Surviving the Storm: Navigating War in Israel with Rabbi Lapin
When war across the world could mean war close to home or a whole world war … when conflicts thousands of years old can’t be solved overnight … when truth seems defined by who’s in power … when totalitarianism seems stronger than freedom and free markets … when open borders looked like compassion but instead weaken us from the inside … when economic prosperity and security look like myths … how do you thrive anyway?
Back by popular demand and having just returned from Jerusalem during the October 7th terrorist attack, Rabbi Daniel Lapin joins us to confront today’s challenges with ancient wisdom tirelessly relevant to the turmoil of today.
Table of Contents
Gaining Perspective and Questioning Misinformation
It’s always a pleasure to have Rabbi Lapin join us in conversation and this time he’s lending his personal experience on a particularly timely topic: the Israel-Palestine conflict. While Rabbi Lapin is back stateside, he was in Jerusalem at the time of the attacks and has particular insights on how to thrive in times of turmoil.
Typically, the Rabbi goes to Jerusalem while working on a new book or writing project. He and his wife typically spend between 4 and 6 weeks in Jerusalem each year, which they’ve been doing for many years.
[05:01] “I just find that writing is very, it’s very inspirational. It’s the only place I know where you can go and open your laptop in a coffee shop and before very long you’re going to be embroiled in deep philosophical discussions with people at the adjoining tables… It’s like a family.”
It was at a Tabernacle retreat that Lapin was hosting when they heard sirens go off, and his group made their way to the air-raid shelters. Rabbi Lapin himself found it difficult to make sense of the situation until a missile hit the iron dome, which he describes as “earth-shaking.” The next day, he experienced a Jerusalem he had never seen.
[09:10] “This sort of takes me back to Jerusalem pre ‘67 when I was a kid at Bible school in Jerusalem. Back in those days, before the ‘67 war, [the city] was very small, dark-ish, dismal.”
In the wake of the attack, Rabbi Lapin and his wife decided that staying in Israel was the best thing they could do at the time. While they never had concerns about getting home, they felt that by staying they could better contribute to the good.
What this Conflict is Not
While the conflict is a complicated one to unpack, Rabbi Lapin makes something clear—it is not a conflict over land disputes. If it were simply a land conflict, that could be resolved by bureaucracy. He emphasizes that a two-state solution has been offered many times and declined. What is happening is that, unlike Christianity and Judaism, Islam does not have room in its doctrine for other religions to exist.
[14:44] “Starting in the 7th century, Mohammed started spreading the faith, and he used the sword. The choice was simple: become a Muslim or die. Now, you know, there was obviously a period where Catholicism was spread [by] the Crusades, [and] the desire was to free the Holy Land from the Infidel… but in general, certainly you could say that for the last 700 years, nobody ever pointed a gun at your head and said, ‘Become a Christian or become a Jew.’ But that’s not true for Islam.”
[15:32] “One of the casualties of secularism, one of the casualties of abolishing a God-centric worldview, is a contracting of your window of time until you reach the ultimate of secular hedonism, which is: ‘Only today matters.’”
How Do We Thrive Amid Crisis and Chaos?
4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”Jeremiah 29: 4-7
Amid all this chaos and turbulence that Jeremiah was experiencing in Biblical times, he assured people to keep living and prospering. This is a profound call to entrepreneurs and other producers to thrive in the face of crisis. Trust in God to bring abundance by partaking in the activities of an abundant life.
[46:37] “A declining population and an aging population is a huge problem.”
[50:03] “My point is that using these principles of ancient Jewish wisdom, my folks have been making good money in bad times as in good times. And they’ve been doing that in tyrannical regimes like the Soviet Union, just as they have been doing it in wonderful and hospitable countries, like the United States.”
[53:49] “In order to flourish financially, your head’s got to be straight. And to have your head straight, you need friendship and you need family; and to have family you need to have money, and to have money… you know. All these things interact with each other.”
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