Posts tagged " jewish wisdom "

Get a Good Mood from Food Dude

April 26th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 1 comment

Food is fuel, isn’t it? A meal for a human is the equivalent of adding wood to our fireplace. After all, our body temperature must be maintained at about 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Just as a home furnace converts firewood, coal, oil, or natural gas into heat, so do our bodies convert food into heat. Naturally we feel cold when we are famished.

But if food is just fuel, why do we crave steak and fries today; eggplant parmesan tomorrow, and spinach quiche the next day? Why don’t we want celery and peanut butter every day? After all, we don’t fuel our fireplaces with wood today and coal tomorrow.   Clearly something else is going on. Food is far more than merely fuel. (more…)


First Fruits (and sometimes Nuts)

December 10th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Here is today’s Thought Tool quiz:

Early in 1845, Henry David Thoreau, along with about twenty of his friends, began a two and a half year-long party in a cabin on the shore of Walden Pond, near Concord Massachusetts.  True or False?

In 1971 Ted Kaczynski, his wife, six children, a nanny, a tutor, and three puppies moved to an isolated mountain cabin in Montana from where he later sent bombs through the mail injuring dozens of people and killing three. True or False?

Brilliant twentieth century photographer Ansel Adams, who specialized in capturing the glory of America’s national parks and other natural wonders, left a legacy of thousands of pictures depicting happy crowds enjoying their natural outdoor heritage. True or False?

With thirty members of his Rotary Club, Chris McCandless hiked into the Alaskan wilderness in 1992. After being awed by nature’s grandeur, he returned home to Virginia.  True of False?

Ready for the answers?  All four statements are false. (I am sure you hardly needed me to tell you that.)  Thoreau was alone at Walden Pond.  The Unabomber lived in lonely isolation for nearly thirty years.  It is difficult to find any Ansel Adams photographs containing even one human image.  In his book, “Into the Wild,” Jon Krakauer relates how McCandless hiked alone and died alone, tragically and unnecessarily.

While it is true that many families and crowds of friends enjoy the outdoors in companionship, we each tend to experience nature in our own individual way.  To some it’s the sunrise or sunset. To others it’s lambs gamboling behind their mothers in the spring.  But whichever way you experience nature, it can resemble a museum which evokes awe more than camaraderie.  I might visit an art gallery with a group of friends, but the experience is essentially lonely.

It is not a coincidence that far more money is made, and far greater wealth created, in the crowded confines of cities than in the open spaces of nature.  Almost by definition, the great outdoors is uncrowded while making money requires considerable contact between humans.  I make money when other people who know me, like me, and trust me invite me to serve them with my good or services.  That is certainly more likely to happen when my focus is people and connection than when I revel in the splendid isolation of the wild.

This helps us understand a perplexing puzzle found in Deuteronomy 26.

We’re told that when Israel enters its land everyone should bring his annual first fruits to Jerusalem. There, he should place his basket before the priest in the Temple. He then recites a proclamation.

Wouldn’t you suppose that in appreciation of nature’s bounty the grateful farmer might recite verses praising nature and its miraculous processes? For instance, you might have expected those who brought their first fruits to articulate verses like these from Psalms.

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving sing praise upon the harp to our God who covers the heaven with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, who makes grass grow on the mountains.
(Psalms 147:7-8)

Yet those bringing their first fruits to Jerusalem must utter a different passage:

An Aramean tried to destroy my father, who then went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous; But the Egyptians dealt harshly with us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us terrible slavery.  And when we cried to the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labor, and our oppression and brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great awesomeness, and with signs, and with wonders.  And he has brought us to this place, and has given us this land, a land that flows with milk and honey.  And now, I have brought the first fruits of the land.  
(Deuteronomy 26:5-9)

Why a condensed history lesson rather than a song of nature’s bounty?  History bonds us to those who came before us and to those who will follow us.  Moreover, emphasizing shared history bonds us to others as we gather to celebrate anniversaries, holidays and memorial observances.  If we are celebrating the sustenance we enjoy, then it is far more appropriate to celebrate our connection to people, both living and long gone, than to sing of nature.

Yes, nature provides valuable solace and rejuvenation. However, as a model for existence, God wishes for us to live among others. Keeping our histories alive is a sure way to retain the nourishment of connection. Not surprisingly, God blesses those who follow His wishes in this respect with the enormous blessing of sustenance and abundance.

Next week, Jews will gather to celebrate Chanuka. It is a blueprint for the present as well as a history of the past, with important life lessons for all of God’s children. We collected some valuable insights in our audio CD, Festival of Lights: Transform Your 24/7 Existence into a 25/8 Life. You can get it alone or enjoy substantial holiday savings and hours of life-enhancing learning when you order it as part of our Biblical Blueprint Set. And yes, listening with others amplifies the benefits.

