Posts tagged " rabbi lapin "

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

How to Meet Angels

June 2nd, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

You may be one of those people to whom interesting things keep happening.  I hope you’re always saying things like, “You won’t believe what happened to me today!” or “Guess who I ran into yesterday.”  Friends sometimes ask you, “How did you get that interview?” Or, they exclaim, “I can’t believe that you found one of those!”  Your response is usually, “Well, let me tell you what happened.  There I was just walking along, when all of a sudden…”

On the other hand, you might be another kind of person.  In the quiet of the night, you find yourself asking, “How come nothing lucky ever happens to me?”  This type of individual goes through life mostly as a spectator, watching from the sidelines as others drink fully from the well of life.  He certainly never meets an angel.  In fact, he might not recognize one if he saw one.  Well, here’s good news:  we’re going to explore some ancient Jewish wisdom on how passive people can transform themselves into participant people.

Chapter 13 of Judges describes a man named Manoach (‘ch’ as in Johann Sebastian Bach, the great German 18th century composer) and his wife, who were unable to have children.  An angel appeared to her saying that although she was barren, she would conceive and bear a son.  Therefore, he explained, she was to drink no alcohol and eat nothing unkosher. Furthermore, these rules would also apply to her son who would be a Nazirite for God. Additionally he should never cut his hair because his destiny was to save Israel from the Philistines.

Manoach’s wife told the remarkable story to her husband, referring to the angel as a “man-of-God.”  She also omitted the part about their son saving Israel from the Philistines.  Instead of sweeping his wife into an embrace at the wonderful news, Manoach prays to God asking Him to send back the man-of-God to teach them what to do with their future son. (Judges 13:8)

We can almost see Mrs. Manoach rolling her eyes as she thinks to herself, “We already know; the angel told me what to do and I just told you.”

Yet, God did send the angel back for a second visit. However, once again he appeared only to Mrs. Manoach.  She ran to find her husband and he hurried after her to where the angel was.  Clearly, Manoach had no idea this was an angel because he asks, “Are you the man who spoke to the woman?”  (Judges 13:11) We are struck by Manoach’s detachment from his wife. Not only is he never near her when the angel appears but he refers to his wife as “the woman.”

Manoach addresses the angel, of whose true identity he is utterly oblivious, saying, “May your words come to pass, and if they do, how should we raise the child?”   I am sure that the angel rolled his eyes as he wearily said to Manoach, “I’ve already told her everything she should do, but okay, I’ll repeat it for you.”  Manoach then offered the angel some lunch but the angel demurred and the verse plaintively informs us, “…Manoach did not know that this was an angel of the Lord.” (Judges 13:16)

Only when the angel leaps into a flame and ascends heavenwards, does it dawn on Manoach that this must have been an angel. Rather than rejoicing, he tells his wife that having seen an angel of God they were about to die.  She dismisses her husband’s foolish fears assuring him that if God wanted to kill them it would have happened already.

Deep study of Scripture depends upon many aspects of the Lord’s language—Hebrew.  Most notably we must always be aware of what people’s names mean.

In Hebrew, Manoach means resting, taking it easy, putting out no effort or energy; in other words—passive.  What a perfect description for the man whose wife, rather than he, always saw the angel.

Scripture provides three tips to help us avoid becoming a Manoach.

1.   As a boy I watched many of the 1966 World Cup soccer games.  I have never forgotten players like Pele of Brazil and Eusebio of Portugal.  I remember being astounded at how they were always exactly where the ball was going to arrive.  They were always at the heart of the action.  Manoach was always AWOL.  Be where the action is.

2.    Manoach didn’t respect his wife, referring to her as ‘the woman’ and distrusting her by asking for the message to come to him directly.  Clearly, she didn’t feel comfortable sharing with him that it was an angel and that their son would save Israel from the Philistines. If you don’t respect people, they won’t feel comfortable sharing information that could bring you into the game.

3.  Cultivate courage.  Don’t react to the angels in your life with fear.  God is not trying to kill you. He’s trying to get you to live.  Fully!

