Enable or Enabling?

To “enable” means to make something possible, such as to give someone authority over others or the means to accomplish a goal.

However, “enabling” someone is not the same thing: to enable someone is to help them accomplish what they need to do, but when we are enabling someone, we are doing what needs to be done, ourselves, instead of helping them to do it.

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It is as the old adage goes: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

In Hebrew, the word tzedakah means “charity.” It is a mitzvah (good deed) to do tzedakah, and Shaul tells us all that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6), so what can be wrong with enabling someone if it is done cheerfully?

What is wrong with it is that you do not help someone by always doing for them what they need to learn to do for themselves.

I have been blessed with people in different third world countries asking me to help them by supplying them with Bible study materials and other needs. They have asked me to send them the books I have written and also to raise funds for education and transportation. I have done so twice, and I don’t mind sharing that it has been mostly at my personal expense. I have had to tell people that I will no longer spend my own money to help them, and have offered, instead, suggestions on how they could or might try to solve these problems on their own.

It bothers me that I have to do this because, honestly, I could find the means in my budget to send them money every month, even though it would cost me a lot of money in transfer fees. But I already do tzedakah to some charities that are doing God’s work and to secular charities, as well. And I know that whatever blessings God gives me that I share with others will be given back to me because God never runs out of blessings. But does that mean I have to give up everything God has given me?

Do you know the story about the Rabbi and the flood?

A small town was in the path of an oncoming flood and when the water was up to everyone’s ankles, the town’s Rabbi was running all over town warning people to leave. A man came by in a pickup truck and said, “Get in Rabbi!” but the Rabbi said, “Go save someone else- God will take care of me.”

The water continued to rise and now it was up to his waist. He was still wading through helping people when a man came by in a rowboat and said, “Rabbi, get in and I will take you to safety.” The Rabbi said, “Go save someone else- God will take care of me.” Now the water is up to his ears and he is swimming to make sure people are getting out when a helicopter comes overhead, and they shout through their megaphone, “Rabbi- we are dropping a line. Grab hold so we can pull you up.” But again the Rabbi said, “Go save someone else- God will take care of me.”

Eventually, the Rabbi drowns in the flood, and when he gets to heaven he asks God, “Why did you let me drown? I told everyone that you would take care of me?”  God said to the Rabbi, “What are you talking about? I sent you a truck, I sent you a rowboat…I even sent you a helicopter!”

There comes a point when we have to make sure that we enjoy the blessings God has given us instead of hastily giving them away, even when what we are doing is a form of tzedakah. This is a truth that Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) came to realize.

I confess I do feel guilty that I won’t spend money when I know I could, but this is part of the “tough love” that we all need to practice when we see people who are in genuine need and who constantly ask for help. Once you give, you should expect to be asked to give, again, and you need to recognize when you have reached the point at which you are no longer helping someone to resolve their problems, but enabling them by solving their problems, for them.

Here in America (and this is my opinion) too many parents over the past two generations or so have stopped teaching their children how to be independent, and instead of exposing them to the tsouris in the world (I’m using a lot of Jewish terminologies today!) have tried to raise them in a bubble of protection to “empower” them and not “traumatize” their young, innocent minds. This has proven itself to be a bad thing because so many of the “Millennials” are totally clueless about the world, and have such “thin skin” that they are traumatized by the slightest, little problem. They haven’t been taught how to live independent lives or to deal with the problems in the world: they have been so enabled they can’t even blow their own nose!

And they also have no ability to discern… anything.

This is what enabling does to a person, and even when someone’s motives are good, the results speak for themselves: when you are enabling someone you are not helping them, you are actually hurting them.

So, what is my point? It is this: you should do tzedakah, but you need to use discernment and recognize when your good deed is no longer doing that person any good. When you feel you have reached that point, you need to be compassionately stern and simply say, “I am sorry, but I won’t do this for you anymore. I will pray for you, I will offer suggestions and emotional support, but the money stays with me.”

Tough love is tough on both the ones giving it and the ones receiving it, but it is the only way to help someone else learn to take care of themself.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Acarey Mot (After the death) Leviticus 16 – 18

After the death, as in, after the death of Aaron’s two sons, who came before the Lord with unknown fire, drunk and ambitious. They learned the hard way you shouldn’t “Drink and Daven!”