BiblicalBlueprintSetFOL cover (3)

  Available by mail or
 instant download


Do You Hear Me?

September 10th, 2013 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

It makes sense to live life cautiously.  Rational thought precludes taking risks.  Reason suggests that we carefully weigh all options and avoid stepping onto any path whose outcome cannot be clearly seen.  This safe approach reduces the likelihood of wasting one’s time and money, or harming one’s health.  It certainly has merit.

However, if the Wright Brothers, Alexander Fleming, and Guglielmo Marconi had followed this approach, we might travel only on slow boats, trains and cars.  We might succumb to bacterial infections, and communicate only by means of slow signals sent down copper wires.  Those pioneers acted riskily, expending time, money, and health.

Of course there are times for careful analysis before acting.  But as societies slowly decline and lose their vitality the equally important corollary often gets forgotten—there are also times for instant action.  One of the conspicuous characteristics of a degenerating, decaying people is much talking, endless conferences and symposiums, exhausting analyses, conferring, debating, reviewing and evaluating.  But not much action.

For this reason, we usually see more acts of heroism earlier in nations’ histories than later.  Once affluence has led to decadence, heroism becomes rare.  After all, few acts of heroism make sense when subjected to sustained scrutiny.

The Hebrew calendar provides a special day, an annual booster shot reminding us to keep our action instincts ready, lubricated, and powered-up.  This special day is called Yom Kippur, often translated as Day of Atonement.

It is the day on which Moses descended from Mt. Sinai after spending forty days writing the second set of Tablets.  (Exodus 34:28-29).  Ancient Jewish wisdom emphasizes that the transformative moment for the Jewish people was their unconditional acceptance of the Tablets of the Law.  They didn’t ask what is written in it.  They didn’t hold symposiums to assess its value to an emerging nation.  They didn’t debate, deliberate or discuss it.

What they did do was instantly react with unconditional acceptance.

Long before they could possibly have read the approximately 80,000 words in the Torah they said:

All that God has spoken we will do and obey.
(Exodus 24:7)

Most translations of the original Hebrew verse use pretty much the same words I just used.  There is only one problem:  it’s not what the Hebrew says.

What the verse literally says is, “…we will do and hear.”

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that the word ‘hear’ often means ‘understand.’   When a father yells at his child, “Clean up your room; do you hear me?” he is obviously not asking his youngster if he is talking loudly enough.  He is really asking, “Do you understand me?”

Furthermore, there is no word in Hebrew for obey.  In a book containing over six hundred of God’s rules and regulations wouldn’t you have expected to find the word ‘obey’ occurring quite frequently?

Regular Thought Tool readers know the significance of words not existing in the Lord’s language.  For now, suffice it to explain that the word obey doesn’t exist in Hebrew because it implies mindless following of orders and God doesn’t want mindless ‘obedience’ from us.

Instead, He wants us to struggle to integrate doing and understanding so we reach the height of always being able to think while we act and act while we think. He wants us to integrate the two. Action should lead to understanding and understanding leads to action. Neither should exclude the other. Students of Scripture don’t need to choose between, “He who hesitates is lost,” and, “Look before you leap.” They only contradict one another if they remain separate.  The fascinating response of the Israelites is that they will both act and understand, though in this case, action takes the lead. Yom Kippur, linked to the giving of the Torah, reminds us of Israel’s transformational response.

Among the self-analysis featured on Yom Kippur we examine how we use the gifts of time and speech. Among other topics, in our five audio CD Biblical Blueprint Set, we explore how understanding and improving in these areas not only pleases God but also benefits our lives. Get Day for Atonement by itself or acquire it as part of the whole set.

Day for Atonement front coverBiblicalBlueprintSet_____________________________________

This week’s Susan’s Musings: Hollywood Racists-Whatever That Means

Well-known TV actor and former president of the Screen Actors Guild, Ed Asner, gave us a peek into why the terms racism and racist should be deleted from our vocabulary. Mr. Asner was honest enough to acknowledge that Hollywood’s silence regarding the president’s proposed military action against Syria, raised questions.

Where were all the voices who stridently opposed military action when George Bush was president? While Asner raised a number of reasons, one in particular… READ MORE


Bible Codes – Real or Rubbish?

April 23rd, 2013 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Hidden codes embedded in Scripture!  Bible codes predict terrorist attacks!  Sensationalistic headlines like these have been seen for years.  Melodramatic books with extravagant claims appeared in the mid-1990s often written by authors with little Hebrew knowledge.

So frequently am I asked about this that I’m devoting this Thought Tool to the topic.  While in yeshiva, my teachers often showed me cryptic references to codes in the Five Books of Moses.  These are alluded to in the pre-WWII works of Rabbi Chaim Michel Dov Weissmandl, the volumes of Rabbeinu Bachya (c. 1300) and many others.

