January 17, 2018

Nothing Personal

There's this funny line that some managers use with their employees.

It's when they harshly criticize, pick on, or even bully their hard working and good people.  

What do they say when they do it:
"It's nothing personal."

Ha, that's sort of funny, but really it's sad. 

I asked an executive colleague about this and this is what they profoundly said:
"It's my favorite line when the boss says it's nothing personal. Of course it's personal. Is there anyone else in the room!"

When people misuse/abuse their power to hurt others whether at work or even in other situations like with small children or anyone else in a subordinate position:

- That's not business.

- That's not professional.

- That's not being a good human being.

People are not punching bags because someone else is having a bad day. 

We need to rise above the occasion and be better than that. 

It's better to be humane, compassionate, and emotionally intelligent. 

And not just because someday, we are all in that position where someone bigger is facing off against us.

But rather we need to behave kindly to others, because they too are G-d's children and our brothers and sisters, and it is the absolutely the right way to behave--whether it's business or personal. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 16, 2018

Miami Blue Porsche

Wow, I fell in love with this Porsche 718 Cayman. 

Blue like the sky and ocean in Miami.

I got my eye on this one!

Now if only my wife would see the wisdom in why I absolutely need this!

Anyway, I can enjoy the photo and dream for now. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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January 15, 2018

Suicide Back To Go

So I spoke to someone who tried to commit suicide.

This is what they told me:

"When you try to commit suicide, there is no light; there is no Heaven; there is only darkness."

Basically, even though they were desperate and tried to kill themselves, their experience was not one of finding relief, but rather of going to Hell!

So while I really don't know anything, this is what I imagine happens when you try to commit suicide. 

Yes, there is no light--there is only darkness. 

Yes, there is no Heaven.

But I don't believe you go to Hell for being desperate, depressed, alone, and feeling like you have no other way out. 

Instead, what I believe is that you "Go back to GO and you do not collect $200."

In other words, you have to start the Game of Life all over again. 

Since you didn't complete your tests, trials, challenges, and mission...you go back to the beginning. 

You have to relive your life and go through it all over again. 

Who is to say, whether it is a better life or not. 

Presumably, whatever lessons you were supposed to learn the first time around, you still have to complete those lessons. 

So I would think you have to relive a lot of the same. 

I don't know about you, but one of the things I hate worst when things go wrong is to have to go back and redo what I've already done. 

It seems so fruitless, such a waste of time and effort. 

How is that for frustrating--working just to redo what you already did. 

Perhaps that is quite the measured "punishment" for those who end their life prematurely--before G-d says it's time. 

While we frequently say things about wishing to be young again or do it all over again--I think rarely does someone mean having to go thru the same pain points again. 

I assume it's nice to live again, but it's got to be a value-add life--not just a do-over!

So in my mind, while someone on the edge may not have a real choice in what they are doing and in making a decision to take their life--it's probably not a purely rational moment in time--I do think that in so taking their life, they are not doing themselves any favors in the end. 

Because, suicide isn't game over, but rather the game begins all over--from the beginning again. ;-)

(Note: I am not talking about assisted suicide here for someone who is at the end of life and in absolute pain and suffering and it is truly time to go--I am sure that is perfectly okay). 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 14, 2018

Beyond Money

Okay, I don't impress easily, but I got to tell you somebody really did.

Tring to keep their confidentiality, let me just say this...

A couple returned some money to us, but they went truly above and beyond. 

They returned some money that technically they were entitled to, and I never would've imagined that they should give it back to us. 

When I saw the check and what they did, I really couldn't stop myself saying how amazing this couple is. 

They are a religious Jewish couple, and I just feel that what they did was such a "Kiddush Hashem" (their behavior is a sanctification of G-d's name in the world). 

Some people pretend to be religious on the outside, but inside their behaviors don't reflect it. 

In this case, the people were generally religious not just on the outside, but on the inside as well.

Their doing righteous literally was uplifting for my soul to see that there really are such incredible people in this world. 

