Posts tagged " |Exodus| "

Truth and Lies

May 10th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 1 comment

What parent, at one time or another, hasn’t wished for an absolutely reliable, invisible lie-detector? What business professional interviewing a potential hire hasn’t wished for exactly the same thing? Now I know what you’re thinking. ‘Invisible’ is impossible. True, but so is ‘absolutely reliable lie-detector,’ so I saw no harm in adding ‘invisible’ to the wish list.

It is true that stress can cause various physiological responses like elevated blood pressure and sweating. It is also true that these can be measured by a polygraph but for good reason, most legal jurisdictions allow polygraph results only for investigatory purposes, not for gaining a conviction. Factors other than lying can cause the same physiological responses and too many people can lie without presenting these physical reactions. (more…)

I did not grow up poor

March 10th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 2 comments

Have you noticed how fashionable it is among politicians to proclaim the poverty of their childhoods? I was brought up in a two room house on the wrong side of town. I grew up in a one room house outside of town. Well, my family lived in a tiny log cabin near the forest. So what! Me and my brothers and sisters all lived in a tent eating berries we picked in the forest. And so on… If you believe them, you’re more gullible than they are duplicitous.

Well, I enjoyed a more than comfortable middle class childhood, thank you very much. And that was a good thing not only for me as a child, but also for me as an adult. I know how wealth is created by strong marriages and strong values. (more…)

Tis the Season for Much Folly

February 8th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Arrgghhh!

Months and months of political advertising still ahead.

It’s bad enough that the fate of a once-great nation should be determined by how much money politicians spend on television advertising. It’s even worse when one torments oneself masochistically by actually watching some of the ads.  How sad to suspect that some of our fellow citizens are swayed by sanctimonious sycophants spouting such self-serving drivel. (more…)

Make Meetings Matter

January 16th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

In early January we tend to focus on the future. Yet, while New Year’s resolutions are not about reexamining last year’s failures, it is important to remember that there is no moving forward if we fail to integrate our past realities with our future plans. Our past realities shouldn’t haunt us and hinder us. But we do well to recognize them, adjust for them where necessary and reject the notion that they have the power to keep us anchored in an unchangeable present.

What is one of the most powerful tools for moving forward? Make meetings matter. (more…)

Get A Head

November 17th, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

You know those Rube Goldberg complicated contraptions that employ a long chain of mechanical levers and other devices to do something mundane like striking a match? We love watching them, partially I think because so much in life tends to camouflage cause and effect. When we watch a three minute process of rolling balls, falling weights, revolving wheels and tumbling dominos, it’s not only fun but also a little bit reassuring. Hey, the world does make sense.

Well, on a far larger scale and in far more meaningful ways, the world does make sense. However, it is very worthwhile knowing and following the principles even before we understand the chain of cause and effect that explains the benefit. (more…)

Success You Can Smell

March 13th, 2012 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

I really hope that my children think of their childhood with the same sweet nostalgia that I do. Whenever the Lapin family embarked upon a trip, it was usually with at least fifteen suitcases, all of which needed to be loaded into our van. Though I could have done it myself quite quickly, we patiently waited while our young son laboriously loaded every piece of luggage, many of which were larger than he was.

My wife always shared the preparations for the Sabbath with our daughters, assigning some children to set the table while others cleaned the house until it shone. Planning menus and cooking were group efforts as well. Especially when the kids were very young, she could have prepared the house and meals for our family and our guests far more quickly herself.

By contrast, researchers recognize that generally, American children ignore or resist appeals to help. According to a recent UCLA study, compared to other countries and cultures, and even more importantly, compared to how we Americans used to raise children, parents today are focused on what they can do for their children and don’t think about what their children can do for them.

Were my wife and I taking unseemly advantage of free labor or doing our children a favor? Let’s look at a precedent from God.

From the moment they left Egypt the Israelites grumbled about almost everything.

…Why did you bring us out of Egypt

(Exodus 14:11-12)

The people complained against Moses saying what shall we drink?

(Exodus 15:24)

…the Children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron…

(Exodus 16:2)

The people argued with Moses…give us water

(Exodus 17:2)

They gathered against Aaron…make us a god..we don’t know where Moses is

(Exodus 32:1)

Eventually God told every person to bring of his possessions and get to work building the Tabernacle. This construction project and the service therein occupied the Israelites for many years and the complaining just about ceased.

