Posts tagged " family "

Let’s Hear It for Gender Quotas

September 13th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 26 comments

California is moving towards requiring her publicly traded companies to enforce gender quotas on their boards. I am against quotas in general and find that, as with most social manipulation, the results are rarely those that are promised by their promoters. While I think there is every chance that this legislation will move forward, I worry that the biggest outcome will be more California businesses relocating to Texas. Unfortunately, the relocated management will then probably retain its destructive voting habits and continue to support the types of politicians and policies that made California uninhabitable. However, despite my usual wariness of quotas, and my concern that Elizabeth Warren is pushing for this on a national level, I am wondering whether my own family needs to use strong-arm techniques to get more equitable representation on our family What’s App chat. 

My mind is thinking back to an incident that occurred a few months ago. It was a regular work day. Actually, it was more pressured than usual given that a number of us had extra activities over the coming week. Yet, our family What’s App group was active, as it almost always is. Considering that there are many of us, including children who at that time lived in Israel and a son who frequently works the night shift, What’s App is a great way for my husband and me and all our children and their spouses to stay in touch. Some of us monitor it almost all the time while others resolutely only check in at day’s end.  The problem is that more than one son-in-law—and we know who you are—thinks that we are way too chatty. Showing a complete lack of appreciation for the fine wit and sophisticated banter on the group, a few of the boys have unsubscribed. With six sons-in-law and only one daughter-in-law, that makes our chat weigh heavily to the feminine.

There we were on that day, with more than enough on our plates, when one culprit posted a clever logic puzzle. By the time I saw it, there were thirteen—THIRTEEN!—replies parsing the problem and building on each other’s comments to move towards the solution. All the responses were from the male side of the family, although two females interjected comments along the lines of, “Doesn’t anyone other than me work?” and “You have way too much time on your hands.”

For a moment, I cheered the hardworking, distaff side. Then I realized that had a cute niece/nephew/grandchild video been posted, we would have been just as easily distracted. (Though experience has shown that the men would jump into that exchange as well.) A request for a recipe would get an equally strong feminine response no matter how busy a day the women in the family were having.

The strange thing is that many of the females in our family, including me, enjoy logic problems. We just don’t find them intriguing enough to distract us from priorities. We do them for relaxation, but have no problem putting them aside. For the men, it seems that not solving the problem was the equivalent of having one’s masculinity challenged. This wasn’t an amusing lark; it was a test of virility.

The logic puzzle was resolved and everyone went back to work. Yet, in the intervening months no more problems of that sort have been posted. Considering the male/female ratio of the participants in the chat, that isn’t surprising. Things would change if we could force more sons-in-law to be involved. So, I am keeping a close eye on California because nothing screams fairness and progress like coercion.

P.S. If you are in the DFW area, please join my husband Sunday morning at 11 a.m. at New Beginnings Church in Bedford, TX. (Services start at 10:30.)

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Is genealogical research a waste of time?

September 12th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 13 comments

Dear Rabbi & Mrs. Lapin,

Please let me first tell you that I have learned much from your writings. I appreciate your knowledge, willingness, and even courage to boldly share truth with those who have ears to hear.

My question:  Is it wise and worthwhile to spend time and money investigating one’s genealogy?  What do you think of the DNA tests to discover where your ancestors lived?

I was adopted and have discovered my biological family through DNA testing.  I am over 60. My bio and adoptive parents are all deceased. I continue to think of my adoptive side as my “real parents and family”. However, the treasure hunt for older blood ancestors and lineage has been quite interesting.

One concern I have, which I’d like you to address, is whether I spend too much time in research. It can take hours and hours of looking at records to find and confirm even one person. I would say though that some of those ‘finds’ has yielded some very interesting and fulfilling data.

This experience has led me to better understand and appreciate the hand of God in my life. I’ve spent about 3 years now in this process and I wonder if it really matters who my 4th great grandfather was and whether he was born in Scotland or Sweden? Should I discontinue my research, if I am the only one in my family who finds this fascinating?  I have adult children who are not the least bit interested.

I do not spend time or money researching at the expense of my family’s needs. What do you think of this new craze to have your  ‘DNA done’?There are many passages in the bible about genealogy, so how does Ancient Jewish Wisdom apply to my situation? Thank you!


Dear Shawn,

Working backwards through your letter, we have to say that we know very little about the companies in business to test your DNA. We tend to be wary of fads and would recommend researching the reliability of any of these companies and the usefulness of the results well before parting with your money or your DNA. For the most part, all they tell you is about the presence of ethnic and geographic markers with limited accuracy.  Information about particular ancestors would be more interesting but that information is available only through the research that you are enjoying.

