Showing posts with label Torah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Torah. Show all posts

August 1, 2019

Being Jewish and Proud

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Being Jewish and Proud."
With roughly 15 million Jews in a world of 7.7 billion people, we make up less than .2% of the world population. However, despite our small size, we’ve been recognized with over 20% of the Nobel Prizes for contributions to the sciences, medicine, literature, economics, and peace. Most Jews tend to believe not only in a strong core religious education, but in higher education and lifelong learning, and others excel even when starting out and innovating from their garages. From Abraham and Moses to Einstein and Freud, and even to today’s Jews leading the Technology revolution–such as Steve Ballmer, Sergey Brin, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, and Mark Zuckerberg–the Jewish contribution is truly unparalleled.

Until Mashiach, there will always be some people that hate on us and want to destroy us–perhaps and unfortunately, that’s just who they are. But we choose not be anyone else but Jews, because that’s who we are–and there is every reason to be ourselves, maintain our faith of thousands of years, continue to make awesome contributions that benefit mankind, and be forever proud to be a Jew.

(Photo Credit: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 22, 2019

Four Types of Desire

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "I Want What I Want."

There are four types of greed/jealousy:
  • I want what I’m missing
  • I want what I had
  • I want what you have
  • I want you to not have what you have

We can be slaves to our egos, emotions, and desires, or we can seek to control them and be better than mere animals. We have a soul, a conscience, and the Torah, so the choice should be clear even if not always easy.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 10, 2019

Why Only Two, Daddy?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Why Only Two Daddy?"
The father goes on to explain that these are the commandments that G-d gave to the Jews (when they were redeemed from slavery in Egypt). He enumerates just two examples: keeping the Shabbat and honoring your mother and father. The son asks, 'What are the other commandments?' The father hesitates either not knowing any of the other commandments or simply unable to remember any more of them on the spot. And all of a sudden, the little boy starts wailing to his father: 'Daddy, why do you know only two, why?'

Knowing the Torah and commandments is not only for ourselves to do what's rights, but also to pass on the torch to the next generation. It's not always easy to be good examples, but it's the challenge we all face. ;-)



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 25, 2018

43-Year Old Bar Mitzvah

Please read my article in The Times of Israel called, "Bring Every Jew Back."
Today in a beautiful Chabad synagogue here in Florida, the Rabbi called to the Torah a bar mitzvah.  But in this case, the bar mitzvah "boy" was a 43-year old man!

Read what happened and hope you enjoy! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 13, 2018

Beautiful Song On Being A Jew


This was a beautiful song that we learned this week in Ulpan.

I love it--being Jewish and the song!  ;-)
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August 19, 2018

East Meets West In The Holy Land

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, Israel, Where East Meets West
The modern State of Israel is truly the embodiment of this oneness and this diversity. The Jewish Nation-State Law embodies this concept where Israel is defined as the national homeland for the Jewish People, yet it is democratic, open and welcoming to everyone. For Jewish people, there are Ashkenazi Jews and there are Sephardi Jews. And at the same time, there are people of faith, Christians, Muslims, Druze, and others from all over the globe.
Hope you enjoy.   

(Photo credit: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 4, 2018

Living Your Values

So I had this great conversation today with someone about values.

Thinking about what I really value and whether I am living consistently with these...

For me, I was able to clarify for myself these critical values:

1) Being a good person and influence in the world (having a positive impact on people and ideas)

2) Being a good family man (a loving husband, father, and previously son)

3) Being spiritual and serving G-d (living selflessly for my Maker and not selfishly for myself)

4) Being a hard worker (living productively and not as a laggard or sloth)

5) Being a balanced person (living along the "golden path" or "middle of the road"--not an extremist)

6) Being a generally healthy person (living a lifestyle that includes activity, exercise, good nutrition, and no smoking, drugs, or excessive drinking)

What I realized is that when I need to let my values guide me every moment of every day. 

This ultimately means my success and happiness! 

Being what I think that I am supposed to be or what others would want me to be, just doesn't work--it's a strategy for failure. 

My father used to tell me:
"Let your conscience be your guide"  (that and the Torah, of course)

This is the answer to a lot of questions that I have in my life--about what to do with my life and what decisions to make.

Values--driven by conscience and integrity--that's where I want to go next and next. ;-)

(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 16, 2017

Beautiful Innocent Child Angel

So wonderful news is that one of my daughters is getting married, please G-d, at the end of the month.

