The Good Things In Life Are Challenging

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “The Good Things In Life Are Challenging.”

“Everything truly pleasurable in life starts with considerable pain.” More colloquially in working out, we usually say: “No pain, no gain!” And there really is a lot of truth to this. If you think about it, this concept really applies to everything meaningful and ultimately valuable in life.

 

As we reflect this time of year, before Rosh Hashanah, it is good to ask ourselves, what are we chasing and working so hard for in our lives? Are we chasing vanity–more riches, power, and honor or are we striving to do good and make a difference? The latter is a life worth living and where our efforts and pain can bring true reward in this world and ultimately in the world to come.

 
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Magical Letters Of Tishrei

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “The Magical Letters of Tishrei.”

It is ingenious how the letters of the Aleph and Bet and Tishrei (the dates when Rosh Hashanah occurs) is exactly equivalent to the letters in the Hebrew word for Genesis (Bereshit), which is the event of creation that we celebrate on the Jewish New Year. 

Truly, this magical genius evident in the Torah can only be from one source and that is the one Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, Himself!

Let me take this opportunity to wish everyone a truly magical Rosh Hashanah and one that is filled G-d’s mercy and blessings for a happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful New Year!

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

What’s Your Fantasy Synagogue

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “What’s Your Fantasy Synagogue.”

We all go to synagogues that we like in some ways and don’t like in others, but have you ever thought about what your fantasy synagogue would be like if you could make one?Last Shabbat, we were invited for lunch by some wonderful friends who had been sports writers, and the topic of fantasy football came up, where people compete for coming up with the best team by picking their own players and forming their ideal team. I said, half jokingly, wouldn’t it be great if we could do the same thing with synagogues and pick the best aspects of each and make an ideal house of worship for ourselves where we could pray, learn, grow, and experience holiness and community. 

In the article, I detail “the best of the best” when it comes to synagogues and the ultimate ideal synagogue is of course, in the coming of the Mashiach and the rebuilding of the Temple. 


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

What If Israel Lost?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “What If Israel Lost?

What if, G-d forbid, Israel was attacked by its Arab neighbors and lost? It’s an almost unthinkable thought, yet it is actually a complete miracle that Israel, surrounded and vastly outnumbered by its enemies, actually wins and survives in a very tough neighborhood.


Despite these miracles that we have been blessed to witness, we can’t let down our guard militarily or spiritually. We must do good deeds, act with kindness and charity to our fellow man, and worship Hashem to continue to merit the success over our enemies and our settlement of the land of Israel.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Is That An Olive Branch Or A Gun

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Is That An Olive Branch Or A Gun.”

Our adversaries have become adept at terrorizing with one hand and painting themselves as victims with the other….The subterfuge of calling for peace, but seeking to murder has been going on for decades. The PLO charter that calls for the “liberation of Palestine” and the destruction of Israel was supposedly changed in the Oslo Accords, but it was never ratified. And the terrorist tactic of gaining ground (Gaza, West Bank, etc.) to further their strategic aim to attack and destroy Israel is well understood. Arafat became a master of this chicanery already decades ago when he came to the United Nations in 1974 with a “freedom fighters gun” on his hip and an “olive branch” in his offering. Today, the run of the mill terrorist continues this duplicity having become proficient at holding human shields (women and children) in one hand, and a gun or bomb to attack in the other. Similarly, organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah have cunningly split their missions of terrorism and murder of Israelis on one hand with social welfare and political cause for Palestinians on the other. They raise sympathy and seek to gain immunity at the same time as they continue to delegitimize Israel and conduct economic warfare and rampaging killing sprees.


In this regard, I wanted to share two sayings about not letting down our guard when it comes to the safety and security of Israel and our people. One, from the Romans, “If you wish for peace, prepare for war” also known as “peace through strength.” The second saying from former President Ronald Reagan, “Trust but verify” also know as “respect them but suspect them.”

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Coming Annexation

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “The Coming Annexation.”

There has been much talk about Annexation of the Area C settlements in the West Bank (i.e. Yehuda and Shomron), and I believe that we are definitely moving in that direction. According to the 1993 Oslo Accords. Area C is where Israel maintains both security and civilian control. It represents about 60% of the West Bank and is of vital importance to the State of Israel and its future, and therefore is soon likely to be annexed.


Israel is the Promised Land and the one nation state for the Jewish people. Israel has absorbed millions of Jewish refugees from around the world. It is surrounded by hundreds of millions of Arabs in twenty-two countries. Israel captured the West Bank in a war of self-defense and should be prepared to annex it for the peace and security of its people and the region. If Israel has faith, remains strong, recognizes the military, geographical, and sociological realities on the ground and provides for the depth and settlement of its people, while at the same time being compassionate to the Palestinians, then it will continue to survive and thrive as a State, a democracy, and as light unto the nations.

 
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)