How do they work?  Look at the color study guide found in each of our four Genesis Journeys sets.  (We have posted it here as well.)You see the 27 letters of the Hebrew alphabet laid out in 3 rows of 9 letters each.  Each letter possesses a specific numeric value, so the rows can be viewed as 1-9, 10-90, and 100-900.  Furthermore, columns have meaning as well.  For example, 500 is an elevated, more intense form of 50, which, in turn, intensifies 5, which always suggests the FIVE books of Moses.

The first line of William Shakespeare’s play, King Henry VI, reads, “Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night.”  Imagine discovering that the 50th letter counting from the first ‘S’ in ‘heavens’ yields an ‘H’. Counting a further 50 letters we come across an ‘A’. Continuing, we discover that Shakespeare encoded his name into the opening of all his plays in this fashion.  He didn’t.  But if he did, it would eliminate all controversy about who really wrote those plays.

Well, counting by 50 from the first instance of the first letter of the Hebrew word for Torah in the first two and last two of the Five Books of Moses yields the entire word TORAH. (The middle book, Leviticus, reveals a different word, for reasons we don’t have space to explore here.)

There are hundreds of similar examples throughout the Torah, which defy mathematical odds. An amazing sequence is found in Genesis 38. This chapter introduces the strange circumstances leading to the birth of Peretz, the 9th level grandfather of King David.  In Genesis 38:11-28, using the counts of 50, we find embedded the names, Ruth, Boaz, Oved, Yishai (Jesse), and David in that chronological order. These, of course, are King David’s father, grandfather, and great-grandparents. Statistical calculations show that the odds of this happening by chance are well over a million to one.

Why did God put the codes in the Torah?  Perhaps, so that in future years, when people would become scientifically advanced and secularized and come to doubt that the Torah is God’s message to mankind, they would encounter the codes, known to Torah-knowledgeable Jews but otherwise discoverable only with computers. They will be thrown into consternation and doubt. They will ask, “Is it possible that the Torah really is the word of God?”

In the early 80s I was in regular touch with some of the first Israeli computer scientists exploring the codes, like distinguished mathematicians Eliyahu Rips and Doron Witztum.  They were searching for the patterns hinted at in early Hebrew writings and requested my help in securing computing equipment. Back then, computers were big and expensive but my California congregation willingly participated in purchasing several computers that we dispatched to our researcher friends in Israel.  In return, we asked to be kept informed of all progress, gaining early data on code research.

Are the codes authentic?  Those passed down since Sinai certainly are. However, since the codes became a media event, some people have attempted to sensationalize them. For this reason, there is both valid and not valid information about codes to be found.

Codes are only one of the astonishing surprises embedded in the Hebrew Torah. With current events unfolding as they are, understanding prophecies and material about Islam is vital to productively living our lives. I encourage you to explore Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam.


Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here

Is it right for married couples to study the bible separately as in a women’s only bible study?

Thank You,


Read Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin’s ANSWER HERE

This week’s Susan’s Musings: Right Wing (Fill in the Blank)

Actually, I’ll fill it in for you. The answer is, “extremist.” If you say the words, “great, green, greasy” to my children, they will shout out, “Limpopo River”, based on Rudyard Kipling stories that my husband told them while they were growing up. If you then said that you were thinking of an avocado burger or an emerald suntan lotion, that information wouldn’t dislodge the association with “Limpopo River” from their minds. For my children, the words “great, green and greasy” lead to one and only one conclusion.

Sadly, language has been manipulated to form an equation between the benign word ‘right’…READ MORE


Color My World

February 12th, 2013 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

It is true that there is no specific ancient Jewish wisdom on how The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind effectively ended the era of black-and-white movies when they were released in 1939.  But the Torah does teach the permanent principles of color. It even teaches why different colors impact us in different ways and why red is on the top curve of the rainbow and blue on the bottom.

Furthermore, in the Lord’s language, Hebrew, the words for the main colors matches their intrinsic characteristics.  What do I mean by this?  Imagine I was teaching someone English. Pointing to a yellow crayon, I carefully enunciate YEL-LOW.  Then, holding up the red crayon, I say the word RED.  My foreign student would nod happily because he now knew the English words for two colors.

Now imagine that I perversely reversed the words, cruelly instructing my student that the English word for the color yellow is actually RED and the way we describe red in English is with this word—YELLOW.  No matter how smart and worldly my student might be, there is nothing that would alert him to my mischief.

However, Hebrew is quite different.  A scientist who knew that each Hebrew letter represents a numerical value wouldn’t be bamboozled by my playful prank.  The moment I reversed the Hebrew words for RED and YELLOW, he would say, ‘Just a moment, those words you’ve just told me don’t make sense. They ought to be reversed.’  Here is how he would have known.

