Our Forefathers Were Planners And So Are We

Thank you to Rabbi Haim Ovadia for his speech today at Magen David Synagogue on the topic of how our forefathers in the Bible were planners and so are we today. (Note: some of the thoughts below are directly from Rabbi Ovadia and others are added by me.)


In the Biblical story of Jacob, there are numerous examples teaching us the importance of planning.


1) Shepherds vs Hunters:  Jacob was a shepherd versus his brother Esau who was a hunter.  Shepherds have a long-term outlook with their animals, tending to them and caring for them over the long-term, while hunters go out for the kills to eat for that day. 


2) Working for Rachel and Leah vs. Selling the Pottage:  Jacob worked for 7 years for Rachel and another 7 for Leah–this was the long-term view and commitment to work for Lavan in order to marry his daughters. In comparison, Esau came in hungry from the field and sold his birthright for the immediate gratification of a bowl of pottage.


3) The Plan to Take Esau’s Blessing: Rebekah worked with Jacob to prepare meat for Isaac and put hair and clothes on Jacob that made him look and seem like Esau, so Jacob could get the blessing from Isaac, while Esau was still out hunting in the field. 


4) Dividing his Camp in Two: Jacob sent messengers (i.e. reconnaissance) to see and plan for what Esau was doing in coming to meet him. When the messengers returned with word that Esau was coming with 400 men, Jacob planned for the worst, dividing his camp in two, so should one peril the other could survive. Additionally, Jacob prayed and sent rounds of gifts to Esau and also presented himself to Esau before his beloved wife Rachel and son Joseph in the safety of the rear. 


Long-term planning has been fundamental to the Jewish people throughout history and to modern times:


1) “People of the Book” – The Jewish people are known as “the people off the book” for the devotion to Torah study, learning, and continually investing in education, which is a view for long-term investment and success.   


2) Good Deeds to Inherit The World To Come – Fundamental to Jewish belief is that this earthly world is just a “corridor” to the World to Come.  We do charity and good deeds, not only because it’s the right thing to do (certainly!), but also because we believe that these merits will help us long-term when we pass, and go to the spiritual next world, Heaven. 


3) Believing and Praying for the Return to The Promised Land – For 2,000, the Jewish people never gave up hoping and praying on the deliverance of G-d’s promise to return them from exile to the Promised Land.  This was a long-term view that helped sustain the Jewish people throughout their far-flung exile and through millennium of persecution and genocide.

Ezekiel 11:17: “Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”

4) Waiting 6,000 years for the Messiah: For 6,000 years, the Jews have maintain faith and plan for the coming of the Messiah, the rebuilding of the Temple and the ultimate redemption of the world.  

“(Ani Ma’amin) I believe in complete faith in the coming of the Messiah…Even tough he may tarry, none-the-less, I will wait for him.”

Like our forefathers, it is critical to maintain faith in the Almighty and practice long-term planning as keys to success in life. 


If we take the long-view, we can overcome so many short-term challenges, obstacles and even suffering–believing, praying planning, and doing for a better, brighter future. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

Thou Shalt Not

10 Commandments.jpeg

Interesting speech by the Rabbi today in synagogue. 


What stood out to me was when he talked about the Ten Commandments, particularly the 2nd set of five. 


And how some people hear what they want to hear. 


All of the 2nd five start with “Thou shalt not,”  but there are those people that only hear the part that comes after those words. 


So for example: Thou shalt not kill…steal…commit adultery…lie…desire.


But not everyone listens to the “Thou shalt not” and instead they just hear–selectively:


– Kill

– Steal

– Commit adultery

– Lie

– Desire


If you take out the “Thou shalt nots,” you are left with a list of terrible and evil deeds.


How convenient for those who are looking for the upper hand and pleasures in life–get rich quick, get and maintain power, take whatever and whomever you want and when you want it–no matter who it belongs to or how they feel.


Like the good angel and bad angel sitting over our shoulders and one says don’t do the bad thing and the other encourages us to do!


Who you going to listen to? 


