Stop Lumping Us All Together

Exactly 60 days before America’s historic presidential election of November 8th, 2016, while speaking to a group of supporters in New York City, Hillary Clinton made the following declaration: “…you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?”  Candidate Clinton was still at the podium when one of her closest advisors on the campaign texted a friend saying, “With that statement Hillary just lost the race!”  He was right.

How could a smart and ambitious woman say such a stupid thing?  True, she had abandoned the TelePrompter, gone off script and was speaking from her heart.  But still, it was political suicide.

Why did she say it?  Because the temptation to lump many into one is all but irresistible.  How often do you hear politicians bolstering their own positions by saying, “The American people…”  Nice sentiment, but there has never been one American people and there certainly isn’t one now.

One often hears the phrase, “the Black community”   There is no such thing.  There could hardly be a greater gulf than that between Al Sharpton and the late, great Pastor Ken Hutcherson who was an NFL linebacker before he began pastoring the successful Antioch Bible Church in Puget Sound.  There’s nothing those two would have agreed upon other than perhaps that both their skins were black.

And for a real laugh, listen to people referring to “the Jewish community.”  The only thing  that all of America’s 4 million Jews would agree upon is that Hitler was a very bad man.  Yet most of us find ourselves saying things that lump the many into the one.

Why do all my children always pick a busy morning to act up?  All the available men out there are emotionally needy adolescents.  None of my employees appreciate how much I do for them. 

This is not to say that generalities have no value.  Of course, there is some truth to generalities.  In general, teenage boys drive more recklessly than teenage girls.  In general, customers in that zip code look more to quality than price.  By using the phrase “in general” we acknowledge that not everyone is included.

Why do we feel drawn to lumping the many into the one?

Reason 1:  It is emotionally satisfying to strip the individuality of those annoying us and see them all as sharing one common negative trait.  Those Moslems are all the same.  All TSA agents are recruited from a special pool of the dimwitted.

Reason 2:  We are subconsciously enchanted by the unity of monotheism.  Everything is created by and controlled by one God.  I may not fully understand that, but I believe it and love living in a world explained by that simple reality.  One is appealing.

Just think which of these feature articles you’d be most likely to read.  (a) The Number One Reason Women Wear Makeup.  (b)  Twelve Reasons Women Wear Makeup.  (a) Seven Really Fast Cars Below $70,000.  (b) The Fastest Car You Can Buy for Under $70,000.

When he died, Albert Einstein was trying to discover what he called The Unified Field Theory.  We already had four perfectly solid theories that explained the behavior of different forces like gravity, magnetism, and nuclear.  But Einstein wanted one simple theory that did it all.  Lumping the many into the one is nothing more than asserting a unified field theory for the many different things or people on our minds.

Lumping the many into the one misleads us.  Often in casual conversation, the damage is minor and short-lived.  However, when we start habitually thinking in terms of lumping the many into the one it accustoms us to an incorrect way of judging reality.  We lose our ability to observe subtle distinctions.

Consider the first chapter of the Bible.  Quick now…what did God create on Day One?  That’s right, heaven, earth, and light.  Day Three? Dry land and vegetation. Day Four? Sun, moon and stars.  Day Five? Sea life and birds.  Day Six?  Animals and humans.  That’s basically the story of Creation.  But wait!  I left out Day Two.

What did God create on Day Two?

And God said let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters and let it divide water from water.
(Genesis 1:6)

Do you know what a firmament is?  The only definition I can confidently share with you is that firmament is the word the translators of the King James Bible in the 17th century came up with for the Hebrew word RaKiaH.

And God made the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament, and it was so.
(Genesis 1:7)

Back to my question, what did God create on Day Two?  Apparently some inexplicable and unnamed thing that divides between one set of waters and another.  Distinguishing between two or more humans is usually quite easy.  One should easily be able to avoid the temptation of saying, “All my customers try to irritate me.”  Distinguishing between different makes of cars is quite simple.  But the one thing that is hard to distinguish is one cup of water from another.  Or for that matter, can one really tell the difference between water from one ocean and water from another? Where do the waters of the Indian and the Atlantic oceans really meet?  Cape Town’s tourist bureau insists that this occurs right in the shadow of Table Mountain, but the truth is that nobody can know.  It’s impossible to separate one water from another.  Yet that is exactly what God does on Day Two.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that on Day Two God created distinction and separation. Day Two is the only one of the six days on which we don’t hear God saying, “it was good.”  Separation, distinction, and division are absolutely necessary, but they have the potential to drive humans apart and we must know how ‘not good’ that can be. Our challenge is to make distinctions while respecting each other.

