Posts tagged " |Old Testament| "

Chatter is Cheap

October 14th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

In social settings, one sometimes hears people babbling about the marvelous things that they are going to do.  In the business environment, it is even more unsettling to hear an entrepreneur making public pronouncements of forthcoming achievements.  Anyone with even the most basic understanding of how the world REALLY works knows that saying a lot in advance of actually doing anything is a bad sign.

Ancient Jewish wisdom warns against promising much and delivering little or nothing.  This is described in the account of Abraham who wants to acquire a burial place for his beloved wife, Sarah, from the landowner, Ephron the Hittite,.

Abraham offers to buy the cave of Machpelah for its appropriate monetary value. (Genesis 23:9)

Ephron responds by magnanimously assuring Abraham that he can have it for free. (Genesis 23:10-11)

Yet as the conversation progresses (Genesis 23:15-16), Ephron insists on 400 pieces of silver, which Abraham promptly pays.  According to the Code of Hammurabi (from approximately the same period), the average annual household income then was five pieces of silver.  Compared to American averages today, Ephron asked the equivalent of $3M-$4M for a field and a cave. His generous talk was just that – talk.

Scripture also offers an example where someone delivers far more than he promises.

Abraham offers water and bread to the three angels, whom he mistakenly assumes to be men.  (Genesis 18:4-5)

However, what he actually brought them was far more lavish: many cakes baked with a large amount of fine flour, a calf, butter, and milk. (Genesis 18:6-8)

Regarding these tales, ancient Jewish wisdom offers a much-quoted aphorism, “Say little and do much.”  It is easy to read this as good proscriptive advice.  Be like Abraham who delivered much more than he promised, and not like Ephron who promised more than he delivered.  However, there is more to this popular saying.

This phrase is not only proscriptive; it is also descriptive.  If you say little, you will end up doing much.  On the other hand, those who do a lot of talking will end up achieving far less than they could.  Why should that be?

Whether you are building a skyscraper or baking a cake, you start by assessing your resources.  Do you have the money, the manpower, the raw material and everything else needed for successful completion of the project?

It is important that none of these resources is wasted.  Each must be put to productive use.  Similarly, in all projects there is also a finite spiritual energy and will with which to get the job done.

One way of wasting and dissipating that will and spiritual energy is to talk about it more than necessary.  By talking less, you will achieve more.

For example if you have just enough gas in your car’s tank to reach your destination, it makes no sense to leave the car idling for ten minutes before you even depart on your journey. You now will have less fuel than you need to reach your target.

Imagine an athlete staying up and socializing the entire night before an important challenge.  He would do better to harness all his resources for the upcoming contest.

Similarly, the act of chattering endlessly about your deepest ambitions is a sure way to have less energy and determination available to achieve those goals. Being productive is difficult enough without needlessly squandering your spiritual resources.

One reliable technique to avoid energy-eroding chatter is making sure you devote regular time to absorbing worthy material.  Think about it.  The chief difference between me today and me yesterday are the ideas I have absorbed.  Our famously popular library pack comprises 19 different books, DVDs and audio/visual resources. It is an absolute treasure trove of ideas.  We are heading into the final holy days of this special month in the Jewish calendar.

LibraryPackage with BSB, April 2014

For Goodness Sakes

September 30th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Pssst!  Hey guys, want to know a secret?  Ever wondered why so many women love being pregnant?  Though you might consider it presumptuous that I, a man, answer this very female question, I’m actually well able to do so.  You see, it is for the same reason that many people find a journey on an airplane to be quite relaxing.  Once a TSA agent with the charm of Torquemada has inflicted his attention upon us and once we’ve endured the cattle-slaughter-house-atmosphere of the boarding process, yes, we do find the rest of the trip strangely relaxing.

Even if you do nothing else but read and snooze while on an airplane, you are still advancing towards your objective. Every minute carries you ten miles closer to your destination. To a far greater extent, even if she does nothing but eat and sleep, every minute of pregnancy brings the future mother closer to a transcendent moment.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to simulate this aspect of pregnancy?  How gratifying to know that every minute of the day is carrying you closer to your destination.  How do we ensure that each moment of our lives is an investment that lasts forever?

Since good endures forever, we need only ask ourselves constantly whether the manner in which we intend spending the next hour is good.  Naturally, the term good needs definition.  What good means to an ardent Islamic fanatic in Iraq is quite different from what good means to, say, a faithful Christian farmer and family man in Fresno.

From a Biblical perspective, good comprises four categories of action. (i)  Improving our relationship with God.  (ii)  Advancing the interests of our families.   (iii)  Advancing our financial interests.  (iv) Serving the interests of our friends and fellow citizens.

Time and energy invested in these four activities is good, carrying lasting impact, and is thus never wasted.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that the first time in the Torah that a specific letter is used to start a word, that word provides a key to the inner meaning of that initial letter.

