Showing posts with label Judaism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Judaism. Show all posts

September 20, 2020

There Is No Zionism Without G-d

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "There Is No Zionism Without G-d."
For two thousand years, the Jewish people exiled from their land, widely dispersed, and inhumanly persecuted among the nations developed passivity and learned helplessness. They eagerly awaited, year after year, G-d’s salvation and redemption. As a tiny minority attempting to hold firm to their religious beliefs amongst the world’s powerful majorities, the Jews found themselves a convenient scapegoat, suffering landlessness and joblessness, taxation to the point of near-starvation, conscription of their Jewish children for military service of 25-years, forced conversion on pain of torture and death, horrible violent pogroms that sparred no one, and expulsions from country after country. During these times, the Jewish people learned passivity in the hope of not inflaming the hate and anger of the goyim that would make things “even worse!”

Certainly, there is no mitzvah to being passive and helpless, and this was undoubtedly in large measure a result of being homeless and suffering under the weight of relentless and brutal anti-Semitism for 2,000 years. Yet, as we each roll up our sleeves to actively work and fight for the modern State of Israel, our independence, and our right to practice our religion freely, we must do so with full knowledge and thanksgiving to G-d, our creator and sustainer! Whether King David against the giant Goliath, Samson against the mighty Philistines, or our modern-day strong and brave soldiers in the IDF defending the borders of Israel from historical enemies’ roundabout, they stand strong against all the natural odds, because G-d stands right there with them and us.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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September 4, 2020

Shabbat Shalom From DC Duck!

Shabbat Shalom from this DC Duck!

Shabbat is something to look forward to ALL week long. 

Time to stop everything. 

Look heavenward. 

And inward! 

Remember why we're here. 

Rest and rejuvenate for the next week.

Wash, rinse, repeat.  

Need to balance and get our lives right. 

It's what we do! ;-)

(Credit Graphic:  Andy Blumenthal)
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August 30, 2020

Every Little Thing

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Every Little Thing." 


Every little thing that Hashem provides for us is truly a big deal. It’s so easy to become complacent, arrogant, and overconfident in all that we have today. But if we just remember that without every little thing we have, we could be in some big, big trouble tomorrow.

Our bodies, minds, and spirit can be strong, but without the ingredients we need to survive, we are all just dust and ashes. Before the High Holidays, when we ask Hashem to forgive us, and we try to make amends, and pray for a good New Year, now is a great time to appreciate every little thing!


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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August 24, 2020

90-10 Charity Rule

There is a commandment of giving at least 10% to charity.

In Genesis 14:20:
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

In Genesis 28:22
[Jacob says] And in all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you. 

In Leviticus 27:30:
A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the L-rd, it is holy to the L-rd. 

In general, G-d lets you keep 90% and he commands that you give 10% to charity.

I understand that some righteous people even give 20% of their income to charity.

I learned from Rabbi Yaron Reuven that:
For those that are miserly and not charitable and don't tithe, G-d reverses the equation, and He takes back the 90% and lets you keep the 10%.

Very ingenious and where the punishment fits "the crime" so to say.

So what do you want the 90% or the 10%--it's your choice to give or have it given for you!  ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 15, 2020

Hear O' Israel


Hear O' Israel,

The L-rd is our G-d,

The L-rd is One!


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August 14, 2020

30,000 Chances To Get It Right

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "30,000 Chances To Get It Right."
Teshuvah (Repentance) is really not just a yearly process, it is a daily one. And 80 years is almost 30,000 days, with every day that we wake up, get up, and start up the process of another day again, we have the opportunity to get it right this day, this time around!

Every day that we awake and arise is a great opportunity to try again where we failed in prior days and we can potentially think holier thoughts, say kinder words, and treat each other better, more compassionately and righteously.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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July 29, 2020

Good One for Rosh Hashanah

It's Tisha B'Av tonight.

But this is a good one for Rosh Hashanah in 2 months. 

Got to contain the spray from the blowing of the shofar. 

It's a coronavirus time of year.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Facebook)
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July 19, 2020

PTSD Gets Around

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "PTSD Gets Around."
The Jewish people are a nation recovering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), where memories of trauma flood our national psyche and can trigger emotional (and even physical) symptoms. Whether fear of the next “evil decree” against the Jews, to another pogrom of crazed rapists and killers rampaging through a Jewish town, or even of genocide itself, the Jewish people have known plenty of deep-seated persecution and have to deal with the accompanying fear and anxiety of being the quintessential “strangers in a strange land,” almost everywhere in the world and over a very long period of history.

