Google Shmoogle, Going Mad

My accountant recommended I start taking one 40 milligram Atorvastatin tablet before bedtime.  I now pour a quart of synthetic fuel additive into my car’s fuel tank every filling because the plumber who fixed our kitchen sink advised it.  My auto mechanic said that everyone should expense carpet cleaning on their federal income tax.  You may well laugh but many people vote the way their favorite Hollywood celebrity recommends.  Many people raise their children according to the dictates of the latest issue of psychology magazines and many people choose what car to buy on the basis of the mindless ramblings of a hysterical Nordic teenager.

Wouldn’t you be really relieved to know that you had access to fully reliable information?  (…and no, that wouldn’t be the Internet.) Well, think of your rabbi as the ultimate antacid.  I am about to bring you relief.  That’s right; I am about to show you how and where you can seek dependable data about whatever troubles you.

The first step is to determine into which of two categories your question falls.  Does your question have something to do with the natural sciences?  Is it about how things are and not about how things should be?  Is it about things or animals more than about people?  Example: What is the highest mountain visible from a city with a population of more than five million inhabitants?  Most questions of this type have one unarguable answer.  Let’s call this basket of questions, category A.

If your question is about how things should be or about what is considered ‘right’ or ‘moral’ then we’ll call those questions category B.  Anything that could be seen as philosophical or speculative falls into this group.  If it has anything to do with people interacting with one another or people making judgments, it probably belongs here.  Example: How many years is the best spacing between successive children? Definitely a type B question.

For all type A questions, merely go and study the available facts.  You won’t find an answer to your question beginning with the words, “97% of scientists/experts/professors/doctors agree…  There won’t be many different opinions of the answer assuming that everyone you ask is committed to the truth rather than to an agenda.  That’s one way to know you’re dealing with category A.

For all type B questions, start off your search for the answer with the Bible and ancient Jewish wisdom.  That’s right.  Every imaginable type B question is covered. And anything not covered is a type A matter which everyone can solve for themselves because the answer is relatively simple and readily available.  Unlike group A questions which are always only physical in nature, category B questions also involve the spiritual.  Seeking an answer to a spiritual question from a scientist is like asking a celebrity how to vote or an accountant what medication to take.

An important  Biblical topic is mental health, sanity, and their opposites.  Clearly this is seen as a type B concern. There are two kinds of reference to madness in Scripture.  One is when King David is faking it as an escape strategy from his pursuing enemies.

[David] became very much afraid of King Achish of Gath.  So he concealed his good sense from them; he feigned madness for their benefit. He scratched marks on the doors of the gate and let his saliva run down his beard.  And Achish said to his courtiers, “You see the man is raving; why bring him to me?” 
(I Samuel 21:13-15)

Since David’s behavior was viewed as insanity, clearly people must have been familiar with that tragic condition.

The second kind of Biblical reference to losing one’s mind is in the context of God punishing Israel for abandoning Him and His rules.

The Lord will strike you with madness, blindness, and dismay.
(Deuteronomy 28:28)

On that day, declares the Lord, I will strike every horse with panic and its rider with madness.
(Zachariah 12:4)

The Bible is not telling us that on an individual level every mental problem is the consequence of a lack of faith or any other failing.  However, on a society-wide basis, the growing abandonment of God does make that society and its citizens much more susceptible to this problem.

In spite of the overwhelming majority of mental health professionals leaning towards atheism if not outright anti-religious bias, a large body of research indicates that higher levels of religious belief and practice (known in social science as “religiosity”) are associated with better mental health. In particular, much research suggests that higher levels of religiosity are associated with lower rates of depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, and suicidal behavior. Religiosity is also associated with better physical health and subjective well-being.  Likewise, there is research indicating that religiosity can enhance recovery from mental illness, aiding in the healing process.

Not surprisingly, as societies secularize, we tend to see rising rates of mental instability.  After all, so many of life’s questions need an understanding of God in order to resolve. In fact, most category B questions require Godly awareness.

The beginning of wisdom is fear of God…
(Psalms 111:10)

When even Google is unable to help people answer the deep and demanding questions of life, it is enough to drive anyone mad.


13 thoughts on “Google Shmoogle, Going Mad”

  1. Rabbi Lapin,
    These items written for our admonision,instruction and correction wrote one. As referencing to what is seen in the great pages of The Tanak.
    I smile tears in gladness.
    Miscalculated behaviors have caveat.
    Before I popped open your web piece, I looked up the piece and saw of Nadab and Abihu who offered strange fire. Cautions are kindness.

