Showing posts with label Repentance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Repentance. Show all posts

October 6, 2019

Teshuva Through An IDF Soldier’s Eyes

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Teshuva Through An IDF Soldier's Eyes."
He said, just think about it: “You have the chance to say I’m sorry, I regret what I did, and I won’t do it again, and be forgiven — what a tremendous opportunity that is!” I had never really thought of repentance in this particular way…as an opportunity. Usually, it’s more of something that is uncomfortable, difficult, and that we really don’t want to have to do.

So with a few more days to go before Yom Kippur, let us thank G-d for the chance to make amends and do better in life, because this is an incredible opportunity and a true blessing, and one that we do not know will ever come again.


(Credit Photo: Gil Kremer, Israel Defense Forces)
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October 2, 2019

Who's Fasting For Whom

Today is the Jewish fast day of Tzom Gedaliah. 

Gedaliah had been appointed governor of Israel by the Babylonian conquers in 423 BCE.  However, within the year, Gedaliah was assassinated. This resulted in the remaining Judeans fleeing to Egypt and the Babylonian exile being firmly established until the return from this exile in 371 BCE. 

Literally for thousands of years the relatively small Israelite nation in the Holy Land was repeatedly attacked and conquered by the large surrounding empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans.

Despite this punishing history, when it came to the Fast of Gedaliah, my father used to inject a little light humor and say:
Gedaliah didn't fast for me, so I am not going to fast for him.

I can still hear his words in my head and even now it still brings a warm smile to my face and happiness inside me. 

Upcoming next week is Yom Kippur--fasting and atonement. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 29, 2019

Positively Jewish New Years

Coming into the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) tonight. 

Lets everyone stay positive folks--we all have so much to be grateful for and please G-d to look forward to!

Positive is greater than negative (as the shirt says). LOL

Shana Tova!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 14, 2019

Facing Facts on Rosh Hashanah

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Facing Facts on Rosh Hashanah."
In a sense, we all live at least two lives–represented by the two faces we wear: The first is the happy face, where we portray ourselves as if everything is going so well, almost near-perfect in our lives (our vacations, accomplishments, celebrations, and so on), and this is the face that we routinely show to the world. Then, there is the second face, which is essentially where everything is not (always) quite so rosy, where life’s challenges, troubles, and hardships take their tangible toll, and this is the face that we learn to keep private and regularly hide from the world. Usually, it comes down to a rationale that goes something like this: just imagine what would people think of us if they really knew us for who we are and what we were actually going through? Yet the funny thing is that everyone is going through something–that’s life!
In a couple of weeks, when we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, we come knowing that there is no mask to be worn in front of our Maker, and truly, we are naked before Him in all our thoughts and deeds. We can’t pretend anymore that our lives or ourselves are perfect, but rather this is the time for true and earnest reflection, repentance, as well as judgment for the New Year based on what each of us is really all about. May each of us have the courage and conviction to face our real selves, to learn, grow, improve, and ultimately to self-actualize, and may we receive G-d’s mercy and blessings for a happy and healthy New Year!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 15, 2018

Reflections B4 Yom Kippur


Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Reflections Before Yom Kippur."

"I get up in the middle of the night, and I’m still 3/4 asleep. My mouth feels dry, and I walk over to the mouthwash to refresh. I reach for the bottle, but I grab the image in the mirror..."

Hope you enjoy this true story and the parable for living our spiritual lives and not just reach for the ego image in the mirror.

May you be sealed for another year in the book of life. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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September 9, 2018

Lessons In Teshuvah - Near-Death Experience


Great Video on the incredible Near Death Experience (NDE) of Rabbi Alon Anava. 

What he experiences, sees, and is told can change lives forever. 

What a perfect learning right before Rosh Hashanah. 

Teshuvah, Tefillah, U'Tzedekah.

Shannah Tova! ;-)
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January 6, 2018

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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September 22, 2017

613 Everywhere

So many times, I have written about the holy mystical number of 613 (the number of commandments in the Torah) and variations/transpositions on these numbers (316, 163, etc.).

My wife and I continue to see 613 all the time and everywhere!

Prices, receipts, license plates, accounts balances, stock price changes, lottery winnings, bar codes, time of day, wait times, schedules, number of email, rows in a spreadsheet, road numbers, social media views, etc. etc. etc.

- I have questioned myself over and over whether I am seeing it because I am sensitized to it or simply even looking for it at this point. 

The answer is a definite no!