Chapter 16 deals with the preparation and ceremonies for Yom Kippur, specifically regarding the preparations and duties of the High Priest (Cohen HaGadol.) The other chapters deal with slaying of animals and improper relationships, specifically improper sexual relationships.

From Chapter 18 to the end of Leviticus must be read to understand the origins of all that Yeshua taught us. These chapters deal with relationships between each other, which (ultimately) affect our relationship with God, and cover both familial and social relationships.

Chapter 16 teaches us that we must prepare ourselves before coming to God by cleansing our own sin, and the sin within our household. Many, if not most, Believing families aren’t composed of generations of Believers on both sides, so (in reality) I feel safe in saying that we all have close family members and friends that do not share our beliefs. Maybe they go to church or synagogue every week, and observe their holidays, but they haven’t really accepted Yeshua as their Messiah or really done T’shuvah. Although we must clean ourselves of sin, we can’t just destroy every relationship we have with an unbelieving person; in fact, we should not disown them because they are living in darkness and we are supposed to be the light for them.

We can ‘clean our house’ by not condoning or enabling sin. If we have a child that rejects God, when in your house he or she must not blaspheme or insult God, and the rules you live by as a God-fearing person must be obeyed by everyone in your house. What someone does on their own, outside of your home, is their business; but, if they live in your house, while they are there they will honor your beliefs and not sin.

You want to do drugs, fornicate, drink to excess?  Go somewhere else to do it, and I refuse to help. If you get stuck somewhere, find your own way home. When you are in this house I will treat you well, but if you leave it to sin then find your own way back or sleep on the street.

This isn’t mamby-pampy love; if you are the type of parent who says about your child, “Not my Baby! My Baby is a good boy/girl” as the cops drag them away, you need to clean your house! Actually, you need to wake up and clean the sin out of your own heart!

Yeshua tells us, clearly, that family can get in the way of having a clean heart and house:

Luke 9:62-“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.

Luke 14:26- “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”

Matthew 10:34-37- Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—36   a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

These are tough lessons for us, but necessary ones.

Look, I’m not telling you to divorce your spouse and kick your child out into the streets, then quit your job, tell all your non-Believing friends to hit the road and ask the Pastor if you can sleep in the sanctuary from now on. What I am saying is that you need to recognize the sin in yourself and your “house”, meaning the relationships in your life, whether they are intimate, familial or public and keep them as clean as you can. Do not sin, hate the sin but love the sinner, and make sure that everyone you know knows where you stand, which is on God’s side.

Joshua told the Israelites that he and his family will serve the Lord. Can you say the same thing? Maybe you can’t because not all of your family are saved, but you can keep your house clean by being the example that God wants you to be and not enabling or condoning sinfulness.

I lost my children to their mother’s unforgiveness, hatred and spite because I refused to allow my children (whether I was visiting them or they were visiting me) to do what was wrong, to be disrespectful to adults or God, and to act sinfully. Their mother didn’t care, and that didn’t make it any easier for me. I lost my children because of what she has done, and also because of what I did. But I know that what I did was right in God’s eyes, and although it hurts today (and always will) I can suffer with the loss because I want to be what God says we should be. I pray that one day God will send angels to show my children the truth and we will be reconciled, to each other and to God, so that we can be Mishpocha (family) centered on Adonai.

Being right is never easy and, since the world is wrong, being right also means being separated from the world.

You know what? Being holy also means to be separated from the world, so although it is tough, often lonely, usually persecuted one way or another, being holy is what we are supposed to be, and these chapters in Leviticus, from 18 to the end, tell us how to be holy.

If you think that the Old Covenant is not needed anymore because Yeshua is all we need, think again- these next chapters are, essentially, the main lessons that Yeshua taught.

John said that the Word became flesh- the only “word” was Torah, and the flesh it became is Yeshua. So, if Yeshua, being the Living Torah, is still alive then Torah is still alive.

Think about that the next time someone says the Old Covenant is only for Jews.