Frozen in Fear

Most people may know that the Passover holyday recalls Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. But did you know though that amazingly, one incident came close to jeopardizing the whole enterprise?

Just before Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh, God threatens Moses for neglecting to circumcise his son. Had Moses’ wife, Tziporah, not intervened, God would have terminated Moses’ career. (Exodus 4:24-26) What is going on?

We get a clue from the language used in and around this event:

…the Lord met him (Moses)
(Exodus 4:24)

… (Aaron) go into the desert to meet Moses…
(Exodus 4:27)

While there are a number of Hebrew words throughout the Bible that translate in English as, “meet,” the specific root word used here is P-G-SH. One of the tools for understanding Scripture is to note when a Hebrew word is rarely used. In those cases, we should look for similarities in the unusual appearances. P-G-SH appears only four times in the Five Books of Moses. We see it twice in our instance in Exodus and twice while Jacob is on his way to meet his brother Esau.

…when Esau my brother meets you…
(Genesis 32:18)

…what did you intend by that whole camp that I met…
(Genesis 33:8)

Thus the word P-G-SH (meet) appears in only two stories in the Torah, both of which involve a man (Jacob/Moses) on a mission, traveling with his entire family, leaving his father-in-law (Lavan/Yitro). In the midst of the journey, each man encounters a Divine being who presents a mortal threat. (In Jacob’s case, he meets the angel with whom he wrestles, Genesis 32:25-33)

Ancient Jewish wisdom tells us that Jacob did not leave Lavan’s house as promptly as he should have, to some degree from fear at confronting the terrifying Esau. Similarly, Moses, on his way to confront a frightening Pharaoh, made an unnecessary stop at a hotel. (Exodus 4:24) Even though God had promised His protection, both men delayed approaching their destiny partially out of fear of a scary personality. In each case, they end up in a life-threatening situation. The lesson to us is clear: Despite our fears, avoiding our life purpose and destiny is more dangerous than meeting it head on.

You or I may not be on the level of Jacob or Moses. God may speak to us more subtly and our missions may be on a smaller scale. Yet each and every one of us has a purpose in life, the reason for which God put us on this earth. Invariably, we face formidable challenges on our road to accomplishment. Intimidating people often stand in our way, telling us we are foolish for following our path or even threatening us if we continue to move forward. The instances with Jacob and Moses remind us that when we have a mission to do, we should unhesitatingly race past all obstacles to do it. Like all else in Scripture, the details of the stories and the specific words used serve as blueprints for enhancing our lives, encouraging us to courageously meet our own destinies.

We strive to transmit these and dozens of other powerful and effective principles for improving your life in our audio CDs, DVDs, courses and books. Our goal is to provide access to ancient Jewish wisdom to enrich your faith, family and fortune. This week our Biblical Blueprints Set is 20% off. These five CDs cover topics including how our speech affects our business lives and social relationships; whether the Ten Commandments have a deeper meaning than most of us realize; why we need to decide whether to relate to time in the way of Israel or of Greece; how to rid our souls of psychological baggage; and what steps we can take to break out of our troubles. Available as a 5-CD Set or as Instant Downloads.

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13 thoughts on “Frozen in Fear”

  1. Hello Rabbi Lapin & Ms. Susan!
    I cannot begin to tell you how much your teachings have blessed and enlightened me!! How very appropriate this message is — really hits home. A friend in my church recommended your podcast and I have purchased two of your books. I listen every morning after my bible reading and prayer as I am getting ready for work. LOVE your analogies, I have learned so much, especially since my husband and I are small business owners and we had to shut down our small-format children’s museum (I’ve included our website below). It was such a challenging time for us, honestly, we weren’t sure we were going to make it, but the Lord is so faithful and we are finally making headway. Please say a prayer for us! My only regret is that I wish I would have heard about you sooner! Thanks for sharing your wisdom & May the Lord Bless and Keep you both!!