Consider the first usage of the word good in Scripture.

And God saw the light, that it was good…
(Genesis 1:4)

 The Hebrew word for good is TOV.  Its initial letter Tet is the ninth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, with a numerical value of nine. In ancient Jewish wisdom, the number nine is linked to pregnancy. Since TOV is the first word in the Bible to start with a Tet, it is linked to good.

 Tet = 9 = TOV = good = pregnancy

 Pregnancy fits all four categories of good actions: (i) becoming a partner in creation with God (ii) family (iii) Having children provides a worthwhile reason for gaining wealth. (iv) A well-raised and productive human being blesses the society into which it is born.

The thirteen verses containing the second appearance of the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:6-18) contain at least one instance of every single letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Amazingly, the thirteen verses containing the first appearance of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-14) reveal one stunningly conspicuous exception.

The letter Tet is completely absent from the first commandments!

Anything good endures forever, and Moses was destined to cast down and shatter the first two tablets of the Ten Commandments.  Had they contained the letter Tet, representing the concept of good, they could not have been destroyed.  However, the thirteen verses comprising the second appearance of the Ten Commandments do contain the letter Tet, because these tablets last forever.  It is found in the Hebrew word NeTuYaH meaning ‘outstretched’. (Deuteronomy 5:15)

Therefore, in order to avoid a single wasted hour or a single wasted joule of our energy we need to strive to ensure that each waking hour is devoted to serving God, our families, our financial interests and God’s other children.

Failure to do so means looking back at wasted time and effort which can evoke the sensation of sickness of soul similar to the debilitating nausea of the first trimester of pregnancy or of a particularly bumpy plane ride.

For ancient Jewish wisdom’s unique unfolding of relationship secrets, listen to our audio CD, The Ten Commandments: How Two Tablets Can Transform Your Life. It presents the most familiar Biblical passage in ways you’ve never heard before and reveals authentic insights and practical procedures that God wants us to deploy in developing all our relationships. The persuasive truths you will learn from this audio CD will inspire you and astound your friends.

10 commandments cover5

Food and Faith

September 22nd, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

A four-week window of Jewish holy days is approaching. I understand why we will spend more time in synagogue than usual. However, we will also spend more time at the dining room table. This isn’t a concession to human frailty; it is recognition of human greatness.

Ever since the start of our lives as babes suckling at our mothers’ breasts, eating provides us with not one, but two benefits.  They are (i) physical nourishment and sustenance, and (ii) spiritual and emotional sustenance.  The link between eating and emotion is well studied.  Many of us have ‘comfort foods.’  Gloom and uncertainty are often banished by a meal that fills our heart as well as our stomach.

Have you ever wondered why so many young people nowadays suffer from eating disorders that were virtually unknown a generation or two ago?  Surely the answer is the spiritual desert in which so many young people live.  Eating disorders are more often treated by a psychologist than by a nutritionist because there is a powerful spiritual component to eating. In other words, food and faith go together.

Here is the first occurrence in Scripture of God issuing a commandment to man:

And the Lord God commanded the Adam saying, “Of every tree of the garden eat you must eat.”
(Genesis 2:16)

Many English translations get it wrong by translating, “…of every tree of the garden you shall surely eat”

The original Hebrew does not say “surely”.  Instead it repeats the commandment to eat.  Here is what the Hebrew looks like:

from all the trees of the gardenB

Reading from right to left, you will see five words.  [From all]    [the trees]   [of the garden]   [eat!]    [you must eat].

You can see that the fourth and fifth words look very similar, distinguished only by the one letter prefix ‘you must’.

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that God’s first explicit directive repeats the verb ‘to eat’ to tell us to perform two separate and distinct acts with every mouthful. We are to eat for both physical and spiritual reasons.  That way we extract the full benefit from every morsel of food.

Our Creator surely knew that in the future scientists could find ways to fulfill our bodies’ needs through tablets or infusions, bypassing the fruits, vegetables and grains He provided for us. No! Machines need fuel. Humans need more than that; they must eat!

How weird is it that we absorb nutrition through the same facial orifice from which our voices emerge?  Dedicated functionality seems to be God’s design. After all, we don’t smell and hear through our ears. Mouths are different.

Speech is a uniquely human function while eating is not. Sharing the same orifice reminds us to take care to eat in a uniquely human way—one that provides spiritual as well as physical nourishment. In this vein, we prefer not to eat alone and to show gratitude to God for our food by blessings before and after eating, as we’ve written on in previous Thought Tools. Festival days are the perfect opportunity to create one cohesive totality in our lives. Yes, we pray a little more. We also eat a little more, sharing that experience with God’s other children.

Some of us face the danger of thinking ourselves to be sophisticated animals, forgetting that we have been touched by God. Others of us face the danger of thinking of ourselves as angels—spiritual beings at war with our physical selves. The dining room table reveals the truth, providing a place where our true selves can shine.

