Posts tagged " current events "

How do you keep current events from getting you down?

October 7th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 18 comments

Hello Rabbi Lapin and Susan,

I am generally an optimistic person, and the Jewish faith we share teaches us to be optimistic, even in difficult times. However, I am finding it increasingly difficult to feel optimistic about our country’s future, given the vitriolic, hateful language and actions employed on a daily basis against President Trump and conservative values in general.

This, combined with the lightning speed with which the PC forces are seeming to “have their way,” forcing us into either silence or acquiescence with things we are against morally and ethically, has given me the blues.

Do you see hopeful signs, and if so, where? Thank you.

Your friend and student,

Judy G.

Dear Judy,

We think you are speaking for many when you say that there are times that you find it hard to be optimistic about the future of the United States. As you also say, Judaism fundamentally teaches optimism, but it is not a “sit back and do nothing” optimism. The Torah demands action aimed at propelling things in the right direction.

If we may say, your own story, which you tell so eloquently (and humorously) in you wonderful book, The Skeptic and the Rabbi, is a large part of our answer. Could you ever have imagined writing the letter you just wrote us back when you were a devotedly liberal woman? People and their ideas are capable of change. 

Much of the reason you were liberal was because of a caring nature and because of your belief in core values, among them independent thinking, intellectual exploration and compassion. Back then you thought that those values belonged to the Left.  Today, however, it is clear that genuine liberalism is scorned by leaders of the  Democrat Party, colleges and media.

That very same media drives a great deal of the pessimism to which we  too easily succumb. They do not cover stories of Americans, young, old, male, female and of all religions and races who are horrified by the vituperation, hatred and lock-step thinking you describe. Many of them have a voter registration card with a “D” on it, but they are paying attention. It is incumbent on each of us to keep making connections and forming relationships, not in order to convert others to our politics, but to defy the fracturing of society that the extreme Left is promoting.

America has a tradition of religious Great Awakenings. The first played a pivotal role in the break from England while a later one was critical in leading up to the moral battle of the Civil War. We anticipate and pray for America’s third great religious awakening.  We do believe that returning to God must be part of any path to survival, and in America’s case that means a revitalized Christianity. And it is important to note that today, unlike in medieval times, a revitalized American Christianity is crucial for Jewish welfare. The threat against Jews today is not fervent, philo-Semitic, Israel-loving Christians, but America’s sinister slide into socialism advocated by the extreme Left.

Central to socialists in the Democratic Party is the idea of carving out special zones of immunity from the law and from Judeo-Christian values for selected groups. The resulting chaos of group violence, public filth and depravity and continued family breakdown imperils the survival of Jews and all other law-abiding Americans.  We are certain that only the revitalized faith of fervent Bible-believing Christians and Jews can slow down and stop this terrifying juggernaut of destructive secular socialism tearing down upon us.

This won’t be easy but a cornerstone of faith is the courage to stand up for what is right despite threats and bullying. We know that you and your family do exactly that and we believe that if enough of us do so, this nation will turn back to its founding promise. The American Alliance of Jews and Christians which we are privileged to serve, was founded to allow Jews and Christians to bravely work together to support those values on which this country was built.

Forming friendships and alliances with likeminded people is something important that each of us can do.  The Left focuses on fracturing a people into many separate groups in order to require ever larger central government and to ease its trajectory into tyranny.  Thus our antidote must surely be building community and connection.  Your uplifting book is helping to do that and we through our AAJC are dedicated to doing the same. 

The very ‘lightning speed,’ lack of tolerance and lack of restraint of the Left today, may well be the trigger that wakes enough up in order to start the process of restoring sanity. Like the proverbial frog who will allow itself to be boiled to death if the heat under the pot in which he sits is gradually raised while he will jump to safety if a blast of heat is applied, we have faith in American’s “jumping out” of the road to destruction as long as Americans are aware of it and courageous enough to stand for the truth.