  2. Corrine Zimmer

    I really enjoy your podcast and e-mails, but after I read them , then see you are soliciting for money, I don’t feel good about it.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Corrine–
      Your letter is so very interesting firstly because it crops up from different readers every year or so and second, because it so brilliantly reveals the seductiveness of popular fallacies about money.
      Though I have answered it before in these pages, I will answer it again here in order to honor you for taking the time to write.
      Before going any further, I want to make clear that we are not ‘soliciting for money’ (though why that should be a problem, I don’t know) but we are offering goods for sale. Please note that we don’t charge you anything for reading this material which you really enjoy though there is obviously a cost associated with the time it takes to produce and publish it for your enjoyment.
      In the store section of this website, you will see that we offer books like Thou Shall Prosper and Business Secrets from the Bible as well as instructional courses like the Financial Prosperity program. This is because there is such widespread misunderstanding about money. With no intention to be personal or to offend, it is clear that you consider the process of earning or making money to be morally questionable. After all, you used the phrase “…I don’t feel good about it.” From my knowledge, experience and research, I state with certainty that most people who feel that the process of making money through voluntary and consensual financial transactions is morally tainted, are people who tend to be fatally handicapped in their own efforts to make money. In other words, people who, deep in their hearts, consider making money to be morally reprehensible are severely restricted in their financial ambitions by that very belief.
      Now let’s glance at the last time you purchased a beautiful pair of shoes that you really enjoyed wearing. Turns out that it was perhaps an advertisement in a magazine you read that alerted you to the availability of those particular shoes. Countless people saw that advertisement and ignored it because they were not in the market for purchasing a new pair of shoes. Did you feel ‘not good’ about this advertisement? Surely not.
      Therefore, the only reason I can see for why my advertisement made you feel ‘not good’ must be that you feel that commercial transactions are incompatible with Biblical teachings. Yet the Five Books of Moses brought down from God on Mount Sinai contain far more rules and regulations about financial transactions than they do about any other category of moral teachings. What is more, Bible teaching through the lens of ancient Jewish wisdom illustrates how financial transactions allow strangers to please one another. You were happy with that shoe store proprietor who made your new shoes possible and he was happy with your custom which allowed him to put corn flakes on his breakfast table. Yes, voluntary and consensual free market transactions make God smile in that they allow His children to serve one another’s needs. In every sense of the word, financial transactions are holy. I know this is not how the world of popular culture sees it, but as in so many other areas, that world has it wrong.
      What we do in each email is try to provide uplifting and applicable Bible based wisdom and then we invite you to pursue the topic further in one or another of the resources we create, publish, and sell. That way, should you of your own free will decide to participate, you obtain instructional material unavailable elsewhere, and we obtain the wherewithal to place corn flakes upon our breakfast table.
      And should you of your own free will decide not to participate and not to purchase anything, that is fine too. We are still happy you read our material and listen to our podcast and enjoy it all for free. But there is certainly no reason for our advertisement to make you feel ‘not good’. We do hope this helps you adjust your money thinking.
      Best wishes-
      RDL

        1. What do you mean by, “I got moderated”? All comments are moderated and almost all are posted. There is a time lag because our office is not open 24/7. We do delete comments that have profanity (or edit them), we edit out links, and sometimes there is a comment that we simply don’t understand, that is mostly a long Bible quote, or that we consider mean-spirited (particularly in response to someone else’s comment) that we don’t post. In general, we approve almost all posts.

    2. Timothy Wright

      I felt a similar hesitancy. Then I realized that my rabbi admits to being capitalistic. As am I. There is such a wealth of information available at No cost that I no longer have an issue with profiting from the sale of these other products. As my rabbi said: These products and the profits therefrom help finance those offered at no cost to us. That is not a direct quote. However, I think it helps get my point across. Thank you for listening. Er.. Reading.

      Tim

  3. Hi Rabbi Lapin —
    I ran across a fascinating piece of history this week:
    From the Nuremberg trial (Nov 1945-Oct 1946) Hermann Goering was asked: “How did you convince the German people to accept all this?”, he replied: “It was easy and has nothing to do with Nazism. The only thing a government needs to turn people into slaves Is fear. If you can find something to scare them you can make them do anything you want.”

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Hello Peter,
      I think often of you and M. and am really excited with this factoid about Nuremberg trials. So very true. Public health indeed!
      Warmly
      RDL

  4. Great insight. And you’ve addressed something that I’ve struggled with since I was a child. I come from not so favorable beginnings, and since I was a little girl (about the age of 6); I always wanted more… at the time I didn’t know what I was searching for; I just felt like I didn’t belong. I was born in one of the most violent areas of Baltimore City Maryland to teenage parents; often feeling unwanted and neglected, with no real direction for my life but feminist ghetto misery. As I got older and encountered people from different backgrounds, I began walking on a path that no one I knew was on… the negative comments, hindrances from my family and emotional chains associated with growing up in the Black Community created both a fear and anger in me. I realized I was angry because they made me fear success. It is was overwhelming. Thank you for reconfirming my decision to walk the path that God has directed me to.

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