We place emphasis during this month on starting our year off in the way we wish it to continue. We can’t realistically reach straight for the stars, but we can commit to reaching for growth – maybe that way we will reach the stars!

Character, Not Curriculum

September 17th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

During the 19th century, when England was largely populated by Bible-believing Christians, Thomas Henry Huxley was ahead of his time.  He invented the word ‘agnostic’ to explain himself and later devoted his life to promoting what he thought of as “scientific rationalism” rather than religion. Among his writings is this paragraph:

“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. It is the first lesson that ought to be learned and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.”

It serves to show how even smart people can say foolish things.  Huxley is suggesting that education can give us the ability to do what we should do, when we ought to do it, whether we feel like it or not.  In other words, he believes that will power and self-discipline can be academically taught.  If this were true, there would be some correlation between education and successful living.  However, many people with advanced academic degrees exercise no willpower and demonstrate no self-discipline whereas many people who failed to graduate high school possess those characteristics.

He is right that it would be most valuable to acquire early in life the ability to make yourself do the things you have to do when you ought to do them.  Conversely, it follows that acquiring the ability to refrain from doing those things that you ought not to do would be equally valuable.

But it just isn’t that simple.  There is no course you can take in high school or college that will equip you with these vital life skills.  If there were, there would be no such thing as a procrastinating professor.  Doing what you should do and doing it in a timely manner is not a matter of fact.  It is a matter of faith.  Refraining from things you ought not to do is not a matter of curriculum.  It is a matter of character.

Here is a little of ancient Jewish wisdom’s teachings on the topic.

Each of the three letters making up the Hebrew word for king—MeLeC—stands for a part of the human body.

M – Mo-aCH – Brain
L- LeV –  Heart
C – CaVeD – Liver

What is more, those three parts of the human body carry special spiritual allusions.  The brain alludes to our analytical and thoughtful abilities. Whenever the word heart is used in Scripture, it means our emotional beings.  Finally, the word CaVeD, liver, means base bodily appetites.

Furthermore, the word MeLeC, ‘king,’ occurs thousands of times in Scripture. Biblically, when discussing people, king can refer to anybody rising to leadership over his fellow humans.

Thus, aspiring to leadership means running your life and making your decisions based primarily on intellectual and thoughtful analysis.  Secondly, consider your emotions.  Finally, only once all else is in place, indulge the bodily appetites.  A successful life is lived firstly on doing what one’s head directs and only subsequently on what one’s heart wants.  Seldom, if ever, are important decisions made based on the calls of the body.

Conversely, let’s see what Hebrew word emerges by reversing the three letters.  What if one runs one’s life with paramount emphasis on food, sex, and fun?  Then if time and energy still allow, one does what one’s heart directs, and finally, if ever, one listens to the call of one’s head. What would that life look like?

Reversing the order of the letters making up the Hebrew for king, we now have:

Caved – liver – bodily appetites
Lev – heart – emotions
Mo ach – brain – the intellect

What does the Hebrew word CaLeM, (the opposite of MeLeC) mean?  Answer:  Embarrassment, shame, calumny.  Notice that words like calumny and calamity possess the root letters of CLM.

The lesson is clear.  To reach the heights of leadership and success, do first what your head tells you. Only then consult your heart, and finally, very finally, think of what your body craves. Failing to heed this guidance leads to calumny, embarrassment and shame.

The problem is that knowing this does not ensure that we will follow it.  Every business professional incarcerated for cutting corners and every politician publicly humiliated by his extra-marital affairs knows that he should have followed his head rather than his bodily desires or his heart.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that the basic requirement for a king of Israel was an active and healthy relationship with God.  The Israelite king had to write his own copy of the Torah and he had to follow it.  A connection with God is one of the strongest tools for building character.  Possessing deep conviction that regardless of where one finds oneself, the King of Kings is watching with the highest expectations is a guard rail of moral safety.

There are naturally agnostics and atheists with high character, just as there are sadly, religious people without.  However, what I say to atheists who ask me if I think being religious makes me better than they is this:  I don’t think my faith in God makes me better than you-I don’t know what’s in your heart. How could I know?  But I do know that my religion makes me far better than I would be without it. And me I do know.

Huxley was an intelligent man.  Of this there is no doubt.  However, he lacked wisdom, believing that character could be taught as if it were a page of historic facts.

It is often easier to think wisely when we are not emotionally involved. It is also almost impossible to face a challenge that no one else faces. Thousands of you present intriguing questions to our popular ‘Ask the Rabbi’ column. We hope that our answers help many look at life through a Biblical lens, making life’s path smoother. We’ve collected 101 of these questions and answers into a book that we are delighted to share with you. 