Having said that, you are correct that God’s system places great importance on genealogy. While each of us is an individual, we are also links in a chain. Much of today’s pathologies are the result of devaluing family and pretending that caring who one’s parents are, in particular fathers, is irrelevant and unimportant. Many men who saw an easy income stream in becoming sperm donors while in college found, to their shock, that the offspring they put out of mind were eager to find them.

Physical and spiritual adoption are also a part of the Bible. Mordechai raised Esther after the deaths of her parents and Joshua, rather than his own sons, became Moses’ spiritual heir. While you cherish your adopted family, it is not surprising at all that you are curious about your physical antecedents.

We’re not sure why this hobby is any different from golf or collecting duck calls.  While it would be nice if you and your children shared this interest, as long as this isn’t interfering with your family’s welfare, why shouldn’t you continue? It is very possible that as your children get older, they will find that they are, indeed, grateful to know more about their background.

You sound very aware of the limitations of time. If you spend hours researching a relative, those hours are not available for other pursuits. If you are not minimizing more important areas of your life, but this is your “free time” relaxation, then not only do we see it as a benign activity, but one that is clearly filling an emotional need of yours. That sounds like a good deal.

Happy hunting,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Grab the Gold

February 13th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 26 comments

Here’s a question for politicians:  Do you really want to fight poverty?  I mean do you really, really want to end poverty, or do you just want to get re-elected?

If you really mean it, I have some good news for you along with some bad news.

The good news is that you no longer need to impose confiscatory rates of taxation upon hard-working families in order to give some people the money that other people have earned. 

The bad news is that many of your constituents would rather deal with the disease than confront the cure.  The reason I say this is because the one sure way to defeat poverty in one generation is to enact policies that would ensure that most children will be raised by married parents in wholesome and intact marriages.  The problem is that many of your constituents are more committed to liberal social policies that undermine marriage than they are to ending poverty.


Alive Wrong

August 24th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 20 comments

Back in high school when I took Driver’s Education, we sat through many boring hours of classroom instruction before being allowed to do what we really wanted to do, which was get behind the wheel. One snippet of advice stuck. Our instructor told us that you can be ‘dead right’ but it is better to be ‘alive wrong.’ His point was that we needed to be alert and defensive drivers. Yes, a green light meant that we could legally go, but if someone at the intersection looked like they might run the red light, we would be wise to waive our rights.

Well, you can be ‘politically correct dead right’ and automatic lock-step with the latest trend or you can be ‘alive wrong.’ Quite frankly, trends are evolving so quickly that it is a full-time job to differentiate between satire and reality.


How do I raise my son in the ways of the Bible?

August 1st, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 1 comment

I am a Christian who lives in Indonesia. I am a frequent listener of your podcast and blessed to find tremendous wisdom in your teaching. I am keen to learn about the root of my faith from Hebrew Bible, at which I believe, as you believe, as a God-given blueprint for our life.

As a recent father, it is my desire to show my child the way of the Lord. Thus, I have a question; what is the best way to teach Torah to our children (especially toddler to under 12 years of age). What is the best method/technique to convey the narrative to them while at the same time conveying the wisdom/substance (which some stories I find them may not be suitable for children. I want to learn from your perspective as rabbi and Jewish parents on how to impart your wisdom to your children.

Thank you and God bless,

∼ Nugroho H.

Dear Nugroho,

Congratulations on the new blessing and challenge in your life. You are asking a wonderful question. Wouldn’t it be nice if for $99 you could purchase a curriculum that would guarantee that your children will view the Bible the way you do? Of course, no such program exists.  (more…)

Should our son be in the family business?

January 27th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet


As the mother of a son and daughter, I greatly enjoyed your podcast of 8/22/15, in which you discussed father-son businesses. My son is currently employed in my husband’s law firm. My son’s background has not been stellar. He flunked out of the first year of a 3rd tier law school and had to take the bar exam 4 times to pass both sections. Consequently, he has been working at the family law firm for 2 years and only able to do anything court related since September 2015. Needless to say he spent much of his time surfing the internet because there wasn’t any work my husband could give him to do besides administrative work which my son felt beneath him to do. 


Should we speak out?

August 13th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet


A friend and her unmarried daughter just named the new born baby ‘Delilah’. We believe that names are important and this namesake is a strange pick. My wife asked me whether she should say anything to this Bible-believing Grandma. Do you have an opinion about this?

∼ Mark


Dear Mark,

We certainly do have an opinion and it is one that we often voice to ourselves: When someone does not ask your opinion, you should not give it. While, obviously, there are exceptions to this rule they are fewer and farther between than most of us imagine.

