Saving Civilization

It’s hardly surprising that increasing numbers of women loathe men and detest masculinity.  After all, most of their experiences with men have been only with cads, scoundrels, rogues and rakes.  They have been exploited by clowns, abused by creeps, corrupted by crooks and debased by cranks.  Only a diminishing minority of women have enjoyed the privilege of living with that rare, noble creature, the loyal, loving and devoted husband.

It is in the nature of the human male to seek multiple sexual partners.  But God issued us a challenge: Be like angels, rather than like apes.  Only an animal must follow its nature; man must overcome it.  Resist your nature and rise above it; that way you will reap the blessings of the Biblical blueprint.

In our audio CD program Madam, I’m Adam-Marriage Secrets from Eden I pointed out how the Hebrew text (Genesis 2:7 & 19) emphasizes the contrast between man and animal, which is not visible in the English translation.

But you already know all this.  When a man and woman make a lifetime commitment to one another they each benefit from the resulting stability, sensuality, and happiness.  When a wife revels in her femininity and her husband submits his masculinity to the silken bonds of matrimony, the couple and the children they create form a cocoon of security and joy.

What you may not already know, however, is that the couple that surrenders to God’s connubial concept benefits not only themselves and their children but all of society as well.  Only societies that have successfully sublimated rampant male sexuality into marriage have built civilization.

The world is filled with countless cultures but only one civilization.  A civilization eschews violence in favor of voting and replaces bullets with ballots.  A civilization respects and values its women, escorting them onto the lifeboats before the men.  It values life and protects it by advancing the study of science and medicine.  It lifts its citizens from drudgery by promoting a vibrant economy.  It prefers beauty to vulgarity and gentleness to brutality.  Its basic unit is the family.

Every society that has successfully achieved civilization has learned that indulging human desire in unrestrained fashion leads both to personal and societal calamity.  Everybody knows that overeating with no self-control is bad.  People all recognize that alcohol without moderation brings massive problems.  Yet, when it comes to sex, many feel that unrestrained indulgence is liberating and progressive.  The tragedy is that unbridled concupiscence does more to rot the fabric of a society and erode the spirit of its citizens than almost anything else.

Perhaps the most dramatic disclosure of the entire Torah was the structure of sexual restriction found in Leviticus 18 and 20.  One can but imagine the wonder with which it was greeted by both Hebrews and Hittites.  The difference was that Hebrews immediately accepted those rules as binding whereas the Hittites, along with everyone else, mocked and jeered what they saw as repressive and primitive sexual boundaries.  The Hebrews still survive.

Israel was warned:

Like the behavior of the land of Egypt, where you lived, shall you not do; and like the behavior of the land of Canaan, where I bring you, shall you not do…

(Leviticus 18:3) 

  Ancient Jewish wisdom clarifies how the context makes clear that God is referring to sexual promiscuity.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that the additional sexual restrictions circumscribing exactly who priests may marry (Leviticus 21) are not random restrictions but rather these rules contribute to the elevated status of the priests.  In other words, marital and sexual boundaries refine and advance men toward achievement while limitless licentiousness degrades men and lowers them to lethargy and indolence.

One of the greatest anthropologists was the early 20th century, Oxford and Cambridge scholar, Joseph Daniel Unwin.  He devoted his life to studying more than eighty different cultures which existed over a 5,000 year period and discovered an inviolable rule.  The more sexual restraints a culture practices, the higher its level of cultural, scientific, and economic achievement.  His magnum opus, Sex and Culture published in 1934, reveals the results of his research, including gems such as these:

“The whole of human history does not contain a single instance of a group becoming civilized unless it has been absolutely monogamous, nor is there any example of a group retaining its culture after it has adopted less rigorous customs.”

In other words, the Judeo-Christian Biblically-based model of sex being confined to marriage is essential for the development of civilization and for its endurance.  Though Unwin captured this Biblical truth he did make one mistake.

He correctly argues that as societies become prosperous they become increasingly lax about sexual morality causing them to lose cultural cohesion and become confused about their purpose.  He died in 1936, so he never lived to see America as the latest society to prove his point.

Where Unwin errs is that he claims that the process is irreversible.  The truth is that Israel’s many failures brought it close to extinction but a religious revival always saved the day.  This can be the way back to national vitality for the US also.