Today, we had a celebration in synagogue called an Aufruf, where the groom is called to the Torah and makes the blessing and then we all throw candies (we chose bags of chocolates).

After the services, we had a kiddush luncheon and it was really nice to see everyone from the community sharing in this wonderful Simcha with us. 

But something happened towards the end of the services that had a really big impact on me...in fact, I can't stop thinking about it--I need to write it down. 

As services concluded and we were leaving the sanctuary, this beautiful innocent little girl came right up to my daughter--sort of out of nowhere and without her parents--and wished her Mazel Tov. 

There was something about her and the way she did it with such sincerity--I literally couldn't have been more touched. 

It was almost like this child was some sort of angel--I mean it!

The child's eyes and facial expression had an innocence like I have never quite seen before. 

All I could do was marvel at this child and how she came up all by herself with this incredible pureness of heart that I can't fully explain to wish the bride and groom well. 

Then I found my words to say thank you and wish her that in a "few" years she would be getting happily married too, G-d willing. 

I think I will always remember the piecing innocent eyes of this child and how she was like an angel visiting us on this special occasion today. ;-)

(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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October 21, 2017

The Origin of Government In The Bible


Thought this was a really interesting speech by the Rabbi Haim Ovadia in synagogue today.

The origin of government and the function/dysfunction of society and rule of law is rooted in the in beginnings of mankind as told in the Bible/Torah. 

Starting with Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden -- This was pretty much anarchy with only one law at the time not to eat the apple from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. 

Then in Noah's Generation - There was oligarchy with roaming gangs that took the women and committed wickedness. 

Followed by the Tower of Babel -- This was communism with everyone united to build and have a common property, a great city and tower reaching to the heavens.

Subsequently Sodom & Gomorrah - This was capitalism with people looking after their own selves and cities, getting spoiled of their material goods, and committing all manner of vices. 

And only then in the time of Abraham - There arose democracy with G-d electing Abraham and the Israelites based on lovingkindness and charity. 

As we know from the Bible and can see in the chart above, only democracy resulted in blessings for all of mankind.  

Yes, the election in the bible was made by G-d, but the notion is one based on "elected" representatives that do good and are a light for the whole world--so no, dictators need not apply!

The Bible is truly a blueprint for us as to how we can live our lives as well as how we can govern the world effectively . ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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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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June 13, 2017

Today Is 6/13

So today is 6/13.

Yes, check your calendar. 

It only comes once a year. 

613 is the mystical and holy number of commandments in the Torah. 

For more than 2 years (this is not a short-term phenomenon), my family and even some friends have been seeing an inexplicable number of 613 everywhere. 

Here is one from a stock I follow from the other week: Twitter was up exactly 6.13%...and I don't follow that many stocks. 

Just yesterday, another stock (that been doing terribly...it's a startup!) is down an enormous 61.3% since I started following it. 

And yet another major stock--of the largest company in Israel and the largest generic pharmaceutical company in the world--Teva--is down 16.03 year-to-date.

Nearly every day, we see an endless barrage of license plates, roads, train and plane schedules and physical or URL addresses, get purchase receipts or invoice totals, see number of posts, views, likes, or emails, and even the other day almost booked a hotel with the address....that's right and only 613!

I am a rational person...maybe almost to the extreme, and what I initially laughed off as a lark or someone's OCD thing, is beyond any reasonable explanation that I can fathom at this point.

I am left with faith that there is truly some message being sent from the One Above...the question is what is the meaning of the message?

I continue to hope and pray that the message is one of blessings and redemption for mankind...I hope you will join me in this prayer. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 12, 2017

The Knowable and Unknowable

So as we all do, I often come across challenging and perplexing issues or problems in life. 

And my nature is to try to understand them, solve them, fix them--is it survival or the challenge or both?

But then we come across some things that are just beyond our [mere mortal] understanding or ability to simply fix them. 

I remember as a youngster learning in Yeshiva about when it says in the Bible that G-d hardened Pharaoh's heart so that he continued to refuse to let the Jews go from their enslavement in Egypt.

And the classic mind-bending question is how could G-d harden his heart if Pharaoh retained free will which we all have to choose good or evil.

Did G-d harden his heart or did he have free will--which is it?  And if G-d hardened his heart, then how could Pharaoh and the Egyptians be punished for something they didn't fully control? 

One explanation is that by facing the punishing plagues, Pharoah was losing his free will to decide what to do with the Israelites, so by hardening his heart, G-d was actually restoring his free will to choose once again...interesting. 

Of course in life, there is also the philosophical dimensions of so many seeming contradictions such as the cliche about what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.

