Showing posts with label Holiness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holiness. Show all posts

September 12, 2019

What’s Your Fantasy Synagogue

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "What's Your Fantasy Synagogue."
We all go to synagogues that we like in some ways and don’t like in others, but have you ever thought about what your fantasy synagogue would be like if you could make one?Last Shabbat, we were invited for lunch by some wonderful friends who had been sports writers, and the topic of fantasy football came up, where people compete for coming up with the best team by picking their own players and forming their ideal team. I said, half jokingly, wouldn’t it be great if we could do the same thing with synagogues and pick the best aspects of each and make an ideal house of worship for ourselves where we could pray, learn, grow, and experience holiness and community. 
In the article, I detail "the best of the best" when it comes to synagogues and the ultimate ideal synagogue is of course, in the coming of the Mashiach and the rebuilding of the Temple. 

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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March 17, 2019

Israel - Day 3 - Jerusalem
























(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal, 
Source Video: Dossy Blumenthal)

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October 28, 2018

Shooting At You

As I heard recently in a movie:

"When someone is shooting at you, you know their intentions."

Sounds simple right?

But often the person throwing shots your way may be couching their real intentions and telling you:

"Ah, it's nothing."

Some may try and rip you off, and tell you: 

"It's just business!"

Others punching you like a punching bag tell you:

"You need to get a thicker skin!"

People f*cking with your head ask you:

"Aren't you being a little paranoid?"

Yet others blame the victim calling you out for any sign of weakness"

"Why are you so pathetic? Crybaby!"

The truth of the matter is when people shoot you, take potshots at you, or otherwise physically, verbally, and emotionally abuse you, there is usually some evil sleight of hand and tongue at play.

People that are good people--don't abuse you!

There is no guise or beguiling when people are being truthful and when they truly care about other people. 

When they shoot at you, yes you know their intentions.

Stop pretending they didn't mean it. Stop accepting empty promises that they won't do it again. Stop listening to hollow refrains of sorry. 

People can be selfish and evil beasts that rip others apart because they will benefit from it or simply because they can or want to.

- Pain and suffering of other human beings is what they relish and feed on like blood is to a vampire. 

Good people--do good to others. 

- They want to give to others and see others flourish--they know G-d and understand the real purpose of life. 

When they shoot you, you know their intentions. 

Sure you can shoot back and sometimes you have no choice, but the best way to win is to be that good person.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 23, 2018

Tisha B'Av @Kotel - Ushering In The Redemption


Last night, as Tisha B'Av (the commemoration of the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples in Jerusalem) was nearing conclusion, we watched these beautiful videos of:

1) The singing of Ani Ma'Amin at the Kotel yesterday in 2018. 
2) An amazing NCSY kumzitz, including at the beginning, the singing of Kol Berama Nishma/Rachel Mivakah at the Kotel a few years ago in 2015.

"A voice is heard in the Heavens, lamentati​on, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children;​ she refuseth to be comforted​ for her children,​ because they are not. Thus saith the Lord: Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded,​ saith the LORD; and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. And there is hope for thy future, saith the Lord; and thy children shall return to their own border. "

Both are so beautiful, and we imagined G-d looking down from the Heavens and being moved to rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and bring his amazing presence closer to us once again on Earth. 

Oh let it be!  ;-)
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July 1, 2018

An Arrogant Model Who Defiles The Holy Temple

Please see my new article, Naked Before G-d, in The Times of Israel. 
"In such a G-dly place [as the Kotel], where we are all spiritually naked for our actions before our Maker, [Belgian model,] Ms. Papen displayed not soul, but her haughty flesh."

And like the Sotah in the bible, who drinks of "the bitter waters" for defiling the sanctity of her marriage, Ms. Papen will most certainly come to see the consequences for her defilement of the most sacred place of Judaism. 

I wouldn't want to be her, seriously! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 20, 2018

Mikva = Tikva

I thought this was a really special Jewish clock I saw in the store yesterday. 

It promotes holiness and sanctity in the family.
Mikva (Jewish ritual bath) = Tikva (hope) 
Rebirth and renewal (from the immersion in the holy water).
Build your family in sanctity!
Purity leads to sanctity.

The Jewish laws of refraining from sexual relations during Nidda (a women's menstruation) and of immersing in the mikvah at the end of the cycle and before the husband and wife coming back together physically are cornerstones of acting with self-control and a couple dedicating themselves to Hashem first.

The family is the core of raising and educating our children and of the makeup of the community and ultimately of serving G-d in everything we do. 