Yes, some people are bad--do bad--and we can get not only disappointed but depressed that they seem to thrive anyway. 

So to see the good in people--extra good--it renews my hope in mankind and in G-d Above who shows us the way and can inspire us to behave morally and ethically amazingly.  ;-)

(Source photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 13, 2018

Honey Chicken Delicious

Just wanted to share this amazing honey chicken. 

Yes, I know you can't eat it, but you can imagine what it tastes like.

Had this at L'Chaim Asian Cuisine and Steak House in Hollywood, Florida. 

Absolutely to die for!

That was a lot of honey over the dark crispy chicken. 

It's been a few months and I still haven't been able to get it out of my mind. 

That is quite a recommendation I would say. 

See you there! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 12, 2018

Washington Democracy

Nice photo of the Capitol, the Reflecting Pool, and the Botanical Gardens.

Even in cold January in Washington, DC, it is a mighty impressive sight. 

Some of the most important lessons for me:

Democracy never ceases as long as the people rule, freedom is protected, and human rights is respected.

Those in power have an even greater responsibility to ensure they do the right thing and maintain the utmost integrity.  

We have a lot to live up to!

Hope everyone enjoys their weekend and MLK holiday.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 11, 2018

Bringing Down The House

I love this silver sculpture of Samson.

And one of my favorite stories and Biblical characters. 

Samson was dedicated to G-d from birth and was an enormous warrior. 

Even when he was betrayed, blinded, and bound, he maintained his ultimate faith in G-d.

He prayed that he be given the strength one more time to bring justice to G-d's enemies. 

And that's when he pushed against the pillars and brought the house down on them.

On one hand, a tragic figure that trusted and was fooled by the beautiful Delilah, but a completely heroic man of great integrity, who believed in G-d and in vanquishing his enemies.

Look to the Heavens for your strength and G-d can grant you the ultimate strength to achieve your mission in life and even in death. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 10, 2018

One More Of The Abusers Caught

Above is excerpt from email (forwarded to me) sent out by SAR Academy (now with high school, but previously elementary and middle school only when I was growing up). 

It is incredibly horrible what this pedophile Rosenfeld did to the innocent children there and elsewhere. 

Now one more of the abusers has been caught and the truth has come out--even if after almost 40 years!

Here is a quote from blog of Luke Ford (2009) that sheds light on this evil creep:
"Stanely Rosenfeld is a former cantor and spiritual leader at Temple Am David who received a 10-year suspended sentence after pleading no contest to molesting a 12-year-old boy he was tutoring. He grew up in New York City and worked in the New York public school system for about 20 years, and worked about 10 years at a private Jewish academy in New York. In a recent lawsuit it was alleged that other Jewish synagogues had problems with Rosenfeld, but he was allowed to move from one to another and offend again. In previous probation reports Rosenfeld acknowleged constantly having to ‘fight his desire for boys.’ He said he often looks at children when driving and had ‘considered what it would be like to pursue a child’ but that he has never acted on this desire." The report also says that, "When asked if he had molested both male and female children, [Rosenfeld] responded that his ‘preferred prey’ is adolescent boys." Rosenfeld has acknowledged other victims within Rhode Islands well as victims in different states, demonstrating his clear propensity to commit these crimes against minors. Rosenfeld also told stated in past probation reports that he had molested boys when he was in New York, but he was never charged. Hopefully, this is the end of the line for pedophile Rosenfeld who will now rot in jail."

How was this allowed to continue for so long and no one did anything?

Victims in those days were questioned like they were crazy or told they just imagined it or "had a bad dream"!

But to the contrary, it was very real nightmare.  

#MeToo.

Fortunately, I wasn't harmed as bad as others--as thank G-d, I woke up in time!

Yes there were others who definitely seemed to facilitate it--was it knowingly or unknowingly? Not really sure how they couldn't have known.

People are beasts, although some have and exercise a moral conscience--others apparently don't have the integrity or inner strength to do the right thing--or they just don't care or dare to. 

For the victims--it's painful to see it again so real like it was just yesterday, but it's good to know that on some level truth and justice do come out, even if too little to late. 