After nightfall on Saturdays my family gathers for Havdalah. With this service we bid Shabbat farewell for another week and prepare ourselves for six days of productive endeavor. During the brief ceremony, we celebrate our sense of smell enjoying the fragrance of some spices, often cloves and cinnamon.

When a festival terminates, we also conduct a Havdalah ceremony but without any blessing on smelling the spices. Why the difference?

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that, amazingly, in our world, the actions of humans leave a longer-lasting impression than God’s actions. For instance, Mt. Sinai (where God acted) is largely unknown, whereas Mt. Moriah (where Abraham, Isaac, David, and Solomon acted) is still visited by pilgrims after 3,000 years. Ancient Jewish wisdom further explains that smell is the sense that most strongly links to our memories. I am sure you can think of smells that immediately transport you to images of your childhood.

Sabbath was scheduled every seven days by God but we Jews were commanded to set the dates of the festivals by our own calculation. Linking the Sabbath to a smell prolongs the sensation of that day. Since festivals have a human component, no fragrances are necessary for them to cling to us even after they are over.

We are more lastingly impacted by the things we do for God like building a Tabernacle than by the many things He does for us. The children of Israel appreciated God more, not less, by giving of themselves for His structure. Likewise, our children are more lastingly impacted when they participate in family life, rather than just being recipients of parents’ beneficence.

You can use this information to change important things in your own life. The problem is, you feel shackled to the status quo. It’s like an invisible force imprisons you, yet you yearn to escape. Passively waiting for God – or other people – to solve our problems isn’t the best way to activate change. There is a God-given solution in my audio CD Let Me Go: How to Overcome Life’s Challenges and Escape Your Own Egypt. We’re discounting it online this week so that it is easily accessible to help you change your life. I’d like you to take advantage of this offer now!

Actions for All

January 26th, 2011 Posted by Thought Tools 3 comments

One of the families in the congregation I was privileged to serve had four children. Three followed in the ways of their parents while the fourth, a teenage son, did not. Although he was not behaving in a hostile manner, he declared himself an atheist and didn’t want the family imposing its values upon him.

He absented himself from family Sabbath meals, watching television in his room. He politely insisted that he had a brain to think out his own approach to life.

They consulted me. I advised them to spend two weeks agreeing with him that he alone could think through his own life philosophy. What is more, they were to acknowledge his right to his personal beliefs.

Once their son knew they respected his independent thinking, they should explain that there is a gigantic gulf between beliefs and actions. His beliefs were his, but while he lived under their roof, they would exert influence over his actions.

Needless to say, actions included speech. My congregants were concerned about their son influencing his siblings.

“But surely I have freedom of speech?” asked their son. “Constitutionally, yes”, they answered. But while they were thrilled to have him stay part of a united family, that meant voluntarily acquiescing to restraining his speech. Just as freedom of speech doesn’t translate into a right to a radio or TV forum, it also doesn’t include the right to say anything one wants in all settings.

Shortly afterwards, my congregants reported back to me that their son listened to their argument and accepted it. This brought welcome tranquility to their formerly troubled family.

These parents had often heard me say that the best way of gaining understanding into how the world really works was through the secrets of ancient Jewish wisdom. They wanted to know where in Scripture this permanent principle appeared.
When Moses presented the Israelites with the God-centric worldview of Sinai, they responded enthusiastically on three separate occasions. The first two times, they responded ‘together’ or in ‘one voice’.

1: And all the nation responded together and they said, ‘All that God has spoken we will do’…

(Exodus 19:8)

2: And Moses came and told the nation all of God’s words and all the rules, and the entire nation answered in one voice, and they said, ‘All the words that God has spoken we will do.’

(Exodus 24:3)

Both these times focused on actions; doing. However, #3 is different.

3: And he (Moses) took the Book of the Covenant and read it into the ears of the nation, and they said, ‘All that God has spoken, we will do and we will hear.’

(Exodus 24:7)

This time, in addition to action there was an element of hearing. Hearing implies internal understanding. In terms of our personal relationship with God, we each appreciate Him in our own way. For this reason, the verse does not mention that they responded in one voice.

All Israelites heard the words and understood the covenant in individual ways but they all agreed to a group code of conduct. In Hebrew that code is called HaLaCHaH.