You have a part to play in helping restore the culture you live in and one highly effective way to do so is by helping others access traditional, Biblical messages about relationships.  Rather than being relics of the past, these virtues are the path to the future. I encourage you to share the book Hands Off! This May Be Love with your pastors and friends. Most importantly, share it with the children you love.

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BFF: Best Friends Forever

Right now, we are in the middle of the Biblical festival of Passover. Without exception, it is the most widely observed Jewish ritual practice even among those many Jews in whose ears the eternal words of the Torah fail to resonate.  Why would this be?

In previous Thought Tools, I’ve discussed how Passover revolves around family – certainly one reason that families cling to it even when abandoning other practices. However, any explanation must also include the observation that Passover is one of the pillgrimage festivals when each citizen would make a journey to the Temple in Jerusalem.  Despite Passover’s emphasis on family, the pilgrimage meant leaving your home and sharing the experience with many non-family members.

Three times every year all men must appear before the Lord, your God… 

(Deuteronomy 16:16)

The haunting Book of Job provides a critical clue as to one benefit of this journey.  God grants Satan the power to hurt Job in any and every way other than killing him.

And the Lord said to Satan, behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life. 

(Job 2:6)

Sure enough, Satan strips Job of everything.  He loses his family, his fortune, and his health.  But wait!

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came …to mourn with him and to comfort him. 

(Job 2:11)

Why did Satan not also rob Job of his friends?  After all, he took Job’s wife and children. He took his home and his business.  If his goal was to leave Job with nothing, surely he should also have taken his friends?  This would strip Job of even the consolation of friends mourning with him.

My friend Rabbi Yakov Horowitz mentioned a profound insight from ancient Jewish wisdom to me: being deprived of friends is a sentence of death. Thus, according to God’s directions to Satan that Job’s life must be spared, Satan lacked the power to deprive Job of his friends. This would have been equivalent to killing him.

Most of us can think of times that friends bring us joy or give us ideas and support that open up vistas of possibilities. Friends lift our spirits from sad apathy and even lethargy, thereby reenergizing us, literally granting us life. Even so, as vital as friends are, surely, most of us in healthy families would choose our family over our friends were such a terrible choice forced on us?

Much of Passover does indeed focus on the importance of family. Yet, the pilgrimmage to Jerusalem adds another critical dimension. We can’t always control whether or not we have family. Parents, siblings, spouses and children can die or be far from us. Yet, unless you are in solitary confinement, you can always make friends. No matter your age or situation, no matter how difficult approaching strangers can be, making friends is within our power. Passover urges us to prioritize our family and at the same time tells us that insular, clannish clinging to only family isn’t enough. We need to reach out and surround ourselves with those we may not know yet, seeking to connect with people from different regions and backgrounds. In doing so, we and our families will be enriched.

When my book, Thou Shall Prosper, became a best-seller, I frequently received a comment about my insistence that anyone seeking greater financial success should broaden his or her circle of acquaintances.  “But I’m shy, I’m not a people person,” I was told.  In response to that, we produced a two audio CD set, Prosperity Power: Connect for Success. As Passover teaches us, not only does learning how to make friends lead to greater financial outcomes, it may hold the clue to our thriving in all aspects of our life. Acquire this CD now, alone or as part of the Income Abundance Set and let one of Passover’s blessings follow you into the rest of the year.

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Passover’s 15-Step Program

Countless people will soon be observing a Passover Seder.  There are many important aspects to running an effective Seder, but perhaps the most important and the least known is that the Seder, meaning order, is an arrangement of fifteen indispensable steps from start to finish.  In order to explain this to you, I must first explain the significance of the number fifteen.

The periodic table arranges into a grid all the chemical elements out of which the entire universe and its contents are comprised.  These elements of creation are laid out in the order of increasing number of protons in their nuclei.  Thus, for instance, the first element, hydrogen, has one proton in its atomic nucleus while the 92nd,  uranium, has 92 protons.

The fifteenth element, with yes, 15 protons, is phosphorus which has the distinction of giving off light.  It is from this element that we derive the term phosphorescence to describe anything that gives off light without being burned.  Phosphorus was used not only in the manufacture of early matches but also to make luminous watch dials in the early 20th century.

It is interesting that the fifteenth element radiates light because the fifteenth generation from Abraham was King Solomon who radiated light in the form of wisdom.  We still use the phrase ‘seeing the light’ to suggest becoming wise.  The final few verses in the Book of Ruth detail the ten generations from Peretz to David, the father of Solomon.  From Genesis we know that Abrahm, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah, were the four generations leading to Peretz for a total of 15 generation from Judaism’s founder, Abraham, to Solomon’s building the Temple, the domicile of Divine light.