In few areas is this more helpful advice than in the area of making money.  Generating significant revenue requires one to be in the heart of the game, respecting all, and being courageous.  The Bible contains many more spiritual success strategies for financial abundance.  I have packed forty of them into my brand-new book Business Secrets from the Bible which is helping thousands of my friends move themselves and their families forward into a new economic reality.  It will do the same for you and for those to whom you present it.

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Sleep in the Bed You Make

May 27th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

I never knew what the job of ‘community organizer’ entailed.  I knew what a bus driver, a plumber, a bookkeeper, or a ballerina do. But, what does a community organizer do?  I found out by reading a little book called Rules for Radicals written by Saul Alinsky, a Chicago political activist.  (And no, I’m not sure what activists do either.)  At any rate, Alinsky explained that a community organizer should “…rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; to fan latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expressions.”  Okay, now I know.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that one definition of wisdom is being able to learn something from everyone.  I guess I’m not so wise because I am not sure what I could learn from community organizers.  However, I know I have much to learn from bus drivers, plumbers, bookkeepers and ballerinas. Around Memorial Day each year, I think about things I learn from soldiers.

This year, I learned from the head of Special Operations Command, Admiral Bill McRaven, why soldiers always make their beds first thing in the morning.  Here are his words from his Commencement Day speech at the University of Texas:

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.  If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”

He got my attention as the Code of Jewish Law opens with the words:

One should be as strong as a lion in rising in the morning
for the service of one’s Creator.

(Shulchan Aruch 1:1)

Don’t just rise in the morning like a lion but rise in the morning like a lion for the purpose of serving one’s Creator.  The question is, how do we best serve our Creator?

Here is one clue:

Cursed be he who does the work of the Lord negligently…
(Jeremiah 48:10)

According to ancient Jewish wisdom, this verse means that anyone who fails to satisfy his employer or customer with speedy and diligent service is cursed. (Midrash, Tana D’vei Eliyahu Rabbah)

What a stunning insight! Taking care of our customers, clients, and employers is doing God’s work!

Interestingly, an English word that describes taking care of business speedily and diligently is enthusiastically.

Here is the etymological source of the word enthusiastic.

From the Greek “entheos” meaning inspired by God.

Admiral McRaven had it just right. Being diligent in the tasks we undertake in our day, even ones that seem minor, leads us to end our day looking back at a string of accomplishments.  When we recognize that performing work for which we are paid is God’s work, our accomplishments grow even more.

I know that it utterly changed my life when ancient Jewish wisdom first taught me that taking care of my boss, my customers and my clients is also serving God.  It transformed workdays from drudgery to ministry.  It transformed servitude to service.  It transformed lethargic indifference to passion and enthusiasm.  As a side benefit, I started making much more money.

That’s God’s work.  Contributing to other people’s lives.  It might even be the life of your commanding officer.  If you’re a bus driver, plumber, bookkeeper, or ballerina it’s very clear how you help other people.  Community organizers? Not so much.

Some people tell me that they want to offer their services to others but don’t know how. Others fumble job interviews or excuse themselves as simply not “people people.” Then there are those who have great business ideas but can’t interest others in them and those who insist that they work hard but don’t seem to be progressing.  For all of you, I recorded my 2 audio CD set Prosperity Power: Connect for Success. Starting your day listening to these CDs as you make your bed, work out or travel to work will propel you to do enthusiastically what is necessary to power up your work life.

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Viva La Difference

May 6th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Walking past a house in drought-stricken California lately, I noticed that the homeowner had replaced his front lawn with artfully arranged colored gravel. White and reddish-brown stones were arranged in a sharply delineated wave shape covering his front yard.

Sometime later I happened to be passing the same house and paused again to admire the pattern.  To my surprise, the edges were no longer as sharp.  The pattern was still there, but the interface was no longer clearly marked.  Some white stones could be seen just over the border in the reddish-brown part of the wave, and many darker colored stones appeared just into the white section of the pattern.  I don’t know if those stones were moved by a neighborhood dog or by the action of wind and rain or just by family members walking across their property, but the borders had become blurred.