At the moment, our society feels an almost irresistible temptation to lump the two genders into one group of humans utterly indistinguishable from one another by any fixed sexual reality.  The sixth and seventh verses of the first chapter in Genesis teach the importance of making distinctions, appreciating those distinctions and recognizing their value.

The magical but highly improbable living arrangement we call ‘marriage’ functions precisely because it is between two different kinds of humans, men and women.

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32 thoughts on “Stop Lumping Us All Together”

  1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

    Fascinating question, Capt. Timothy–
    He never wrote at all! And what is more, neither did his teacher. I never fully understood it until shortly before he returned home to our Father in heaven, he very firmly directed me to write a book. The result, published after his passing was America’s Real War…my first book and a big best seller.
    The trail of wisdom he left was not on paper but in many human hearts, including fortunately, mine.

  2. I’m curious,,, your father was certainly a brilliant man. Did he write any books, leave a paper trail of wisdom behind.
    Your FATHER in heaven gave you many gifts, thanks for sharing.

  3. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

    Dear Marilyn–
    I am so exhilarated to hear what a great value our Thought Tool brings into your life. For you to feel this way means that you are a very special person. Many can read a Thought Tool and feel very little response–many can read great poetry and feel nothing, why there are even people who are not moved upon reading Psalms. Thanks for letting us know

  4. Rabbi Lapin
    After reading a Thought Tool l am always struck by how much my ways are not God’s ways and how so very intricate His design is for this planet. It is quite breathtaking.
    Best regards.

  5. Hello !
    In the Catholic English version God says _Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters to divide the waters, and God made the firmament , dividing the waters that were below the firmament from those that were above it. And God called the firmament Heavens_
    Now is the Biblia de Jerusalem, Spanish version, interestingly, it says the same but the world heavens is translate as sky, so we interpretive in some countries that when God divided the waters with the firmament what occurred below was the oceans and what it occurred above was the sky that also is made of water in some proportion (clouds and rains).
    Now, English version, third day_Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place and let the dry land appear_
    Very interesting I always give it for granted until you mentioned it. The Heaven is above us since the beginning! and its creation comes together with the creation of all. THe word Heaven has a new light to me, plus the Hebrew interpretation about this uncertainty that maybe is something as we say”lost in translation” but what it comes to me to correlate the two thoughts together it is “the uncertainty of Heaven, no because it doesn’t exist but because maybe it is not for everybody and of course that is the reason because He didn’t say _And this id good_. In our Bible it says_God saw that is was good_ but when He creates He is vocal, He says and things started to be created as the Word is the creator, that it is that we believe, that the Word was first.
    We have big discussions with my husband after any of your Thoughts or podcasts, books, audios, internet, etc. God bless you! and Thanks!

  6. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

    Dear Joy-
    how wonderful! It is not clear whether you’ve been before or whether this would be your first trip. Either way, you will have an unforgettable time with truly lasting positive spiritual repercussions. I hope you understand but the only tour we feel comfortable recommending is the one we shall be leading–which sadly is not yet scheduled.
    If you’ve been before, I’d recommend you consider going without a tour–just on your own. Seriously! If you enjoy talking to strangers and making friends, you’ll find Israel perfect. If this is your first trip, while I would definitely not rule out going alone for an adventuresome couple, you might prefer going along on a tour organized by like minded folks. There is one or another church or synagogue group constantly going and you might find spiritual congruence with quite a few. It can be fun discovering Israel in the company of new friends who share your world view. Should you decide to go it alone, we can recommend the tour guide that had added so much to our visits, Brian Denn whom we can connect you with. In any event, have a wonderful trip.

  7. Your forgetting Rabbi, there was once a canopy of water above the Earth, probably water. It enabled men to live a long time protected from harmful rays of the sun, it crashed down as rain during the flood of Noah’s time

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Not forgetting at all, Tim,
      thanks for writing but as we told Martin earlier it’s good to read Bible and good to form beliefs as you have done. As for us, we don’t seek to understand Biblical verses on the basis of our ideas, instincts, biases, or beliefs. No, we only understand it through the eyes of ancient Jewish wisdom. That’s our approach. It doesn’t invalidate your belief; it’s just what we bring to the table.
      Ancient Jewish wisdom says oceans were created on day 3.