Which wins out if one is unstoppable and the other is unmovable?

No, I don't think these are just riddles, but the testing of the abilities of our human minds to understand further and further into the mysteries of G-d, creation, and the universe. 

So what do we do in life when confronted by things that are seemingly or really beyond our human capacities? 

- We ponder these weighty matters and sometimes we get frustrated and rip our little-left hair out or laugh at ourselves as to why we can't just get it.

- We look to understand the deeper spiritual meanings of these challenges in the context of our earthly lives. 

- We try to solve and fix what we can within the confines of our spaghetti brain matter and flesh and bone bodies. 

- At the end of the day, we acknowledge our human limitations, and look to the Heavens for answers or at least for Divine guidance and protection along the way.

While we cannot understand everything or always reach our destination that we set for ourselves that should never prevent us from trying our hardest and going as far as we can on our journeys--and letting the next person, and the next person pick up the torch and carry it forward. 

In the Jewish prayers, we say that the matters of the earth are for our exploration and striving, but the ultimate secrets of the Heaven are for G-d alone. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 20, 2017

Mine and Yours

In synagogue today, we read from Pirkei Avot ("Ethics of Our Fathers").

And I talked with my friends at lunch about one passage from this timeless wisdom.

There are 4 types of people:

1) "Average Joe"


What's mine is mine, and what's yours in yours. 

Someone described this as "his and her--separate--accounts."

2) Stupid


What's mine is yours, and what's yours in mine. 

Ah, this is just someone whose plain old confused.

3) Wicked


What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine.  

One guy described his ex-wife this way.

4) Righteous 

What's mine is yours, and what's yours is yours.  

We all agreed this is the meaning of life--to be kind and giving to others.

What type of person are you? And what type of person do you want to be?  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 4, 2017

Kosher Trust Or Not

Here's the big controversy in our synagogue this week. 

The Rabbi is having a Purim open house and he invited everyone to bring a pot luck.

"Only home-made food, no purchased food please!"

In Jewish circles, this is the opposite of what you'd expect, where checking the kosher labels and symbols is critical to ensuring the food has followed the strict kosher dietary laws and can be eaten. 

Yet as pointed out, kashrut has been made into a whole commercial business these days...does it still reflect the intent?

The Rabbi explained in services today, in a very well received way, that we need to get back to respecting and trusting each other. 

That these values are essential to being truly religious people.

It was a wonderful speech in that it evoked unconditional acceptance and respect for everyone. 

As we know, no one is so perfect, even though the goal of course is to be as perfect as we can be. 

So two things:

1) I really like the notion of treating people well and putting that high on the priorities as we are all G-d's creatures.

2) I myself am kosher, but not fanatically so, therefore, I personally appreciated the acceptance and love in the community. 

Yet, after I got home, and thinking about this some more, and despite my own failings religiously and otherwise, I asked myself, "Am I really comfortable eating from a parve and meat community pot luck?"

And even as I ask this question, I am sort of squirming at the idea of just eating anyone's food--and not knowing anything about it. 

How am I doing due diligence in even trying to keep kosher like that?

While maybe I'm not the most kosher of everyone, it certainly is important to me to at least try (to some extent), but I ask myself can this be considered really even trying--when some people aren't religious, may not have a strong religious education, and perhaps some may not even be (fully) Jewish?

Sure, someone can even have the best intentions and try to bring kosher food, yet it's certainly possible that the food may not be kosher. 

Perhaps, in prior times, it was an issue of more or less kosher, but these days, it can be an issue of kosher or not kosher at all. 

This is a very difficult issue--because we can't put people up against the law--we must by necessity respect both. 

So yes, I love the idea of respecting everyone and that's a given assuming they are good, decent people, but trust is not something you just have, it's something you earn, by...being trustful!

I'm not one to preach religion to anyone...I struggle myself with the laws and in trying to do what's right in the commandments between man and G-d. 

And while I am ready to accept all good and loving people, I am perhaps not ready to just trust them without knowing that the trust is dutiful. 

Love thy neighbor as thyself is paramount, but also we have a duty to G-d to try to fulfill his commandments the best we can. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 4, 2017

The Miraculous Mezuzah

So there is a Jewish commandment to put a mezuzah on your doorposts. 

Reminiscent of ancient times when Jews were slaves in Egypt and G-d told the Israelites to put the blood of the Paschal lamb on the doorpost.