Dear Rabbi and Susan Book Cover2 smaller

Make ’em, Don’t Break ’em

August 29th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Have you noticed how politicians in every country, even those only slightly influenced by the teachings of Karl Marx, tend to drive wedges between segments of the electorate?  They specialize in fanning the flames of resentment of the poor against the rich.  They encourage women to see men as their enemies.  And of course they increase hostility between people on the basis of the color of their skin.

Marx encouraged communist leaders to divide the population by class, race, and gender and to exacerbate grudges between them.  Secular fundamentalist seekers of political prestige do this almost instinctively.  They do it because it consolidates their power.  When your constituents are busy fighting each other, they have little time and less energy to oppose you. What is more, they all turn to you as referee, peacemaker, and allocator of rewards.

If you’ve noticed this in politics, you may also have encountered it in business.  Many so-called business leaders lead by fomenting savage battles among those they lead.  Doing so makes them more difficult to topple in any boardroom battle.  They believe that making team members see one another as competitors is more effective than defeating real marketplace competitors.  It is not only for-profit businesses; some churches and synagogues are plagued with this kind of leadership.

I have even seen parents who deliberately fuel ferocious fights among their children.  It makes them feel more loved by the children who, deprived of sibling support, vie for parental affection.  Increasingly we see, masquerading as leaders, men and women who specialize in splitting their followers into warring factions.  People are now accustomed to leaders who foster dissent, dispute and division.

A leader does not need to be maliciously intent on this mischief I have been describing.  Because squabbling is the default condition of humanity, a “Do-Nothing” leader will have exactly the same effect.  In his desperate desire to avoid conflict and escape decision making that will inevitably disappoint somebody, this kind of leader produces the same state of simmering tension in his organization.

Only the rare leader, possessing both a sense of security and a strong character builds unity in his organization as part of his mission.  Yet this is precisely what ancient Jewish wisdom expects from leadership.

Though Hebrew words such as ‘manhig’ meaning ‘leader’ have found modern usage in Israel, they don’t exist in Scripture.  This is because Scripture is more specific, preferring words for military leader, religious leader, and so on rather than a generic leader. The point is that just as a driver of a car is not necessarily able to drive a motorcycle, a jet plane, or a railway locomotive, a leader of one type of organization is not necessarily adept at leading other kinds of groups.

Nonetheless, the Scriptural word most relevant to our exploration of leadership is MeLeCH, translated as king.

As usual, when trying to probe the inner meaning of a word, we locate its first usage in the Torah.

And it came to pass in the days of Amrafel, king [MeLeCH] of Shinar,…
(Genesis 14:1)

That chapter continues to contain more than 25 usages of MeLeCH, king, which is fully one third of all the usages of ‘king’ in the Torah.  No other Torah chapter contains more than five uses of ‘king’.

This non-uniform distribution of a word like king, tells us that Genesis 14 discloses important insights to king and leader.  Clearly, we are intended to study the contrast between the 9 kings engaged in the first world war of history, and the ultimate victor of the entire conflict, Abraham.

In reading Genesis 14 we learn that much of humanity then was locked into rebellion, subjugation and warfare.  Not only was each king incapable of maintaining unity among his own people, he wasn’t even able to keep the peace with his fellow-kings.

By contrast, Abraham led only 318 men.  The Hebrew text alludes to them as those Abraham raised and educated.  (Genesis 14:14)  Isn’t that a wonderful way of viewing those you are responsible for leading?

The unity that Abraham engendered among his small band of followers was a main factor in the defeat he administered to the large military forces of the kings.

Not only does the Torah’s first usage of a word disclose secrets but also the last.  The final use of the word ‘king’ in the Torah is this:

And it was that when there was a king [MeLeCH]  in Yeshurun [Israel] the heads of the people were gathered together, the tribes of Israel were unified.
(Deuteronomy 33:5)

Which is to say that only when Israel had a real leader, a king worth of being called a king, did unity reign among the people.  As a leader, it is very tempting to allow disagreement to fester among your people as it appears to make you indispensable.  However this is a very short term strategy.  If your field of vision extends beyond the next election or the next annual report, you will want to lead Biblically and train others in your group to lead in the same way.

If, like me, you believe that the Bible is God’s blueprint for running our lives in the most effective way, you want to access as much learning as possible. In the process of tidying, we have found ten Complete Library Packs. Each Pack contains 18 resources (books, DVDs, audio CDs) to provide practical, entertaining and effective wisdom from Scripture. To clear them out, we are drastically reducing the price – you will want to snatch up this bargain quickly.


LibraryPackage with BSB, April 2014

Let’s Get Together

July 9th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

In the 1961 movie The Parent Trap as well as in its 1998 remake, two young girls at a summer camp loathe one another until they discover that they are really twins.  They then collaborate in a plot to bring their divorced parents back together again.