I was instantly transported back a few years to when I brought home a box of watercolor paints for one of my children who displayed temporary artistic talent.  The neat little tin box containing ten bright colors and a few depressions in the lid for mixing your own colors enchanted my tiny Toulouse Lautrec.  A little while later I noticed the now abandoned paint box and saw that the ten colors had vanished.  In their place were ten blobs of similarly colored dull pigment.  The temptation to mix and match had been irresistible to my miniature Monet, and mix and match she did until the original colors vanished.  I should mention that she has since become enormously accomplished, just not as a painter.

It is almost a law of nature that borders blur, differences blend, and distinctions fade.  Yet Scripture virtually screams the message that God created for us a world in which distinctiveness brings harmony.  A world filled with men and women works better than one populated entirely by passionless, unisexual beings.  People with their own dreams and desires improving their lives with their separate skills and ambitions works better and creates far more human harmony than sinister centralized power using force and decree to make everyone the same.

A world with millions of different species of plants and animals works really well.  A world with different chemical elements and compounds works very well. Much of modern technology depends on the differences between semiconductors like silicon and germanium.  God created a world with countless differences and He wants us to keep it that way.

For this reason, we are admonished:

…you shall love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord.  You shall not make your cattle interbreed with different species, you shall not sow your field with mixed seed, nor shall a garment mixed of linen and wool come upon you.
(Leviticus 19:18-19)

What an odd verse to follow the golden rule! Wouldn’t it make more sense to discuss giving charity, being kind to widows and orphans or not giving false testimony? Instead, the Creator, in His infinite wisdom is telling us something counter-intuitive to our limited understanding. We might mistakenly think that the more we encourage everyone to be the same, do the same and have the same, the more loving the world will be. To ensure that we do not make that mistake, Scripture immediately tells us we should even take care to keep separate certain things that we might think would go well together, like wool and flax/linen. How much more careful must we be to honor the distinctions that God built into the world, such as male and female or animal and human, and to honor the individual talents, desires and work of each individual.

How odd it would be if some naïve visitor to my home thought that the menu on my wife’s kitchen counter constituted that evening’s dinner or if the same visitor mistook a business plan for the intended factory. That’s what many of us do with Scripture. We mistake the seemingly simple words for the entire story. No! Scripture’s holy words actually reveal the awesome realities of your life. All you need is information to see beyond the surface into the marvelous world of 3,000 years of ancient Jewish wisdom.  Our 5 piece Biblical Blueprint audio CD set is a great resource to help you onto this path.

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Esther’s One-Two Punch

March 18th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

What do toddlers and sales professionals have in common?  No, this isn’t the latest riddle from your in-flight magazine. The correct answer is that both employ profound psychological principles to project their wills.  Toddlers do so instinctively while sales pros do so after sophisticated training. But we all can use these timeless truths to practice partnership power that helps us achieve our goals.

Almost every triumph, success, or achievement that we enjoy depends upon at least one other person’s cooperation. We invariably require at least one other person, whether a friend, mentor, customer or investor to help us achieve our desires.  There are many unsuccessful ways to try to enlist others to our purpose.  Can ancient Jewish wisdom help us identify effective ways to encourage people to partner with us?

When a human being performs an action, there are two consequences, internal and external.  For instance, if I tell someone a lie the external result is that I’ve misled that person.  The internal consequence is that I am reduced in moral stature, seeing myself subconsciously as a little less worthy than I was before.  Not surprisingly, I find it a little easier to tell another lie because I view myself as less admirable.

It’s equally true on the positive side.  For instance, when I help another human being, I not only change his or her world, but I also change me.  I make myself a more charitable man and start seeing myself that way.  Not surprisingly, the next person who asks for my help will be more likely to get a helpful response.

Researchers asked some residents of an area to accept and display a tiny sign reading “BE A SAFE DRIVER”.  Two weeks later, the researchers asked both this group and another group of residents that never received the first request, to allow a large billboard saying “DRIVE CAREFULLY” on their front lawns.  As part of the request, they were shown a picture of a nice house almost completely obscured by a very large, poorly lettered sign bearing that message.  Only 17% of those who had not received the first request accepted the large billboard.  However, a stunning 76% of those who had accepted the small sign also agreed to place the large one.