When they did this and the Angel of Death killed the firstborn in each home of the taskmaster Egyptians--he passed over the doorposts of the Israelites that had the blood on it as commanded by G-d.

So too these days, the Mezuzah has the holy prayer of the Shema Yisrael on it:
"Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One".
And it is believed to be a symbol of G-d's divine protection for the home. 

This week in Synagogue, Rabbi Haim Ovadia told some miraculous stories about the Mezuzah from when he was the Rabbi in Bogota, Columbia.

He told of how the cartels would raid the buildings where the people in the community lived.  The cops would be told not to respond to the calls for help for at least an hour.  But what was a miracle was that apartments with the mezuzahs were not harmed. Later, the people found out that the cartels, thank G-d left them alone, because they didn't know what a mezuzah was and thought it was some sort of fancy alarm system!

Another story, was the boss who put mezuzahs on the offices at work, and what happened? The profitability of the business went up.  When they looked at why this happened, they realized that the boss would stop at the mezuzah to recite the Shema, and the workers thought the boss was there paying more attention to them and so productivity went way up. 

Finally, the last one was really funny.  They couldn't easily get mezuzahs in Bogota, so when they heard someone was coming from a trip to Israel, they asked him to bring 5 mezuzahs for the home. When it arrived, they opened it up, but lo and behold, the parchment with the prayer inside was missing from them.  When they asked what happened to it--the person said, I already know how to put up a mezuzah on the doorpost with 2 nails and a hammer, so what do I need the instructions inside it for!

G-d is glorious and the holiness that he bestows on us with his commandments is amazing. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 21, 2017

Mystical 613 - Inauguration




So we are continuing to see the mystical, holy 613--the number of commandments in the Torah (Bible). 

- From the number of views on my LinkedIn Profile, 613, in the last 90 days.

 - To the tag the laundromat put on my dry cleaning, 60013.

- And to the caption, Day 61 - 1:31 PM, on the latest episode of the tv show, Alone, on the History channel. 

For those of you of faith...there are no coincidences--every leaf that falls from the tree is only at the will of the One Above. 

As I watched the inauguration of President Trump yesterday, it was inspiring that he featured the most number of religious leaders (6) at any inauguration.

And Trump, the President and billionaire himself, said that the military protects us, and law enforcement protects us, but the greatest protection is from G-d!

Further, I was amazed that one of the clergy that spoke at the inauguration was Rabbi Marvin Hier--the head of LA's Simon Wiesenthal Center (that memorializes the Holocaust/Jewish Genocide that occurred just more than 70 years ago). 

It was a true moment of awe, when Rabbi Marvin Hier said joyfully in front of the whole world (including the anti-Semitic United Nations and former President Obama with their evil resolutions against the Holy Land):

"Bless all of our allies around the world who share our beliefs...[and] by the rivers of Babylon we wept as we remembered Zion. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill."

Perhaps, just perhaps...we are really entering the time of the redemption--when G-d will shine his light on his people and there will be peace, health, and prosperity for all the righteous of the world. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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December 31, 2016

Nourishment For The Soul

So the Rabbi , a Kabbalist of mystical Torah interpretation, told my wife to concentrate on 3 commandments.

1) Shabbat
2) Kosher
3) Going to Synagogue

Today, we had a little delay and almost didn't make it to synagogue, but my wife said, "Remember what the Kabbalist said about going every week," so we went even though we were a little late. 

We went to a conservative synagogue today called, B'nai Israel, in Rockville - it was our second time there. 

The services there are so orchestrated down to the tiniest of details...you could tell that a lot of thought, planning, and effort goes into every service. 

I was really impressed at how meticulous they were for example: 

- Explaining everything and even handing out the sources to their Shabbat speech

- Having everyone ready for their part of the service whether leading the prayers, reading the Torah, or making the blessings over the wine and bread (which was already on a cart on the bimah--alter)

- Including a women who read the weekly Torah portion, children who led some of the prayers, an elderly lady who spoke about upcoming events for the Seniors group, and they even sang Hanukah songs in everything from Ladino to Yiddish.  

At the end of the service, we spoke briefly to the Rabbi and thanked him for such a "perfect service," and my wife commented how he had such a cool radio voice when he leads the congregation (and he really does..like JM (jewish music) in the AM).

After service, I told my wife how happy I was that we made it to synagogue, that is was like nourishment to my spirit and soul for the week.

We have to feed ourselves physically as well as intellectually, emotionally, socially, and of course spiritually.  

Like the fingers on our hand...we need them all to hold unto life itself. ;-)

(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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