The movie worked well partially because of the genuine love that grows between the two girls even before they hit on the idea of restoring their broken family.  Authentic unity based on real connection can greatly further shared interests.

By way of contrast, when George and Sandra started dating they saw shared preferences, such as choosing the same dish at a restaurant, as a thrilling indication that they were meant to be together.  But in spite of liking the same food and having similar tastes in music and entertainment, their romance didn’t last long.

In the Middle East, two notorious groups, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, often act in concert and with all appearances of unity based on their shared hatred of Israel.  However they have fought one another before and will fight again.  An illusion of unity based only on shared interests can mislead both individuals and groups.

Seven weeks after leaving Egypt, the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai in order to receive the Ten Commandments.

In their long journey through the desert, the Israelites camped many times.  With one exception, the Hebrew verb used for this camping is in the plural.  They, meaning many people, camped.  There is only one exception in which the singular verb is used:

…then Israel camped (singular) there by the mountain.
(Exodus 19:2)

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that their submission to God and their eagerness to accept His Law unified them in a unique fashion. Hence the verb camped appears in the singular.  They camped as if they were one person, an utterly united people.

However, there is another interesting example of unity.  Perplexingly, their Egyptian pursuers were also unified:

…and the Children of Israel lifted up their eyes and behold Egypt is traveling after them…
(Exodus 14:10)

The verb traveling appears in its singular form. Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that the Egyptians were also unified by their shared mission to capture the Israelites.

Israel’s unity leads to their becoming God’s people, winning their land and lasting destiny.  Egypt’s unity leads to drowning in the Red Sea, death and oblivion.  What is the difference between the two unities?

In the case of Israel, (Exodus 19:2) the Hebrew verb “and he camped” VaYiCHaN implying unity, appears before the word Israel.

However, in the case of Egypt, (Exodus 14:10) the Hebrew verb ‘is traveling’ NoSeA implying unity, appears after the word Egypt.

In other words, just before receiving the Ten Commandments, Israel was unified in preparation for their mission of receiving the Torah. The unification preceded their national identity and its mission.  Egypt’s national identity and its mission of hauling Israel back into slavery was the cause of its unity.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that love that is dependent upon some outside factor is temporary.  Once the outside factor no longer exerts its influence, the love vanishes.  However, love that is genuine lasts and imparts durability.

For this reason, Biblical marriage is based on commitment producing love rather than hoping that love will bring commitment.  Love based on attraction may or may not bring constant commitment but commitment will almost always bring lasting love.

Similarly, business partnerships between parties that feel real respect and affection for one another do better than those that are based only on shared interests.  Families whose members are bound by nothing but socio-economic commonalities are not the same as those bound by ties of deep love and filial obligation.

Thinking that there is a deep bond of affection, only to find that there isn’t one causes much heartbreak and disillusionment. Summer and the fall season frequently herald new living circumstances and making new acquaintances. Our store carries two books, Hands Off: This May be Love and I Only Want to Get Married Once, by acclaimed authors because we think that the easily accessible, often humorous wisdom in these books is so valuable. We urge you to read them and share them with others, especially young people who have the opportunity, with your help, of choosing smart, successful relationships.

Hands Off smaller IOWT

I’ve Been Working on the Railroad-Not

July 1st, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

The Second Continental Congress, acting as the national government of what was soon to become these United States, met in Baltimore from December 1776 until February 1777.  During this time, Baltimore was the largest seaport through which most of the young country’s imports and exports moved.  It wasn’t until the 1830s that New York supplanted Baltimore.

What was responsible for New York replacing Baltimore as the largest trading city in the country?  In my view it was nothing but a great big ditch about forty feet wide and four feet deep that stretched 363 miles from Albany on the Hudson River to Buffalo on Lake Erie.

It was the largest, most daunting and most expensive engineering project imaginable. Tens of thousands of men dug it with their picks and shovels.  The earth was moved by horses pulling primitive equipment.  The Erie Canal took eight grueling years of men relentlessly driving through limestone mountains and cutting through dense forest.  Rocks and tree stumps were blown up with black powder since dynamite would not be invented for another forty years.  It rose 600 feet from the Hudson River to the Great Lakes necessitating the construction of 48 magnificent stone locks to raise and lower boats.

The canal was completed in 1825 and began carrying passengers and cargo across New York State at a fraction of the cost of wagons.  The economy of New York grew meteorically as it rapidly became the busiest seaport in the country.

Though the Erie Canal was the defining engineering project of the 19th century, it was not the end but the beginning of grand projects in America.  Railroads quickly followed. The 20th century saw great bridges like the Golden Gate, the George Washington, and the Verrazano.  That century saw Americans building the world’s tallest buildings, the biggest dams, and the finest Interstate Highway system in the world.

Then America started sliding down the sordid slope of secularism. Grand construction ceased.  Is this a coincidence?  I don’t think so.