Self-control (with sexual purity, kosher food, Sabbath time, etc.) is what separates us from animals and how we emulate being more like the angels. 

It is also a way for a husband and wife to elevate their love and show respect for each other as human beings and not just physical beings.  

I never saw a clock that reminds us of these holy concepts and laws like this. 

Also at the top it says another well-known Jewish quote about managing our time wisely:
"The day is short and the task is great."

Another good reminder to maximize the use of our time every day here on Earth and to make the most out of every moment. 

If we dedicate ourselves to serving G-d, raising our families, being productive professionally and personally, and acting with integrity and sanctity always--this is a good life! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 25, 2017

I Drive The Tractor

Thank you so much to Rabbi Schneur Kaplan for his wonderful speech today in Downtown Jewish Center Chabad synagogue, Fort Lauderdale.

He told the story about the boy who grew up in Israel as a chasid, but later left chasidism to work the land--he drove a tractor!

Years later, the young man rediscovers his religion and goes back to yeshiva to study, and he is excellent and surpasses many of his peers.

Eventually, he ends up in a one-on-one with the Rebbe--and he waits with baited breath for what the great Rebbe will tell him that will guide his life--will he become a great scholar, Rabbi, shaliach, or head of a Yeshiva.

Then the Rebbe speaks, and says:
"You will be a tractor driver"

The young man is shocked and goes back to studying Torah with even more determination and harder than ever.

Once again, he comes before the Rebbe, and he is anticipating what he will say.

Again, the Rebbe looks deep into his soul and says:
"You will drive a tractor!"

Sure enough, the man now understanding that he has to meet his particular fate head on, goes back to working the Holy Land and driving the tractor.

But in so doing he is able to do outreach to tens of thousands of people who otherwise would have never had the opportunity to be brought close to Hashem through Chasidism.

The message was that we are not all destined to be clones, robots, or do the same thing in life.

The Torah is our guide to serve Hashem and do what is right.

But each of us has our own mission in serving Him and we can achieve greatness and Holiness even when we drive a tractor or do whatever we do.

I am not a Rabbi, but in my own way, I try to raise my family--be a good husband, father, and prior a good son--and also to serve with integrity and a good example in my professional and educational endeavors.

It's okay that I'm not a Chabad Rabbi doing outreach--that's not me--although I did meet someone today from my elementary school, Manhattan Day School, that did become just that and we had a nice kiddish lunch with him and caught up together after services.

I am me--and I am okay with me.

I don't have to be someone else--anyone else.

I can do good being me--and that is what I will try to do with each and every breath of every day.

Whether I drive a tractor (or this cool VW van with a big smiley face), we all serve our Maker.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 30, 2017

Behold, The Day Cometh

{I don't know what this is, but it came to me, and it just feels important to share...I start to feel spiritually overwhelmed, very emotional, and then all choked up...and so it starts}

Behold, the day cometh when the earth will open it's mouth.

And there will be a very great slaughter. 

And the earth will shake and tremble before the Holy One blessed be he. 

He walks before the nation of Israel. 

Ready to strike with the all-powerful tip of His spear. 


Like a bolt of lightening without warning.

Magnificent in beauty and damning in tumultuous energy. 

The sky thunders before His majesty. 

The angels stir and flee before the All-Mighty Creator. 

His holiness envelopes the earth and stars. 

His eyes are full of mercy, but justice is in his mighty outstretched arm. 

Those that stand in evil before His glory will soon be buried in a very great rubble. 

The skies are darkening; the day is arriving. 


And all the people will know that G-d dost live, and His people shall live. 

Evil will be obliterated from off the face of the earth, and His holiness will manifest in peace and redemption. 

The implements of war will be smashed to smithereens, engulfed within the insides of the earth. 

And their makers buried beside them, crushed and utterly destroyed.

A mass grave to the east and to the west, and then a great rebuilding. 

From the L-rd goeth forth justice to his enemies and mercy to His children.

{The streaming stops suddenly...I want it to continue...but it's over...I try my own words, but they are not His...I give up for today.}

(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)
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August 19, 2016

Some Nice Hats For Shabbat

Just some fashion festive before Shabbat.

Suggestions for some nice hats for Jewish ladies who cover their hair in synagogue or out. 

I don't think these were designed for that purpose, but it just made me think that it does the trick.

Modesty before G-d and for the sanctification of marriage. 

