If I cut a beautiful flower off its plant and bring it indoors, I seem to have done a clever thing. No longer need I step outside to enjoy the bright colors and intoxicating fragrance – it’s right there on my desk.
However, the next day I notice the flower is less colorful and its perfume a little fainter. Later the flower fades and shrivels. Its sisters out in the garden are still magnificent. This is the sad secret of the severed flower.
The fragrant flower of civilization is frighteningly fragile. While connected to its Judeo-Christian roots, all is well. About fifty years ago there began a process of severing America from its roots. The process of secularizing our culture continues today.
At first it seemed clever. No longer were we confined by the rules and restraints of religion. No longer did we have to think of cosmic right and wrong.
But gradually we began to shrivel and gradually we began to fade. Sadly, life in America has become more expensive, vulgar and alienated. Yet one great distinction stands between a flower and our culture: we can be reattached to our religious roots.
Those religious roots nurture three areas:
First, marriage. Would marriage have evolved naturally? Would a man or a woman have thought of it first? Men are happy to date for years. Seldom does the man say, “Darling, we ought to be thinking about our future?”
Maybe a woman first said to a man, “I have this great idea – why don’t we create something called marriage?” He replied, “What’s marriage?” She said, “It’s easy. You stop looking at other women and when I have a baby, you take care of us – hey, come back I’m not finished talking.”
Clearly marriage has its roots in God’s Biblical blueprint. Without the first chapters of Genesis, few would be getting or staying married. As faith has diminished in America, so has the strength and stability of marriage.
Money is the second area in which our religious roots sustain us. Without the lens of faith, we would view money as only physical. A physical object, say a book, can only be in one place at a time. But spiritual things like, say, a tune can be on a thousand lips at once.
If I hear you whistling a song and I start whistling it too, I am taking nothing from you. But if I take your book you no longer have it. Well, if money is physical, then the only way to get it is by taking it. For every dollar that I have, someone somewhere has one less. But if money is spiritual, like a tune, it is brought into existence afresh without taking anything from anyone else. Truly, we don’t take money, we make money. Your dollars symbolize how you serve other people.
Manners is the third area in which the Bible anchors us to our roots. The basics of what we consider good manners spring from the first chapter of Genesis. Behaving like an animal erodes the separateness that God gave us from the animal kingdom. We refrain from making noises, scratching ourselves in public or eating like animals to emphasize our humanness.
Our lives are immeasurably improved by living in a society where marriage is the crucible of the next generation, where money exists and wealth created, and where human interaction is lubricated by manners and civility. Severed from our Judeo-Christian Biblical roots we risk losing all that and everything that flows from it.
Now more than ever, we must replant the severed flower. The society in which we live affects our families, health, happiness and prosperity. We can each participate in renewing it by learning and spreading powerful Biblical insights from ancient Jewish wisdom. As the year 2013 starts, let’s commit to increasing Bible study. I suggest our audio CD set Madam, I’m Adam as an exciting place to start. It probes more deeply into some of the principles mentioned above and many others. To help you begin, we are offering it for only $19.95 this week.
(Hurry to take advantage of the Thought Tool Set remaining on sale for 24 hours more as well.)
This week’s Susan’s Musings: Downsizing the Bill of Rights
Maybe I’m telling you something you already know, but I just discovered a disturbing trend. With an empty nest, my supermarket shopping tends to be light these days. As such, I treat it as a welcome break in my schedule, a chance to chat with neighbors and be away from the computer. Today, however, I paid attention while I was shopping, and I certainly didn’t like what I saw.
While I have been aware of prices going up for quite a while, today I realized…READ MORE
Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here
As one of your Christian readers, I have learned many fascinating life lessons as you explain the Old Testament scriptures. I am glad to be one of your students.
One topic I have always wanted to know more about is what makes food kosher and its importance. I see kosher foods often in my own pantry, but would appreciate your explanation.
Read Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin’s ANSWER HERE