Posts tagged " Sabbath "

Trust Folks with Jobs

September 8th, 2020 Posted by Thought Tools 16 comments

In dozens of cities around the world, as darkness descends, barbarians emerge to enjoy their orgies of plunder and destruction. As if intoxicated by the absence of defenders, they are unable fully to comprehend that nobody is defying them.

I think of you, my readers, as noble knights defending the fortress of civilization against the hordes of scheming and surging savages trying to invade and conquer what you and your fathers have built.  The barbarians know that even after they destroy the civilization you built, as they loot its stores and wretchedly crawl through its wrecked ruins, they will still live better than in anything they could ever have built themselves.

Who are these people?  Who is the 23-year-old arrested for the second time in Green Bay, WI, on his way to a riot with guns and explosives?  Does he have parents? If so, do they know what has become of their baby? Above all, how does he eat? From where does he have money for clothing and food, not to mention weapons?

Who is the 40-year-old killer arrested at a Portland riot? We know that he has a baby daughter but no wife. We know that he seems not to have held down any kind of job, listing his occupation as a professional protester.  From where does he have money for all of life’s basic necessities?

We know two things for sure about the rioters: They do receive money and they do not have jobs.  They’re not dressed in rags and they don’t walk to riot locations; they have money. People with jobs tend to sleep at night so they are ready for work the next morning. Even when the prize is a few flat-screen TVs, people who riot all night don’t work all day.  These people have no jobs.

They are probably getting money from groups led by people like George Soros. They are also probably getting money confiscated from their fellow Americans and transferred to them in the form of welfare and COVID payments. Some of them are probably getting money from proud parents eagerly reliving the 1960s. Some of them are probably getting money from various criminal endeavors.

We can’t stop Soros from doing what he wishes with his own money and we can’t do much to stop parents from encouraging their children to commit mayhem. But we ought to be able to stop financial reward from criminal enterprise and we surely ought to be able to end rioters obtaining the money that the government transfers to them from hard-working citizens.  In other words, if we took the steps necessary to make having a job the best way of obtaining money, we’d be taking an enormous step towards tranquility.

Sadly, since the early 1960s, we began downgrading the value of work and elevating educational credentials so that many people who could have joined the real world by starting work instead extended adolescence indefinitely by spending years taking useless courses in colleges and universities.  On most campuses (on my podcast, I disparagingly refer to universities as kindergartens) a degree in gender studies or on racial bias in French movies is considered the equivalent in terms of rigor and objectivity as a degree in Russian literature or physics.

An unintended side effect of the then necessary and positive child-labor laws enacted throughout the West by the early twentieth century was to lower the social acceptability of work among young people. Though teenagers in most of the United States may legally work many hours a week in so-called safe industries, few do. This is a shame since work is uplifting and stabilizing.

Consider the first time Scripture discusses the relationship between man and work:

And no shrub of the field was yet on earth and no grasses of the field had yet sprouted, because the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth
and there was no man to work the ground.

(Genesis 2:5) [page 5*]

Not surprisingly, within no more than ten words, God was busy creating man. Clearly, in order to exist, creation needs man to work.  But does man need to work?

It would appear so because the Fourth Commandment could merely have prohibited work on the seventh day. It goes further, directing us indeed to work the other six days:

Six days you shall work and do all your work.
(Exodus 20:9) [page 225*]

The King James translation, recognizing that Hebrew has two different words for “work” translates Exodus 20:9 this way:

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work…

But what actually defines those two different words for work, AVoDaH and MeLaCHaH?

See both words and compare their appearance in the Hebrew [page 224, 7 lines up, 3rd last word and 7 lines up, 1st word*]

The first one, AVoDaH, means work in a more general sense. It is used extensively in describing the Egyptian servitude in Exodus.  See the same word in Genesis 2:5 [page 4 last line, 3rd word*. You’ll easily spot the same 3 letter root even if you don’t know any Hebrew. Yet!]

The second word for work used in Exodus 20:9, meaning a more specific work designed to attain an intended goal, is MeLaCHaH. For instance, general work like moving a table from one room to another is permissible on the Sabbath. However, specific work intended to increase my revenue is explicitly prohibited.

Six days should work (MeLaCHaH) be done and on the seventh,
a sabbath, a special sabbath holy to the Lord, all who do work (MeLaCHaH)
on the sabbath day shall die.
(Exodus 31:15)  [See the Hebrew word MeLaCHaH page 264, 9 lines down, 2nd word*]

In most parts of the world, ice cream is ice cream, but in Italy, there are many different names for different types of ice cream because Italians specialize in ice cream and love it.

In English work is work. Occasionally you might say labor, but it is all pretty much indistinguishable. However, in the Lord’s language, Hebrew, there are two important and distinctive words for work.  That is because the Hebrew culture specializes in work and loves it.  Doing one’s work when it should be done is an act of serving God and is an avenue to greatness.