In Jewish numerology the number fifteen always signifies the fifteen steps necessary for the attainment of a lofty objective.  In Solomon’s Temple, there were fifteen steps leading up towards the Holy of Holies. The priests sang one psalm on each step as they ascended.  Thus we find fifteen psalms that open with the words, “Song of The Steps” (Psalms 120-134)

 

Similarly, the Passover Seder comprises fifteen separate agenda items, each of which is a necessary step from where we are now to where we hope to arrive by the Seder’s conclusion.

1.  Kadesh.  The blessing over the first cup of wine. The word means sanctification.  It also means separation which is a necessary first step in sanctification. We are separating and sanctifying the time we shall spend in the Seder from all other time.

2.  U’rechatz.  Washing the hands.  The primary organs for moving food from the world into our bodies are our hands.  By pouring water over them, we dedicate them in purity even though we utter no blessing at this point, elevating the physical act of eating to a spiritual purpose.

3.  Karpas.  Dipping a vegetable that grows underground into salt water and eating it.  We start off the evening acknowledging that we are from the earth and its oceans and to the earth we shall return.

4.  Yachatz.  Breaking the middle of the 3 special matzohs in half and putting one half aside for step number 12 later on.  The only way to grow is to recognize our flaws which is, in essence, the breaking of our egos.

5.  Magid.  Reciting the story of the Exodus from the Hagadah.  What distinguishes us from animals incapable of growth is our ability to speak.  This part of the Seder is exercising our ability to communicate by means of stories, questions and answers.

6.  Rachtzah.  Washing the hands again.  However, this time, on account of our already having ascended through the first five steps, we merit to bless God as we further sanctify our hands before the meal.

7.  Motzi.  The usual blessing over bread.  Although we use a substitute, matzoh, for Passover, we thank God for giving us the ability to eat, not just the fruit and vegetables of the earth but also the unique human food, bread.

8.  Matzoh.  The blessing over the matzoh.  This is the first taste of matzoh, the main food of the Seder and further suggests our willingness to subdue our egos by getting rid of all the ‘hot air’ that differentiates bread from matzoh.

9.  Maror.  Eating the bitter herb.  A mouthful of horseradish which leaves us gasping for breath with our eyes streaming emphasizes that unless we acknowledge that our past mistakes were indeed mistakes that have caused pain, growth is impossible.

10.  Korech.  Eating a matzoh bitter herb sandwich.  Our pure souls unencumbered by pompousness and arrogance unified with acknowledging yesterday’s painful mistakes is the perfect recipe for growth and transformation.

11.  Shulchan Oreich.  The set table at which we now eat a festive meal.  We don’t merely open a few cans of cranberry sauce or gobble up a mass produced hamburgers. A set table signifies that we do not eat merely for survival as do animals.

12.  Tzafun.  Eating the Afikomen.  That half of the middle matzoh put aside earlier in step 4 is eaten as the dessert.  The final taste in our mouths is not chocolate mousse or brandy flavored crepe suzette but the plain basic matzoh with which we began the evening’s process.  We never lose sight of what really matters.

13.  Bareich.  Grace after the meal.  At a time when we feel full and sated, it would be so easy to forget He who gave us the food.

14.  Hallel.  The section of the Seder in which we praise God.  After having worked our way through the first 13 steps, we know that we have made progress but we herein acknowledge that in the final analysis it is all up to God.

15.  Nirtzah.  Acceptable to God.  Here we reflect that through God’s love and acceptance of our imperfections and our efforts we achieve true spiritual transformation. Our fifteen steps are done and we feel the ever present light of the Almighty shining brightly enough to carry us through the entire year until we are privileged to do the Seder again, ideally in Messianic times, “Next year in Jerusalem.”

This ‘fifteen-step program’ leading to authentic transformation is one of many growth opportunities Passover presents. More  appear in earlier Thought Tools, including those found in our Thought Tool Set. This time of year is particularly attuned to spiritual growth. Make the most of it.

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Legacy: Your Money or Your Life

The first three planks of the Communist Manifesto written by Marx and Engels in 1848 are: (1)  End private ownership of property; (2) Institute a heavy progressive income tax; and (3) End children inheriting their parents.