PTSD is very real not only for our suffering veterans, and for individual people that have been sexually abused or experienced physical violence, but it can also be a national psychiatric disorder based on collective trauma that affects our mood, anxiety levels, and behavioral reactions to events. Suffering from exile, persecution, and helplessness from thousands of years does not go away in a generation or even a century. It is a long road for our national recovery where we can learn to once again live healthy and productive lives absent from the fear and anxiety of another bad Tisha B’Av.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 27, 2020

The Only Fixer

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "The Only Fixer."

I’m reading the famous book, The Fixer by Bernard Malamud. It’s about the horrible pogroms in Russia and the blood libels where the Jews would be ridiculously accused of sorcery and witchcraft, and the killing of Christian children for their blood to put in Passover matzah!

In short, hate and hurt can’t be excused because you can. Wielding power gives you authority, but also the extra responsibility. There is such a thing as acting justly. And then there isn’t. Usually, when someone is acting justly, they can explain themselves in a balanced, calm, and rationale way. It makes sense! When they are doing wrong, it’s usually extreme, abrupt, and ultimately inexplicable and therefore can’t be articulated. Hence, that’s the way it is, Fixer. Who is The Fixer? Again, I don’t care!

(Credit Photo: Minna Blumenthal)

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May 28, 2020

Chag Sameach - Happy Shavuot!

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Shavuot and Chag Sameach!

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 23, 2020

The 11th Commandment

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "The 11th Commandment."
How many times do I hear about fellow Jews trying to "out-frum" (i.e. be holier than thou) other Jews: whether it's in terms of Kashrut, Shabbat or even who stayed up the latest for the Passover Seder. Recently, when it came to coronavirus, I was more than a little shocked to read that someone actually attributed the disease to it being a punishment from G-d because women's skirts are not being worn long enough. While certainly it's good to be introspective and there is a strong concept of reward and punishment in Judaism, there is something about us Jews where we tend to want to go a little more and a little farther. In some cases, we are doing "hiddur mitzvah" (beautification of the Mitzvah) which is praiseworthy, but in other cases, we may be adding unnecessary "chumras" (i.e. stringencies) than can backfire religiously. My unequivocal preference is to follow my father's teaching to me of the Rambam's "Shvil Ha'zahav" (i.e. the golden path) and not go too far to the left or to the right, but keep a healthy middle of the road approach to life.

In the end, the number of commandments are what they are, and with 613 throughout the Torah, there is enough to keep us all busy going what is right with G-d and our fellow man. While we may like to overachieve in our careers, our education, and our pedigrees, it is not necessary to try to outdo each other religiously. Religion is a matter between us and Hashem and G-d knows what is in our hearts and counts up all our deeds according to His holy Torah with nothing added and nothing subtracted.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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May 4, 2020

Matzo Ball Soup For The Soul

It's a pretty well-known Jewish tradition that Chicken Soup is almost like an cure all. 

Our moms for centuries have preached chicken soup whenever you didn't feel well or felt like you may be coming down with something. 

Hmm...I wonder if it even works on Coronavirus. Heck, I'd try it for sure. LOL

From an alternative medicine perspective, like it says on the package:
It's penicillin in a pot.

Anyway, I thought this package kit of matzo ball soup was pretty cute. 

With the old lady that looks like she's about to fall in the soup saying:
Good. Not as good as mine. But good. 

Hey, I guess there is no package matzo ball soup that is going to be as good as homemade. 

Especially as I was taught that the magic ingredient is not chicken, but love!  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 1, 2020

Shabbat Shalom and Stay Healthy!

Beautiful Shabbat is almost here again. 

A time for rest and rejuvenation. 

Each of us has to take care of and nourish our body, mind, and soul. 

Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom!

Please stay safe and healthy. ;-)

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 26, 2020

Count Your Blessings

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Count Your Blessings."
I just wanted to share a short reflection with everything going on in the world these days with coronavirus and the economic shutdown: I see people are scared and confused, under lockdown and feeling financial strain, and many are getting sick and dying. But I remember the words of my dear father who used to say: "Count Your Blessings!" And he was so right. There are so many things, literally every moment of every day, for us to be grateful for:

Certainly, we all face extreme difficulties or challenges at times in our lives, but things can always be so much worse, and there is still so much for us to be grateful for. Therefore, truly thank you G-d with a hundred blessings—and more—for every moment of every precious day. And we affirm that surely the L-rd who created us will continue to sustain us, and that ultimately all will be for the good.