Let’s examine four Biblical colors:

RED is found in Genesis 25:30. In Hebrew, ADoM, it has a numerical equivalent calculated by adding the value of each of its three letters:  alef (1) + dalet (4) + mem (40) = 45.

What our scientist knew and which I shall now tell you is that light rays are really electromagnetic vibrations.  Different colors vibrate at different frequencies.  A good estimate for the vibration of red light is about 470 trillion times a second.  So let’s remember that the key numbers for RED are a numerical equivalent of 45, and a frequency of 470 (approximately).

Moving on to YELLOW, or TZaHoV, that we encounter in the Bible in Leviticus 13:30.  Its numerical equivalent is tzadi (90) + hay (5) + vet (2) = 97.  Its frequency (in trillions of times a second) is about 510.

Green, YeRaKON, is used as a color in Jeremiah 30:8 “…and all faces have turned green.”  Even today we talk of someone looking a bit green meaning sickly or uneasy.  (Genesis 1:30 uses the word YeReK to mean ‘greens’ or herbs.)

YeRaKON has a numerical value of yud (10) + resh (200) + kuf (100) + vav (6) + nun (50) equaling 366.  It has a vibrating frequency of about 565.

Finally, blue, TeCHeLeT, seen in Exodus 25:4 has a numerical value of tav(400) + chaf (20) + lamed (30) + tav (400) for a total of 850. Electromagnetic frequency tables inform us that blue’s rate of vibration is about 650 trillion times each second.

To summarize:                                   

When charted on a graph, it looks something like this.  Other Biblical colors can be added in.  Astoundingly, we get a straight line with about 95% accuracy.

Trying this with the English names for the colors yields a meaningless muddle.  In Hebrew the result is nothing short of amazing.  As Israeli scholar Chayim Shorr suggests, we see a strong link between the Hebrew names of colors and their real word physical characteristics.

The Lord’s language and ancient Jewish wisdom do indeed provide accurate guidance to how the world REALLY works. My mission is to make this information available to all. Many people have told me how the four programs comprising our Genesis Journeys Set helped them move closer to God and His vision for their lives. Like so many companies and ministries around the country, our costs are climbing alarmingly. We will reluctantly have little option but to increase prices soon. We’ve slashed the price on Genesis Journeys Set this week. Please seize this opportunity to get this and other resources you need.


This week’s Susan’s Musings: Here’s to the Future, Baby!

When outsiders peek into the world of Torah observance, they often see a long list of “do’s” and “don’ts.” To those who try to immerse themselves in the system, details that can seem persnickety instead reveal how to live successfully. The rules we try our best to follow align our actions with God’s deep understanding of human nature.

An opportunity that the Torah urges us to grab…READ MORE

Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here

I would like some clarification of the last paragraph in your answer to Carla F. when she asked what to do about her 17-year-old son who is hostile to religion. Unlike her situation… my (almost) 17 year-old is not hostile but he absolutely hates going to church. He would do anything to keep from going but is not rebellious or anything. I think he is just bored and would rather stay home and watch TV or play video games. He doesn’t seem to have problems with God in general, just church.

My initial idea was to make him go until he turned 18 but I wonder now if that is the right thing to do. I know parents need to make children do certain things that the child doesn’t want to do but at what age does this end? I’m starting to wonder what difference one more year would make other than making him run as far away from church as he can when he finally does get to make his own decision.

Should we force the issue? Thanks,

Marcus W.

Read Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin’s ANSWER HERE


The Enterprise of Transformation

February 5th, 2013 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

I visited many cities in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel last year, and I traveled through many airports while delivering over fifty speeches.  (I counted them here:

During my travels, I frequently rent a car.  Sometimes from Hertz, other times from the smaller companies, Avis and National.  Since I rarely see Enterprise at an airport, I was surprised to discover that it is more than twice the size of Hertz, with more than twice the number of cars and rental locations as well as twice the revenue.

What I discovered about Enterprise not only granted me insight into the car rental business but it also reminded me that whatever your background, if you tap into God’s wisdom, as Jack Taylor did, you too will prosper.

If you don’t see Enterprise at the airport, how did it grow into such a large and profitable company?

Hertz situated their offices in airports and hotels while Enterprise locations are in town. Enterprise owns the off-airport car rental market.  While your own car is being repaired, you probably drive an Enterprise car.  If you ever need an extra car, call Enterprise; they’ll bring it to you.

After serving in World War II, Jack Taylor was working as a car salesman when he conceived of a different kind of car rental company.  Locals wanting to rent a car had to get a ride to the nearest airport to do so.  Jack started renting cars out of the dealership he worked at and served people by taking their cars to them.  Despite Hertz’s forty-year lead in car rental, Jack spotted a need and filled it. He gradually built his idea into Enterprise.  “Take care of your customers and employees first, and profits will follow,” is a timeless Torah truth and making it his slogan transformed Jack’s life.