How did those two saboteurs of civilization come up with those three first steps to a socialist paradise?  Why not, for instance, (1) No more tall buildings; (2) Mandatory vacations; and (3) Beef for everyone on Wednesdays?

The reason that Marx and Engels made the three choices they did is because of how they answer the ultimate human question: “How did we get here?”  There are only two possible answers: (1) God created us.  (2) By a lengthy process of unaided materialistic evolution, lower level animals like cockroaches evolved into higher level animals like baboons and humans.

Marx and Engels start with an irrational rejection of God.  That leaves them with no choice but answer number two above.  The logical next step is that we humans are nothing but another species of animal.  Since no animals own property, neither should we.  Since no cows or sheep accumulate milk or wool but hand it all over to the farmer, so should we hand over all we accumulate to our farmers in centralized government.

Finally, since no animals retain a closer relationship with their own offspring than with any other animals, neither should we.  When someone dies, his possessions should benefit all children, not just his own. Communists dream of a one hundred percent ‘Estate Tax’ or as it is more appropriately called, ‘Death Tax’.

Those who decide differently on the ultimate question of how we got here correctly conclude that through the Bible, God clearly expresses His preference for everyone owning property.  Furthermore, a tax to a central authority of greater than ten percent is viewed as confiscatory. (I Samuel 8:15).

Finally, God could hardly be clearer that government has no role in the sacred transfer of property from parents to children that we call inheritance  (Numbers 27:6-11).  There is nothing virtuous or Biblical about the statements frequently made by super-successful individuals like Andrew Carnegie or Warren Buffett when they suggest that there is something wrong with dying wealthy.  There is nothing wrong with dying wealthy and bequeathing your children a legacy. On the contrary, that legacy is part of God’s plan for parent-child connectivity.

From interactions with audience members at the financial conferences I often address, I have learned that when they speak of “legacy” people mean both financial and spiritual.  Not only do we want to leave our children fiscal assets but we equally deeply desire to leave them a spiritual legacy.  We hope that the money they acquire from us after we join God will help them and their children live successfully.  We hope that the spiritual and ethical teachings that we leave them will play an even more significant role in helping them live successfully.

Nobody who gives the correct first answer to the ultimate human question will be surprised to hear that in the Lord’s language, Hebrew, Scripture uses the same two words to speak of financial (tangible) inheritance as it does to speak of spiritual inheritance.  The words are NaCHaLaH and YeRuSHaH. The latter is often transliterated as Jerushah, which was a popular and beautiful girl’s name in Colonial America.

 

…the Lord is his NaCHaLaH… (spiritual inheritance)

(Deuteronomy 10:9)

…to give you their land as a NaCHaLaH (tangible inheritance)

(Deuteronomy 4:38)

God commanded us the Torah as a YeRuSHaH (spiritual inheritance)

(Deuteronomy 33:4)

…and I will give it [the Land of Israel] to you as a YeRuSHaH…  (tangible inheritance)

(Exodus 6:8)

By demonstrating the strong link between a financial legacy and a spiritual legacy, the Bible is teaching us that spiritual strengths build financial strength and make you a wise steward of wealth.  Thus it makes sense to convey to your heirs, not only the financial result of your enterprises but also the spiritual principles that guided you in those enterprises.

In that way, you can reasonably expect your children to further build what you bequeath to them rather than dissipate it.  You can also expect them to continue using their money to support your values. Dissipating and squandering wealth or rejecting parents’ morals often happens in families that transfer assets without matching spiritual guidance.

Much of my life work has been collecting and condensing spiritual principles of money.  You might already possess Thou Shall Prosper and Business Secret of the Bible in your library.  However, now I am imploring you – and making a book package temporarily available at an amazing price – to acquire copies for each of your children. Inscribe the books and gift them to your children helping them understand the importance you place on the principles contained therein.  If there are young people not related to you but whom you mentor, I ask you to consider doing the same.  There are enormous financial challenges lying ahead and it is not too early to equip young people with the spiritual tools so vital for financial success.

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Change Jobs – Become a Futurist

In case you are contemplating a career change, I want to suggest becoming a ‘futurist’ (i.e. a secular prophet).  It is not as hard as it may seem.  You boldly announce provocative predictions.  If they subsequently come to pass, you triumphantly proclaim your prescience.  If they don’t, you make new predictions.

Consider one of the country’s most respected ‘futurists’, Professor Paul Ehrlich who teaches in the Biological Sciences department at one of America’s most illustrious universities, Stanford.  In 1968 he wrote The Population Bomb which opened with this sentence-

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. 

