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A collection of textile samples lay spread out on the table

Samsa was a travelling salesman.

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It showed a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur

boa who sat upright, raising a heavy fur muff.

Which World Is Yours?

This week, at the intermission of a performance of Fiddler on the Roof at the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore, MD, according to people in the audience, a man interrupted the show by standing up and yelling ‘Heil, Hitler,’ “Heil Trump’. Understandably, the audience was shaken and at least one woman said she expected bullets to start flying. That didn’t happen and the man was escorted out but not arrested.

I added the words, “according to people in the audience,” for one reason only. When I read the reports, more than one person saw the Nazi salute and heard Heil Hitler, but one man was the source of the Heil Trump citation. While I’m not attacking that man’s veracity, the political climate is simply too venomous not tack on concepts like ‘allegedly’ on almost everything one reads or hears. The video from someone’s phone that I saw suggests that most people were unaware or unfazed by what was going on. It certainly isn’t a good thing, but is it an omen? 

Leaving the words ‘Heil Trump’ aside, because they are irrelevant for my thoughts in this Musing, I am seeing a trend in the media of focusing on incidents that promote a theory that there is a major resurgence in white-supremacy activity. Is something really going on or is this like the summer of the shark attacks, where there was no increase in the number of people attacked but a large increase in the coverage given to those attacks?

I would like to know the truth, but there is barely a pretense that this is about anything other than labeling President Trump, and by association anyone who supports him, as racist and anti-Semitic. Quite frankly, I treat anything I hear on TV or read in most popular publications the way I imagine that Russians treated Pravda. If I sift through the propaganda and lies I might get an inkling of what’s going on, but I am being given thought-direction rather than unbiased information.

What I am being told is so different from the world in which I live. My world is a world of lots of those who would be (by those knowing nothing of their individual stories) labeled as privileged white men. I see their friends, co-workers and fellow church-goers and pastors whose skins are black, brown and yellow and about half of whom are female. It is a world where every Christian high school student I know reads The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, who is presented to these students as a role model.  Corrie ten Boom’s father and sister lost their lives to the Nazis while she, herself, was incarcerated in a concentration camp. Her Christian faith motivated her and her relatives to voluntarily put themselves in danger to save Jews under Nazi domination.

In my world, there is a movement known as the “Walk-away movement” filled with accounts of former Democrats who became sickened by the increasing hate within the Democrat Party. Their liberal leanings made them rebel against the assault on free speech, attack on the presumption of innocence and other ideas that used to be venerated within that party. Some recoiled at the growing racism and anti-Semitism of this political group that they used to respect. They question why we are once again counting how many drops of blood people have inherited from diverse ancestors. Many tell tales of being ostracized by former friends for having an opinion that goes against their previous conformity.  If you haven’t heard of this campaign, or the peaceful march they recently held in Washington, D.C., it is because it is, for political rather than factual reasons, deemed not to be newsworthy, much like the Gosnell movie I wrote about a few weeks ago. While on many issues my value system and many of these individual’s value system differ, we share in common a desire to treat others with respect and humanity as well as an appreciation of America. 

The many Christians I know, the diverse membership of the Walk-away Movement, and the courtesy and kindness I see in the supermarket and on airplanes show me a very different America from the one being highlighted in our universities and in the media. All these things are cause for optimism. What I don’t know is how to share my world with those who truly mean well, are kind and loving people, but who exist in their own bubble, thinking that they are informed while they are actually being deliberately misled.

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Before Thanksgiving

My trusty computer didn’t come up with an answer when I asked it who H.W. Westermayer was. Perhaps someone reading this knows. I do know that when I read this quote of his, it resonated with me.

“The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts… nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”

I have often wondered at the celebrations on V-E Day when the Allies accepted Germany’s surrender or the song the Israelites sang at the Red Sea. In both cases, immense suffering led up to the day of victory and there were still bloody battles ahead.

The triumph at hand did not bring back anyone who had been killed or restore the health of the wounded. It didn’t fill the holes in people’s hearts and more sorrow was imminent.