The Jewish calendar is largely based on the lunar cycle. Ancient Jewish wisdom reveals that Abraham assigned a sign to each month. The holiday of Chanukah falls in the Hebrew month of Kislev while the holiday of Purim comes in the month of Adar. We are between these two holidays right now. The start of this period, Kislev, is identified with the sign of the Rainbow.  (The Greeks later mistakenly called it the archer’s bow – Sagittarius.)  The rainbow is caused by sunlight and water, two requirements for both plants and people to thrive.

Abraham assigned to the month of Adar, the month of Purim, the sign of Fish.  Fish serve as a sign of blessing in ancient Jewish wisdom. Unlike birds that raid our orchards and animals that can be pests or threats, fish do nothing to harm us; furthermore, they are readily available to us as food.  In addition, they usually swim in large schools, representing connection. The Hebrew name for Adar’s sign is even in the plural to highlight this point.

Both Chanukah and Purim celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, hope over despair and happiness over distress.  During these months of short days and long nights, they remind each of us that darker days today can be instantly transformed into bright tomorrows.

This period also reminds us that the pathway to transformation starts with growth. At its start, on Chanukah, we light one additional light on each of its eight days. (See Thought Tools Volume 2, ‘Hey Buddy, Got a Light?’)The period culminates in the sign of the fish reminding us that connecting with many people and serving them leads to hope and happiness.

I find delivering speeches exhilarating because it connects me with many people and allows me to serve them. In addition to serving, I appreciate learning from others as well. One business mentor whose wisdom I value is Noah Alper. His transformation from anti-religious to believing Jew paralleled his transformation from poverty to phenomenal business success. His enjoyable book, Business Mensch, tells his story and the lessons he learned the hard way as it provides concrete, practical guidance for anyone wanting to flourish financially. I encourage you to get a copy and we are making it available at a substantial discount this week. (Pair it with my own Thou Shall Prosper for a winning duo!)

Business Mensch: Timeless Wisdom for Today’s Entrepreneur
by Noah Alper


This week’s Susan’s Musings: Homeless Hopelessness (Part 2)

In (Part 1) last week I introduced you to Richard LeMieux, who wrote a book telling of his descent into homelessness and the intriguing cast of characters he met in Bremerton, Washington.

This week I continue with some observations I had after reading his book…READ MORE

Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here

I recently attended your talk in the United Kingdom and your talk further inspired me to realize financial success. I have looked for gaps in the service market- to no avail. I am a married woman of medium intelligence and tenacity but feel hemmed in and unsure as to what I can achieve at my age (53yrs).  Can you advise what to do?

Glenis S.

Read Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin’s ANSWER HERE

In (Part 1) last week I introduced you to Richard LeMieux, who wrote a book telling of his descent into homelessness and the intriguing cast of characters he met in Bremerton, Washington.

This week I continue with some observations I had after reading his book.


The Grandeur of the Grind

January 8th, 2013 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

You do it.  I do it.  We all do it. We find ways to avoid doing those tasks in our lives that will really make a difference.  They might be unpleasant, hard, boring, perhaps even frightening.  Often, they are the very ones we have to identify and tackle.

There are the parents whose toddler is getting out of control.  The time is overdue to introduce him to the wonderful world of discipline.  They’ve let things go for a bit too long and now every attempt to introduce boundaries and insist on appropriate behavior is met with tantrums.  The parents focus on good nutrition and creative play times—anything in fact, in order to avoid doing the one great task that will make the most difference in their lives and that of their child.

There’s the aspiring sales professional who does almost everything except the one task that will make most difference in his life—completing his quota of calls every single day.

There’s the student who dreams of playing at Carnegie Hall. She needs to sit down, play the same piece repeatedly, and start the cycle again with a more difficult piece.

The Lord’s language has a word for an activity which might be staggeringly difficult to confront but which also might be the single most important assignment for any given moment of our lives.

That word is AVoDaH and one revealing example of its usage is this:

And they (the Egyptians) embittered their (the Israelites) lives with hard work, with mortar and bricks, and with all work in the field; all their work at which they worked them was with harshness.
(Exodus 1:14)

Every instance of the word ‘work’ in that verse, employs the Hebrew word Avodah. It suggests subjugation and servitude and certainly doesn’t sound like a positive word. It actually sounds like something you desperately want to avoid.

Don’t be too quick to jump to that conclusion. Let’s learn another Hebrew word for work – MeLaCHaH. Understanding it will make all the difference.

We find both words for work combined in the Fourth Commandment, instructing us to remember the Sabbath day.