Consider these two conflicting verses written by King David:

…the earth and all that fills it is the Lord’s…
(Psalms 24:1)

The heavens are the heavens of the Lord; but He has given the earth to humans.  
(Psalms 115:16)

Well, which is it?  The earth and all in it belong to God or else He gave the earth to humans.  Either the earth is His or it is ours.  It can’t be both.

Or can it?  Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that King David was not inconsistent nor did he write Psalm 115 after forgetting what he wrote in Psalm 24.  He was illuminating a timeless truth vitally necessary for understanding how the world REALLY works.

King David was explaining that to begin with, the entire earth and all it contains belongs to God.  However, if we, His children, trust Him, bless and thank Him, then he gives the earth to us.  Deep down, within the hidden recesses of our collective cultural souls, we recognize that if our relationship with God is strong and loving, we have a right to the earth.  We have a right to carve canals through its forests and mountains; we have a right to throw bridges across its gorges, gullies, and waterways.  We have a right to dam up the mighty rivers to provide food and power to great cities.  We have a right to sculpt highways across its landscapes.

However, should we reject Him and embrace a grotesque worldview that attempts to make us masters of the universe, paradoxically, masters is exactly what we don’t become.  Instead, we rightfully recognize that the earth and all that fills it has not been given to us.  Consequently, we cease all creative activities that improve a property. After all, these are typically performed only by owners, not the tenants or squatters that we have made ourselves.

Taking our place are countries in Asia and Africa, building the grand projects that improve the lives of millions.  Those bridges, buildings, dams and roads are for the most part, being built in countries whose populations are becoming more and more Bible-centric.  A coincidence?  I don’t think so.

Your life, like mine, is punctuated by grand projects.  Some of these concern your home, family, marriage or child-raising.  Other grand projects you’re working on involve making money and developing a business or career.  Just like the grand projects of nations, yours are also fueled by faith and carried on conviction.  The forces that sap the will of nations and individuals are not new. They first appear early in Genesis. Going beneath the surface of those verses can increase your determination and drive your results. Tower of Power-Decoding the Secrets of Babel does exactly that.  My experience and that of many friends is that studying this audio CD program and integrating its core, either alone or with family or team members will help you feel deserving of God’s blessing of productivity.  In order to make sure that as many of you as possible experience this amazing teaching, its price has been reduced for readers of this Thought Tool.  Enjoy and get airborne!

TOP horizontal, 1 of 3


Perhaps Love

June 25th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

If you know what your car engine sounds like when running normally, you will instantly pick up early signs of mechanical problems. If you know the sound your baby makes when he’s hungry, you will immediately recognize a cry of pain. Departure from pattern is a warning sign.

In forensic accounting, false expense submissions are often picked out because the culprit tends to make up numbers randomly. However, in the real world there are predictable patterns regarding the occurrences of various digits (The interested can pursue this phenomenon by exploring Benford’s Law). Departure from predictable patterns alerts us to something possibly significant.

The Lord’s language, Hebrew is a beautifully precise language, often conveying not only the meaning of the word but also the emotion behind the meaning.

Consider, for instance, the word “perhaps”; on the surface, a simple word. It indicates that something may or may not happen.

Now consider these two sentences:

Looking at the man she loved, Jane wondered to herself, “Perhaps he will propose to me this evening.”

Tom ruefully contemplated his dismal sales reports and realized that perhaps he faced termination.

From the point of view of Tom and Jane’s emotions, those two underlined words mean two very different things. Jane hopes that something wonderful will happen while Tom dreads the possibility of something awful happening.

However, in Hebrew, there are two different words for perhaps. The word ULai is used in circumstances when the speaker devoutly wishes for the event to occur, while the word PeN is used when he hopes it won’t.

Perhaps (ULai) there are fifty
righteous people in the city [of Sedom]…

(Genesis 18:24)

…now let us go there, perhaps (ULai)
he’ll tell us the road…

(I Samuel 9:6)

And from the tree in the middle of the garden, God said you shall not eat of it or touch it, [or else] perhaps (PeN) you’ll die.  
(Genesis 3:3)

Come let us deal wisely with him
[or else] perhaps (PeN) he’ll multiply and
when war comes he will join our enemies…

(Exodus 1:10)

Once we understand this difference, we can be alert for any examples in Scripture when it appears that the wrong word is being used.

When Abraham dispatches his Chief of Staff, Eliezer, to find a bride for his son, Isaac, we spot such an unexpected usage.

Abraham directs Eliezer to travel to his birthplace and bring back a bride. Eliezer reasonably inquires what is to be done in the event of a problem.

…perhaps the woman will not be willing
to follow me to this land…

(Genesis 24:5)

Since this would be a most undesirable outcome, we’d expect Eliezer to have used the word PeN. Yet, inexplicably he says ULai.

