Catching Shmuley

April 6, 2007

I Love Shmuley!

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has the TV show “Shalom in the Home” and helps families in crisis. I’ve only seen a portion of the show a couple of times, but I saw a few minutes with him on Oprah.

I don’t intentionally watch Oprah—except that day she gave away a bunch of cars. I read on the inernet what she had done and found out the show was about to air locally, so I tuned in. And one other time, when she interviewed Shawn Hornsby and his family after he was returned home after missing for 4 years. So that’s twice that I intentionally watched.

It’s not my habit. I usually stumble on Oprah if I turn on the TV in the afternoon and it happens to be on. I see shoe designers and pizza tours of the country and I change the channel. But a few weeks back Shmuley was on, and I was hooked.

He speaks from a place of deep wisdom that is so true I found myself agreeing and wondering why we all didn’t automatically realize these obvious truths on our own. I went to Barnes & Noble to check out his book and wound up buying two. I just got to the first of them in my reading list this week.

10 Conversations You Need to Have with Your Children is a treasure. Shmuley speaks very comfortably and sincerely about morality and character being the essential measures of success in life. He writes about connectedness, recognizing it sustains us through struggles and gives meaning to life. He shows there is really no contest between a life of principle and connection on one hand, and a life of accumulating things and social status on the other.

Shmuley explains his beliefs by referring to his Jewish faith. He is a rabbi, of course, and a family counselor as well. He gives examples of other rabbis disagreeing with his positions on certain topics, like arguing with God, which he supports. I don’t know where his beliefs fall compared to contemporary Jewish theology, but I like his understanding of the faith.

There is a comforting parallel I see between Shmuley’s beliefs and what for me is the most approachable view of Christianity, presented through Christian counseling. This field best explains the moral law for me. It tells us the moral law exists to teach us our nature and the nature of God.

If we follow the moral law, we have more meaning and contentment in life because we are respecting our own needs, as God designed us. If we break the moral law, we are injuring ourselves and our relationships to other people.

This view honors morality in a more profound way than a focus on punishment, which overlooks the relational nature of God and mankind. It defends morality far more than the relativist position that Jesus was a “good moral teacher” with recommendations for us to consider.

This is the view of morality and principled living that Shmuley embraces and explains so well in his book. Acting with honor and character brings us closer to one another and to God.

If more clergy catch on to this idea, counselors and coaches may be out of work!

May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,

Steve Coxsey

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