My just concluded United Kingdom speaking tour began with an address to Citygate Church in London the night I arrived. Dispelling jetlag with adrenaline, I taught about how much of the Torah emphasizes God’s desire for His children to nurture strong and emotionally authentic relationships with one another. I showed how God wants families and communities to not merely to live together but to be utterly bound up with one another. I condemned the style of social organization that turns humans into socio-economic cogs incapable of genuine connection and warmth.
The next morning I made a pilgrimage to Chartwell, the beloved home of Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine. There, among the many moving artifacts of two remarkable lives, was much correspondence between husband and wife. Written with ink on paper, the letters reveal warmth of feeling and closeness that Churchill’s political nemeses probably never suspected he possessed.
In our email age in which electronic communication has all but supplanted ink on paper, it is easy to overlook the great value in a handwritten letter. Precisely because it is so effortless and inexpensive to dispatch an email, by comparison the value of an ink on paper letter has risen even higher. In an age when we communicate online with all our friends at once, a handwritten letter emphasizes, “I really care about you.”
To many of us, life as we’ve blessedly known it seems precarious right now. Let’s take a lesson from the years preceding the Flood.
And it was, when man began to increase…
In Hebrew, the word for “increase” is ‘laRoV’. The word is similar to the word for quarrel, ‘RiV’. In Hebrew, words that share core letters beg to be examined together. Ancient Jewish wisdom tells us that this phrase doesn’t refer to population size. It is describing men who have lost a shared moral framework and see each other as rivals rather than partners. Ten friends is a stimulating group; ten enemies is a mob. The next verse goes on to say how women became the victims of this lack of fraternal feeling. Economically, sexually and socially, things rapidly went downhill from there.
Now is an appropriate time to make sure that you are building real relationships. Writing handwritten letters is one helpful tool. Here are five tips:
1. Obtain a nice fountain pen rather than using the promotional ballpoint pen from your last hotel room.
2. Acquire some good quality notepaper rather than using an 8 ½ X 11 piece of white paper you removed from the copier machine. Get matching envelopes.
3. Keep pen, paper, envelopes and stamps together in some handy location so that when you consider writing a letter, you can instantly follow up with the action.
4. Write alone and in silence, far from your computer and phone. You’ll enjoy seeing how pen and paper stimulate your brain once you’ve banished the electronics.
5. Think about what you wish to achieve and plan an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Write a draft; hone it and write a final copy.
You’ll get better and better at handwriting letters; your penmanship and style will both quickly improve. Don’t allow thoughts of posterity to inhibit you; not all your letters will be worth keeping and not all will be kept. Every now and again, you’ll write a gem that will show up years into the future and bring delight to others.
We humans keep on fruitlessly attempting to improve life by abandoning God’s basic principles for successful living. In my audio Cd, The Gathering Storm: Decoding the Secrets of Noah, I reveal how the Biblical chapters describing Noah and the events leading to the Flood emphasize the social and economic calamities that follow the erosion of authentic human relationship. Noah’s life provides hope for us and delivers advice on how to protect our children from being swept away by the wrong ideas that surround us. His path to safety can be ours as well. I urge you to take advantage of the sale we are running right now and learn how to prepare your own life-saving ark.
This week’s Susan’s Musings: Economic Conservatives. Social Conservatives. Is it Time for a Divorce?
I read your piece in the Wall Street Journal and was nodding in agreement and cheering you on. That is, until about half way through. You wrote some marvelous phrases about the GOP’s tragic inability to sell a conservative economic message to those very voters who sided with the Democratic Party despite the fact they hold, “a government shackle waiting to be slapped onto the wrists of every young voter they ensnare.” I agree wholeheartedly with the visual picture you create that, “The GOP is like a supermodel who’s has been doing photo shoots under fluorescent bulbs without any makeup.” We do have the right ideas and we have failed abysmally in marketing them.
But, then you start discussing moral issues…READ MORE
Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here
Dear Rabbi Lapin,
Last year I asked you what I ought to do when I thought a certain woman in my life would make a great mate, yet I wasn’t experiencing the emotions I thought I ought to have to pursue her. Your response and the Thought Tool that encouraged me to ask the question greatly impacted me. Last month, Sommer and I got married. I couldn’t be more satisfied with her. She is a Godly, beautiful woman, everything I had ever hoped for and never thought was possible to find these days.
Thank you for the words of wisdom and encouragement.
Read Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin’s original ANSWER HERE