Yet, like the Pilgrims, the people of those generations expressed words and feelings of gratitude to God.  What is it about human nature that responds to ease and comfort with ingratitude, yet recognizes the need for thanks after passing through tough times? Each year, Thanksgiving gets erased a little more with revisionist history changing the meaning of the day and dreams of scoring low prices on wanted items pushing to the front of our consciousnesses. Let’s take a moment to picture those graves and the courage of those who came searching for a better life and willing to pay a dear, and often final,  price to acquire it.

 

My girlfriend’s earning potential is greater than mine.

I have listened to a few of your podcasts that talk about the perils of income disparity between spouses, where the wife earns more than the husband. I’m a guy, and frankly the topic terrifies me because I’d rather drive nails through my feet than face the prospect of divorce because of this kind of thing. 

I’m dating someone who does not earn more than me but she has high potential to do so later.Am I heading for disaster?

Justin

Dear Justin,

I (RDL) often speak about the connection between money and marriage on my podcast and I (Susan) frequently cover variations on the same theme in my Musings. In this forum you get the two of us together! 

A few years ago, we did a multi-day conference in Dallas on the topic and we are working on a book as well. Some of what we write below comes out of that manuscript. So, you have touched a hot-button subject for us and one in which, not surprisingly, much of what we have to say contradicts popular culture.

One of the sentences in your letter concerns us.  We hope we’re wrong but you sound passively resigned to being terrified.  Why isn’t that fear fueling your financial climb to a new level at which that fear would evaporate?  Part of being a male is developing and feeling ambition.

Here is the bottom line: There is no question that both men and women can provide financially for their families. However, doing so fills a spiritual need in a man that it doesn’t for a woman. In addition, failing to provide financially erodes the essence of masculinity for most men but it leaves the core of a woman’s identity intact.

When a man loses his job or cannot obtain one, it strikes a blow at the heart of his masculinity.  For this reason his body often reacts with sexual impotence.  This problem, with its capacity to damage the marriage, can intensify, rather than diminish, if his wife capably and expansively assumes the burden of supporting the family.

Your question relates to this concept. We wouldn’t phrase it as “heading for disaster,” but we do think that you are wise to think about this now.

Here are some of the questions we feel you ought to both be examining now.  Is your girlfriend’s work a ‘calling,’ or a job? Is she doing something that she feels defines her identity, or she is simply good at what she does?  Do you ever get the feeling that her job is the priority in her life?  If one of you was offered a career opportunity that required moving, meaning the other spouse would need to leave his or her current position, would your decision be based solely on who earns more? Do either or both of you see a commuter marriage where you only live together a few days a month as a viable option? What would inform that decision? Do you both mean the same thing when you use the words “marriage” and “family”?

When you and your girlfriend talk about raising a family, who do you see having primary responsibility for caring for children? Do you both understand why 50/50 is an unrealistic answer?

Additionally we think that there are some really important questions for you to ask yourself. Why are you, at what we presume is a relatively young age, deciding that your own earning potential is so limited? Are you willing to do whatever is necessary to carry the primary burden of providing for a wife and family or are you counting on your wife to share that burden equally? If you were married and your wife decided, after the arrival of her first baby, that she wanted to be a stay-at-home mother and wife, would that delight you or terrify you? Have you expressed your preference to her in this area?

If you have listened to our audio program, Madam, I’m Adam, you know that ancient Jewish wisdom places primary responsibility for marriage failure on the husband. Earning more than your wife doesn’t guarantee a successful marriage even though the opposite scenario is likely to pose problems. We encourage you to seek role models of enduring good marriages and openly ask for guidance from the husbands. Awareness of divorce is necessary in the world today, but if fear of divorce plays an outsized part in your thinking, we suggest that perhaps you need to develop your thinking and feelings before making a commitment to marriage.

Humming, “Here Comes the Groom,”

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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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.

We find direction for all these areas in ancient Jewish wisdom. Susan and I love hosting our daily TV show on the TCT network. We have the time to delve into these topics – we hope with humor and insight.  Now that the weather is turning cold we invite you to sit back and share 12 of our favorite episodes with our Ancient Jewish Wisdom DVD Set, on sale right now.

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