Wishing you, your family, America and the world a blessed 5780,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Who Cares about North Korea?

November 30th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings 4 comments

I have no opinion about North Korea’s aggressive actions. Ditto for the Wikileaks’ scandal.  My lack of engagement is not because either of these is unimportant, but rather because they don’t rank as urgent in my daily life.

 If I don’t pick up my new granddaughter when she cries, I get immediate and loud feedback that I am neglecting a vital job. If I don’t take care of the countless details involved in posting our new audio CD (Prosperity Power) on our store site, it will clearly affect my husband and my endeavors. My husband, other children and grandchildren, friends, as well as routine items like laundry give me vocal, olfactory or visual proof of neglect if I ignore them for too long. In contrast, if I don’t take the time to read, analyze and react to national or international events I can pretend that there are no consequences.

I have, at times, been immensely frustrated when coming across people who disengage from politics. They don’t vote or even worse they vote casually, trusting a comedy show or a YouTube video to shape their views. They shrug their shoulders and their eyes glaze over if you raise a topic such as Iran’s nuclear capabilities or tax policy.

I have – temporarily at least – become one of them. This has brought me face to face with one of the unintended and unfortunate consequences of our 24/7 world. Especially if you are going through life without a partner or are in a marriage where both spouses are juggling a home life along with an external career life, how in the world are you supposed to find the time to for responsible citizenship? Even that phrase sounds archaic now.

The excitement on the left about Barack Obama’s candidacy a few years back and the recent excitement on the right about the Tea Party were anomalies. When people get very upset they get involved. For a short window of time people become aware that politics has a real and crucial effect on their lives. However, unless a crisis such as a war or financial emergency results, intense feelings quickly subside. Even the opening of a local restaurant or the release of a new movie seems more pressing, let alone the numerous responsibilities inherent in managing a successful life.

I am immensely grateful for my time with our children and grandchildren. I am enormously grateful for the exciting things happening in our work as well. It is easy to believe that I cannot affect world or national affairs. And that may be largely true. But it is equally true that enough “me’s” adding responsible citizenship to our daily task list can actually change the course of history.

There’s a Skunk in the Cinnamon

January 13th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet

For years realtors have seduced prospective home buyers by warming a foil packet with cinnamon and brown sugar in the oven. Restaurant owners know that certain colors stimulate appetite and mall owners are aware that picking the right music to play in the background can encourage sales.

 

But, of course, in the end whatever defects the house has are still there, the food presented still needs to be tasty and the goods offered in stores need to be attractive and well priced. If the smell, sight and atmosphere of a place enhance a good experience they are a bonus; if they are meant as smoke and mirrors to hoodwink naïve individuals and cover up flaws they are unethical.

 

When it comes to public safety, these types of shenanigans are dangerous. How many people are shocked, just shocked, that while law-abiding passengers dutifully tossed out their water bottles and hand creams before boarding a plane this past Saturday, a terrorist ignored the rules? Probably the same people who believe that not letting passengers out of their seats for the last hour of a flight will really solve the problem.

 

But, like you, I lead a busy life. There is family to take care of, a back-log of work which requires attention and bills that need to be paid. We have, over the past few weeks, received greetings from friends updating us on their families’ growth and activities. We had a chance to see much of our own family. Had we been able to master the time/space/money continuum we could have attended the wedding of three friends’ children last week. There are many blessings for which to be grateful.

 

If I truly focus on the massive terrorist network out there or the health bill that was rammed through the Senate, or the arrogance, incompetence and corruption of those in office in this country and around the world, I would have to turn my life upside down and react. I don’t even know what form that would need to take, as I see no wise leadership on any horizon.

 

I feel like a mother in 1862, busily canning fruit and making sure that her sixteen-year-old son wears a sweater when he’s outside. Those are her immediate concerns; what can she do about the threats looming on the horizon? It is far easier to smell the cinnamon sugar, while enjoying the décor and music.

 

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