Here's a recent example, of the change in the stock price for Teva Pharmaceuticals (above)--it's exactly -.0613!

But this isn't a one time event or a fluke.  

As we all know stock prices fluctuate every moment on the marketplace. Yet, when I check at completely different and random times, it is up or down by a variation of 613!

Other times, I'll check multiple stocks... and they will simultaneously be moving or priced at variations again of 613--at the exact same moment, I repeat, different stocks priced at the exact same moment.  

Here's another non-financial example:

I did a post a few weeks ago on the critical importance of emergency preparedness. 

Look at how many views it got on LinkedIn...exactly 163!

This happens everywhere and all the time!

Here's a third example:
A license plate. 

Here's a fourth example:

Can you see the code on the package...613!

A fifth example:
A tracking code on a shipment. 

A sixth example: 
A bar code on a bottle of Life Water.

A seventh example:
A label on some spinach!

An eighth example:
A construction site.

An ninth example:
A public solicitation for the Department of Energy.

A tenth example:
The winning pot for Powerball. 

Hey, I am not superstitious and I am not OCD--seriously. 

But this happens all the time.

I cannot help but think that G-d is sending us an important message.

From a personal level, my wife and I have both tried to take the messages seriously and to continue to improve our lives--albeit we know, we are far from perfect human beings. 

However, we also feel compelled to share this message more broadly.

There is a lot going on in the world, and could this mean something bigger and more consequential to a lot more people?

Please, please, please, G-d have mercy on your children...we are but flesh and blood...and we desire to do good. 

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 20, 2017

There Is Always A Bigger Fish

So as we are about to enter Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year...

I want to share a very important lesson that I came across again this year. 

The lesson is:
No matter how big a fish you think you are, there is ALWAYS a bigger fish out there.

You may have position, title, money, status, and all the trimmings, but someone with more of this and that and the other thing (and overall power) can come along at any time--at G-d's decree--and swallow you right up.  

I connect this to the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah when it is customary to go and cast bread (symbolic for our sins) into a natural body of water, so the fish can eat them up--and in a spiritual sense we throw away our sins and cleanse ourselves of our wrongdoings over the last year--let the fish have them. 

And like the fish eating our sins, I think another more powerful person can come and swallow us up and even spit us out (like Jonah and the Whale)--we are all fallible and mortal. 

We are made from dust and we go to dust, and my dad would joke to clean up the mounds of dust under my bed!

As we enter the New Year, may Hashem have mercy on us and bless us, and may we have peace, health, and prosperity, and may we be written in the Book of Life.

Oh yeah, and may no fish big or small come against us to cause us distress or harm--G-d is the Almighty Protector--Amen! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 16, 2017

The Ultimate Rejection (Not)

Ok, folks.

This picture is not the message you want to get before Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year and time of judgment). 

We want to see the long hand of G-d come down with love, caring, forgiveness, and blessings!

A flick of the Almighty index finger, definitely not what we want to see or get.  

Worse would be getting the middle finger, of course. 

But I definitely don't think G-d does that! 

Talking about rejection with a big R. 

To all my family and friends, a most happy, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous New Year!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 27, 2017

That's Lucky

So a retail establishment opened in the area.

They had all these cat symbols hung inside. 

I asked the owner what it said, and she told me:
"Lucky Cat"

Why a cat symbolizes luck I don't really know.

But the bigger question is whether there is any such thing as luck in the first place.

We constantly wish people good luck on any and every aspect of their lives: from birth to bar/bat mitzvahs, engagements, weddings, graduations, new jobs, journeys, and basically anything we embark on. 

That's what Mazel Tov means--good luck!

But I thought we believe in G-d and not luck?

We strive through prayer, charity, repentance, and all sort of good deeds to try and move the scale of justice in our favor. 

With the Jewish high holidays approaching next month--Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur--we do everything to atone for our sins and commit to being better in the future. 

We seek G-d's mercy and his blessings. 

There is no arbitrary luck or fortune. 

Life is what we make out of it. 

What about the Massachusetts women who won $758 million in Powerball last week or the person that gets cancer or some other horrible tragedy--did they deserve it?

I suppose it's impossible for us to judge why some people have amazing fortune and others have schlimazel (misfortune).

As it says in Genesis (18:25):
"Shall not the judge of all the Earth do justly?"

Surely, G-d has the bigger picture and the omniscience to know what is good for us and what is not. 

How he tests us and tries us and to what ends...that is a matter of faith and conviction--and we believe that it is all ultimately for our best. 

