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.


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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