Showing posts with label Do Good. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Do Good. Show all posts

October 8, 2021

Beautiful Bonsai Tree

Something genius about a Bonsai tree.

The way it is on one hand natural and on the other hand "sculpted" by people. 

Sort of a metaphor for life, where G-d gives us the raw material and asks us to go do good with it. 

G-d creates and people shape that creation. 

Beautiful partnership makes a beautiful Bonsai!  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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October 2, 2021

True Meaning of Torah Observant

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called "True Meaning of Torah Observant."

The key is that everyone (Jew and Gentile) has an opportunity to do good or the opposite. We are all G-d’s children, and He loves all of us, and wants us all to learn and grow as human beings with the spirit of G-d breathed into us (Genesis 2:7). The Jews have a special mission to try and live by following the commandments in the Torah, as a good example to others. This is similar to the Kohanim and Leviim who had a special role within the Jewish people as the Temple priests and as the musicians and singers that accompanied them. No one is inherently better than anyone else. We all just have our roles, and we a need to do them the best we can or learn to be better as we go along. Like we start the cycle of reading the Torah again with every Simchat Torah, so too the New Year is an opportunity to “up our game” and another chance to raise the “standard of living” according to G-d’s will.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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September 29, 2021

True Self Is Helping Others

 

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called "True Self is Helping Others."

The Rebbe’s message was that self-improvement was really about helping others! All the changes we commit to around the Jewish New Year and make in ourselves is not really about us, but rather about us being able to develop ourselves in order to “give it all away” to help others. Too often, people think in terms of self-help, self-improvement, where everything is sort of in terms, well, ourselves–my looks, my degrees, my career, my bank account, my family, and so on. However, people should not lose sight that everything that Hashem gives us is really for a higher spiritual purpose, for giving to others or “paying it forward.”

In this vein, we learn Torah not just for the sake of learning, but rather in order to actually do Mitzvot! Rabbi Kaplan explained that the Rebbe would make each and every person feel special and important. Why? Because by building up the individual, each could then go out and build up the world. And this is one of the reasons that I love and respect Chabad so much—from my experience, people like Rabbi Kaplan and Chabad in general, are all about living this life lesson from the Rebbe and giving, giving, and then giving some more in order to really improve the Jewish community globally and by extension the world.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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September 5, 2021

The Last Kiss Goodnight

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called "The Last Kiss Goodnight."
Certainly, every human being has the desire to live and goes about fighting for life. It’s part of our genetic makeup and our very survival instinct. Yet, we all know that the cycle of life brings us from the beginnings of infancy to growth, the maturity of adulthood, then decline, old age and ultimately death itself. Truly, we all know the end from the very beginning, and with that we can achieve a greater awareness that what’s good in living isn’t the materialism and chasing the next “high,” but rather the ability to choose to do good and to be on a higher spiritual plane.
Life is choice and having control over how we respond to life’s circumstances. Death is simply observing and being. Therefore, even if we merit being in the Divine presence in the afterlife, we still can’t actively help anyone, like those we love, any longer. This is why we want to merit life where we can continue to work on ourselves and help others. Thus, despite all the pain and suffering associated with life, it is more than offset by the opportunity to learn, grow, and transform our very essence in a purification process of our souls.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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August 22, 2021

G-d Doesn't Ask Us

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called "G-d Doesn't Ask Us."

Truly, in whatever situations we find ourselves in life, and the pain and suffering that we may have to endure, we really don’t have a choice of our circumstance, but only in how we choose to respond to it. In life, G-d puts us right where he wants us and in situations that are personalized and best for us, whether it feels that way at the moment or not. G-d tries us, and we have to respond with the “right” thoughts, words, and deeds—always remaining a mensch and choosing holiness and righteousness, no matter how difficult it may be. That’s our ultimate challenge, to find holiness even in the depths of despair.
Everyone is confronted with levels of pain and suffering, as I heard said that: “there aren’t enough people for all the pain in the world!” The challenge is to resist hopelessness and the loss of one’s integrity, and nevertheless to choose to do good. As we approach Rosh Hashanah, we have the opportunity to do teshuva and to try to influence G-d’s decree for us for the new year, but in the end, G-d is the ultimate Judge. He doesn’t ask us; He tells us what will be for us. Of course, we have the opportunity to answer G-d’s call to us and the responsibility to choose righteousness even in a distressed world and in trying times. In essence, the underlying test of it all is not only to survive the challenges we must face, but also to emerge from them as better people with purified souls.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 2, 2021

What Children Learn

Excellent poem by Dorothy Nolte:

What children experience at home is what they learn to become. 