See a man quick & diligent in his work (MeLaCHaH) he will stand before kings…
(Proverbs 22:29) [page 2010, 9 lines up, 3rd last word*]

At speeches and appearances, when I have the privilege of greeting families who come to hear me, I nearly always smilingly ask the teenage children what work they do. I can’t stop myself from breaking into a broad grin when the youngster enthusiastically tells me about his job.

In some countries today,  we’ve made a terrible mistake by making it possible, no, we’ve made it easy, for so many to live without working. Work was needed to make the garden grow and it is still needed today.

* all page and line references are from Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s recommended Hebrew/English Bible.

Recommended Hebrew/English Bible ON SALE: Dear Rabbi and Susan: 101 Ask the Rabbi Questions and Answers.

Obstacles in religious growth

May 13th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 75 comments

Hi there!

I know this will seem a ridiculous question, and I feel ridiculous asking.

I was raised Pentecostal Christian.  I did drugs and was very lost. I was married at 18, and had my first child, then divorced after 1 year due to drug abuse and violence.  I then shacked up with my current husband and had six more kids before finally getting married to him.  He’s a good husband and father.  We’ve been attending a Baptist church for a few years now.

I am trying to figure out how to honor God, and not just assume that I can dismiss everything I am, or do wrong, as excused by grace.

I am no scholar, I have only just recently started reading the bible, and I don’t feel like I’m even doing that correctly… On top of that, my husband is totally disinterested in what I’m trying to do.  He thinks I’m trying to “be a Jew,” which isn’t true, I just want to honor, and obey God. 

What research I have done recently, has felt discouraging, people in the forums argue, and are all sure they know the real truth, but there can only be one real truth.

Last week, I convinced my family to do Sabbath with me.  Even though I tried, I still failed and didn’t have everything prepped.  My husband works odd hours, so we’re used to eating dinner fairly late.  So I was working serving dinner, when the sun had gone down.  I did succeed at taking everyone’s phones away, and keeping the tv off.  We didn’t even play music.  The next morning, Saturday, we slept in.  We ate toast and eggs, again I failed to prepare food for the day. Went hiking into our woods, started a fire, and hung out until it was almost dark.  Everyone said it was a good day, but in my heart I felt lacking.

I know you can’t hear my voice, or feel the depth of what I’m trying to say.  But I often weep over my inadequacies.  I feel incredibly overwhelmed, floating between the Law, and the Grace.  I’m a Christian, so I believe in Jesus, but He said that He came to fulfill the Law.  I don’t even really know the Law. 

I’m afraid that my children will suffer because of me.  Perhaps I am suffering because of my parents, and they from theirs…the blame can go all the way back to Adam and Eve.  What should I do?

I don’t want to insult the Lord with my pitiful attempts, but at the same time, I love the Lord.

Thank you for your time, and all you do.

Blessings,

Jessica

I love your podcasts.

Dear Jessica,

You sound like you have traveled far in your personal and emotional growth. Women, in particular, sometimes have a tendency not to give themselves credit for things they do and instead fixate on their flaws and what they must yet accomplish. Before we discuss your question we’d like you to take a moment to recognize the huge steps you’ve made. You got off drugs, left a violent marriage, and stayed with and married a man who, like you, is committed to the children you are raising. You are connected to a church and working hard to be the best wife, mother and Christian you can be. Whew! You have accomplished a lot.

What is more, we want you to know that if one had to choose between a life that started well but then went off the tracks and ended horribly or, one like yours that started with painful turbulence but ends in harmony and happiness, this is by far the preferred path.  It’s a big thing you’ve done in changing your trajectory and you are fortunate enough to have a “good husband and father” as a partner. Be grateful. 

At this point, you are a spiritual striver and trying best to understand God’s directions for your life. As Jews trying to follow ancient Jewish wisdom, we can explain that God assigns different roles, challenges and tasks to different people. These include  men and women; mothers and fathers, children and siblings, doctors and plumbers, those living in the land of Israel and those outside the land; those descended from Aaron the High Priest or the tribe of Levi and those descended from the other tribes. It is all about which religious responsibilities, restrictions, rules and regulations we adopt, not about being better or worse. In this scenario,  Jews are supposed to shoulder more responsibilities, restrictions and obligations than everyone else. 

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Nothing Trumps Your History

November 9th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 24 comments

When democracies vote, citizens hope to elect leaders whose values align with their own.  The problem is, how do you know?  One clue is to pay far more attention to what they have done over the years than to what they say.  Interestingly, in America’s recent election, the news media along with their attendant opinion-generators focused exclusively on the candidates’ words.  In one case to ignore prior misdeeds, and in the other to ignore prior accomplishments.  What is wonderful about raising children is that they pretty much ignore what parents say but derive their sense of values entirely from what parents actually do.  A man I know understands this well: here is his story.