This informs us that deep down, Eliezer desired his mission to fail. He subconsciously hoped that no girl would come back with him to marry Isaac.

Why? Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that Eliezer had a daughter of marriageable age. He was harboring the hope that his master, Abraham, would say, “Eliezer, you have a lovely daughter, I have a wonderful son…”

When Abraham didn’t suggest this, Eliezer forlornly held one remaining hope. Perhaps no woman would be willing to accompany him to Canaan. Perhaps then Isaac would marry his daughter.

Abraham’s next words dashed his hopes by making clear that Eliezer’s daughter was not an option for Isaac.   It is to the credit of Eliezer that after this big disappointment, he nonetheless carried out his mission faithfully and successfully.

Once we know the general rules, any departure from those rules attracts our attention like a flaring Fourth of July firework rocket arcing through a dark night sky.

For this reason it pays to know the rules; knowing how the world REALLY works makes it easy to spot exceptions. Spotting exceptions helps provide early warning of forthcoming problems whether in business or in social interactions. Forty rules of how the world REALLY works form the basis of my new book Business Secrets from the Bible-Spiritual Success Strategies for Financial Abundance. Join my many friends who have already elevated the trajectory of their earnings. Loving money is a bad idea but making money is wonderful. I’d like to see you (or someone you care for) make more money. Can I send you your own copy of Business Secrets from the Bible?

Business Secrets from the Bible


Trust, Ownership, Decency

June 17th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Is it a coincidence that countries with healthy Jewish populations tend to enjoy far greater economic success than those without?  King Edward I expelled the Jews from England in 1290.  For about two hundred years prior, England’s economy had been growing dramatically with Jews playing a significant role in the development of silver mining, currency and banking.  With their departure, the English economy went into decline.

In his wonderful book, History of the English Speaking Peoples, Winston Churchill explains that as bankers and lenders Jews held the mortgages on a great deal of English land on which they had loaned money to the crown or aristocratic landowners. Edward I realized he could transfer all those instruments to himself by expelling the Jews.  He did exactly that. It may have helped Edward but it hurt the country.

Almost immediately, English economic vitality plummeted.  Twenty five years later there was a terrible famine that decimated the population.  For about 350 years England’s economy languished, only to recover when Oliver Cromwell encouraged Dutch Jews to move to England.

A similar scenario played out when Spain expelled its Jews in 1492.  After centuries of glittering economic prowess, Spain went into decline. Though the expulsion order was officially revoked in 1968, until very recently Spain never invited its Jews back and it remains one of the most conspicuous failures of the European Economic Union.

The truth is that when countries expel Jewish Biblical values by adopting socialism, either through revolution as in Russia, China, and Cuba or through a sad slide as in a number of European countries and perhaps even the United States, their economies fade and fail just as surely as did those of England and Spain.

Conversely, countries that reopen themselves, at least on some level, to Biblical values, inevitably see their economies begin to thrive.  Think of South Korea.  China has definitely become more open to Christianity with over a hundred million Christians and, not surprisingly, a rapidly growing economy.  The jury is still out on Russia but I am seeing a new openness towards Christianity and Judaism in that troubled land so I expect to see their economy starting to improve quite noticeably.

In my resource package, The Income Abundance Set, I explain this far more extensively and with far more attention to practical suggestions for your life.  However, for the purposes of this Thought Tool let’s examine three characteristics that traditional Jewish values impart to the culture in which they live.  Trust. Ownership. Being nice.

Trust:  When a Jewish merchant in Amsterdam shipped goods to a co-religionist in Paramaribo he could be confident that when the ship arrived, he would be paid.  When Quakers established Barclays Bank in London at the end of the 17th century, people deposited money because Quakers who adhered to Biblical values were trusted.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that the first question we will all be asked when we arrive in judgment before the Heavenly Throne is “Did you conduct your business affairs in a trustworthy way?”   Trust flourishes among those guided by principles such as exact weights and measures from Leviticus 19, leading to prosperity.

Ownership:  The Torah has many laws that only make sense in a culture that allows individuals to own property.  For instance, we are warned against infringing on the boundaries of our neighbors’ property. (Deuteronomy 19:14). The Tenth Commandment prohibits us from even wanting other’s property.

Though King Ahab angered the Lord greatly by worshiping the Baal idols he was stripped of his kingdom only after he stole Navot’s vineyard.  (I Kings 21:19)

Decency: Admonitions that include being kind to the orphan and widow, not gossiping and being grateful are incumbent on each individual. Not surprisingly, people prefer dealing with others who treat them kindly, courteously and considerately.

Business means serving others in exchange for their payment and being in business incentivizes us to become a little more trustworthy, more aware of the importance of people’s possessions, and a little more kind, courteous, and considerate.  Truly, if we are faithful to God’s system, doing well is proof of doing good.