Six days shall you work(AVoDaH) and do all your work (MeLaCHaH)…
Exodus 20:9

Why do we need both words? God is giving us a tremendously significant message. MeLaCHaH is the creative work that transforms our world and uplifts our lives, while Avodah is work that lacks that exciting element. Yet we do not get to do MeLaCHaH if we don’t first do our Avodah.

Life in Egypt was tough precisely because slaves have only Avodah with no possibility of MeLaCHaH. But don’t dream that you can enjoy MeLaCHaH without Avodah. Integrating the two types of work makes everything possible.

There is little as exciting as seeing one’s toddler blossom into a responsible youth and thriving adult with whom you share a close relationship. Achieving that requires many hours of consistent and sometimes unpleasant parenting (along with much prayer and blessing).

Making the big sale is thrilling. Hours of application, hard work, disappointment and dedication precede the excitement. Playing to a full house is thrilling, but years of perseverance lead to that moment.

Fortunately, we don’t need to wait years for the fulfillment of MeLaCHaH. Each of our days—and as the Fourth Commandment reveals, our weeks—holds both types of work. However, we do best knowing that the way the world really works, we should tackle the mundane and difficult with zest, for without it we will never achieve MeLaCHaH. We should rejoice in Avodah rather than resenting it.

One way to turn the ‘daily grind’ into the ‘daily greatness’ is to get a true appreciation of the nobility, dignity and opportunity of work, along with tips for achievement. One of the very best roadmaps for this purpose is our audio CD Boost Your Income: The Three Spiritual Steps to Success. (Check out this week’s special sale price.) As my friend, the late Zig Ziglar explained, you need to hear wisdom repeatedly just as you need to bathe repeatedly.  Listen to this life-changing program again and again and share it with someone you wish to bless. Turn the struggle to make a living into a thrilling, satisfying and successful quest.


This week’s Susan’s Musings: Suds and Citizenship

This may not be culture threatening, but I couldn’t find my notebook this morning. Despite increasing reliance on my computer, I am still partial to the college-ruled notebooks that are available for about ten cents apiece during August back-to-school sales. Having started a new one yesterday it was particularly irksome that it wasn’t in its appropriate place.

After running through possible scenarios…READ MORE

Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here

Is there a difference between mercy killing and suicide? Will God forgive that person?

Jerry T.

Read Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin’s ANSWER HERE


Speech! Speech!

December 4th, 2012 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Five years ago, in a dazzling speech at San Francisco’s Moscone Center, Steve Jobs introduced his iPhone with these words, “Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything…”

On June 4th, 1940, Winston Churchill gave a speech warning of a possible Nazi invasion.  This was its climax:

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Just over 3,300 years ago, Moses concluded a 36-day long speech to Israel with these words:

I’m 120 years old today and can no longer go out and come in for the Lord has said to me, ‘You will not cross this Jordan.’ The Lord your God will cross before you; he will destroy these nations from before you and you shall inherit them. Joshua, he will cross over before you as the Lord has spoken.
(Deuteronomy 31:2-3)

Do you think it would have been as effective had Steve Jobs sent everyone an email about the new iPhone?  Within a week of its release, Apple sold about a million iPhones; by the end of 2007 about ten million, and to date about 85 million.  Without Steve Jobs’ iconic speeches, would those sales figures have been achieved?

In 1940, some of England’s leaders, men like Lord Halifax, considered the attempt to defeat Hitler to be hopeless.  Their call to cut a deal with Hitler was especially persuasive after France unexpectedly fell to the Germans and the British Expeditionary Force was ignominiously rescued from the beach of Dunkirk.  Over three hundred thousand soldiers were saved from annihilation by a heroic fleet of small boats, arriving back in England early June 4th.  It is hard to imagine England recovering its nerve and its determination to fight had Churchill urged England never to surrender in a newspaper column.  Instead he mesmerized the nation with his speech that afternoon.

Just before his impending death, Moses handed to Joshua the leadership of Israel on the eve of their most formidable challenge—defeating barbaric tribes and conquering the Promised Land.  The spies had earlier demoralized the Children of Israel with terrifying accounts of the land’s impregnability and what is more the people were anxious about a future without the man who had guided them for over forty years. Yet, after Moses’ speech the Torah concludes by informing us that the Children of Israel listened to Joshua as Moses had directed. (Deuteronomy 34:9)  Without this monumental speech by Moses, could the leadership transition and the subsequent inheritance of the Land have occurred?

The Torah is more about actions than beliefs.  For instance, it tells us to love the Lord our God rather than to believe in Him. (Deuteronomy 6:5).  It focuses on walking, sacrificing, and eating rather than on thinking, theorizing, and speculating.  Which action verb does the Torah mention more than any other?  Words for say, speak, or talk appear nearly five times more frequently than any other verbs.

Speeches can transform our destiny.  We hold enormous power in our speeches.  When your spouse agreed to marry you, it was probably after one of your best speeches.  When you got your favorite job or scored your biggest sale it was after another of your effective speeches.  When you influenced friends or persuaded someone towards your point of view, you were employing your power of speech.

