Markets and Minarets

You’ve seen the photographs of Moslem mobs surging through the streets in Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan, and India with blood pouring down their faces. They lacerate their scalps with razors, knives, machetes, or zanjeers (five sharp double-edged blades connected to a wooden handle by steel chain). This painful self-mutilation is dedicated to the Muslim holiday of Ashura.

I can’t imagine that scene of frenzied fanatics with blood streaming down their faces occurring in the synagogue I spoke at in Baltimore yesterday or in the church I recently addressed in Dallas. It is surely no coincidence that we don’t find these scenes occurring in Judaism or Christianity but we somehow accept them as part of Moslem culture.

When a group of people, a business, a tribe, a family or a nation is hyper-aware of a momentous action performed by a founder many years earlier, it impacts the present. For instance, we remember America’s Founders, their sacrifices and their deepest beliefs. Many of us vote the way we do over taxation, the role of faith, and foreign wars because of our understanding of how our forefathers lived and died in the early years on this continent.

In exactly the same way Christians conduct their lives in ways tremendously influenced by the powerful actions of Jesus and Jews conduct their lives in ways tremendously influenced by the powerful actions of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Why should it puzzle us that Moslems conduct their lives in ways influenced by the powerful actions of one of their forebears, Abraham’s son Yishmael? Ancient Jewish wisdom informs us that Yishmael proudly boasted to Isaac of enduring self-inflicted pain during his auto-circumcision. Why should it surprise us that his spiritual descendants are equally proud of their ability to endure self-inflicted pain?

The buildings a culture constructs are not random. We can still spot architectural representation of that Islamic pride in their founder’s self-circumcision in that ultimate phallic symbol, the minaret.

There is nothing reprehensible about this. Every minaret on the Islamic skyline is nothing other than a culture manifesting one of its earliest defining moments, Yishmael’s circumcision, and enlarging it into a monument for its own sense of place and home.

Regardless of what you may think of Islam and some of its customs, there is no denying that this level of dedication delivers considerable power to its practitioners. Similarly, Christians and Jews can passionately power their lives with deep commitment to their respective histories. Fortunately, the God of Abraham instructs us for lives of joy and life rather than pain and death.

For instance, ancient Jewish wisdom’s emphasis upon the vast wealth of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob can help us all generate increased income in our business enterprises.
Take a careful look at this verse:

He who works his land will have enough bread…
(Proverbs 12:11)

You need three snippets of ancient Jewish wisdom for Solomon’s insight to penetrate your heart and transform your wealth-creating abilities.

1: “Bread” means money just as it does in colloquial slang as in
“Got any bread on you?” or “Can you lend me some dough?”

2: “his land” means his occupation; how he earns money by helping other human beings.

3: The underlined phrase, “He who works” translates the Hebrew word OVeD. However, translation deprives us of an equally valid and important secondary pronunciation of that same word—EVeD which means “He who is a slave” (to his land).

We can now understand the meaning of Solomon’s advice. Don’t just work, but choose to commit to work as completely as a slave is forced to commit to his toil. Our required devotion to our faith, our families and even to our political freedoms is obvious, but Solomon’s advice stresses that work also needs total dedication. Don’t just work but passionately throw yourself into your labors, just as the Hebrew founding fathers did.

I appreciate all of your comments on my TV and radio appearances on Glenn Beck’s show this week. Because our store was closed for two days, we are extending the sale on Clash of Destiny through the weekend. We need great wisdom to direct our future and understanding the roots of the conflict is an essential starting place.

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