The judge of all Earth...please have mercy on us and bestow your blessings on us, your faithful children. 

As to the lucky cat--wave us some good vibes--all long as we realize that we all need G-d's grace! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 25, 2017

When Evil Seems To Prevail

So there is this little Chinese restaurant--it sounds so cliche. 

But this one really is so small and bare that despite its name, which I don't even know, we call it "The Hole In the Wall."

This poor family with their children work behind the counter and kitchen serving up to the locals in the area. 

We know them from the neighborhood and they are always friendly and nice people just trying to make their way 

Well, over the weekend, this is what happened to their little hole in the wall. 

See the photo at the top!

I asked the lady, "What happened here?"

And she told me they had been broken into.

"That's terrible! Well, what was taken?"

"Just a little cash box, but there wasn't much in it," and she half smiles.

Like this is what they smashed their door and broke in for...a few measly bucks. 

I told her how sorry I was for her and her family.

The people with nothing break into the other people who have nothing to steal basically nothing. 

While so many of the gazillionaires are choking on their wads and wads of money lavishly spending on mansions, yachts, planes, cars, drugs, prostitutes, clothes, jewelry, and endless parties. 

Let the others starve...except let me give a little to start a foundation...it's a great tax shelter!

What type of world is this?

I've been sick the last few days and had the chance to watch a few movies related to this theme.

One was the Bitter Harvest about how Russia raped and pillaged Ukraine in the 1930s treating them as their breadbasket.

In the movie, Stalin says to take 90% of the food from the Ukrainian peasant farmers whose land they invaded and seized.

His henchman replies:  "But they'll starve to death."

To this Stalin responds, "Then takes everything!"

The movie well-portrayed the merciless killings and the people starving in the villages and the city streets. 

According to the postscript at the end of the movie 7 to 10 million Ukrainians perished.

Those were the days of great evil--Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Hideki Tojo, etc. 

Then another movie, The Birth Of A Nation, showing the horrors that the black people endured under slavery in this country.

The beatings, the rapes, the hangings, at one point, they even took a hammer and smashed the teeth out of the poor black man's face as he hung from the wall in the barn in order to force feed him.

The brutality was unbelievable. 

What type of world is this (again)?

G-d must watch this evil and want to smite mankind for the seemingly endless evil, but for his mercy and love the world endures another day. 

Our challenge in the face of all the freakin' evil out there is to do one good deed, say one good word, change the script of the evil doers...that's all you and I can really do.

Change the script...mend the broken glass of the poor restaurant owner...mend the broken world. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 27, 2016

Planning For The End Of The World

I have never heard so much about the coming of the end of the world, Armageddon, the Apocalypse, and World War III as I am hearing these days...

The world seems to truly be going mad. 

And that MAD is as in CRAZY and as in Mutually Assured Destruction. 

- 25 years after the end of the Cold War, we are back in a nuclear arms race with Russia!

- Despite being our largest trading and economic partner, we are now going head-to-head confronting China over trade, Taiwan, and the South China Sea! 

- While setting some near-term constraints, we have in effect solidified Iran's getting the nuclear bomb!

- As North Korea continues developing and testing nukes and ballistic missiles, we have no answers for how to deal with them!

Not only have we failed to contain the many threats we face, but also in many or most cases, we have made them worse.

- The Middle East has gone from the promise of an Arab Spring to instead raging in flames and becoming the modern-day killing fields

Even as ISIS becomes more dangerous despite having less territory, they are likely eclipsed by Iran's global terror expansion as a threat to the world order

- The refugee crisis has meant that ISIS terrorists have infiltrated our borders and are now living among us ready to strike at will. 

- There is a real documented threat of a terrorist attack using radiological, chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons of mass destruction

- The European Union is falling apart and it's future is unknown. 

Increasing border attacks and escalating tensions are creating a risk of a dangerous Indian-Pakistani War

Obama has alienated our allies, reduced our stature among the nations, and destabilized the world

- While people are arguing over the state of hopelessness since the election or from before it, either way, there is huge divisiveness in America. 

Gun ownership is soaring and people are stockpiling ammo

Videos have emerged from people in near-death experiences claiming to have vividly seen the coming World War III and the prelude to the coming of the messiah. 

- There is even widespread recognition by our space experts that we are woefully unprepared for an errant asteroid or comet hitting the Earth

Clergy is warning and encouraging us to repent and do good deeds to merit G-d saving us from the coming cataclysm, whatever it ends up being.