There is much more work to do in our society to acknowledge what has gone on and been given a blind eye or even a wink and a nod instead of a resounding outcry and complete moral outrage.

It is long past time to demand the end of this ongoing evil in our communities, workplaces, and to our dear children. ;-)

(Source Email: SAR Academy)

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January 9, 2018

Cat Nap

What a great place to take a cat nap!

So many gorgeous cats in Israel. 

They don't run away either. 

So friendly and happy. 

Sort of got a feeling like they were old souls inhabiting these cats. 

Old souls are very often wise souls.

Cute and wise cats.  

Enjoy!

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)
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January 8, 2018

Yearning For Redemption


Just an impression from my recent trip to Israel. 

There is such a yearning for people to do good and to merit the coming of Mashiach (Messiah) towards the ultimate redemption for mankind. 

It's on every street corner and light post.  

Whether it's eyes gazed on the righteousness of Rabbi Nachman or The Rebbe--as we used to sing as kids in NCSY:
"We want Mashiach now!"

Whether Mashiach is an actual person or a spiritual revelation in the world leading to redemption--it represents an unprecedented enlightenment, holiness and a spiritual healing, and love and peace for mankind. 

While we strive to earn our daily bread, it's nice to have a part of us that also seeks a greater good and achieving betterment for the world. 

Any small or big things we can do in our lives to contribute to Tikkun Olam ("fixing the world"), it's purposeful, hopeful, and uplifting to try. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 7, 2018

Power of Speech

I loved this magnet on this wonderful old Jewish ladies refrigerator who lives in our community.
"If you have nothing good to say...
Say nothing."
I remember we used to talk about this saying in my house growing up too. 

It is a famous teaching from the holy Chofetz Chaim.

I remember as a bar-mitzvah boy, someone in our community in Riverdale, NY gave me a set of the Chofetz Chaim's books.

And I enjoyed reading from them daily about always being careful with how you use your words:

- Not to hurt anyone.

- Not to speak bad about anyone (i.e. Lashon Hara)

- But rather to use words pointedly and always for the good. 

Kind words.

Gentle words.

Complimentary words.

Words of love and caring. 

Holy words. 

The Chofetz Chaim seemed to have an endless number of wonderful stories to demonstrate the power of speech and the importance of using it for the good. 

The old saying of "The pen is mightier than the sword," can be used replacing the pen with the tongue and power of speech in general. 

Words can cut someone like a knife and even kill or words can create a tremendous healing when it's full of love and caring for others. 

Actions speak louder than words, but words can speak and perform volumes in the eternal fight of good over evil. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 6, 2018

The Traveling Chassidim


We went to Havdalah with the Traveling Chassidim at Aish HaTorah in Rockville. 

It was so wonderful and spiritually uplifting. 

At around mark 11:00, I get to wear the shtreimel hat and I get to drop the shtreimel hat (that was funny)!

These Chassidim from Monsey and Brooklyn were so wonderful. 

They leave their communities and homes to come out for Shabbat to other Jewish communities around the country and do beautiful outreach. 

So giving, loving, and caring with their whole families. 

The music, song, and joy they bring are beyond words. 

The Traveling Chassidim are wonderful and they make a terrific Havdalah at the end of the Shabbat. ;-)


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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Two Lightning Strikes

One week apart, two freak accidents, both families nearly wiped out. 

Both touched me. 

Exactly one week ago, I learned and wished condolences to the man in synagogue who lost his wife, youngest son, and mother-in-law in the Mexico tourist bus accident. 

Today--7 days later, a neighbor comes up to me and tells me she's going to the funeral for her daughter, son-in-law and three children killed in the Costa Rica plane crash this week, and I wished her that G-d have mercy. 

Like two lightning strikes--not a coincidence (I don't believe in that).

I believe more that it is a warning, and it is really frightening.

I pray that G-d should have mercy on all of us. 
Please G-d, Save Us. 
Please G-d, Save Us. 
Please G-d, Help Us To Succeed. 
Please G-d, Help Us To Succeed. 
Life truly hangs by a thin thread.

