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"Bill of Responsibilities" & Economics

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  The big political debate in economics is how involved the government should be in getting important things done. One school of thought (libertarian) is that government is only here to protect our rights, and shouldn’t do anything other than that. The free market and capitalism will take care of the rest. The other school of thought (progressive), is that raw capitalism is like a jungle, where the strongest wins, and the government should take the lead in big & bold initiatives, like fighting poverty, protecting our environment and ensuring public safety. Government only gets involved because capitalism failed to solve those problems. The other side argues that government only messes things up and doesn’t solve problems. Nonprofits, fueled by the free market, can solve the same problems government tries to solve more efficiently, without infringing on the rights of it’s citizens. The other side will argue that some problems are too big for nonprofits to solve. Look at the tremendo

America is Falling Apart, But It's OK

 It's been brewing for a while, but the events of this week underscore a sad milestone in the path America seems to be on.  The majority of Americans, on both sides of the political aisle, believe that America is heading in the wrong direction.  Each side blames the other with evidence and rationale to explain their beliefs.   As Jews, we aren't loyal to either political side.  The Previous Rebbe once said about politics, "Nothing can exist without the truth of Torah.  Whatever truth exists in each political side is from Torah." I've been wanting to write this idea down for a while now, but have been waiting for the right time.  Hopefully that time is now.  Many political systems and empires have achieved the status of world power, from the Babylonians, to the Romans, to the Turks, the British, and for the last 300 years, America.  America has been a tremendously benevolent country, and has created unprecedented prosperity.  However, empires' status as world p

CPR Lesson from Snuffed Candle

  One Chanukah, when I was a teenager, a friend showed me a cool trick.  If you snuff out a candle, the smoke rises from the wick for a few seconds.  If you place another flame directly in that smoke , the flame will actually follow the smoke down and relight the candle.  I made a video showing it  here .  It's a cool trick, but I never really understood the real meaning of it, until last week when I realized that this is exactly what happened to my son when I blew his soul back into him! "A candle of G-d is the soul of man" (Proverbs 20, 27).  Chassidus elaborates on the parallels.  Flames don't want to exist.  They want to expire & fly back up to where they came from in heaven.  It's the wick and fuel that tie the flame down and keep it from expiring.  So too, a soul wants to fly back up to heaven, where it came from, and the body is what keeps the soul down here alive. As a flame is extinguished, and it's en route back up to heaven, a trail of smoke fol

Accepting the Unacceptable

Yom Kippur is known as the "Day of Unconditional Acceptance," when G-d forgives & accepts us, but what do that actually mean?  Aren't there limits to how much we (or G-d) can accept?  Everything has limits, including acceptance! Every once in a while, we read stories about someone who was in the dumps, and was uplifted by a teacher, friend, boss or "angel".  Many times, these are people who have failed, ended up in prison, or made other serious mistakes in life.  They recall being ignored because of their past failures, until some special person saw in them what no one else saw.  "It was that  belief in me  and  unconditional acceptance  that gave me the strength to achieve" is what they'll recall.   Indeed, the nonbelievers had good reason to not believe and reject.  This person was a failure!  Judging by their actions, this person was "undeserving" of attention, a second chance, or a helping hand.   This doesn't even have to be

Poem about Torah

Here is a story that happened to me, While I was still swimming in my mother’s tummy. An angel, a malach, came over to me, And taught me the Torah from Aleph to Z. But then he tapped me so hard on my nose, And I felt it all leave from my head through my toes. I forgot all the Torah that he had taught to me, And just then I popped out of mommy’s tummy. For years, it bothered me.   Why did all that Torah flee? Then one day while walking I saw an old man. Can I ask you a question, and he said, yes you can. So I asked the old man who seemed so soft and kind, Why did the Torah disappear from my mind? And if all that Torah I had to forget, Why did they teach me from the onset? The old man looked down at me with a smile, To explain this one, he said, will take quite a while. Because of your parents love and care. Most things that they have they will certainly share, But some things they won’t, like a diamond or a gem, They won’t let anyone get close to them. Our father, Hashem, is the King of

On Race & Riots

After the holiday was over last night, we opened our tech devices to the disturbing reality of violent riots which have been erupting all over the nation.  George Floyd clearly was abused and murdered by a rotten cop, and we all feel it's right that he's being tried for murder. Chabad knows the pain of this racial divide well.  You may have heard of the Crown Heights riots, in which a Jewish car driver got into a collision, and a young black boy was killed.  For the next three days, rioters wreaked havoc, destroying, looting, and stabbing a yeshiva student to death (with a couple cold blooded murders in the following weeks).  I would like you to watch two videos of the Rebbe with then Mayor David Dinkins (the only black NYC mayor to date), and you might want to watch them a few times, to catch the Rebbe's subtle but strong point.  Here's video  one , which was taken just two days after the Crown Heights Riots in which the yeshiva boy was stabbed to death, and here'

Parenting Advice from 9 Commandments

If you count the 10 commandments, you'll find that there are only 9.  The first commandment, "I am Hashem your G-d who took you out of Egypt", there is nothing being commanded.  It's really more of a statement.  Maybe that's why a more correct translation of עשרת הדברות might be "The Ten Statements". There's an amazing parenting (and general relationships) lesson in this, however, which makes a huge difference in conversations.  Many times, parents find themselves saying things like "You must do this", "Because I said so" or "You're not allowed to do this". The first commandment is not, "You must believe in one G-d".  It is a statement:  "I am Hashem your G-d".  It's a fact, and it's so true, that I don't even have to command you to do anything. Try "We don't do this" instead of "You're not allowed.  Try "This is how we do things in our house" instead