I am certainly not a forecaster of doom and gloom, but always try to remain hopeful and encourage everyone to do their best to improve the world.

But I also must reflect on the voices of anger, frustration, and exasperation around the world that are growing ever louder and scarier daily...the latest with Obama's betrayal of Israel at the United Nations Security Council.  

What comes next politically may very well determine whether the end is near or the future gets bright again. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 11, 2016

613 Faith Redux

So between Nov 2015 to June 2016, we were all seeing the mystical number of 613, the number of commandments in the holy Torah. 

Then on June 12, 2016, there was a terror attack in Orlando, which killed 49 people and wounded 53 others. 

We read about this all over the front page of USA Today on 6.13.16  (the date spells 613 in BOTH directions!) 


Then all of a sudden we stopped seeing 613--completely stopped. 

That is until 2 weeks ago.

When out of nowhere we all simultaneously and independently started to see 613 again. 

On clocks, license plates, order numbers, treadmills, everywhere. 

Yesterday, I saw 613 displayed brightly on a warning cone (above) in the roadway!

And today again, an order number received "randomly" for a purchase online ends in 613! 


In Judaism, we are taught that nothing in life is random...everything comes from G-d. 

All I can say is that it is scary to see this--it feels like some sort of warning or message--and we need to have renewed faith in G-d, turn to him, and ask for his mercy. 

In the ongoing war of good over evil, I think it's certainly a time for extra repentance, prayer, charity, and lots of good deeds. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 22, 2016

Did You Know You're A Sinner

So walking down the street here yesterday, I ran into a sign and was handed a postcard, declaring:
"Sin Awareness Day"

Then I was confronted by a gentleman (or not so gentle) who proceeded to explain to me that I--and everyone else--are sinners!

Innocently, I ask, "Well, what have I done?"

The missionary answers with a stern face, "I'm sure you have lied!"

I said, "I don't think so," but then to play alone, I smirked and said, "Well what if I did?"

He answers and says, "You'll need to repent!"

Thinking that Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) is right around the corner in a couple of weeks, I thought to myself, hey that's right in line with where I'm going anyway...

The guy continues--of course--to try to enlist me to his "savior" that he believes can save us from all our sins. 

I challenged and said, "Well, how about Moses?"

He roars back, "Moses?!!!" and starts railing on about "convert, convert, convert." 

Uh no, thank you, I am fine with the faith of my father, and grandfathers, and great grandfathers, etc. 

And I appreciate if we can avoid the forcible conversion parts of yesteryear from various empires, caliphates, crusades, and inquisitions, with no shortage of associated torture, executions, and expulsions. 

Then breaking this historical context and glancing at the back of the postcard that he handed out, I did like this one thing that it said:
"Sin is not primarily a measure of how bad you are, but a measure of how good you are not."

Heck, why be negative about ourselves (we are not inherently bad); instead see that we not living up to our potential and try, always, to do better. 

In that I am definitely a believer!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 25, 2016

(Re)Kashering The Kitchen

So with all the 613s that we and are our friends and family are seeing, we are taking these as a sign and important message. 

Yesterday, I posted that I would show you today how it is personally affecting us.

So one of the things that we are doing is (re)kashering our kitchen. 

New and separate dishes and cooking utensils for meat and dairy meals.  

We got these beautiful French Perle Lenox in gorgeous lilac and ice blue (of course, no one better actually use one and break it). 

Being more a part of the synagogue and community now, we are hoping to host more people for Shabbat etc.

There are other small (and large) ways that we are coming back to more of our traditions, but we are far from perfect. 

Sort of a blend of the secular world, the religious one, and just being ourselves. 

But that is our road, and we strive to do better in all aspects of our lives and pray for G-d's mercy and blessings all along the way and at the destination. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 24, 2016

Heading Down The 613

So today another amazing mystical and holy 613 (commandments in the Torah).

This one is a country road between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

How apropos to be on the 613 road!

Tomorrow, in my next post, I hope to show you where this road is personally taking us now.

But wherever 613 leads that is where I want to be. ;-)

(Source Photo: With gratitude to my dearest sister, Roz Blumenthal)
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November 26, 2015

ISIS Ruined Our Vacation

So we rolled the dice this Thanksgiving vacation and came up sort of empty.

We were supposed to go to Las Vegas, but then there is ISIS threatening to strike the U.S. 