The time period between my meeting the man and women from these two families--7 days--represents both life and death--it is both the number of days of "Sheva Brachot" (days of celebration for a bride and groom) and the number of says of "Shiva: (mourning when someone dies)

We need to be committed to doing good in this world and in His name.

-- Repentance, charity, and prayer.

All of us must do our best to serve G-d and always do right with integrity.

G-d should defeat evil, and He should have mercy on his faithful children, so that He turns mourning into celebration and blessings. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to kristendawn, and interesting that it is from Costa Rica)
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January 5, 2018

My Contribution To Love

So I saw a casual work friend the other day doting around what looked like his girlfriend. 

They looked really cute together.

And this guy is in his 60's and lost his wife a number of years ago to cancer, so I was really happy to see him happy, and playful in love again. 

After a while, I took the opportunity to play cupid best I could. 

I told her how nice this guy was and how well he takes care of his customers. 

I ended by saying how we really love having him around and how it wouldn't be the same without him. 

I could see him behind her smiling ear-to-ear--this lady really meant something to him.

When I saw him again today, I asked innocently, "so was that your girlfriend?" and like a young teenager in love, he smirked and nodded. 

It was obvious how much it meant to him that I spoke well of him to her. 

What can I say, I am really happy to make a little contribution to love--and I am really happy for them. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 3, 2018

Life Cycles for Carnivores

I thought this was interesting-funny in terms of the the food life cycles for us carnivores:

For meat, it's:
"From farm to fork."

And for seafood, it's:
"From boat to throat."

Either way, we end up eating it. 

Just plain hungry or only the strong survive. 

Vegetarians and vegans can ignore this post. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 2, 2018

Something Better In Store For You

So I recently had what I thought was a big opportunity slip by me.

My first reaction was to be disappointed, upset, angry, and question why.

But then I remembered something I heard the other day:
"If something doesn't work out then it's because something even better is coming."

Wow, that's powerful!

Think about it...

What do we mortal human beings really know?

We think something is right for us--but only G-d really knows what the future will bring.

Perhaps with this or that thing that we think we so want, instead of joy and fulfillment, it's really just heartache or disaster in the waiting.

My father used to say and was so right about it:
"Better to cry now then to cry later." 

G-d loves us and has our best interests at heart--He saves us and has something better in store for us. 

My father also taught me:
"What can any man do to us when we have faith in G-d."

And he really lived that way!

He never worried about what any person or event could do to him--faith always protected him and even when he was sick and was dying, and I asked how he was, he told me:
"I have no pain." 

And I could see truly with his deep faith in the Almighty, he really did not feel any pain--it was amazing and miraculous!

Like my dear father, when I remember that G-d has the whole world in Hands, and He watches over us then my heart is uplifted and all I want to do is sing His praises, and that is what I will do. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 1, 2018

G-d Protects Us - Happy 2018!

So I took this photo in a Jewelry store in Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem. 

All these beautiful hamsas!

Hamsas are traditional symbols of G-d's protection and to ward off the evil. 

These were some very beautiful ones. 

Some say that it is symbolic of the hand of Miriam, Moses' sister, raised in a protective stance over the people. 

Five fingers are like the five books of the Torah and a reminder to use all five of our senses in worshipping and praising G-d. 

Talking to someone yesterday about surviving in the face of some very difficult challenges, she said to me:

"Remember, just because the adversary is powerful, you are the David to the Goliath!"


With G-d's help and blessings, even a little David can slay the giant evil Goliath. 

For the New Year of 2018 and forward, G-d should bless us and protect us, shine his face upon us and be gracious unto us, lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace!  

The L-rd is the ultimate strength and justice and in front of Him no evil will stand. 

Our faith may be tested, but from it, we will come out smarter, stronger, and better souls, as G-d teaches us to look always to the Heavens where all good emanates. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 31, 2017

Social Media Totalitarianism

The Chinese government has the most brilliant as well as frightening use and control of social media. 

