Two Lightning Strikes

One week apart, two freak accidents, both families nearly wiped out. 


Both touched me. 


Exactly one week ago, I learned and wished condolences to the man in synagogue who lost his wife, youngest son, and mother-in-law in the Mexico tourist bus accident. 


Today–7 days later, a neighbor comes up to me and tells me she’s going to the funeral for her daughter, son-in-law and three children killed in the Costa Rica plane crash this week, and I wished her that G-d have mercy. 


Like two lightning strikes–not a coincidence (I don’t believe in that).


I believe more that it is a warning, and it is really frightening.


I pray that G-d should have mercy on all of us. 

Please G-d, Save Us. 
Please G-d, Save Us. Please G-d, Help Us To Succeed. 
Please G-d, Help Us To Succeed. 

Life truly hangs by a thin thread.


The time period between my meeting the man and women from these two families–7 days–represents both life and death–it is both the number of days of “Sheva Brachot” (days of celebration for a bride and groom) and the number of says of “Shiva: (mourning when someone dies)


We need to be committed to doing good in this world and in His name.


— Repentance, charity, and prayer.


All of us must do our best to serve G-d and always do right with integrity.


G-d should defeat evil, and He should have mercy on his faithful children, so that He turns mourning into celebration and blessings. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to kristendawn, and interesting that it is from Costa Rica)

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Something Better In Store For You

So I recently had what I thought was a big opportunity slip by me.


My first reaction was to be disappointed, upset, angry, and question why.


But then I remembered something I heard the other day:

“If something doesn’t work out then it’s because something even better is coming.”


Wow, that’s powerful!


Think about it…


What do we mortal human beings really know?


We think something is right for us–but only G-d really knows what the future will bring.


Perhaps with this or that thing that we think we so want, instead of joy and fulfillment, it’s really just heartache or disaster in the waiting.


My father used to say and was so right about it:

“Better to cry now then to cry later.”


G-d loves us and has our best interests at heart–He saves us and has something better in store for us. 


My father also taught me:

“What can any man do to us when we have faith in G-d.”


And he really lived that way!


He never worried about what any person or event could do to him–faith always protected him and even when he was sick and was dying, and I asked how he was, he told me:

“I have no pain.”


And I could see truly with his deep faith in the Almighty, he really did not feel any pain–it was amazing and miraculous!


Like my dear father, when I remember that G-d has the whole world in Hands, and He watches over us then my heart is uplifted and all I want to do is sing His praises, and that is what I will do. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

Welcome To Israel Henna Party

So we arrived in Israel for our daughter’s wedding. 


It was amazing to me to see how the Holy Land has so developed from when I was here last over 25-years ago.


It is a thriving nation in every sense of the word. 


Just as G-d has promised, the land and it’s people have blossomed under His blessings.


I am grateful to G-d for helping me to reach this wonderful and happy time. 


Tonight, we had a wonderful dinner with the in-laws and there was a henna ceremony as well–for good luck (Mazel Tov)!

Little did I know, I thought this bowl of henna was chocolate fudge and part of dessert–good thing that I didn’t take a staining bite out of that


How would that have looked in the wedding pictures? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Failing Forward

There were 2 inspirational student speakers today at my daughter’s graduation from American University.


One spoke about how he got sick soon after starting college with a serious vascular disease, but despite numerous hopsitalizations, treatments, and falling behind his peers, he persevered and was graduating today and in very good spirits. 


Another women spoke about her many failures leading up to the success today of her graduation. She described how her father used to ask her: 

“What did you fail at this week?”


Why?


Because even though we don’t like to admit it, most people have many, many more failures in life than successes.  


Even Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb is said to have failed 1,000 times before getting it right.


This women explained how failure is actually something to celebrate–does that sound crazy?.


But it’s really not, and here’s why?

“To fail is to learn.
To learn is to grow.
To fail is to grow forward.”

Now, I had heard about failing up, but never failing forward. 


Many who fail still manage to advance themselves in the process. 


But failing forward is different. 


It’s not taking advantage of the failure, but legitimately learning from the experience so that you can grow yourself, and advance yourself, by becoming a smarter, stronger, and more capable person from it. 


Sure, it hurts to fail. 


Who would normally want to celebrate failure?


But if we understand life as a journey and not a specific destination, then we enjoy every blessed moment that we have to become better today and tomorrow than we were yesterday. 


In this case, failure is not the opposite of success, but rather is part and parcel of achieving it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Beautiful Innocent Child Angel

So wonderful news is that one of my daughters is getting married, please G-d, at the end of the month.


Today, we had a celebration in synagogue called an Aufruf, where the groom is called to the Torah and makes the blessing and then we all throw candies (we chose bags of chocolates).


After the services, we had a kiddush luncheon and it was really nice to see everyone from the community sharing in this wonderful Simcha with us. 


But something happened towards the end of the services that had a really big impact on me…in fact, I can’t stop thinking about it–I need to write it down. 


As services concluded and we were leaving the sanctuary, this beautiful innocent little girl came right up to my daughter–sort of out of nowhere and without her parents–and wished her Mazel Tov. 


There was something about her and the way she did it with such sincerity–I literally couldn’t have been more touched. 


It was almost like this child was some sort of angel–I mean it!


The child’s eyes and facial expression had an innocence like I have never quite seen before. 


All I could do was marvel at this child and how she came up all by herself with this incredible pureness of heart that I can’t fully explain to wish the bride and groom well. 


Then I found my words to say thank you and wish her that in a “few” years she would be getting happily married too, G-d willing. 


I think I will always remember the piecing innocent eyes of this child and how she was like an angel visiting us on this special occasion today. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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)