Robert Cialdini, a scholar who has studied persuasion, explains that even a small action changes a person’s view of self; thereafter, the person tends to act in concert with that view.  Scripture taught this rule millennia ago.

Queen Esther used this principle to achieve her goal of securing the king’s help in preventing the genocide of the Persian Jews. She started by inviting the king and Haman to an intimate dinner.  (Esther 5:4)

The entire purpose of that first banquet was to enable Esther to invite the two men to another private dinner.  (Esther 5:8)  Only when they accepted her invitation and appeared at the second banquet, did Esther plead for her people. (Esther 7:3)

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains why Esther didn’t make her vital request to save the Jews at the first banquet.  She knew she had to accustom the king to granting her requests so she began with a simple one.

…if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them…
(Esther 5:8)

Once the king complied with this humble request, he set himself up to be far more likely to comply with whatever she might next ask. His view of himself as a generous monarch and loving husband was reinforced, leading to a positive response when Esther asked:

…If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request.
(Esther 7:3)

Though God is not overtly visible in the Book of Esther, His wisdom and teachings inform almost every verse as His servants reshape history; their own as well as that of the Jewish people.

Whether you are a parent or a plumber, a business professional or a ballerina, you too can gain a greater understanding of influence strategies from studying Bible, and this can help you achieve your objectives in your career and in your important relationships.

With Persia (Iran) once again menacing the world, we can rely on the Bible to help us make sense of world affairs and guide us to triumph over personal challenges. Gain greater insight with the help of my 2 audio CD set, Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam. Follow the trail from Genesis through the Scroll of Esther in this mind-blowing teaching as Scripture casts prophetic shadows to the present day, providing a beacon of light in these dark times.

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  •     What Muslims know about prayer that most people, even those who pray regularly, don’t.
  •     The dark side of laughter.
  •     Why recruits in Arab terrorist training camps say “Heil Hitler”.
  •     How to rise above our cultural and genetic legacy!

 

I Win – You Win – We All Win

March 4th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Would you enjoy working with an investment advisor who is paid for the number of trades she recommends whether or not you make any profit? What do you think of a teacher who is paid even if his students learn nothing? Would you frequent a store that charges you for trying on clothes whether or not you buy anything? These are examples of simple transactions in which the interests of the two parties are not aligned.

The sales professional who works on a commission-only basis with no salary ceiling is a great example of interests that are aligned.  When his employer prospers, so does he.  When he prospers, so does his employer. Whether you are interviewing job-seeking candidates or whether you are applying for a position, clearly understanding this powerful principle is invaluable.  It is equally valuable in running a marriage or family. Part of effective leadership is persuading people that you are all ‘on the same team.’ In any interaction, focusing on merging everyone’s interests increases the probability of a successful outcome.

This vision of economic interaction in which both sides prosper is completely at odds with the socialistic worldview in which every economic transaction is viewed with suspicion. According to the secular materialist, if a storekeeper is happy with the sale, the customer was exploited. If a customer walks out smiling, he must surely have ripped off the storekeeper.  However, in God’s view of human economic interaction, the ideal transaction benefits both parties.

We learn this idea from a surprising source. Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that in the stages of life, fifty years old is well suited for imparting advice.  The Scriptural basis for this stems from the few verses declaring that Levites should actively serve in the Temple from the ages of twenty-five to fifty. Knowing that a chapter in my book Thou Shall Prosper disparages retirement, many people have written to me asking if the Levites retire at age fifty.  Nothing could be further from fact.  After their fiftieth birthdays, their tasks changed. No longer involved in the day-to-day responsibilities of the Temple, they were busier than ever advising and guiding their brethren. (Numbers 8:24-26) They were uniquely suited to this assignment. Why?

Here is the key fact about the Levites: They received no portion of ownership in the Land of Israel.  Instead, they lived exclusively on a tithe from the income of the rest of the nation. (Numbers 18:21).    Their interests were perfectly aligned with those of all Israel.  When they blessed Israel, the blessing was genuine and whole-hearted.  When Israel prospered, so did the Levites.