  2. I am old enough to remember when there was truth in the world for type B questions; however, today whatever once existed has been hijacked by “fake news” and “alternate facts” continously being spewed by the mass news media and all the social media outlets. I see these type A and type B questions in our material existence being answered by the image of a doughnut. I call the material part of this doughnut “thinking” for type B questions, which just goes round and round, rarely finding any real truth. I call the unlimited hole “knowing” for the type A questions, as being the whole of knowledge (pun intended), where there is only truth, which can not be manipulated for human agendas. Bless you Rabbi and Susan you for sharing this knowledge in oh so many ways !

  3. Dr. Vickie Sanderson

    As a mental health therapist, I have on my informed consent (what the consumer needs to know) sheet that I have a Judeo-Christian belief and bias. In session, I often voice Rabbi Lapin and/or Mrs. Lapin’s wisdoms from God (giving each -God, Rabbi, Susan-the credit and how to access the wisdom). Often I hear the client say “I feel like God sent me to you!” This is the greatest honor -to serve God- I receive from a client. My advice to other God-fearing therapists – don’t be afraid to bring God into your sessions. I live in California – in which there is a very real threat of losing my job over this subject and many many voices stating “God is a myth”. But the voices are untrue. There is a hunger out there for God’s wisdoms. Okay, getting off my soap box now. God bless and thank you, Rabbi and Mrs. Lapin.

    1. Those who choose you as their therapist do so knowingly. They would be ill-served by someone who refused to acknowledge a spiritual dimension. We are honored that you find our teachings helpful.

  4. Dear RDL,
    I’m grateful for the meaningful and in-depth writings that you and Susan have produced and continue to produce. Admittedly, I’m more a reader than a listener or watcher; though I’ve listened on the radio and watched you both on video, I appreciate the body of writings that you’ve been producing for many years. Since about 1998 or 1999, I’ve been reading and often sharing your good writing’s with my family and friends. It has been so very beneficial and I’m grateful for it. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve gifted your books to family and friends through the years and my two favorites remain “Buried Treasure” and “America’s Real War.” They, along with these TTs, have helped me to bridge the deeper meaning of Torah with the modern culture.

    Google’s answers for life’s tough questions is quite enough to turn one’s stomach! Thank you so very much for being “…the ultimate antacid.”

  5. Amen! Truth! Let’s hear it for “RELIGIOSITY” in our lives! (**roll eyes at stupid secular term coined by atheists**)

    From a Christian perspective, the Apostle Paul heartily corroborates this truth in your Thought Tool when he wrote, “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love, AND A SOUND MIND.” Or as the Prophet Isaiah said, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, WHOSE MIND IS STAYED ON THEE…” (I mean, even King Nebuchadnezzar would have to agree, in his Daniel 4:34-37 state anyway)

    Yes, the Bible has the answer for all “category B” questions for sure. Google Shmoogle indeed!!!

    Thank you for brightening my dreary INBOX once again with an always-valued, always-useful, always-highly-anticipated, many-faceted gem of the LORD’s wisdom!!!

  6. It used to be that I could not understand how people deal with life without a relationship to their Creator. Many people ,as you say, prefer to be akin to animals, therefore allowing them to act as they wish and blame it on instincts.
    One aspect for me with regard to the fear of God is that He is Holy and I am in awe of Him. I am depraved without Him. People who choose to live their lives without God are truly insane. Of course most of them don’t even know it.
    I am so very grateful to you and Susan for all the wonderful wisdom I have learned!
    God Bless,
    Terry Sterling

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Terry–
      I have to disagree with your judgement that people living without God are insane. I think this is both untrue and prejudicially judgmental. It is a timeless truth that God will never force His acquaintance on any human. In other words, faith has meaning precisely because one can be perfectly sane and still be a secularist. If it was obvious to every sane person that God is there, what would ‘faith’ mean? No, living without God is certainly no marker of insanity. It may mean many things but insanity is not one of them.
      Thanks for writing,

      1. Dear Rabbi,
        I am sorry, I misunderstood your post. I feel you are much more qualified in these matters than I and I hope I may still refer to you as my Rabbi. Not to excuse my behavior, but I was at a low spot last night. I had knee surgery last Friday and have been a bit of an invalid for a few days and was also taking some pain medication.
        I would like to say that I think most people are inherently good with or without God and I teach this principle to my children.
        Terry Sterling

        1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

          Hey Terry,
          Your rabbi here reassuring you, no problem my friend. So sorry to hear you were in medicated recuperation mode. Hope the knee is doing fine and you’ll soon be up and around. You take care of yourself.

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