Sure people can change their thinking and actions.

But any negative voices of the past may still echo in theirs heads. 

That is until people tell them "hush, be quiet!"

And they replace old voices and experiences with new thinking about themselves and what they are capable of positively doing with their lives and in their relationships with others. 

We all need to know what we value about ourselves and our lives and then make sure that we do those things. 

So at the end of days, we can answer for our lives in an affirmative way! ;-)

(Credit Photo: Etsy)


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March 27, 2021

In The Hands of Heaven

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called "In The Hands of Heaven."

From Passover, we learn the Egyptians didn’t earn the riches, but built their wealth on the backs of the starving people of the world and of course that includes their Israelite slaves. As the Egyptians gloated on their arrogance, power and wealth, eventually the Master of the World showed them who is really boss. All the money, materialism, fancy titles, and honors are all just fleeting. In Hashem resides the glory and He has the say over who gets what and when.
G-d can redeem 600,000 men, women and children, and a large mixed multitude of people with them and very many flocks and cattle in the Exodus and to Him, it’s just another day on the throne of Heaven. In our own times, we have experienced a miraculous redemption from the death camps of Europe, and have returned like the Israelites to the Promised Land of Israel. G-d decides then and now what the plan is and how it unfolds, and everything we have is by G-d’s grace, and these are Seder lessons worthy of celebrating.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 22, 2021

Let Go of the Ego and Follow G-d


Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Let Go of the Ego and Follow G-d."

As we know, Pharaoh refused to let the Jews go from Egypt, whether because G-d hardened his heart for some of the plagues or he just couldn’t bear to see his Jewish slaves free through the final knock-out rounds. Through ten plagues that destroyed Egypt and much of their people, including their first born males in the tenth plague, Pharaoh is intransigent and suffers the terrible consequences....Aside from Pharaoh, perhaps the second most stubborn individual in the Torah is Bilam, who was asked by Balak, the king of Moav, to curse the Jews....even though each and every time, G-d instead blessed them.

In both cases, it is clear that no individual, whether a king or a prophet, can go against that which G-d has decreed!

The lesson is clear: it is best to try to see what direction G-d is leading us forward in and to follow Him all the way, not only because that is the path of least resistance, but because that is what we are meant to do and where we are meant to go in our lives.

(Credit Photo: Minna Meles)


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September 28, 2020

The Yom Kippur Bank Account

Please see my new article in The Time of Israel called, "The Yom Kippur Bank Account."
Instead of worrying about accumulating earthly and material treasures: money, houses, cars, exotic travel, and more, we would be well advised to pay attention to our Heavenly treasure that we should be accumulating. Whether tomorrow, when our judgement will be sealed on Yom Kippur or when we, G-d forbid, die and are called for an accounting before our Maker, we should have plenty in the spiritual bank to speak well for us.

However, even if we are a little blind to our own accounting, certainly, just like we don’t want to be physically poor or bankrupt in this world, we definitely don’t want to be coming spiritually empty at Yom Kippur or when we arrive in the world to come. Put in more than you take out! Much more if you can! That’s what every parent should teach their child about their bank or brokerage savings account, building healthy relationships with others, and most importantly, how to live our lives towards our Father in Heaven and the King of the Universe.

(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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July 1, 2020

When All The World Is Going Crazy

When all the world is going c-r-a-z-y...

The best thing you can do is stay CALM. 

- Calm is where good energy enters and bad doesn't.

- Calm is where rational thinking gets done. 

- Calm is where positive action happens.

- Calm is where our inner faith is sustained. 

- Calm is where we can inspire and lead ourselves and others to do good. 

Calm is where we all yearn to be. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 8, 2020

Holding Back The Tide

These rocks are holding their own against the tide. 

They are also standing the test of time. 

We all need to push back against the tide when wrong is pushing forward. 

Whether its corruption or violence.

Be like a rock!

Choose good over evil in every situation.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 2, 2020

You've Got To Do It

Interesting message on this car window:
Imagine all the wonderful things that will never happen if you do not do them.

You've got to get up and get out there and try. 

Never say never. 

Success is within reach. 

Rocky, Rocky, Rocky!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 12, 2020

Anger, Faith, and Growth

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Anger, Faith, and Growth."

We live in an unpredictable world and I have made more than one bad decision recently. Fortunately, it was nothing too terrible, but I was still angry about it, and my gut reaction was to somehow blame G-d, and to feel angry at Him, because I thought somehow I didn't deserve what had happened. However, I asked myself how can you be angry at G-d if you believe that everything he does is for your ultimate good? It took me a little time, but I realized that I wasn't really angry at G-d, but at myself; It was my fault, I did deserve what happened, and my mistakes aren't G-d's.