This Bible-believing Grandma must be having a difficult time dealing with her daughter’s out-of-wedlock birth. It sounds from your letter that she will be a full time support network for this new, little one. Her hands will be full and she will need her friends’ embrace over the years to come.


How can I be respectful to my unbelieving family members?

June 24th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet


I have two sisters who are causing big dilemmas in raising our 2-1/2 year old daughter. One sister is living with her boyfriend and their new baby and doesn’t attend church. She consistently dresses very provocatively, when she comes to our house.

The other sister is an angry atheist who swears and takes God’s name in vain constantly. She talks freely of getting drunk, premarital sex and other inappropriate topics in front of our daughter and my eight-year-old niece. My practice so far has been to ignore the immodest dress from the one sister, and to say in a hushed tone to the other sister, “Oh, we probably shouldn’t talk about that stuff in front of [the niece]” 

My husband and I are committed Christians and both volunteer in our church regularly. When I was a kid and a high schooler, I erred on the side of being ungracious and judgmental, and in college I tried very hard to change that. Now I fear I’ve swung too far the other way and important boundaries are being crossed. I feel like I’m making huge efforts to be respectful and loving of my sisters while they are disrespectful of me and my family. What would you advise?

Thank you so much for your wisdom!

∼ Emily


Dear Emily,

The question you ask hits close to home for so many people. We think you are being astute in recognizing that you leaned too far in one direction when you were younger and that this might have encouraged you to lean too far in the other direction now.

Family relationships are important and we don’t think people should be quick to terminate or minimize them. At the same time, your primary responsibility is to be your daughter’s protector and to maintain the spiritual integrity of your family.


Do I build my business or live near my grown children?

May 7th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet


When my parents were at my current age I look back and see that they stopped life. The pain was too great for them and they retreated. My wife’s parents became so involved in the grandkids that they also eventually became lost and alone as the grandkids moved away.
I want to show my kids something different and here is my dilemma. I can expand my business to other areas and states to increase our finance or I can go to where my kids and granddaughter will be and do business but not expand the business.
Thanks for your insight.

∼ Robert F.


Dear Robert,
One of the most musical sounds in our memory repertoire is, “Daddy/Mommy, come here. I need you.” We are very blessed; our grown children are kind enough to promote an effective illusion that our involvement in their lives is important to them. We choose to believe them.

Wicked Fun

November 16th, 2010 Posted by Susan's Musings 2 comments


By nature, I am not impulsive, but when my youngest daughter’s college lecture was cancelled last Wednesday and I had no urgent deadlines to meet, we hit the half-price ticket booth in Times Square. A few hours later, we were ensconced in fantastic seats watching the Broadway show, Wicked.

The last Broadway show I can remember seeing was right after my wedding when my husband and I saw Angela Lansbury perform in Sweeney Todd. Though we come to New York relatively frequently, we are usually busy with work and family. Despite the activity’s benign nature, last Wednesday has an aura of illicit, stolen pleasure.

There was a special fillip of fun in enjoying Tamara’s exclusive company. After the show, when we grabbed a bite to eat, Tamara and I had similar reactions. The show was amazing with talented actors and a clever plot. However, most of all, we were both struck by the energy level. Wicked is in its eighth year and many of the actors have repeated this performance thousands of times. Yet, it all seemed fresh and exciting.

That, of course, is one of the things which separates a professional cast from an amateur one. An actor who can’t continually play a role as if it was the first time won’t make it to Broadway. Neither will one who can’t leave personal difficulties, minor illnesses or tiredness at the stage door.

Ideally, isn’t that true for all of us? Whether we are surgeons or secretaries, parents or postal workers, we should demand a level of professionalism for ourselves. I was once at the playground with my children where I noticed the extreme patience and level of fun a young woman was exhibiting with two young children. She pushed them on the swings and wiped noses with such good nature, that it made me feel ashamed of my own, less enthusiastic, playground demeanor.

We struck up a conversation where I commented on her behavior. To this day, I remind myself of her answer. “I am their nanny,” she said. “I am getting paid to be cheerful and involved.” My children weren’t with a nanny, but with me. Surely, my responsibility as their mother and my payment in the form of the relationships I was building were greater than hers. Yet, not reporting to my Boss on a face to face basis made it easier for me to forget that I too needed to take my job seriously.

 Being at the performance of Wicked reminded me of this long-ago encounter. Sometimes time with my children is an unadulterated pleasure, as was last Wednesday. Other times when the phone rings after I want to be asleep, or when they are grouchily recuperating from having their wisdom teeth removed or when being together means hours upon hours of cooking and dishes, the time is less enjoyable. Nonetheless, they are a treasure entrusted to my care and deserve every degree of the best attention and affection possible.


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