      And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas, and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:10) Day three.

      Interestingly enough, some water in Noah’s time came from above and some from springs below:

      In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on this day, all the springs of the great deep were split, and the windows of the heavens opened up. (Genesis 7:11)


      1. Rabbi,
        My husband and I are considering a trip to Israel SOON. Can you please make a recommendation on
        an insightful tour?

  8. I believe the separation of waters, mentioned in the Genesis Creation (Day Two), is a reference to the creation of oceans. It supports the Expanding Earth Theory.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Martin–
      Thanks for reading the Thought Tool and for writing. It is good to read Bible and good to form beliefs as you have done. As for us, we don’t seek to understand Biblical verses on the basis of our ideas, instincts, biases, or beliefs. No, we only understand it through the eyes of ancient Jewish wisdom. That’s our approach. It doesn’t invalidate your belief; it’s just what we bring to the table.
      Ancient Jewish wisdom says oceans were created on day 3.

      And God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas, and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:10) Day three.

      Which leaves the question of what did He create on Day 2? Hence this Thought Tool.

      1. Now HOW am I going to sleep tonight? I never even noticed; I thought firmament meant earth, but then why is dry land on day 3?

        1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

          Dear Bruce,
          I am always astounded at anyone who can actually just go to bed and sleep like a baby in the face of shattering ideas and incandescent spiritual breakthroughs. So I am assuming you won’t be able to sleep and you’ll have a wonderful night of thought.
          Cordially (and good night)

  9. I am forever grateful for whatever inspiration and divine connection that led me to know you. I am a blessing for having the opportunity to read your contents and to listen to your voice of conscience. Once again am forever grateful to you.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Anafo Abotiyire Solomon–
      We really appreciate hearing from you. We are delighted that you were led to us. How did you find us I wonder?

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Sylvia–
      When I write, I am chiefly addressing me! I just let you eavesdrop! I see myself in almost every thing I write or say. When I hear that a reader or listener feels the same I am struck by a surge of satisfaction. Thank you

  10. Teacher as you certainly are aware, the progressive rabbis are very fond of lumping the US Jewish voice as theirs….especially so with respect to Israel where they are so driven to export progressive judaism and maintain its growth and influence.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Bob–
      One can but weep. A group of ‘rabbis’ recently paraded around Trump Tower in New York protesting the preservation of America’s borders. A very stupid and childish logic argues that since I am an immigrant, it is immoral for me to object to uncontrolled immigration. Utter unadulterated bilgewater.

  11. Good Morning Rabbi Lapin!

    In Manaus Brazil, the Amazon River and the Rio Negro run side by side but they do not mix, then they split off again. If you ever find yourself in that area, it is really surreal to see and feel the difference!

    Thanks for the insight!


    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Hi Jacob–
      Yes, I’d love to see that. The Amazon is lighter colored from the sand and sediment it picks up on its run to the ocean while the waters of the Rio Negro are dark colored from the vegetation it has absorbed. That along with temperature and density differences keeps the waters of the two rivers apart.
      Thanks for writing

  12. I love & appreciate the way you share your wisdom & knowledge! It is amazing the way that God’s way is nothing like man’s way. We categorize people by race, religion, etc., in God’s eye we are equal! Of course, as a Christian I believe we need to have Yeshusa as Lord & to repent of sin, but I do not judge, for He is God!

    God bless you and your wife in your Ministry, as you continue to share your wisdom & knowledge!

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thank you for writing Randa–
      We love hearing from you. Interesting point you make. Are we indeed all equal in God’s eyes? Would it make sense for Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s dictator to be the equal of Mother Theresa in heaven? In God’s eyes is Billy Graham really equal to Mohamed Atta, leader of the 9-11 attacks? No, certainly not. But this is a bigger topic .
      We happily receive your blessing,

  13. Dear Rabbi,
    Your message today hits home. I was just having a discussion with my son two days ago about this very subject. My son stated that a coworker stated that all white people are racist and bigoted. I told him that while I didn’t know his coworker, that I thought that his coworker didn’t understand what bigot really meant. I explained that when you take a group of humans and put them all in a box and put a label on them then you actually become the bigot. I also explained that each human is an individual that should be treated with respect. However, if that respect is not returned, then say a prayer for that individual and move on.

