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)

One G-d, Many Stories

So we went to the mall and there was a new Indian gift store.


We went in to take a look, and they had all sorts of things, but one section had a lot of colorful statues. 


We didn’t even really know what we were looking at when one of the young lady salespeople came over to explain. 


And she’s pointing to different statues and saying that this is the “G-d of love,” this is the “G-d of prosperity,” this is the “G-d for removing obstacles,” etc. 


I said to her questioningly (non-judgmental), “So we are Jews, and we believe in monotheism. How do you understand this concept of different ‘G-ds’?”


She said, “Well, I learned about these growing up in India, but the way I’ve come to terms with this is that these “G-ds” are really different ‘faces’ of one G-d” and then she started to tell us the “stories” of them. 


So in her explanation, when they are confronting challenges in life, they pray to the “face of G-d” that focuses on removing those obstacles, and when they are seeking prosperity then they pray to that “face of G-d” so on and so forth. 


It was interesting to me how this young lady came to find a monotheistic interpretation and path for herself and perhaps others who have similar beliefs.  


I wondered to myself whether this understanding can be in a way be similar to the Jewish concept of G-d having different attributes like midat Rachamin, din, etc. 


Of course, I know that G-d loves all of us, and I respect everyone’s personal beliefs.


For me and my traditional Jewish belief system, I wholeheartedly affirm as my namesake Abraham:

Sh’ma Yis’rael, Hashem Elo’kenu, Hashem Echad.
Hear O’ Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is one.  

 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Moshe Shalom)

Aliyah: To Go Up

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, The Aliyah Connection.

“As Jewish people yet around the globe plan for their futures, they need to consider carefully “the place that G-d has chosen” and where they and their families will be at the fateful conclusion of the Redemption and the arrival of Mashiach. Perhaps, while the road to Jerusalem requires our dedication and hard work, the choice is not that difficult as the Land of Israel flourishes and the people of Israel yet lives–Eretz and Am Israel Chai!”

Hope you enjoy. 😉


(Source Photo: Rebecca Ochayon) 

The Origin of Government In The Bible

Government In Bible.jpeg

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)

Biblical Art

Biblical Art

So we turned the clock forward this morning and spring was here…it was warm enough to go hiking again. It was a long one, but great to be back outdoors.

After the hike we stopped at Max’s in Silver Spring for their famous shawarma sandwiches…OMG are they amazingly good (I got mine extra spicy and mixed with the tahini sauce and fresh meat right off the spit…it is delicious!

After paying, I noticed there was this beautiful wall hanging between the register and pickup counter…I started to take a closer look and there were these gorgeous scenes from the bible:

– Creation and the 7th Day of Rest

– Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

– Noah and The Ark, Cain and Abel, The Tower of Babel, and Abraham

– Joseph, Moses, The Exodus from Egypt, and The Ten Commandments

– The Promised Land of Israel, The Fall of Jericho, King David, The Temple, Hezekiah, and Jonah and The Whale

The detail, colors, and flow on this artwork was absolutely amazing.

It is called “A Celebration of Spirit” and I believe that the artist is Charles Fazzino.

The lithograph was tall and narrow, and I would love to see it as a whole wall mural…it is really beautiful and brought the bible so alive.

I found out today that not only the shawarma is good at Max’s… 😉