Not everyone seems to care–they live for today and forget about tomorrow. 


Yet every misdeed leaves a tarnish on our soul, while every good deed adds a merit. 


And if there is no justice in the end then who the hell wants to be in such a world anyway. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Greatest Museum of Them All

Museum of Bible.jpeg

So the greatest museum of them all is scheduled to open in just 3 months!


The Museum of the Bible.


Right here in Washington, D.C.–a few blocks from the Capitol. 


There is a wonderful video on their website


It’s 430,000 square feet and 8 stories floors. 


With two 40-feet-high bronze doors that look like the Ten Commandments. 


And an overall tall and narrow shape with a curved roof that reminds me of Noah’s Ark.


It encompasses: 


Religion.


History.


Art. 


It all comes together here. 


There is an interesting display of all the different versions of the Bible.


But what it all points to is how similar we all really are. 


The emergence of faith in The One G-d who created us all–his children–and the foundation in the words of His book. 


Yes, we share in common much more than what separates us. 


If we can just see ourselves in His eyes and be the people we can be and were meant to be. 


The museum should be an inspiration to be better, to be brothers, to have peace, to partner and progress to the future.


With our faith sustaining us, and the Bible and our conscience as our guides, we can overcome. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Nature of Good and Evil

Like in the Bible…


When our forefather Itzchak was about to bless his son Jacob and he said the words (are good) like Jacob, but the hands (deeds) feel like Esau.


Words are cheap, and actions speak volumes louder!


Good deeds mean something, but words are easily manipulated.


We can all spot good deeds, and that is what must guide our judgement of people and situations–that is where the truth rests.


Like my father and grandfather always taught me–some people are good and some are not so good.  😉


(Source Video: Dannielle Blumenthal)

The Miraculous Mezuzah

Mezuzah.jpeg

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)

Mystical 613 – Inauguration

LinkedIn 613.jpeg

Laundromat 613.jpeg

TV Show Alone 613.jpeg

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)

613 Menu

Menu 613

So for those of you following my blogs about 613 (the number of commandments in the Torah)–this is blog 6 in the monthly series. 


And here it is again, on the menu for a simple Caesar Salad–depending on the size, it’s $6 or $13.


I’m sorry but I don’t need a statistician to tell me that the number of times and places for the revealing of 613–without even looking for it (seriously)–is extraordinary. indeed. 


G-d has a message for us of hope and faith–613–I plan on listening. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

613 In Miniature

613

So this is my fifth month in a row now posting about the holy 613 (number of commandments in the Torah). 


This time my daughter sent me this photo from this afternoon. 

Do you see the 613 in the middle (I almost missed it)?


She actually saw this on a city bus–it was on the vertical cord you pull to request a stop–and it was tiny.


But there it was–calling us out to have absolute faith in the Almighty above. 


As it happens, I saw another 613 this month–again out of nowhere. 


I was talking to a colleague in the office. 


He was wearing his badge–I think off to the side of his belt. 


And when I looked down for a moment, the number of the badge was glaring out 613. 


I thought for a second to take a photo, but this obviously wouldn’t have been appropriate. 


It’s just too weird at this point…


613 everywhere…and we are all seeing it.  


Mass psychosis, no.


Living in the time of the Messiah, hopefully.


Message to have faith, absolutely.


Please G-d, it should all be for the good. 


Shabbat Shalom!


Note: If there are any Torah scholars out there that can help interrupt these 613 sightings–would greatly welcome your comments for blessings. 


(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)

10 Commandments, 10 Plagues–What’s The Connection?

Ten Commandments

It occurred to me while listening to the Rabbi’s speech at Magen David Synagogue today that there is nothing random in the Torah (Bible).

Since this weeks’s Torah reading in Exodus was about the ten plagues in Egypt, I realized that this must be connected to the later ten commandments in a subsequent reading. 

This table explains how the commandments to the Jews (and all mankind) and the plagues on the Egyptians are connected one for one.

(Source Table: Andy Blumenthal)