    Thank you for your lessons. I have never written you before but found the need to speak out on this one.
    Many Blessings,

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Ed–
      We’re so pleased that you broke through the barrier and wrote and we hope you’ll do so again.
      It sounds as if you might have got through to your son with a valuable lesson and true insight into what words mean.
      It would be rude at the least to say to an 18 year old male, “Hey, you’re a teenage boy so you’re a rotten driver!” But it would not be at all rude to institute a pricing policy in my auto insurance company that teenage boys pay more for insurance. There is no way I can ascertain the driving skills of every customer, so I will generalize and base my pricing on the statistics. The good teenage driver pays a bit more and the bad teenage driver actually gets coverage which wouldn’t be possible if we accepted or rejected each customer on the basis of his own driving patterns. This is not only not rude but it is correct and responsible behavior in terms of my responsibility to my share holders.

  14. Great information Rabbi. Thanks.

    A follow up question? Is God a ma or more accurately more like a man? Verse 26 in chapter 1 would indicate as much. However, I have heard “modern” Christians and even some Jewish people referring to God in a feminine pronoun I. E., “when God closes one door she opens another”. I find it offensive but their logic is that surely God encompasses both genders. Also, that since men ruled over the church and the iterations of the Bible they erroneously infused s exist where it didn’t actually exist. Interested to hear your thoughts nd what ancient Jewish wisdom says.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Gary–
      Thanks for writing; occasionally on my radio show I’d ask people to vote by calling in or emailing and let me know if they prefer working for a male boss or a female boss.
      You probably can guess the response. Predictably almost overwhelmingly men preferred working for a man rather than a woman. What is always fun (and good radio) is to discover again and again how the easy majority of women would rather work for a man than for a woman. Now this is not cheap thoughtless anti-womanism. On the contrary it is knowing how the world REALLY works! For all the well known reasons most men and women prefer not to report to a woman. What is interesting is that many women callers assured me that they do not want to be the boss or supervisor. (Needless to say, most men seek promotion)
      Continuing this line of reasoning, young male adolescents seem to be able to best learn discipline and good citizenship from a male (a father). With the best intentions in the world, it is extremely difficult for single moms to raise boy who will become good men.
      This is a short summary of much longer teachings I have on why though God has no gender, we humans all do better when we visualize God as male. And for that reason, in the Hebrew Scripture, which reveals gender of every verb, God is indeed presented in masculine terms. And for me personally, I do fear God but I would have trouble fearing a vision of an apron wearing lady or for that matter, a pant suited lady. (Come to think of it, I actually have recently feared a certain pant suited lady) Is this because I am sexist? No. That’s a stupid word for a stupid idea. Men and women are different. And men and women relate to men and women differently. Will this change over the next 300 years of human history? No.

  15. Great thought tool Rabbi! I love how Jewish wisdom has a way of taking verses I’ve read a 100 times or more and revealing something I never saw or thought of.
    I must ask one favor though. Could you include the Hebrew letters themselves as well as the English way of saying the Hebrew word?

    Your long time loyal friend, Eric.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Eric–
      We love hearing from long time loyal friends. In fact we’re just plain grateful to have long time loyal friends!
      Yes, indeed, how many times have we read those few verses comprising the 2nd day of creation without asking ourselves what on earth is a ”firmament” and what exactly was created on that day?
      Now to your request. It’s a good idea and if you look back through old Thought Tools we often printed the Hebrew characters we were discussing. In this case, RaKiaH, resh kuf ayin. We’ll try start including them again as you ask. After all, the most reliable way to probe the meaning of a word is to explore where else in Scripture is that word used and to do so effectively, one must search the Hebrew original.

  16. Lumping people together has been a problem for a long time. Thank God for the way you address this issue with bible passage. I always enjoy reading articles from your website and the emails you send daily.
    May God bless you and your organisation.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thank you Joseph–
      I always enjoy reading letters from readers or listeners who find value in our work of making ancient Jewish wisdom accessible to all.
      I gratefully receive your blessings.

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