discovered in the nineteenth century and began to replace cast iron, a vast part of American and British wealth that lay in the many old-fashioned foundries and iron-casting operations was tossed aside as these now obsolete operations were destroyed and replaced with early forms of steel-making furnaces.  Then Englishman Henry Bessemer invented the Bessemer converter and made possible the economical manufacture of steel, which quickly replaced cast iron as the building material of choice for bridges and other constructions.  All the earlier furnaces were scrapped and replaced with the faster and more efficient system. 

Later, the Bessemer converter itself was replaced with the Siemens Open Hearth Furnace, which in turn was replaced in the middle of the twentieth century with the Electric Arc Furnace.  Innovation, even in the mature steel industry, is not over.  Mini-mills are famously encroaching on larger and less flexible operations many of whom have scrapped their plant and replaced it with several mini-mills.

We all must recognize that change is an inevitable necessity in business.  Regardless of exactly how we serve our fellow humans, we need to wake up every weekday morning asking ourselves, “How has my world changed since yesterday?  What should I be doing differently today?”  In business, we look towards the future.  Tomorrow will be different; embrace it.   

In our spiritual lives, however, we embrace the past.  It is our past that sustains our journeys into tomorrow’s unknown.  As important as it is to face change in business, it is every bit as important to recognize that we must resist forces that try to change our spiritual realities.  Those unchangeable fixed points that anchor me during the turbulent changes of life need to be protected.

Abraham, who relished the new experiences to which God exposed him, knew his unchangeables.  He moved to a new land, he encountered powerful kings like Avimelech and Pharaoh, he nearly lost a son, and throughout it all, Abraham walked before God.  (Genesis 24:40 & 48:15)

Is there anything in Abraham’s background that reveals him as part of a chain rather than completely forging a new path himself?  Amazingly, his father, Terach, was the first person in Scripture to name a son after his own father.  Nachor gave birth to Terach and Terach gave birth to Abram, Nachor, and Haran. (Genesis 11:24-27)

Not only did Terach respect the connection between the past and the future when he named his son, but he impulsively took his family on an unprecedented journey, heading toward a destination he’d never seen—Canaan.  (Genesis 11:31)  They didn’t make it all the way, but a generation later, following in his father’s footsteps, Abraham did.  (Genesis 12:5)

Why did Terach try to reach Canaan?  It was known in ancient times that the land of Canaan possessed especially close connections with God.  It was where Jerusalem would be established and it would become the land of His people. Terach, perhaps in ways he didn’t even understand, wanted connection with God and his son actualized that desire.  Terach gave a springboard to Abraham by recognizing the value of the past and the spiritual wealth that had been forgotten over the generations since Adam.

In matters of the body, we look towards tomorrow.  Food production, medical procedures, transport, and other similar concerns are all better today than they were last year.  But in matters having to do with the soul, we look towards yesterday.  When it comes to how to marry and build a family, how to pray, how to raise boys and how to raise girls, yesterday’s approaches were more correct than today’s.

28 thoughts on “Forged in Steel”

  1. The Lord put me, a poor black woman into one of the most powerful families in history. Yet, my children and I are fighting to live financially. I don’t know why it’s taking us over 40 to get above ground. Charles Babbage:Father of the Computer was wealthy and blessed the world with his inventions. We, however have run out of wine and are in need of a miracle.Trusting in GOD is a given but how do we take what GOD has blessed us with and break out of homelessness and proverty?
    I don’t know what we are doing wrong. The doors seem to be locked at every turn…

  2. Ancient Jewish Wisdom vs today’s “Modern Judaism” …. and yet “modern judaism” is winning more souls….ps what is “Modern Orthodox” vs the Orthodox of you and Susan? Are Jared and Ivanka “Modern Orthodox” ? Thanks again for another superb teaching.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Bob–
      These are not fixed boundary designations at all; they all mean pretty much whatever their proponents want the labels to mean.

  3. Love your weekly thought tools. While i do study the Bible you generally present new thoughts to me that i have missed. Moving from Alabama to Arizona and my computer will be out of service while we have temporary housing until we get out there. Look forward to picking you back up in a few months.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      What! What do you mean, Paul?
      Surely you can equip yourself with a cell phone or a tablet on which we can continue connecting during your move?