Would you rather seek advice from someone who cares for your success as much as you do or from someone who views you as unimportant or a rival?  Clearly, advice from someone whose interests are aligned with yours is worth more than advice from an indifferent stranger, or worse, from someone who benefits when you fail.

After twenty-five years of prospering or suffering based on the financial successes or failures of others, the Levites completely internalized the message that their interests paralleled those of the children of Israel. They were ideally poised to offer sincere advice to others from an attitude of genuine concern. While the Temple no longer stands and while we are not all Levites, we can all benefit by learning from their experience. Before offering advice to anyone, whether our children or our business colleagues, we must be sure that our interests are aligned with theirs.  Just as importantly, we must be sure that they know and believe this to be true. The more our happiness and achievements mesh with the happiness and achievements of others, the more we all thrive.

This type of Biblical principle is highlighted in my hot-off-the-press book, released this week. Business Secrets from the Bible: Spiritual Success Strategies for Financial Abundance picks up where Thou Shall Prosper: The Ten Commandments for Making Money leaves off and reveals God’s plan for personal prosperity.  It’s not that God wants us to be rich, but He does want us all to behave in ways that produce prosperity. Among these ways is recognizing that our economic well-being is intertwined with the economic well-being of others.  I am delighted to make it possible for everyone to tap into ancient Jewish wisdom and discover tips and techniques for success. In these difficult economic times, going back to the Source is priceless.

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Feathers and Fashion

February 13th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

A beautiful pine tree stands outside my window, obviously irresistible to a pair of woodpeckers.  That towering evergreen makes me happy but so do those two birds.  Whenever I hear the familiar rat-a-tat-tat, I look up with a huge grin in the hope of catching a glimpse of the feathery miscreants.  The male sports splendid streaks of red while the female…you’ll pardon me, but she’s a bit dowdy.

The peacock and the peahen display the same bifurcation of beauty as do male and female mallard ducks; the male sporting an iridescent green head and snappy back while the female makes do in plain-looking mottled brown. Among animals it is almost always the male that nature endows with extra adornment.

At social events, women are glamorously arrayed with make-up, jewelry, and brightly colored fashion while the men appear boring in black tuxedos.  Whether in the workplace or the street, female humans look more ornamental than men. Even at informal gatherings, a man might throw on a pair of jeans and a tee shirt while most women take far more trouble with their appearance.  That’s why fashion giants like Dior, Versace, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Chanel and others flourish on their women’s lines.

To gain a glimpse into God’s sense of the sartorial, we should scrutinize His directions for the clothing of the priests. Exodus 25 launches the construction of the Tabernacle with the words:

And they shall make for me a sanctuary and I shall dwell among them.
(Exodus 25:8)

From that verse all the way through Exodus chapter 30, we read detailed directions for constructing the Tabernacle and its holy articles. (Holy, because through their use in worship, they bring us closer to God).

Right in the middle of meticulous instructions for the menorah and the altar, we take a detour, finding equally detailed instructions for the priests’ clothing.

And you must make holy garments for Aharon your brother…
(Exodus 28:2)

The special Hebrew structure of the verse suggests that, in reality, all garments are “holy garments”.  Clothing is holy because clothing distinguishes us from animals. Anything that differentiates humans from animals brings us closer to God—another way of saying holy.

God could have said something like, “When the priests serve in the Tabernacle, they should wear modest clothing that covers their bodies and that is also clean and neatly pressed.”  Yet we do not find that casual attitude.

From the fact that God chose to issue intricate priestly clothing particulars right in the middle of His directions for constructing things like a menorah and an altar, we know that He views clothing as just as holy as the worship items in the Tabernacle.

Wait, you might think this is true for the clothing of the priests, but not for the rest of us. No, nothing could be further from the truth.   We are all meant to conduct ourselves like priests in these matters.

And you shall all be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…
(Exodus 19:6)

Why must all the priests wear an identical uniform?  For the same reason that one of the most effective institutions in a culture, the army, also dresses its members identically.  For the same reason that at that fancy gala event, while the women wear different and distinctive dresses, the men dress in evening uniform—the tuxedo.

Animals are driven only by a biological imperative in which the healthiest and showiest male catches the eye of a fertile female.  In contrast, people are driven also by a spiritual imperative. In the human world, females are most attracted to the male capable of subduing his egotistical drive and proclaiming himself part of the team, a wearer of the uniform.