In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death…”

 Note that he didn’t say that overpopulation could become a problem one day.  He didn’t say that feeding the world’s growing population could become a challenge.  He said explicitly that during the 1970s hundreds of millions of people would starve to death.  As we all know, that didn’t happen.  He wasn’t even close.  He also predicted that by 1980 all animal life in the planet’s oceans would be extinct and that by the year 2000, England will have ceased to exist.  He is still a highly paid and respected professor at Stanford.  Would you want this man teaching biological science to your child in exchange for your tuition payment of $60,000?

Writing Future Shock in 1970, Alvin Toffler predicted underwater cities, the doubling of the planet’s population in ten years, and the proliferation of wear-once-and-throw-away clothing made of paper.  However, he also predicted the growing popularity of home-schooling and the decline in manufacturing jobs so his score is much better than that of Ehrlich.  Nonetheless, the score is irrelevant, go ahead and become a ‘futurist’.  You have nothing to lose.  In fact, with the helpful tip I am going to provide you, your score will easily exceed that of the two ‘futurists’ I have written about above.

That said, it is important to distinguish between ‘futurists’ and professionals who know their own fields so well that they can spot the gentle ripples that herald approaching events.

Fifty years ago, in April 1965, Gordon Moore predicted home computers, electronic wrist watches, and portable telephones.  All these and more would become possible, he argued, because the number of components that were being crammed onto integrated circuits or ‘chips’ was going to double every couple of years.  Now, Gordon Moore was not a professional prognosticator.  No, he was not a ‘futurist’ he was an entrepreneur.  He was the co-founder of Intel, perhaps the world’s biggest semiconductor manufacturer.  And all his predictions have indeed come true because he didn’t try and predict the weather or social demographics.  He confined his vision to the process and consequence of raising the value of sand (silicon dioxide) by melting it and blending it with other elements.  In other words, manufacturing semiconductors.

In the Lord’s language, Hebrew, the word for sand is CHoL.  Exactly the same word also means non-holy, or without God.

חל           חל

CHoL          CHoL

sand         secular

If you’re a regular Thought Tool reader, you know by now that uniquely in Hebrew, if one word has two meanings, the deep reality of that word can only be fully comprehended by somehow blending the two meanings.

So, we should explore why CHoL means both secular and sand.  Fortunately we possess a clue in that the Hebrew word for rock, TZUR usually means God. Here follows one of the more than twenty-five examples of this just in the Book of Psalms.

The Lord is my rock….

(Psalms 18:3) 

Just like God, an unshakable, immovable, reliable mass upon which you can even build a skyscraper is a rock.  The quality of sand is the opposite.  Sand is always blowing around in the wind.  It is without solid substance and cannot be built upon or relied upon, exactly the qualities of secularism.  Secular fads blow in the wind; it would be sheer folly to build anything upon any secular fad.

This makes it far easier to understand the verse:

The start of all wisdom is fear of the Lord….

(Psalms 111:10)

Trying to understand how the world really works while remaining sublimely oblivious to something as central and as important as God is impossible.  For a ‘futurist’ to try predictions without any awareness of God and the spiritual dimension is as far-fetched as for a baker to try making a cake without any awareness of ovens and how they work.

So if you want to become a futurist, albeit one with a slightly better track record than Ehrlich and Toffler, keep God and spirituality in mind.  I’m sure you’ve read about how the so-called Millennials, people in their thirties who came of age at the turn of the century, have unusual employment expectations.  Unlike their parents’ generation, they are driven less by money and more by other more spiritual considerations such as meaning and purpose in the world.  Neither we nor the world in which we live and function are entirely material and physical.  The spiritual dimension is real.  You need to understand it even if for no other reason than the majority of the people with whom you interact, try to live in harmony with God and His spiritual realities.

Second and more importantly, try and practice your futurism in an area you know well.  When my expert German mechanic tell me that my car’s water pump is going to die within the next few hundred miles, he is invariably correct.  Occasionally he tells me who will win the next election.  In this he invariably turns out to be wrong.

Perhaps my most effective resource for absorbing the relevance and impact of the spiritual side of life is my book Buried Treasure: Life Lessons from the Lord’s Language.  I would enjoy knowing that you have this in your library and are able to apply its lessons to the many family and business circumstances in which you need to peer into the future a bit.

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