  4. From Neweverymoment, Deb:
    Someone has said that if the buggy whip manufacturers had been able to reframe to realize that they were actually in the transportation business, they might still be around! Process thought features a dipolar God: primordial and consequent. Primordial God is the loving, dependable God whose character never changes; consequent God lovingly preserves each occasion of experience upon its completion and consequently changes as we change and grows as we grow. This is one way of meeting your desire to change and to remain the same. Your explanations frequently reframe things for us, broadening our horizons. Thanks again!

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      You’re welcome, Deb,
      Happy to help. I have frequently written that very line about reframing your activity to see the larger arena in which you play.

  5. Hi Sir
    You said in paragraph nine that ‘Canaan possessed especially close connection with God’s. Does this mean that the Canaanites know the true God even before Abraham arrived there?

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Ben–
      I meant to say that God’s connection to the land of Canaan was known rather than the idolatrous residents of Canaan.

  6. PERFECT. I remember as a child the only thing I wanted was to have a family like the one I was living in. Although far from perfect it was awesome. My oldest sister was married when I was only seven years old, but her wedding was so much fun that it became the standard for my wedding to beat… It did by the way. A son that is given a good example to live by will always look back to see how he may improve.

  7. I chuckled nervously while reading through this TT as our 21 year old son has occasionally expressed that he cringes when he thinks about his “new age” grandparents’ rejection of the ancient wisdom from the Bible. We have a few years old, Stone Edition, Tanach at home (we do not know the Hebrew, but we know a great Rabbi!) We’ve been reading this great book, with the English translated next to the Hebrew, everyday.

    It’s good to keep our perspective from past events to our potential future events. Thank you, RDL, for your wise thoughts.

      1. Dear RDL, Would you recommend another brand or edition? Our family likes the one we have, but if there is a better one that you could recommend for us then we would appreciate the knowledge. We are footnote readers, and enjoy all sorts of interesting commentary and details. Sincerely, LJ

        1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

          Dear LJ–
          Generally I make it a practice not to recommend any translations because of the fatal weakness inherent in any translation out of Hebrew. I like the Koren Jerusalem Bible not because it’s translation is any better than your Stone edition but because I like the accurate graphical layout.

    1. LJ, maybe you can encourage your son to think about what good qualities of his grandparents he would hope to emulate. Focusing on that rather than where he wants to be different from them can lead him to realize the blessings they do bring to his life.

      1. Thank you, Susan; most certainly we have encouraged our children to be civil, courteous and loving to both sets of their grandparents. By choice, on both sides, our elders have chosen not to engage with our family. Our son knows them through us; our family often reaches out to them and they choose not to recripocate (it’s likely because they don’t know us well.) Suffice it to say that our extended family’s troubles deal directly with our departure from The Episcopal Church in the year 2000 when our son was two! Still, we continue to hold out hope that one day, our families, will be able to have a relationship that is, at least, cordial. We do appreciate our dear RDL and his beautiful bride, Susan.

        1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

          That sounds like a sad tale, LJ,
          I hope that reconciliation does come soon. The clock is ticking faster for some than for others

          1. I spent two days without access to my computer and I do it one day a week by choice; but this week we had some glitches. I’m glad that I do not get too frantic without it, and it makes me feel so “old school.”

            Thank you RDL, both for indulging our Tanach question and for your thoughts on our family’s split. We knew that you would have a solid answer with respect to the translation conundrums from Hebrew, and we appreciate hearing your thoughts about it.

            Ideally, we look to reconciliation and we have made some suggestions without reciprocity. There is always hope for it. The Episcopal church split over issues of same-sex marriage and the ordination of women to the priesthood. Our family wrote letters to the priest, and then we left and our extended family stayed. We were once said to be homophobic, judgemental, and bigoted; these assessments were unwarrented as we never behaved in uncivil ways toward others. Regardless, it troubled us deeply for many years but we have been optimistic about the future. But life can be snatched quite quickly from anyone and, while it is true that people get closer to death as they age, it’s also true that at anytime we are all subject to it. For example, my brother’s wife of 10 years was killed by a drunk driver on her way home from work just recently. It was a tragic and preventable loss of life.