One of our most popular resources is our  Thought Tools Set, Volume 1 and Volume 2. Each contains fifty short but powerful ideas to inspire you and freshen up those stress filled days. You are always in stimulating company with your copy at hand and you’re never short of provocative conversation starters.  Join countless generations who have poured lovingly over these enlightening nuggets of ancient Jewish wisdom. Get them  right now at this week’s special price.

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Well, Meet My Father-in-Law

January 28th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Having debuted in 2006, Psych is the USA cable network’s longest running original series.  It is set in Santa Barbara but for reasons having to do with production costs and trade unions, the series is filmed in Canada.  The scenery is recognizably coastal British Columbia, which my family and I know well from our summer boating trips.

The hero, the son of a diligent police officer, solves mysteries that baffle the police (of course) using what everyone believes to be his psychic ability.  In truth his secret is the remarkable observational skill his detective dad trained him to develop from the time he was a small child.  Shawn spots what everyone else ignores; the laundry receipt on the floor or a smear of paint on someone’s shoe.

Like Shawn, we can and all should develop our ability to see – no really see – everything, especially when studying Bible.  For instance, consider this apparently unimportant verse:

And Esau was forty years old when he married Judith
the daughter of Be’eiri the Hittite…
(Genesis 26:34)

Do we really need to know the name of Esau’s wife and father-in-law?  After all, we know very few of the names of the wives of the twelve tribes of Israel.  Furthermore, who cares how old Esau was when he married?

It’s time to polish our observational skills and really see the facts that will help solve the mystery.  First, the name of Esau’s father-in-law is “Be’eiri”. It helps to know that the Hebrew word for a well is “Be’eir.” Second, the name Be’eiri appears only one more time in Scripture, in the first verse of Hosea.

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Furthermore, while the word Be’eir, meaning a well, a source of water, appears fewer than thirty times in all the Five Books of Moses, over twenty of these mentions are found in Genesis. What is more, they are all found within a few chapters clustered around our mysterious verse – Genesis 26:34. Both Isaac and Jacob meet their brides at a well. One of the additional mentions is the well at which Moses meets his wife (Exodus 2:15).

In Torah, water is a metaphor for true, God-centered knowledge.  Thus, a well in the context of marriage implies that the couple is bound by a common commitment to the eternal knowledge of God. Ancient Jewish wisdom explains that by seeking out a woman connected to a well, even if this association is only her father’s name, Esau is saying, “Me too!  I am just as connected to God as my father.”

By marrying the daughter of a “well-guy”, Esau is attempting to depict himself to be better than he really was. Without truly clinging to Isaac’s core beliefs and principles, he wants the credit for doing so. He even chooses to marry at exactly the same age as his father did, mistaking this type of external similarity for substance. The atypical inclusion of his age when marrying tips us off that this fact reveals important insights. On the surface, Esau looks good; his inside doesn’t match his outside.  Though easy for the casual reader to miss, all these seemingly innocuous details in Genesis 26:34 combine to depict someone trying to paint himself as more worthy than he really is.

In contrast, the Book of Hosea opens by identifying the prophet as a “well-guy”- a Be’eiri.  Hosea isn’t pretending to associate with true knowledge; it is actually part of him. Though he is soon to marry very unsuitable women, Scripture is disclosing that he is acting upon God’s direct instructions. On the surface, he doesn’t look good; yet he is following Divine wisdom.

It is easy to miss signs that should alert us to someone’s poor character.  We see what a date, employee or employer want us to see, missing what is beneath the surface. Training ourselves carefully to observe details is vital.  We may not be psychic, but we can notice easily overlooked clues.

Our lives today are impacted by Esau and his spiritual descendants. Perhaps we, ourselves, want to turn away from a poor family legacy and start an upstanding new one. Whether we want to understand what is happening in the explosive Middle East or in our private lives, examining Scriptural clues surrounding Esau is vital. Our 2-audio CD program, Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam does just that. It is on sale right now, by instant download or mail, full of insights that will change the way you see the world and interact with it.