Maybe this is what life is really all about--searching and finding G-d even among all the multitude of mistakes we make in life. We have to own our mistakes, learn from them, and thereby become stronger and better people.


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 25, 2020

O - Change The World - O

Change the world...by changing your attitude.
Life is Beautiful!
It's a gift.

Every day is renewal and opportunity

Everything is for the best. 

Believe it.  Live it.  And share it.

A smile and a positive attitude is contagious in a good way!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 22, 2020

The Commandments are for All of Us

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called "The Commandments are for All of Us."
While some Jews certainly thrive in Yeshiva delving into the Talmudic understanding of the laws for long hours every day, and they serve an important role in understanding and transmitting the laws from generation to generation, others may be more interested in the fundamental philosophy of Judaism and in "doing what's right" by applying the core teachings of the Torah at their own levels every day. Maybe this is one reason that the Ten Commandments are presented separately from the "mishpatim" that follow. Not that they aren't both important and necessary, but that the Torah is for all of us in the ways that each of us can appreciate, learn, and apply them within the overall framework of the Torah.

Of course, all the commandments are important between G-d and man and between man and man, as well as the conceptual framework of the Ten Commandments and the details embedded in the rest of the 613 commandments. Yet certainly, all of us in one way or another struggle with some commandments more than others or with losing sight of either the high-level essence of the Torah or important details of implementation. Nevertheless, we must strive to not only appreciate that all the Torah comes from Hashem, but also that we each must work as best as we can, in our own capacities, to learn and fulfill G-d's laws and to be a good example and "light unto the nations," which is what being "the chosen people" is really all about.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal of Chagall Tapestry in Knesset, Israel)

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February 6, 2020

Build Others Up

I saw this in one of the student lounges at the local JCC.

It says:
"Don't Cut Down Others"

It's far better to build people up then to tear them down. 

Jut like with trees, it's better to plant a trillion trees than deforest the Amazon Rainforest. 

Trees are life and people are life. 

Be constructive and not destructive. 

Offer a nice word or compliment; provide an attentive and empathetic ear; give direction with some advice or guidance; lend a hand to someone in need; and in general, be a good influence. 

Unfortunately, too many people default to cutting down the old cherry tree! ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 30, 2020

Your Expiration Date

So I was talking to someone about their challenges in life.

And they said something that really hit a chord:
You never know what your expiration date is!

What an interesting way to say you never know when your time is up.

They used the phrase "expiration date" like we so commonly see on food and medicine products. 

You know when you read the label and it tells you to discard after a certain date. 

So people are like all these other goods that have a date stamped on them.

We have a date stamped on us (maybe it's on our forehead or some other less conspicuous place), and we just can't see it. 

Yet, we need to live every day as if that expiration date is coming due. 

Because like that stale food in your fridge or the old medicine in your cabinets, everything and everybody has a shelf life.

So you better live every day good and meaningfully before your expiration date comes due. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 7, 2019

Faith Chases Out The Fear

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, "Faith Chases Out The Fear."
It’s interesting that faith and fear are incompatible and they cannot coexist. Where one is, the other is not. Just like the light chases away the darkness, so too does faith expel fear from our lives. When we believe that G-d is in charge of everything that happens, and that he loves us and ultimately wants what is good of us then what is there for us to fear?

No matter in what danger we find ourselves and no matter how scared we feel, we are not alone. The Master of the Universe is watching over us, waiting for us to raise our eyes to the heavens in faith, and to take a stand and do what’s right. If we do, then G-d will manifest himself to us and indeed “will carry, and will deliver” us.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 16, 2019

Avraham, The Ultimate Mensch

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, "Avraham, The Ultimate Mensch."
The Rabbi asked why did Hashem who is omnipotent even need to create us? And he answered because in G-d being the ultimate good, He “had to create us”—this in essence being the ultimate expression of good by sharing that goodness with us to learn and be good as well. In short, what could be a greater good than extending that opportunity to be be good to others.

Like our forefather, my Hebrew name is Avraham, and for me personally, this has been a critical life lesson: learning to see challenges as opportunities to learn, grow, and consistently be a person that tries to do what is right even when it is hard or the lines seem to be grey. In the end, I believe that G-d put us in this world in order for us to choose good over evil and demonstrate kindness to others. With the Torah as our blueprint, and Avraham, our forefather, as our role model, we must apply the great teachings of the Torah and always strive to act as a proper mensch!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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