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 16, 2020

Our Journey To Freedom Is Almost At The End

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Our Journey To Freedom Is Almost At The End."
Despite our redemption from slavery in Egypt (1312 BCE), we continue through cycle after cycle of enslavement and exile.

In Kabbalah, we learn that the Jewish soul reincarnates until it reaches its spiritual enlightenment and fulfills all the mitzvot. Similarly, the soul of the Jewish people is reincarnated and relives painful destruction, slavery, and exile until we learn, grow, and finally become what we are destined to be as servants only of Hashem and as a light unto the nations. This has been our fate, but also it is one that we are finally nearing the end of with the return to the Promised Land and perhaps even the arrival soon of Mashiach.

(Free Photo via Pixabay)

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To Bear Eternal Witness

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "To Bear Eternal Witness."
I just finished reading a most gut-wrenching book, Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli. I came across this book after learning that my wife’s grandmother had been selected by Dr. Josef Mengele (may his name be forever cursed) for torturous experiments at the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Holocaust. This New York Times Bestseller is a vivid eyewitness account by a Jewish forensic pathologist, who worked directly for Dr. Mengele, and tells of the unspeakable cruelty and horrors at Auschwitz, the largest Nazi death camp vastly accounting toward the twelve million people exterminated by the Nazis, six million of them Jews.

From my experience, once you pick up this book, you cannot put it down until you finish it completely, and I urge everyone to make this a must-read, especially as there will soon be no more Holocaust survivors to tell us, in-person, the hell that they lived through.

(Free Photo of Kyklon B Poison Gas via Pixabay)

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April 9, 2020

Synagogue or Sickness?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Synagogue or Sickness?"
When I was a kid and my father would {strongly} encourage me to go to synagogue. My father was a man of deep faith and he used to say warningly to me: "It's better to go to synagogue than to the hospital." Obviously, he was implying that if I didn't follow G-d's word, then G-d forbid, he would punish me and instead of going to Shul, I would go to the hospital. Maybe not the best way to teach someone to want to go to prayer services, but I know he meant it out of complete love for me and ultimately for my best.

Yet ironically, now with coronavirus preventing us from practicing the many communal aspects of our faith, so many of us can only but wish that we could just go to synagogue to celebrate the holidays and Shabbat together once again. Unfortunately, for now at least, we don't even have the option to go to synagogue⁠—the choice has been taken from us. G-d willing, hopefully soon, we can once again go⁠—with willingness and love⁠—not only to pray at synagogue, but also to the holy Third Temple in Jerusalem itself.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 8, 2020

Corona Matzah Man

So this is what happens when Coronavirus pandemic coincides with Passover. 

We get a Corona Matzah Man wearing his face mask so he doesn't get sick, G-d forbid. 

Even as we get ready to celebrate the seder tonight and recall G-d's mercifully delivering us from Egyptian servitude, we also can be certain that He will deliver us from this dreaded Coronavirus. 

G-d is all powerful and has a purpose for everything. 

Perhaps, we just needed a reminder of who was in charge not only on Passover, but all the year round. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 14, 2020

Coronavirus Cancels Synagogue

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Coronavirus Cancels Synagogue."
While I understand the rationale to close the synagogues, not to congregate with others and expose ourselves or spread the Coronavirus, I can’t help thinking and believing that what we need now, more than ever, is prayer to Hashem and the mitzvah of Torah study that the synagogue provides to us. Indeed, only in the hands of G-d is the ultimate power of health or illness, and life or death...To me, this Shabbat was not a full Shabbat, because there was no synagogue, no Rabbi’s sermon, no community to talk and share with. I feel robbed of my religion today. I want to be able to go to synagogue and have a real Shabbat. How many other Shabbatot will we have to continue to go through without being able to pray in a minyan, hear the Torah reading, listen to the Rabbi’s speech, and see our community friends?

Many say and I firmly believe that we are on the doorstep of Mashiach and that he is even here among us waiting for the right moment to reveal himself. We’ve survived so much and finally have returned as a people to our homeland of Israel. Now we must survive the final birthing pains of Mashiach and then we will be able to go not only to our synagogues once again, but also to the Temple in Jerusalem to pray and learn at G-d’s very footstep in this earthly world.


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 11, 2020

Learning Hebrew: One Book at a Time

My daughter had a great idea for improving on our Hebrew language skills. 

Start small...as in children's books. 

She got a few of these from the library and it actually was fun to read these. 

Aside from taking me back a few years in parenthood and bonding as a family over these, I found it useful to solidify my learning.

Dr. Seuss definitely had the right idea. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal with attribution to book בּובי בוא בובי לך by אמי רובינגר)
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