CLASH OF DESTINY: DECODING THE SECRETS OF ISRAEL AND ISLAMClash of Destiny Case

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

January 15th, 2014 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

“He doesn’t treat me with respect,” she complained bitterly.  What exactly does she mean?  Did he fail to rise from his La-Z-Boy recliner when she entered the room?  Did he speak to her brusquely or patronizingly? Without further explanation, it’s difficult to know whether he’s a lout or whether she is excessively demanding.

The Hebrew word for respect—KaVoD—is the same as the Hebrew word for heavy or weighty—KaVeD.

KVD honor and weighty cropped

This helps us understand that treating someone or something with respect means according due weightiness.  For this reason, we use the word gravitas in English. Gravitas, derived from the Latin for gravity, implies weightiness. Without gravity, nothing would have any weight.

It wasn’t a new idea when Aretha Franklin sang in 1967, “…all I’m askin’ is for a little respect…”  Eve did so far earlier.  Let’s examine a conversation between Eve and the serpent.

…and [the serpent] said to the woman,
“Is it true that God told you not to eat of any of the trees of the garden?”
(Genesis 3:1)

As any sales professional knows, never ask a prospect a question that can be answered with a yes or a no. That makes it too easy to end the conversation.  A man trying to engage a woman in conversation knows the same thing.  And the serpent, up to no good, knows he must engage Eve.

Ordinarily, she might never have stooped to converse with the serpent but his scurrilous implication is too much for her to bear.  She has to defend God from that defamatory accusation.

Therefore, she responded saying:

…from the fruit of trees in the garden we may eat.
…from the… tree in the middle of the garden,
God said don’t eat of it and don’t touch it lest you die.
(Genesis 3:2-3)

Wait a minute!  Eve wasn’t present in the garden when God told Adam in Genesis 2:17 that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was prohibited.  God said nothing to Adam about touching the tree!

Clearly, after Eve joined Adam, he related to her the prohibition against eating the fruit of the special tree.  However, ancient Jewish wisdom points out that Adam added an extra prohibition of his own.  He told Eve that death would result not only from eating the fruit of the tree but also from merely touching the tree.

Ancient Jewish wisdom fills in more hidden information.  After Eve finished speaking to the serpent in Genesis 3:3, he ‘accidentally’ stumbled against her and pushed her into the tree.  After she touched the tree, the serpent says to her:

…you won’t die…
(Genesis 3:4)

The serpent’s logic is impeccable. You’ve touched the tree and nothing happened. The bit about dying if you eat of the fruit must be equally false.  Whereupon Eve tasted from the fruit and gave also to Adam (Genesis 3:6)

Adam could have said, “We want to obey God and not eat of the fruit of that tree. Let’s place an additional obstacle for our safety. Let’s decide even to not touch the tree.

But he didn’t.  Adam treated Eve as if she was a child pretending that his idea was God’s word.  He showed disrespect by not allowing her to carry the weight of full knowledge and a shared decision.  The consequences were fatal.

It is so much easier to tell our employees, spouses and friends what we have decided rather than to request feedback or share our reasoning. While in unequal relationships (such as with children) this might be necessary occasionally, most of us err by doing so too frequently. According respect is basic human dignity. It is also wise policy and we benefit from this deeper understanding of the above verses.

One area sorely missing respect is relationships. We immerse our young in a sexualized culture, degrading a wondrous and wonderful gift of God. I can’t highly enough recommend Gila Manolson’s book, Hands Off! This May Be Love: God’s Gift for Enduring Relationships (which we proudly publish). This enjoyable combination of anecdotes, science and God’s word. It is a necessary read for anyone in junior high, high school or college, and those who love them. I invite you to read more here.

Hands Off! This May Be Love: God’s Gift for Enduring Relationships

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Up, Up and…Israel?

September 17th, 2013 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

We are in the midst of a month of holy days! As the Feast of Tabernacles begins this week, our office and store will be closed from Wednesday evening through Saturday, 8:05 p.m. Pacific Time.