Is your power of speech as effective as it could be? Presenting yourself successfully through speech is a theme that runs through almost all the resources we offer. In my book, Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money, I explain why speaking from notes harms communication and teach you how to speak without them. Moses, Churchill and Jobs certainly didn’t read their speeches. Find out more about this tip, as well as additional ones vital for improving your financial situation, while taking advantage of the book’s lowest sale price ever. Alone, or as part of our Income Abundance Set, it makes a thoughtful and long-lasting gift for those you love, as a road-map to a transformed financial future.


This week’s Susan’s Musings: Zig Ziglar: A Truly Great Man

I found two text messages on my phone after my exercise class last Wednesday. The first, from our daughter in nursing school, told me that she had assisted in a birth for the very first time. Even the sterile method of communication couldn’t conceal her excitement.

The second was from my husband, telling me that our dear friend, Zig Ziglar, had passed away. Even the sterile method of communication couldn’t mask his grief…READ MORE

Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here

I’m a doctoral candidate in a Philosophy of Theology program writing a dissertation. I’m attempting to answer the question, “What is the biblical concept of community?” More than understanding its historical expression, I am seeking to show how its value is critical to humanity in contemporary culture. What insights are found Torah for defining and living in community? Thank you for your contribution into my life through Thought Tools.

Roderick L.

Read Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin’s ANSWER HERE


Giving God a Hand

October 30th, 2012 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

After speaking for Hillsong at the Dominion Theater in London on Sunday, I was honored to speak on Monday night for a large audience including several hundred associates of the Genistar Corporation, UK, at the London Chamber of Commerce.  Walking to this event, I passed the imposing St. Paul’s Cathedral, which amazingly survived the bombing blitz the Nazis unleashed on the city of London at the end of 1940.

During those dark days, Winston Churchill issued a directive that St Paul’s Cathedral must be saved.  The prime minister knew that St Paul’s survival was vital for civilian morale.  During the third-last night of 1940 that entire part of London was set ablaze by Nazi incendiary bombs.

Virtually every building was destroyed and hundreds of civilians, soldiers, and firemen were killed.  Londoners endured one of their worst nights of World War II, but when morning came, they gazed upon St Paul’s Cathedral—largely undamaged; and were filled with resolve that England would prevail.

I don’t know if Churchill prayed for a miracle that night but he did assign to St Paul’s the very last few firemen he had available.  He also prepared for how he would use the building’s survival to help boost morale.

A poor, impoverished widow approached the prophet Elisha for help. (II Kings 4:1) He asked her what she had in her house.  Ancient Jewish wisdom indicates that he sent her to search her house several times until she finally discovered a previously overlooked tiny bottle of oil.

The next requirement necessary for a miracle to occur, said Elisha, was that she should borrow many containers, which she did.  He directed her to pour oil from her small bottle into the large drums.  Miraculously, the oil continued to pour from the miniature bottle until all the borrowed containers were filled with oil.

We know that Elisha wanted to help the widow and that he could summon Divine aid–a miracle.  So why did he force her to search her home repeatedly until she found the tiny bottle of oil?  Once he was going to use a miracle, why didn’t he just make oil flow from a tree or other source?  Furthermore, why make her borrow containers?  Couldn’t the same God who supplied plenty oil also have supplied many containers?

We study Scripture to extract specific life-lessons we must learn from each story.  These seven verses teach us two things about miracles.  First, in order to trigger a miracle that can transform your life you have to find within your ‘house’ which is to say, within yourself, some small reserve of resources.  Maybe it is one last bit of energy and optimism.  Perhaps it is the last bit of capital you still possess.  You have to search until you find your tiny bottle of oil.

Second, you must have ‘containers’ into which the blessings brought by the miracle can flow.

Imagine a man praying to meet a woman with whom to share his life.  But other than prayer, he takes no steps to trigger an encounter.  Furthermore, he has no job and no home and is nowhere near ready to get married.  He has violated the rules of Elisha.  He has failed to find within himself even a small catalyst for transformation.  Even if God brings him the woman of his dreams, he isn’t ready to do anything about it.  He has failed to have ready ‘containers’ for the blessing.

We want so many things: love, financial security, health, abundance, fulfillment and more. Yet, too often, we fail to reach deep enough inside ourselves and offer even more than we think we possibly can. Sometimes, we forget to ready enough containers so that our blessings don’t go to waste.

Every part of Scripture contains practical application for our lives. My wife and I love sharing these messages in depth on our TV show Ancient Jewish Wisdom. We have gathered four of our favorite shows on DVD so that you, family, and friends can watch, absorb and discuss them. Please invest in this valuable resource, on sale right now, and put God’s word to work in your life.