Right now the most devastating obstacle to increasing your income is when you subconsciously buy into today’s relentless cultural message that having a lot of money is evidence that you’re not a good person.  The only way to expiate your sins, they tell you, is for the government to take more of your money in an effort to introduce the fairness that your success violated.  Unless you can extirpate this belief from your heart, your efforts will be handicapped.   Please get hold of my Income Abundance Set while there’s still time to make 2014 a great year.  Discover ways to counter the anti-business psychology while learning dozens of real-life business applications from ancient Jewish wisdom that have helped Jews succeed at so many different times and in so many different places.

IncomeAbundanceSet, March 2014

Fight the Friction

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

Place your hands together, palm to palm, in a praying gesture.  No problem, right?  Now rapidly rub them backwards and forwards pressing them against each other as you rub.  Feel the heat?  What if you tightly clasp a rope and quickly pull it through your hand? You’ll quickly raise a heat blister. Friction, which produces heat, is how nature resists movement.

Nature makes it easy for things to remain stationary. The problem, however, is that in order to make an often reluctant earth yield her bounty to man, we need to find a way to leverage our efforts.  The first way we did so was by means of mechanical devices, the most important of which was the wheel.

Nobody knows whether the first wheel was a slice of tree trunk or a stoneroller.  Either way, it needed to be placed on an axle which had to rotate.  The problem, as we discovered when you tried out my recommended experiments, is that when things move against one another heat is produced.  The axle assembly on Fred Flintstone’s car in real life would quickly heat up and catch fire.  In fact, rapidly rotating a wooden rod on another piece of wood is exactly how scouts are taught to light fires.


The problem of how axles could rotate rapidly without being destroyed by the heat they generate was solved by a Welsh engineer in 1794.  Early in the industrial revolution, Phillip Vaughan came up with what we call a ball bearing. The axle no longer rubs against whatever is holding it in place.  Instead it rides on a number of smooth steel balls rotating with it.

Motion is vitally important and quite indispensable but it is hard to achieve.  This principle of physics has its spiritual parallel.  We humans find it easiest to remain in place just where we are.  In other words, we find it easiest to tell ourselves, “I am what I am.”

A father who has regular temper outbursts towards his children can change.  A wife convinced she feels no love for her husband can change.  An employee frustrated by unfulfilled entrepreneurial dreams can change.   While it is true that spiritual friction resists our progress, God always encourages growth and beckons us toward movement and change.

How do we make change happen?  Well, to begin with, consider the power of the written word.  Of all creatures, only we humans express abstract ideas by means of signs and symbols that our hands carve into stone with a chisel or place on paper with ink.  Those very words can inspire vast armies of people, even those not yet born at the time of writing.  Those words possess the power to affect the cosmic balance of the universe.  But most importantly those words impact the life of he who wrote them.

So, yes, write down your goal in a clear, specific and measurable way.  For instance:

“For the rest of today, every time I feel anger rising in me, I will pause and stay silent.

“Regardless of how I am feeling, once a day this week, I will act towards my spouse in a loving way.”

“I will exchange an hour a day of web surfing for reading a good book on starting a business.

Here’s the most important secret:  Putting that goal down by writing with a pen on paper is itself the first action step in achieving your desire—and any action step unleashes miraculous power.

Think of Israel, terrified by the approaching Egyptian army.

When Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites lifted up their eyes and …they were very afraid and…cried out to the Lord.
(Exodus 14:10)

You’d have thought that at this dramatic moment, God would have told Moses to lift his rod and split the sea.  Instead we read,

God said to Moses, Why do you cry to me? Direct the people of Israel to march forward.
(Exodus 14:15)

God told Moses to lead the people right into the water of the Red Sea before He split it!

Only once the Israelites were in the water—and ancient Jewish wisdom records that it reached up to their necks—does God instruct Moses:

Lift up your rod and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it so that the people of Israel will go on dry land through the sea.
(Exodus 14:16)

And so it was. The miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea was brought about only once the people had done their part. Until the Israelites took the courageous action of stepping into the very waters of the sea, Moses stretching out his rod would have accomplished nothing.

So it is with us too.  Taking an action, a real action, unleashes miracles.  Don’t just sit around and pray, said God. Excellent advice.  If you want to change something in your life, take an all-important action, starting with writing down your plan.

There is another equally important aspect of words. We can do more for ourselves as well as others by limiting ourselves to words that heal rather than harm and that help rather than hurt.  Equip yourself with the tools necessary to modify your speech patterns.  Enjoy the benefits, both social and professional, of more effective communication free of distracting negativity.  Join the thousands who have successfully moved forward with Perils of Profanity—You Are What You Speak, a one hour audio CD. Act now!

Perils of Profanity - CDs coming out of case                 Available at Order now sign
by  mail or download

and on            amazon 64x 64 cropped