This week’s Ask the Rabbi will go out Saturday night after that time.
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I write these words while gazing at the ancient walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, glowing golden in the afternoon sunshine.  The Biblical festival of Sukot,/Tabernacles starts Wednesday evening.  The streets of Jerusalem feature three signs of the approaching holyday.

(1)   Every apartment, house, restaurant and hotel is starting to sport the small booth-like structure called a sukkah.

You shall dwell in booths for seven days…
(Leviticus 23:42)

(2)   Dotted around the city are hundreds of street vendors selling lulav and etrog sets—the four species required for worship during the holyday of Sukot.

And you shall take for yourselves on the first day
the fruit of the citron tree…

(Leviticus 23:40)

(3)   Tens of thousands of Christians are arriving on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Much of the purpose of my visit to Jerusalem is to help Israelis, in government and in the private business sector, understand that America’s support for Israel is utterly contingent on American Bible-believing Christians.

I debunk the bogus theory that America supports Israel because she needs an ally in the Middle East.  If that were true, the strongest proponents of such support would be the State Department, the Pentagon, and the White House.  It goes without saying that those three pinnacles of power are blissfully unaware of any deep need for connection with Israel. If anything, they lean toward the Arab world.

Were it not for tens of millions of Bible-believing, philo-Semitic Christians who love Israel and who vote, I am quite certain that America’s attitude toward Israel would be little different from that of France or the United Kingdom.

Bible-believing Jews and Christians see Israel as a unique land.  We all see Israel as being on a higher spiritual plane.

For this reason, the Bible and Abraham’s children frequently speak of ‘going up to’ and ‘going down from’ Israel.

And Abram went up from Egypt
 (Genesis 13:1)

And God appeared to him [Isaac] and said
“Do not go down to Egypt…”

(Genesis 26:2)

…and Jacob said to his sons…
go down there and buy us food from there…

(Genesis 42:1-2)

However, when in conversation with people of other nations who may not appreciate the idea of their countries being on a lower plane, nomenclature changes to, ‘come’ and ‘go’.

For to my land and birthplace you shall go,
and take a wife for my son, for Isaac

(Genesis 24:4)

…your servants came to buy food.
(Genesis 42:10)

There is a striking exception to this sensitivity.

After insisting that he would detain Benjamin as a thief, Joseph, in his role of viceroy of Egypt, said to his brothers:

…and as for you, go up in peace to your father.
(Genesis 44:17)

Earlier, Joseph spoke just as the brothers would expect an Egyptian to speak:

And your younger brother, bring to me…
(Genesis 42:20)

By using the terminology of ‘go up’, Joseph subtly reveals himself to be part of Abraham’s family.

In response, Judah begins his poignant seventeen-verse speech (Genesis 44:18-34) containing no fewer than seven mentions of ‘going up’ and ‘going down’ referring to the journeys between Egypt and Israel.

Because this is the first time the brothers used this language in his presence, it signaled to Joseph that they now suspected he was a descendant of Abraham.  Joseph immediately broke down and formally identified himself.

Indeed, Bible-believing Jews and Christians do share a vision and a destiny part of which is that they alone, see Israel as being ‘up there’.  I am finding that Israelis are increasingly open to the idea that Jews and Christians are allies in the struggle to save civilization.

My mission continues to be bringing Jews and Christians together to defend our common values and our thirst for God’s word. Studying Bible is a shared passion and I create my books, audio CDs and DVDs to provide everyone access to over 3,000 years of ancient Jewish wisdom.

You have been most patient with our store closures over these holiday weeks and in appreciation. I hope you enjoy hours of enjoyable learning that strengthen your faith and improve your life.

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This week’s Susan’s Musings: Work Ethic, Anyone?

Recently, I was looking to purchase some sewing needles at a fabric store. This seemed an eminently reasonable place to shop for such an item. The store had been rearranged since my last visit, so I asked for assistance from a 40’ish female employee standing at the checkout counter with nary a customer in sight.

“Hmm,” she said. “I’m not sure where those are.”

While that didn’t seem a sufficient answer to me, she made clear that our conversation was over by breaking eye contact and flipping through a magazine. Wandering around the store, I found the needles and returned to checkout. This time, a second lane was (wo)manned as well. Both women… READ MORE

 

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