People with different beliefs can live together in harmony as long as they agree on standards of behavior. That is a central theme in the Constitution of the United States of America. That is also how successful corporations and other organizations operate. Common belief within a group is wonderful and converts it into a crucible of creativity, but it is not essential. What is critical is a common code of conduct.

Parents can’t impose God on their children. They can serve as models and create an appealing environment in which faith can flourish. But like the children of Israel, each individual must forge his or her own faith relationship. However, demanding certain actions is necessary for both families and businesses to remain cohesive.

This principle is one of those used by my colleague, Noah Alper, in creating a successful business. As his faith grew, in a departure from his family’s atheism, his actions, both personal and in business, changed. He chronicles this journey providing applicable business lessons for all, in his book Business Mensch, which we are delighted to make available to you.

Wind in Your Sails

January 1st, 2011 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

There are many life-metaphors to be found in the wonderful world of boats. Boats and people both embark on journeys and both can reach their destinations or sink.

When a boat is in the doldrums it is in that notorious windless zone near the equator. Old-time sailing vessels were often stuck there for weeks. When a person is listless and despondent, he is also said to be in the doldrums. But there is one major difference. While sailboats must await changing weather, humans have the miraculous capacity to bring about change in their lives themselves.
Being marooned in stagnant circumstances is enough to make anyone miserable. Change, growth, and progress are amazingly effective antidotes to depression. This is why New Year’s resolutions are such a good idea. Most of us feel energized and optimistic when taking actions to improve our lives and the changing calendar serves as a useful catalyst. But wait! What’s the point? We all know that most New Year resolutions fade away by spring.

One way to retain resolutions is to feel authentic, durable excitement in our souls about the spiritual magic of change.

See how God introduced Himself to humanity on Sinai 3,323 years ago.

I am the Lord your God who…
(Exodus 20:2)

Who did what?

Well, think of how 1980 presidential candidate Reagan might have introduced himself to voters. Depending on the crowd he could have said, “Hi, I’m Ronald Reagan; I used to be head of the Screen Actors Guild.” Or he could have said, Hi, I’m Ronald Reagan; I used to be governor of California.”
Similarly, God could have said, “I’m the Lord your God who created heaven and earth,” rather than what He did say which was:
I am the Lord your God who took you out of the Land of Egypt…
(Exodus 20:2)

God considered it more important to introduce Himself and His Commandments as God who took the Israelites out of Egypt rather than as God who created heaven and earth. Why?
Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that the purpose of the Ten Commandments is not to tell us history but to provide us with tools for life. These statements will help transform Israelite slaves into God-centric, independent people. Remember that until relatively recently once a slave meant always a slave. For transformation to happen, the children of Israel needed to truly know that it was indeed POSSIBLE for change to occur.

Today, we may not be physically enslaved, but we can enslave ourselves by not knowing, deep inside of us, that we are capable of change. Making positive changes in our lives is terribly difficult. Most of us find it almost impossible to overcome our own inertia and rather than undertake the massive effort necessary today, we simply condemn tomorrow to be a repeat of yesterday. Really internalizing the power of change can propel us to better times.

We’re all stuck in our own particular Egypt, whatever it is. While we need to change behavior, we first need to change our image of ourselves. God’s opening statement assures us that if the Israelites could escape Egypt then each one of us can also escape our own Egypt. A New Year resolution is a good way to start. Here are three tips to increase the probability of making the change permanent.

  • A. Make the first resolution reasonable. You can always upgrade later which will make you feel much better than downgrading. (The total transformation of a nation took 40 years. An individual won’t need that long for most changes, but don’t expect instant success either.)
  • B. At the outset, prepare a strategy to get you back onto your resolution’s plan after an unintended setback. (Atonement and forgiveness often occurred during the desert trip)
  • C. Break your resolution into defined and manageable parts. (There were numerous way stations on the path from Egypt to Israel)

The Biblical Exodus equips us with tools for personal change. I encourage you to get out of your own doldrums with the help of three additional strategies which I teach in my audio CD, Let Me Go: How to Overcome Life’s Challenges and Escape Your Own Egypt. Wishing you a growth-filled 2011.

Sign up to receive our AAJC newsletter and our free weekly teachings!

Sign Up Now!

Follow AAJC on its new Facebook Page!
X