Already, ISIS is claiming 71 soldiers in 15 states in the U.S., and the FBI is saying that ISIS terrorists are being recruited in all 50 states

Yet our leadership doesn't want to fight ISIS while they are still over there--instead, we are foolishly waiting for the next big terror attack over here, as if 9/11 with 3,000 dead wasn't enough!

We are stubborn, deaf to the terror threats, reactive, and refuse to wake up to the danger that is facing our country. 


Dancing around the issue with some drone and airstrikes--no matter how lethal--is not going to remove this enormous terror threat--coming from some of the most barbaric of enemies that we have ever faced. 

My sister told me from a lecture she heard recently about the terrorist threats we are facing, "We are used to fighting finite wars--there is a start/middle/end. [But] they [ISIS] fights infinite wars--not defined [by time or space]."

So how did we come to cancelling our Vegas holiday vacation?


Here is our story...

The number 613 in Judaism is very important--it represents the number of commandments in the Torah.

We have been seeing this number lately wherever we go: We look at the clock, it's 6:13. We are driving and look at the license plate in front of us--613. We go shopping and the receipt is for $6.13. We rolled a pair of dice (above), that's right 613, and much more. 

We asked what this means and were told it's a warning and to do teshuva (repentance) and follow the commandments more stringently. 

On Shabbat this week, I was reading the Wall Street Journal, and then saw an article on a new illustrative book of the commandments called, "The 613."

That night, I dreamed the entire night about 613--and the need to unlock the code of what it meant for us. 

The next day, my wife said "I have a really bad feeling about Vegas, let's go visit your parents graves."

When we got there, my wife touched the tombstone, and said she could hear my dad telling her not to go to Vegas--was this just playing on her imagination?

So she calls her father who is chasidic and he contacts a famous, pious and mystical Rabbi, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe--and without asking him about the trip--the Rebbe just pops out to my father-in-law that he should tell us not to go on our trip, and if we have to go, to take a different path.

My wife tells her father that we already made plans, have tickets, and don't want to cancel the trip, so we are instructed to give charity (so I immediately write a check for $613!) and do other deeds for repentance instead. 

Then the night before we are supposed to fly out, my daughter comes out with her iPhone and a news items on the State Department issuing a global travel alert "amid concerns that terror groups and individuals plan more attacks after the Paris massacres."

If all this wasn't enough, my back which has been hurting the last week, then completely gives out out on me--and in enormous pain, we simply can't go anywhere.

One warning, two warnings, three warnings...we can't be deaf to G-d's message.

So on this Thanksgiving, a sincere thank you to Hashem (and the Vizhnitzer Rebbe) for guiding us and keeping us from danger.

And a not so thank you to ISIS for implicitly spoiling our Thanksgiving holiday plans to Vegas. 

A small and insignificant, but nevertheless a casualty to our political disengagement, false appeasement, fearfulness to recognize the enemy, and war-weariness to take the bastards down and take them down hard and for good before something, G-d forbid, serious and much worse happens. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 1, 2014

Reflections On Our Journey



As we approach the holy Yom Kippur, the annual day of Judgement following the Jewish New Year, we realize how everything is in G-d's hands...

But we can repent, pray, and do good deeds to influence our journey and Hashem's decree. 

Thank you Bettty Monoker for sharing this wonderful, thought-provoking video at this reverent time of year. 
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September 16, 2012

The Shofar: We Can All Improve


The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) is tonight, and it is a time of introspection and commitment to do better in the future.


On Rosh Hashanah, we blow the Shofar (traditionally made from a ram's horn) in synagogue.

My sister-in-law, Sara Herbsman, told me a beautiful learning about the three types of blasts on the Shofar that correspond to 3 types of people that think they may be beyond repair, but who can still improve their lives:

1) Tekiah--tekiah means rooted and is one long blast--a person is never too stuck, stubborn, or set in their ways to change.

2) Shevarim--shevar means broken and the sound is 3 short broken blasts--that is a person is never to broken to fix.

3) Teruah--comes from the word Ra which means bad and is 9 rapid very short alarm blasts--that is a person is never too bad or evil to repent.

For those who have heard the Shofar blast, it is a moving experience--as if your very soul is stirred to introspection and fear of heaven.  

I remember learning in Jewish Day School that our prayers would ascend to G-d in heaven on the blast of the Shofar. 

But what I always like the best was the story of the one little boy in synagogue who did not know how to pray, but instead just cried--and his tears, full of sincerity, ascended beyond all the other prayers all the way to throne of the Almighty. 

May G-d bless us with a happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful New Year. 

Andy

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Elias Punch)

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