I am not just talking about blocking Internet sites and free information flow. 

They actually have mastered the use of social media for tracking and rewarding or punishing citizen behavior.

Their social credit system rates people's behavior online for everything they do!

Similar to likes and dislikes, you are either labeled a "model citizen" sought after for jobs and good housing or you can be an "enemy of the state" treated as a social outcast who can't even leave the country anymore. 

Everything about you is now based on what you are rated (whether true or not)!

Now in China the government has added a snitching tool/app where people are encouraged through a points system that offers rewards like store discounts, coupons for coffee, taxis, and music streaming, in order to get them to report covertly on their neighbors--are their fellow citizens fighting, is there mental illness, are people cheating on their taxes, etc. 

You're being surveilled not just by the grid system, where every 300 households are watched and checked-in on by a "grid manager," but you are subject to daily intrusion by anyone that wants to report on you. 

Communication to "Big Brother" is way overvalued, while privacy and respect of the people are no longer important values or concerns. 

Instead of a Security Operations Center to monitor and command response to life-threatening catastrophes and emergencies, now there is a "Social Governance Integrated Command Center" to display video and biometric surveillance from throughout the country as well as to show what are the "moods" and which "issues" are trending. 

Talking about having a finger on the pulse of what's going on...

I say this is all brilliant and malign, because social media which can be a tool for connecting people and for the free flow of information and progress is instead used for near ultimate control and enslavement of the masses--both their minds and their behaviors. 

People should not be treated as servants of the state and subjected to ever-encroaching social media surveillance and control that is not carefully balanced directly to absolutely necessary national security. 

Rather the state and its levers of people's supreme power should be subject to the wants and needs of its people who must freely decide on their collective futures and maintaining human rights. 

Totalitarianism by police state, imprisonment, torture and "re-education" is now unfortunately facilitated by social media monitoring,  and credits system where truly you are watched by Big Brother in the flesh and in the bytes. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 30, 2017

Faith Has To Win Over Worry

Anxiety is worry and fear on steroids.

Some people have separation anxiety.

Others have social anxiety.

And then there is good 'ol generalized anxiety.

It was fascinating-scary to learn that nearly 1 in 3 will have an anxiety disorder before the age of 18.

Despite all the abundance, affluence, advancement and technological progress, people are nevertheless more fearful about their present and futures. 

Perhaps like Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, when people weren't able to satisfy their most basics physiological and safety needs, they didn't know better to worry about everything else like whether they were truly loved, integrated, on the right track in life and fulfilled.  

These days, we have more money, time, and information to know that there is plenty to be anxious about. 

We know the most horrible stories of trauma, illness, death, corruption, disaster, terror, and war--it's plastered on the news and Internet 24/7/365.

Moreover, our "friends" and connections are blabbing about it on the social networks day-in and -out.

We are aware of our mistakes and foibles in real time as feedback is given and received with both likes as well as open criticism, marginalization, and alienation at every turn we take.

You have to ask yourself--is it meant to help anyone or to degrade and destroy the others, the opposition, the ones we don't like anymore. 

It's not just trolls that can make your life miserable, but everyone from your bosses to your peers and social circle who give you pause with continuous reaction and footnote--much of it driven by alternative facts and fake other world self-serving reality.

Perhaps yesterday you were a genius and on top of the world, but then all of a sudden you're low-life garbage.

Your self-worth and future are measured by likes and dislikes, connections and reactions by people who are driven by their own agendas, power, and biases. 

It's not just local either. 

North Korea and Iran are tweeting about destroying the world and their latest rocket launches and WMD development. 

Tomorrow maybe the end of one or of many. 

There is truly plenty to worry about in society driven by selfishness, materialism, faithlessness and a moral vacuum where truly anything goes. 

Selflessness, meaning, morality, and faith have to win over all the reasons to be anxious. 

We know too much about the bad every day, and this can only be overcome by anchoring ourselves in the good. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 29, 2017

When The Wires Get Crossed

So the flight coming back from Israel was technologically challenged. 