This week’s Susan’s Musings: When Society Doesn’t Fit?

Sometimes, approaching a familiar topic from an unexpected angle provides perspective. When a writer presents a peek into an unfamiliar culture and he is motivated by interest rather than by an agenda, he offers that opportunity. A book I recently read…READ MORE

Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here

Do Jewish people believe in life after death? Since I was a little girl I have been terrified of death. As I have gotten older, the hope of heaven seems more and more like a scam. Did God really create us to share eternity with Him, or our own egos and pride unable to accept oblivion?

My faith in any God seems tied up in this paradox. So many religions have so many answers that make no sense to me.

Kathleen R.

Read Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin’s ANSWER HERE


Take to the Desert

October 16th, 2012 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

In the 1970s, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield decided to open a business.  They wrote a business plan for a bagel delivery company.  Fortunately for dessert-lovers, that business didn’t do too well. They switched direction, opening an ice cream factory.  Mr. Toyoda spent the 1920s trying to build a fabric weaving loom.  After ten years of struggle, he switched direction—starting the Toyota car company in 1937.

William Wrigley founded his company in 1891 selling baking soda and soap, but not terribly successfully.  Discovering that chewing gum sold better, he switched direction.  Many modern companies like Google and Apple have similarly made major changes.

Families also switch directions.  Parents unhappy with their children’s friends move to another neighborhood.  Sometimes a husband and wife switch directions to escape the unhealthy rut into which their marriage has fallen.

Switching directions can save a floundering firm or a failing family. Nevertheless, conceiving of the new corporate direction or family makeover is incredibly difficult.  We all tend to think the current way is the only way.  How to escape these shackles and open up limitless possibilities?

The fourth book of the Torah, opens with these words:

And the Lord spoke to Moses in the desert of Sinai
(Numbers 1:1)

After setting the scene “in the desert of Sinai” the book continues with a detailed census of the Israelites followed by an equally detailed description of how the Israelite campsite must be laid out.

Isn’t it odd that the Children of Israel are to be counted when the Torah records God’s promises to Abraham  (Genesis 15:5 and 22:17)  and to Jacob (Genesis 32:13) that their descendants will be too numerous to count?

Second, why spend so much time arranging the camp site when, at this point in the narrative, they are heading directly for the Promised Land?  (Numbers 10:29) The decree of spending forty years in the desert hasn’t happened yet.  Why worry about a few camping occasions until they reach Israel?

Ancient Jewish wisdom reveals how both the counting and the positioning are crucial preparations for the permanent settlement of the Land of Israel and the future of the Jewish people.

The Hebrew name for Numbers is Bamidbar, meaning “In the desert.”  However, ancient Jewish wisdom offers a second name for the book, “Sefer haPekudim.” This can translate as “The Book of Numbers,” but Pekudim also means appointments, positions, purposes, or assignments, or the “Book of Assignments.”

It follows that the numbering and positioning in the first two chapters of Bamidbar share a function, namely establishing everyone’s physical position in the community as well as everyone’s purpose or assignment in the community. Switching direction from their earlier lives in slavery was essential if they were to succeed as a nation.

Determining how all the elements in the organization would dovetail is best accomplished in a desert!

In ancient Jewish wisdom a desert does not suggest a physical place like the Sahara, Kalahari or Mojave Deserts. In Hebrew, “midbar” or desert means barren emptiness.  No sight of wildlife, no sounds of birds, nothing growing. Just the people and God.

This desert is a metaphor for a place of no distractions, no preformatted reality, and no life pattern into which the visitor must fit.  It is the place open to almost anything.  In other words, when having to develop a new paradigm for your family or your business, get yourself into a desert.  Strip away all structure and let your imagination soar. It is a ‘place’ increasingly difficult to find in today’s world, and increasingly necessary to access.

There are only 24 hours left in our Appreciation Day Sale. Before heading into your desert, make sure you know how the world really works. Our low-priced library packs (Complete and PLUS) are always such a great value that we don’t often put them on sale. Right now, for only 24 more hours, prices are reduced by 15%. Act quickly and get incredible savings on hours of enjoyable growth and inspiration through understanding ancient Jewish wisdom. Invest in resources that provide practical application of God’s wisdom for your finances, family and community life. Bless yourself and others and choose the best direction for your life.
This week’s  Susan’s Musings: Protecting the Planet…or People?

I’m not sure of a delicate way to put this, but I’d like to talk about toilets. You see, we were in Israel for the Biblical holyday of Sukot (Tabernacles) and in addition to the fantastic experiences we had (along with seeing our daughter, son-in-law, incredibly cute grandson, friends and relatives) I also had an environmental epiphany…READ MORE

Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here

What response can I give my son when he states that he doesn’t believe in God?

Read Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin’s ANSWER HERE

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