Showing posts with label Kotel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kotel. 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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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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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 18, 2017

Shower Us With Peace

Oh L-rd, we pray that you shower your people with an abundant and complete peace. 

A peace of mind, spirit, and body.

A peace that permeates every aspect of our being and knows no limits to time and space. 

May You grant us a complete saving and healing. 

As threats loom large on the horizon, we look to the Heavens to ask for your merciful saving grace. 

Enemies rise against us, and only you can reach down and lift us up.

We stand in your presence, naked and humbled.

As the winds blow and clouds gather, only you can protect and save. 

While some men look arrogantly at their own strength and smarts, these are nothing to the Master of the Universe.

G-d uproots the wicked and plants his faithful children in their stead. 

Peace is the ultimate blessing, and only G-d can grant it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 11, 2017

A Curse That Is Really A Blessing

So here is an amazing true story from this week.

My wife was in Israel. 

She went to the Kotel (Jewish Temple Mount in Jerusalem) to pray. 

On the way, an old, poor man stopped her and asked for food. 

My wife gave him her sandwich. 

Then after walking another block, he stopped her again and gestured for assistance. 

This time, my wife gave him some money too.

After this, she asked him if he would bless our family.

And he did and also gave a special blessing to my elder daughter who had just recently gotten engaged. 

My wife also went to the Kotel and prayed for us and her. 

That same evening back in the States here, my daughter and her fiancee ended their engagement. 

At first, the breakup seemed like a big disappointment and that a terrible thing had happened--almost like a curse--but G-d works in mysterious ways. 

When we saw the reasons for the breakup, we realized fully that G-d had indeed heard the blessings of the old, poor man (maybe an angel) and the prayers of my wife.

We wish the young man all the best in his future, but we just saw clearly that this was not the right match. 

So what at first can seem like a curse is really a blessing in disguise. 

Truly, when you give charity, you're not only helping others, but it's really a blessing for you too. 

Thank you to the old, poor man in Jerusalem and to Hashem who heard my wife's prayers at the Kotel. ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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November 21, 2015

Life Is All About Stones

Today, Rabbi Haim Ovadia gave an interesting speech at Magen David Synagogue about the life of Jacob and his relationships to stones. 

Here's what I took away from this: 

- Jacob took a stone to rest his head on (i.e. a pillow) and went to sleep. 

- After Jacob dreamed about the Angels ascending and descending the ladder to the heavens, he anointed the stone with oil and consecrated it to G-d. 

- When Jacob sees Rachel coming to water her father, Laban's sheep, Jacob rolls the stone from off the well to quench their thirst. 

- As Jacob blessed his 12 sons, he is called the "stone of Israel."

So what's the significance of all this stone in Jacob's and in our lives?

MILESTONES: We celebrate major stages (milestones) in our lives like births, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, graduations, weddings, and jobs/promotions,  and we also give diamond (stone) rings to our beloved upon engagement. 

CORNERSTONES: We build the foundations (cornerstones) for progress and advancement with our contributions to the world (giving to others, leaving the world a better place than when we got here). 

HEADSTONES: We mark and honor a person's life and place a headstone at their grave to signify our love, respect, and gratitude for everything they have done. 

I'd add that hopefully, along the way in our lives, we don't have too many problems and too much stress and get KIDNEY STONES. 

Interestingly "Some people have a heart of stone, and some stones have a heart."

Like the Western Wall ("The Kotel") of the Temple in Jerusalem where the Jews pray to G-d--the stones in the wall have history, they have seen the joys and challenges of the people, and they have heard the stories and prayers of the worshippers that go to pray there.

Stones themselves are neutral--they can be used to celebrate, consecrate, build, and memorialize, with, and stones can also be used to hurl and smash and kill with.

For Jacob and his children, even simple stones are a way to worship G-d Almighty.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 24, 2014

Western Wall 1000

About 20 years ago, we took on a little family activity to put together this 1000 piece puzzle of the Western Wall ("The Kotel") in Jerusalem. 

We all sat around the dining room table in my parent's house working to put the puzzle together. 

It was a pretty tough puzzle, since the pieces of a large part of the puzzle, The Wall, looked so similar.

But it was something we all rallied around, had fun with, and figured out as a family. 

The only problem we couldn't readily solve, came down to the last piece of the puzzle, and almost smack center--it was missing. 

A 1000 piece puzzle with only 999 pieces. 

My dad, ever the innovative one, took out a marker and colored in the missing piece.

He framed the picture of the holy Kotel and hung it in their living room.

I was amazed that he took such great pride in the puzzle we worked on, since it was imperfect.

But it taught me that while nothing in life is perfect, it is our bonding together in love that creates a type of spiritual perfection. 

It was also interesting to me that like Jews now-a-days put little pieces of paper ("Kvitels") with their deepest prayers into the crevices of the Western Wall, my dad put the families last piece into the representative puzzle picture of it. 

Finally, the Western Wall is itself just a piece of the destroyed (twice) holy Temple ("Beit Hamikdash") that stood in Jerusalem, and one day hopefully it will be rebuilt with all the pieces through the loving bonding of the people that yearn for that special connection to the Almighty again. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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