I'm sitting toward the front of the plane...more room, that's good.

But there are a bunch of families with small children and babies...and that ends up being bad. 

The flight attendants bring out this contraption to hook up a crib device to a front wall of the plane for the parents to put the baby in to sleep. 

But there ends up being one small problem.

The overhead lights are seriously messed up.

This passenger with the baby tries to use his button next to his seat to turn the bright reading lights off--this is like row 10 or something. 

But when he hits the lights off button--instead the lights go off in row 22. 

And they stay on in his row keeping his baby awake and crying virtually the whole flight.

The stewardesses are going crazy trying to figure out where the "wires got crossed" here. 

When they go to row 22 and ask them to turn off their lights--thinking maybe that will turn off the lights in row 10 that is keeping the baby up and crying--but instead that turns off the lights further in the back of the plane in row 30-something. 

This was a really bad comedy going on this plane.

The baby keeps crying and crying.

The stewardesses keep running around trying to figure out how to get the lights working where they are supposed to be working.

And the parents are frustrated as hell trying to calm the baby and get some rest on this lengthy, cross-ocean flight. 

Needless-to-say, all the other passengers trying to get some rest weren't thrilled at this ridiculousness going on.

The plane got us home, but the electrical system didn't inspire any confidence and kept the baby (and us) up almost the entire flight. 

When you think that this was just the lights--oh boy!  

Because what if the wires had gotten crossed between something important like the accelerator and the brake instead?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 28, 2017

Walmart Ain't Got Nothing On The Shuk
























The Shuk (Marketplace) in Jerusalem is one of the most exciting and affordable shopping experiences. 

Vendor after vendor.

Row after row. 

Items stocked high for the taking and eating.  

From the most delicious foods to Judaica items.

Fresh-baked breads and gooey chocolatey pastries. 

Halvah and baklava!

Fruits and vegetables.

Spices, olives, figs, and dates.

Fish and meat.

Nuts, cheeses, and wines.

Candy, coffee, and slushes.

Hamburgers and falafel. 

Virtually endless. 

Dizzying in a good way from all the people and products.

Like the old times, but anew.

So much life and you never know what you'll find. 

It's exciting in a way that big box Walmart will never be. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 26, 2017

@The Great Kotel in Jerusalem


So we made it to the Kotel in Jerusalem yesterday.

What an amazing experience.

It's been too many years.

Definitely, one of the top moments of my life.

As we entered the old city and walked through the narrow ways toward the Western Wall of the Temple, my heart and breathing was racing and I could feel the spiritualness getting closer and closer. 

When we finally arrived at the Holy Wall, I was just completely overwhelmed and saying over and over, OMG!

We took some photos, and then immediately when to pray at the wall. 

I think I got lost in prayer and didn't realize how long I had been standing and clutching the Holy Wall of G-d's ancient Temple. 

I truly believe that our prayers ascend to Heaven at this special spot of G-d's earthly abode. 

I wanted to fall to my knees, but stopped myself repeatedly as this is not generally the Jewish custom. 

But in my mind, my body, and soul was prostrated completely before G-d Almighty.

I put myself in His hands.

We can only do our best, and the rest is all in His control.

We can try to make the best decisions we can, but the real guidance in life comes from Him and His will for us. 

We learned in Yeshiva, not to ask in prayer for specific things in life to happen for us, but rather to ask G-d to do what is right in His eternal mind for us. 

This is right...submit to the King of Kings and let Him show us the way for us.

What are the right words to say to G-d?

At the end, thank you and please continue to help us, your children. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 24, 2017

Beautiful Israel Architecture









Just wanted to share some of the beautiful architecture from Israel. 

Side by side...

The old and the new.

The proud and the natural.

The strong and the spiritual. 

Obviously, I've only had a chance to see a very little bit.

But everywhere just seems marvelous.

So much achieved, and still such great potential. 

A people who survived the genocidal Holocaust and faced down the devil himself, with G-d's help have rebuilt their ancient homeland.

Miracles everywhere, I can attest to it with my own eyes and soul. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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