Showing posts with label Worship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Worship. Show all posts

October 4, 2019

Celebrating With Security

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Celebrating With Security."

Take a look around you at the new security measures and people risking their lives for yours and your family. Take a moment to thank them. But also, recognize that the security isn't there just for show, it's there because the hatred and threats have tangibly increased along with the ever present means to carry them out. It is critical that we continue our vigilance and the strengthening of our security measures, because those that hate us for who we are and for our faith are not going away, and unfortunately, they may even continue to grow in numbers and resolve. However, none of us should live in fear and be forced to stay away from our religious institutions, our Torah study, and prayer, but rather to the contrary, we need to stand up strongly--in defiance and in faith!

While I don't know what specific security measures we will see next Rosh Hashanah, I can say with almost absolute certainty that it will be more and not less and that you should definitely be taking notice.

(Image by Robert-Owen-Wahl from Pixabay)

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June 15, 2018

Making A Real Difference

I saw this sign posted at an organization's office. 

I thought it was a nice way to motivate people working there. 
"What people are saying:
You are making a difference."

Later in the sign, it says:
"The work you do is important."
Isn't this really what is critical to people--that what they do is important. 

Yes, we need to earn a living and pay our bills. 

And sure, we'd like something left over to save for a rainy day. 

But our lives are more than materialism. 

We are spiritual beings inside. 

At the pinnacle, we need to know that our lives mean something!

- That we are touching people's lives. 

- That we will be remembered for the good we did. 

- That our good deeds and words will live on. 

- That our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren (etc.) will carry the lessons and message forward. 

- That we've contributed in some meaningful way to the fight of good over evil in this world and the next. 

- That we've shown proper respect and worship to our L-rd/Maker/Sustainer. 

When we make a difference, it's about so much more than what money can buy. 

It's about our soul, our contribution, and even destiny.  ;-)

(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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July 17, 2017

Ooh That Is Good

Hey, congratulations to Roger Federer on winning his 19th tennis championship. 

It's an absolutely awesome level of athletic achievement and it's definitely something to celebrate. 

But when I saw this photo of him and his trophy in the paper this morning, it seemed over the top!

Whenever someone sets their mind to something, works really hard, and is thank G-d able to achieve it--that is something to be happy about and enormously grateful for. 

Hey, listen, I understand there are some real superstars out there and I respect them! 

However, seeing this guy clutching his trophy in both hands, smelling it, kissing it, and more...it looks to me more like idolatry than the pure, sweet smell of success. 

I get it--he worked super hard, achieved impossible things, and deserves to savor the incredible moment--no one is taking that away from him. 

Instead of that gold trophy, wouldn't you rather see him kissing his wife and children, thanking G-d (and his coach maybe), and saying things like how he will continue to use his success and earning to help others or maybe train the next generation of aspiring athletes. 

I applaud Federer more for his known philanthropy in helping disadvantaged children and doing charitable events for disaster victims than for winning his 19th championship (hey, 18 would've been fine too).  

In the end, self- (and trophy-) love and admiration is not the something to celebrate, but should instead point us back to character and using our strength and achievements to help others.

For what is really important in life, there is no earthly trophy for--and certainly not one worth any ultimate embrace. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via Wall Street Journal)
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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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September 17, 2015

Keys to The Kingdom

Ah, so good to be given the keys to the kingdom. 

Even if only for a day. 

What to do:

- 1st key - Heal the sick, feed the hungry, raise the downtrodden.

- 2nd key - World peace, for sure. 

- 3rd key - Revitalize our ailing planet and make it sustainable.

- 4th key - Unleash innovation and give everyone a decent living wage to care for themselves and their families. 

- 5th key (the Capstone) - Bring the Messiah and everyone behaves righteously and worships the one true G-d of all.

Uh, and I need one more key to balance the budget and pay off the National Debt. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 14, 2013

Still In Love After 58 Years Together

My mom and dad are still in love after almost 58 years of marriage. 

While I already knew how special they were to each other--through thick and thin--when my mom took my dad's hand at the table, and said he has always been the love of her life, it was just beautiful. 

Their life has certainly not been easy--escaping from Nazi Germany as children, losing most of their education, and coming to this country with literally nothing. But they worked hard, worshipped G-d dutifully, gave charitably, and greatly valued their family and friendships above everything else in this world. 

They are good people and a wonderful role model to all of us, and we have always been like one extended family.

I'll always remember when my mom took his hand and said how much he meant to her--it was awesome! 

May God bless them both, always. ;-) 

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)
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June 2, 2012

Which Five Do You Keep?

So my father used to teach me that the Ten Commandments were divided with the first five being between man and G-d (e.g. "thou shalt not take the name of the L-rd, thy G-d, in vain") and the second five being between man and man (e.g. "thou shalt not Kill").  
Note: The fifth one of "Honor they mother and father" is viewed as between man and G-d, since we honor our parents as partners with G-d in our creation and upbringing. 

My father said well that some people keep the first five and some the second, but very few keep both sets. 

I am aware of many examples of this from the "religious" Rabbis and Priests who sickeningly molest children to "unreligious" people who give charitably and do good deeds to others in countless of ways. 

I do not know why most people cannot be both faithful to G-d and good to other people--are these somehow mutually exclusive in people's minds? Is it somehow blasphemous to both worship G-d and genuinely respect and care for our fellow humans? 

Perhaps, some think that if they are close to G-d, then other people are sort of besides the point, while others believe that if they act kindly to their fellow "man", then they will be considered righteous in G-d's eyes anyway.

The funny thing is that both--the ones that follow the laws having to do with G-d and those having to do with other people--seem to think that they are the "truly" righteous ones.  

Today, I saw a an event that reminded me of this whole lesson and spiritual question, as follows:

A car pulls up in front of the house of worship and in the driving lane, just stops and double parks, even though, right there--and even closer yet to the house of worship--is an empty oversized space to just pull into. 

The driver gets out and his wife gets out on the other side.  

The car behind him beeps to let them know they are waiting to pass. 
 
The man throws his hand up in a gesture of "too bad" and proceeds to escort his wife into the house of worship--all the while leaving his car blocking the driveway and the car behind him. 

After about 5 minutes, the first driver finally comes back to move his car.  

The second driver--of the car that has been waiting--goes up to driver of the first car and asks why he just left his car in the driving lane and didn't even bother to pull over.

The first driver says that his wife can't walk well and he wanted to escort her into the house of worship, and so the other car could wait until he returned. 

The second driver is startled by this and says "but you saw I was behind you waiting and wanted to get in with my family to pray as well--why couldn't you either circle back around or pull into the empty spot right there at the entrance?"

The first driver says, "well, you were the only other car behind me."

By this time the second driver is clearly annoyed and says, "but I am a human being too!" 

He continues clearly amazed at the callousness of the first and says, "how is it that you go to the house of worship, but you don't care about another human being--how can you be so selfish?

The first driver raises his hand and flips it again indicating that he just didn't care --going full circle to how this event began when he first stopped his car--and then he simply says as a matter of fact and sort of sarcastically "good day" and just walks away. 

What an encounter with the first driver on his way to worship G-d, yet completely callous to his fellow human being waiting to do the same--he was following the first five commandments, but brushing aside the second five.  

I wish for the day that people could embrace both sets of commandments! So that faith and decency could coexist, rather than battle in the hearts and soul of humans. 

What a better world it could be...

(Source photo: here)

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