Blaze Books sat down with Rabbi Daniel Lapin, noted rabbinic scholar, best-selling author, host of the Rabbi Daniel Lapin show and frequent guest on the Glenn Beck program to get his recommendations on books for the holiday season. Rabbi Lapin’s list is one of multiple contributions to come as part of a series in which we asked a number of religious leaders for their recommendations. Below are his selections and the Rabbi’s commentary on each of the titles he selected.
1. “Witness” by Whittaker Chambers
Published originally in 1952, Witness starts off with the powerful yet poignant “Letter to my children” that could, and perhaps should inspire each of us to write a similar letter. Crucially for our times, Witness explains how Communism along with its low sodium and sugar-free versions of socialism and liberalism is not just a political or economic system but an entire vision of humanity liberated from God. It all started in the Garden of Eden when the serpent uttered “You shall be as gods” and it continues in this morning’s headlines describing how an expanding government extirpates yet a few more freedoms from the lives of good people. Given the sacrifices made by its author and the ostracization he endured from America’s left, the book is haunting and unforgettable.
2. “Suicide of the West” by James Burnham
Far more frightening today than it was in 1964 when Burnham prophetically wrote it, the suicide of the west seems obvious and irreversible. However, hope lies in realizing the root cause of cultural collapse. Not shortage of resources or enemy action but erosion of the moral and spiritual core of civilization. The Marxist mentality of New Deal devotees and the prophets of progressivism march in through unlocked doors when the defenders of civilization are hollow and the will to survive has withered. It is disturbing but helpful to know that the default for western civilization is surrender but with guided knowledge our destiny can be recovered. Our restored spiritual core can become a blazing beacon of incandescence summoning us toward a brighter tomorrow.
3. “The Old Testament - Book of Esther”
This short but often-overlooked volume of the Old Testament is a worthwhile read for three reasons. First, it is set in Persia, which was the seat of a once great empire. Persia is today’s Iran where latent memories of that great empire might still fuel current political ambition. Second, the central character in the account who is remarkably adept at negotiating the regime’s political intrigues is a Jewish woman; the heroine, Esther. Her success 2,500 years ago might shed light on Israel’s current confrontation with Iran. Finally, this is the only book of the Hebrew Bible in which the name of God cannot be found. Seeking its camouflaged appearances is not only entertaining but more importantly suggestive of God’s hidden hand in human geopolitics.
4. “Waking the Sleeping Giant: How Mainstream Americans Can Beat Liberals at Their Own Game” by Timothy C. Daughtry and Gary R. Casselman
Trying to make a delicious crêpe suzette without a recipe or trying to build a skyscraper without blueprints is like trying to win the battle for America’s soul without detailed plans. Happily, this book provides the pathway to political victory for conservatives whom triumph so often seems to elude. Among other important insights this book reminds us of the difference between winning a battle and winning the war. Practicably and persuasively, it helps conservatives to avoid constantly waging defensive battles and if used effectively it will surely be responsible for more than a few bleeding liberal noses.
5. “Hands Off! This May Be Love” by Gila Manolson
[Editor's note: this title was published by Rabbi Lapin's publishing company]
For cosmic designer or earthbound social planner alike, the question of how to organize male female relationships is paramount. If the goal is a durable, peaceful, and productive society, male sexuality in particular needs to be encased in a matrix of expectation based on rules and rituals. Perhaps the arrival of the birth control pill in the early 1960s transformed honor and nobility into pharmacologically emancipated concupiscence with societal decay as its legacy. This book persuasively justifies restoring rule and ritual into contemporary dating and mating. It is a readable presentation of anecdotal and scientific proof for how young (and not-so-young) individuals can up their odds for achieving true and lasting love and how our culture can be restored.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, known world-wide as America’s Rabbi, is a noted rabbinic scholar, best-selling author and host of the Rabbi Daniel Lapin Show on San Francisco’s KSFO. He is one of America’s most eloquent speakers and his ability to extract life principles from the Bible and transmit them in an entertaining manner has brought countless numbers of Jews and Christians closer to their respective faiths. In 2007 Newsweek magazine included him in its list of America’s fifty most influential rabbis. Before immigrating to the United States in 1973, Rabbi Daniel Lapin studied Torah, physics, economics and mathematics in Johannesburg, London and Jerusalem. This seemingly unlikely combination forms the bedrock of his conviction that no conflict exists between the physical and spiritual, virtue and strength, or faith and wealth. He quickly became persuaded that God continues to smile on the United States of America and he became a naturalized citizen on what he describes as the proudest day of his life.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin was the founding rabbi of Pacific Jewish Center, a now legendary Orthodox synagogue in Venice, California. He implanted the community’s mission of demonstrating the relevance of traditional Faith to modern life.