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I’m Burnt Out

October 13th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 11 comments

Question:

After a few years of over-working and ignoring the warning signs, I may have reached a “burnout” stage. What used to be easy at work is now difficult; the drive I used to have feels like it has been sapped; and I have noticed a negative change in my attitude. 

Does ancient Jewish wisdom provide any useful information for recovering from “burnout” and metaphorically get back in the saddle?

Justin A.

Answer:

Dear Justin,

Congratulations on recognizing that ignoring your warning signs resulted in a small problem growing into a larger one. We hope that your words serve as a warning to others not to turn a blind eye to warning signs. (Then there are those people who magnify a bad stretch and put flashing red lights on normal feelings—the opposite of what you did which leads to a different but equally serious problem.)

Imagine if you had physical symptoms that suggested that you were pre-diabetic. At that point, certain lifestyle changes might keep the symptoms from worsening and a full-fledged case developing. However, once your health was severely compromised, it would be much harder to fix.

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Future is Spelled P-A-S-T

July 24th, 2012 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

He struck success when his children were aged 10, 7, and 5.  He and his wife moved out of their dilapidated house near downtown Dallas and into a mansion in Preston Hollow.  They worried about their children becoming spoiled and never growing the will to struggle and succeed.  They dreaded their kids developing the decadent diseases of the pampered.

They wanted their children to know that the family could survive happily without the trappings of wealth. They wanted them to learn that financial success is connected to spiritual success.  They kept their run-down old residence and moved the family back into it for one week every year.  The rest of the year, a local church used it for youth programs.  But for one special week each year, the family strengthened its spirit by keeping alive the memory of where they came from.  By remembering their history they protected their values.

As part of their training, soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces participate in a sunrise ceremony atop the heights of Masada where two thousand years ago Jewish soldiers died during a Roman siege.  They are taken to Jerusalem’s Western Wall where Solomon’s Temple stood and to the Valley of Elah where David defeated Goliath.  The Israelis know that to protect, defend, and guard something effectively, you must first remember why it is valuable.

Remember the Sabbath Day to sanctify it.

(Exodus 20:8)

Guard the Sabbath Day to sanctify it…

(Deuteronomy 5:12)

In both verses Scripture is recording the fourth of the Ten Commandments.  So which was it?  Back on Mt. Sinai, did God say “Remember” or “Guard”?  Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that with His unique power, God said both words simultaneously because they are inseparable.  We must learn that before we can effectively guard, protect, or defend anything, we first need to remember why we are doing so.  It is impossible to effectively defend a country, a culture, a family’s values, a business, or indeed the Sabbath, without remembering the history that makes such defense worthwhile.

We find two other important distinctions between the Exodus account of the Fourth Commandment and its Deuteronomy counterpart.

Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it.

(Exodus 20:8)

Guard the Sabbath day to sanctify it

as the Lord your God has commanded you.

(Deuteronomy 5:12)

People who have just experienced a tumultuous event find it easy to obey the instruction, “Remember it.”  Like those who lived through 9-11, the Israelites standing at the foot of Mt. Sinai found it easy to remember.

However, Deuteronomy describes a new generation of Israelites forty years after Sinai.  These people need to be told to relate in a special way to the Sabbath not just because some powerful memory moves them but because God commanded it for all time.

Similarly, associates who worked with you to establish a business will always remember the values and vision that drove you.  But you must help later employees also to remember the beginnings that they did not actually experience.  Likewise, younger children need extra help remembering early family history.

Finally, one linkage to remembering the Sabbath is that God created heaven and earth in six days (Exodus 20:11) while another is that God took us out of Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15).

This teaches us that when inculcating children or associates with the vision and values that drive our family or organization, we should start with general ideas that apply to everyone.  Thus, Exodus speaks of the creation of the world to which everyone can relate.  Later, Deuteronomy speaks of the unique Egypt saga experienced exclusively by Israel, teaching us that only subsequently should we talk to children or partners about the specifics that apply distinctively to our family, our business or club.

Many countries face crucial decisions over the next weeks and months. Too many who vote don’t know how to remember or what to guard. Our audio CD set, Tower of Power: Decoding the Secrets of Babel lays out timeless truths that define which systems of social organization work and which are calamitous. This resource can thrillingly transform hearts and minds, making a real difference to our future. Please enjoy this powerful tool and share it with your children and friends.

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This week’s Susan’s Musings: Did Someone Say Values?:

Did you happen to catch the following news items? I am sure that I am not the only person to think that they just possibly might be connected.

Three headlines popped up my computer screen the other day. The first read, “California Bill Would OK families…READ MORE

Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here.

Dear Rabbi and Susan,

In hoping to attract more customers, how far can you go with friends? Mentioning what you are doing? Asking how you can help them? Asking for referrals? Offering them a deal? Other things? Or, nothing?

In “Thou Shall Prosper” you talk about expanding business by making more friends. You say that, almost mysteriously, more friends will cause one to have more business. And, if you try to get these friends to do business, it will backfire since they will sense you are desperate.

Donald

READ the ANSWER

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