            As long as we live, we’d like to benefit our family, community, friends and even our enemies with firm reliance on Divine Protection for our honorable actions. The Declaration of Independence proclaimed, “Enemies in war, in peace friends.” It’s too bad that our country seems split in a way that resembles our bloody Civil War period, but our family holds out hope for a better future that begins with our own actions and words that we can use to benefit those around us. Perhaps even in the same way that the Declaration of Independence relied on thoughtful people to stand up to tyranny.

  8. Daniel

    The way I have told the buggy whip story in some of my economic talks is the buggy whip maker watched the horseless carriage go by, deemed it a passing fad and went out of the business. But, the shrewd buggy whip maker watched the horseless carriage go by, realized change was coming, tied the two ends of the buggy whip together, made a fan belt and thrived. 🙂



    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Oh nice improvement, Don,
      A pastor friend recently told me that the first time I repeat your version, I’ll say “My good friend, Don, told me that…..”. The second time I repeat your excellent version, I’ll say, “I once heard…”. The third time it is retold, one says, “This is how it goes…”
      Warmest regards from us both,

  9. On TCT I well remember your story of the Rabbi on the plane being served by his disciples, and the secular humanist adjacent him marveled because his own offspring did not show their father comparable respect. The Rabbi replied how it proved the man a secular humanist who believed that humans derive from apes and taught this to his children, therefore the current generation is held more advanced and praiseworthy than the outgoing generation. My children, quoth the Rabbi, believe that their elders are closer to Divine creation, and therefore worthy of respect. What an excellent example, how oft the old ways are best, despite change. I see this parable demonstrated now and again, how secular humanist parents sit silent and marvel dumbfounded while their Wunderkind children, however wet behind the ears, hold court with lengthy discourses and pontificate how they assess the wide world.

    Personally I find it fascinating, how God felt especial connection to the land of Canaan, even before the arrival of the Israelites and would treasure further discussion on some future occasion.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thanks for the review, James,
      It is heartwarming for me to read your take on some of the stories that have been related.

  10. Rabbi Daniel. Since I started to follow your daily thoughts,my whole perception of conducting business was changed due to your inspirational teachings. When I realised that to do business is to serve God’s children I become so excited to be an instrument for God in the business world. Ancient Jewish Wisdom clearly is something worth to share. My biggest dream for 2019 is to attend one of your seminars , trusting God to provide the means in order to come back to my Country Namibia and invest this valuabe truths among our nation.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Danny–
      As you might know, I was born in Southern Africa and its people remain close to my heart. I have been seriously contemplating a trip back to the continent I haven’t seen in decades.
      Meanwhile I wish you continued growth and success now that you’ve stepped onto the escalator of deeper financial understanding.

  11. Yes! Oh Rabbi you did it again! You have me seriously meditating on this ancient jewish wisdom regarding Terach, Abraham and Canaan. It brings to mind a particular scripture: “Keep asking and it shall be given to you; keep searching and you shall find; keep knocking and the door shall be opened to you. For everyone asking receives, and the one searching finds, and to the one knocking the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7) Thanks again!

  12. Rabbi Daniel Lapin
    I am Ryno Steyn, living in South Africa. I had a unmistakable, unforgetable, experience that I am called by God to serve His people. In my surge on where and how I must start in this journey, I came across your teachings. I just can not stop listening to them all. I have studied Hebrew roots also through Rabbi Son. Your teaching on D R (dor) made me ask how much do I miss in the Torah by not knowing Hebrew. Your book, Buried Treasure, sounds like it will even explain more about concealed truths in the Torah. Rabbi, please give me some guidance on where to start my growth, to be of service to God’s people. I want to know the the hole truth, so that I can teach the truth. I have this absolutly burning desire inside of me that I just can not stop, and I can not ignore it anymore, because it is becoming stronger by the day. I only had an Afrikaans bible from childhood, which thought me all the basic story lines. A few years ago I got a 2010 Scripture edition, which already helped me to understand Gods Word in more depth. But I still feel that there is more wisdom and knowledge that I miss, because of all the translations. I can just thank you for the change you already made in my life.
    Ryno Steyn

Comments are closed.

Shopping Cart