It's a nice Jewish custom that seems holy and beautiful. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 15, 2015

A Story Of Modesty

There was an very interesting article in the New York Times last month called "The Orthodox Sex Guru" that examined the life of Bat Sheva Marcus, an Orthodox Jewish Sex Counselor.

Yes, you can be a religious person, but also be sexual!


In Judaism, sex is not only a physical act of procreation, but also of love and intimacy between two people within the larger framework of personal spirituality and G-dliness in the home.


Judaism teaches that sexual relations is a holy act and a "blessing, a union full of Shekinah, of G-d's light." In this holiness, husband and wife, as true soulmates and beloveds, live each one for the other, and always together with Hashem.


Part of this special relationship entails women maintaining a spiritual modesty by physically covering up their femininity and behaving with propriety, especially in mixed company. 


Of course, men need to behave with sexual rectitude as well (although just not as often--just kidding).


The article describes however that with extreme chastity perhaps, some people may become constrained in their sexuality and develop almost a type of "sexual aversion," rather than healthfully being able to experience the natural joy of love that G-d provided for us. 


In terms of proper modesty, there is a beautiful story recounted, as follows: 


One time, when the Jews were being persecuted by the Cossacks, there was a Jewish girl that was to be "roped to a horse and dragged through the streets" to death.  


But before the verdict was to be executed, "she manages to pin or sew her skirt to her lower legs, stitching fabric to flesh," so that she could maintain her modesty even under these unbelievably tortuous conditions. 


It is an amazing story to think how someone about to face such a cruel and horrible edict could still think about maintaining their modesty and dignity in the face of such horror.


Whether you cover yourself with a tichel (headscarf), a sheitel (wig) or everyday hat, dress modestly, and act with decency, the point is to remember that we are G-d's children and are to behave in a manner befitting soulful beings, and not mere animals. 


We can experience the love and joy between people, and do it with devotion for each other and in spiritual connection to the Almighty. ;-)


(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)

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July 25, 2009

Finding the Meaning In It All

What a great, great article in the Wall Street Journal—Tuesday, July 14, 2009—“A New View, After Diagnosis” about how “cancer patients find meaning in the face of mortality…how can you live knowing that you’re going to die?”

To me, the article was inspiring, hopeful, and courageous.

A new therapy called meaning-centered psychotherapy addresses the question that cancer patients have: “How do I live in the space between my diagnosis and my eventual death.” And it answers the call with the philosophy of the Austrian psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl, who taught, “people can endure any suffering if they know their life has meaning.

Meaning-centered psychotherapy works with cancer patients to make “the months or years of life that remain times of extraordinary growth” of “reconnecting with the many sources of meaning in life—love, work, history, family relationships,” and of resolving issues of our past.

Through spiritual well being, we can reduce our anxiety and fear of death and find meaning in life and the legacy we can leave behind.

No, this article wasn’t about work or technology or leadership per se and yet it was about all of them so much more.

How often do we go through our daily lives and question the meaning of it all? (What’s life really all about? What’s it all for? Why do we work so hard? Who really cares? What affect does it have in the end, anyway?)

In fact, all our lives we are searching for and desperately seeking spiritual meaning in what we do.

We are multi-faceted people. We have professional lives, families, friends, community, hobbies, and so forth. And we try to imbue spirituality in what we do every day—to elevate the mundane into the holy—to make the meetings, reports, bills, dirty diapers, dishes, and laundry, meaningful.

Recently, one of my friends who is looking for a new job (in this tough economy) said to me, “I want to find a meaningful job.” And I asked him “what is meaningful to you?” He answered “I’m not sure, but I’ll know it when I see it.”

It seems that we all cognizant of the short time we have here on earth and we want to make the most of it. Yet, despite all the people, activity, and things (“technology toys” or otherwise), we still are not sure what exactly “meaningful” means.

Is the answer really simple and straightforward--is it our good deeds, loving our neighbors as ourselves, and serving our maker? Well yes, of course, but we also have an inherent need to see that there is some positive end-result to our life’s work—a legacy that transcends us. Whether it is through our children and grandchildren that carry onward after us, charitable gifts or trusts that helps feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, or treat the ill, or having a positive influence on the people and society around us—inspiring, motivating, leading, and creating a better world.

Certainly, with a cancer patient, at the crossroads of the life and death, meaning must be found now or lost for all time. Others, not facing imminent death, have more time to explore, experiment, and search for the meaning in their lives. In the end, all of us desire to leave this world with a clear conscience knowing that we did our best, and left the world and the people in it that we touched, better off than had we not lived at all.


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