Aug. 24, 2020

Ambassador Fitz Haney on Exodus 23:9 – "The Greatest Principle of the Torah"

Former United States Ambassador to Costa Rica, Fitz Haney, joins Mark on today’s episode. His is a distinguished career as an international businessman at Procter and Gamble, PepsiCo Restaurants International, and Citibank and in the investment management business in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Ambassador Haney is the sole political appointee made by Barack Obama who was maintained by Donald Trump, and he and Mark are kindred spirits in the fact that they are both husbands of Rabbis. The passage he has chosen to discuss is Exodus 23:9.

The Ambassador begins by sharing his fascinating Jewish journey, identifying this passage as a revolutionary idea, and revealing just why it is so meaningful for him. Building on the theme of the passage, he relates his varied life experiences as a ‘stranger’ including his Jewish experience in Costa Rica and the Jewish community he found there. As an extension to the lessons he has learned about mankind in both business and government, Ambassador Haney also provides examples that he has encountered of those who have been immobilized by fear. This is a man who has very much lived the passage he has selected to discuss, and his words here today shine a brilliant spotlight once more upon the supreme value and eternal relevance of the Torah.

Episode Highlights:

Ambassador Haney’s Jewish journey

  • ‘Loving the stranger’ as a revolutionary idea
  • Why this passage speaks to Ambassador Haney so strongly
  • His varied experiences with others as a ‘stranger’
  • His Jewish experience as Ambassador to Costa Rica
  • The Jewish community in Costa Rica
  • The lessons that the Ambassador has learned about mankind in business and government
  • His examples of those being immobilized by fear


“You have a Jewish soul. It just will take time for it to develop.”

“It is the most frequently cited commandment in the Bible – 36 times – ‘to love the stranger’ in various forms and incarnations.”

“This was a revolutionary idea.”

“I think my entire life, in some ways because of the situations I was in, I felt like a stranger, I felt like an outsider.”

“Costa Rica, you know, has a…small but very strong Jewish community, and it’s very connected to Israel.”

“You have to actually do something to welcome the stranger into your world.”

“You are only as happy as your most miserable child.”

“The fear of failure tends to paralyze people.”

“We have to be commanded to step out of our comfort zone.”

Exodus 23:9 You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.


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