Ooh That Is Good

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Hey, congratulations to Roger Federer on winning his 19th tennis championship. 


It’s an absolutely awesome level of athletic achievement and it’s definitely something to celebrate. 


But when I saw this photo of him and his trophy in the paper this morning, it seemed over the top!


Whenever someone sets their mind to something, works really hard, and is thank G-d able to achieve it–that is something to be happy about and enormously grateful for. 


Hey, listen, I understand there are some real superstars out there and I respect them! 


However, seeing this guy clutching his trophy in both hands, smelling it, kissing it, and more…it looks to me more like idolatry than the pure, sweet smell of success. 


I get it–he worked super hard, achieved impossible things, and deserves to savor the incredible moment–no one is taking that away from him. 


Instead of that gold trophy, wouldn’t you rather see him kissing his wife and children, thanking G-d (and his coach maybe), and saying things like how he will continue to use his success and earning to help others or maybe train the next generation of aspiring athletes. 


I applaud Federer more for his known philanthropy in helping disadvantaged children and doing charitable events for disaster victims than for winning his 19th championship (hey, 18 would’ve been fine too).  


In the end, self- (and trophy-) love and admiration is not the something to celebrate, but should instead point us back to character and using our strength and achievements to help others.


For what is really important in life, there is no earthly trophy for–and certainly not one worth any ultimate embrace. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via Wall Street Journal)

The Excuses We Make

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So on the way to the airport, I am talking with the Uber driver. 


“There is such a discrepancy between the rich and the poor here,” I say.


“Yeah,” she says, “When I drive and stop at the lights, there are many poor people that come up to the car looking for a handout.”


She continues, “I usually have a few dollars here” pointing to the little cubby hole under the parking break. 


“But my friends make fun of me saying, they [the panhandlers] are just going to go out and buy a beer!”


Excuse #1 not to give poor people–they’ll misuse our charity and buy alcohol, drugs, or prostitutes. 


The driver says, “But so what…if I were in their shoes, I’d buy a beer too.”


I’m thinking, hey this is nice…she’s fighting the bad inclination and her friends pressure and still wants to give–this is great!


Sure enough, we stop at a red light, and a really poor man starts walking up to the window to ask for help.


This person is dressed in dirty battered rags of an undershirt, and has sores on their arms and body.


The driver says, “Yeah, if I gave him, he’d probably just switch his shirt inside out later [as if the other side would be magically less dirty and ripped] and go home to his Rolls Royce!”


Wow, when excuse #1 doesn’t hold…


Excuse #2–the poor people are just faking it…really they aren’t poor, but rather they are fantastically rich and trying to pocket some more money for free.


It’s like the evil inclination sitting on one shoulder telling us “don’t give,”  even as the good inclination is sitting over our other shoulder beseeching us to have mercy and “give, give, give.”


In this case, the evil inclination won out. 


I reached for my wallet and wanted to open my window, but honestly this person looked scary–dirty and maybe sick–I was afraid of this person. 


I hope G-d forgives me, because I feel it wasn’t my evil inclination making excuses, but this time it was genuine for me. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Jewish In Florida

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These were three beautiful Jewish things that I saw in Florida in 24 hours.

The first was a billboard touting the wonderful America-Israel friendship and partnership.

“Frontline in the global war on terror.
Best friend and ally of the US.
Providing religious freedom and liberty.
Thank you Israel for sharing American values.”

The second were about 20 cans (“pushkas”) for collecting charity for the poor in a local kosher Pita Plus restaurant.  


Have a great shawarma plater (with mounds of meat) and give back to others in need and hungry. 


The third was a sign in a discount beachy clothing store with the holy Jewish blessing of Shema Israel.

“Hear O Israel:
The L-rd is our G-d.
The L-rd is One.”

There is definitely more than sun and surf and vacation here…


There is a feeling of G-d and faith, of charity and giving, and of special partnership between friends and allies, USA-Israel. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Poverty Stinks

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A lady dropped these placards around on the Metro yesterday with a little pack of tissues. 


It says:

“Hi, I have 2 kids and I’m a single mother and I have no job. If you can please help me for food and for rent. G-d bless you. Thank you.”


It is heart-wrenching, the poverty!


People without food or shelter. 


Many without medicine and proper clothing. 


Basic things that most of us take for granted.


It takes so little for everything to go to sh*t. 


Both individually and also societally. 


The world can be a cruel, cruel place. 


But people can open their hearts and wallets to help others. 


Also, advocate for people that are less fortunate. 


Imagine G-d looking down and what does he see from us. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Curse That Is Really A Blessing

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So here is an amazing true story from this week.


My wife was in Israel. 


She went to the Kotel (Jewish Temple Mount in Jerusalem) to pray. 


On the way, an old, poor man stopped her and asked for food. 


My wife gave him her sandwich. 


Then after walking another block, he stopped her again and gestured for assistance. 


This time, my wife gave him some money too.


After this, she asked him if he would bless our family.


And he did and also gave a special blessing to my elder daughter who had just recently gotten engaged. 


My wife also went to the Kotel and prayed for us and her. 


That same evening back in the States here, my daughter and her fiancee ended their engagement. 


At first, the breakup seemed like a big disappointment and that a terrible thing had happened–almost like a curse–but G-d works in mysterious ways. 


When we saw the reasons for the breakup, we realized fully that G-d had indeed heard the blessings of the old, poor man (maybe an angel) and the prayers of my wife.


We wish the young man all the best in his future, but we just saw clearly that this was not the right match. 


So what at first can seem like a curse is really a blessing in disguise. 


Truly, when you give charity, you’re not only helping others, but it’s really a blessing for you too. 


Thank you to the old, poor man in Jerusalem and to Hashem who heard my wife’s prayers at the Kotel. 😉


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

People Literally Eating Garbage

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So I saw another homeless person yesterday eating out of the garbage on the street. 


They had flipped open the top, reached in, pulled out a half-drunk cup of something awful looking, and in one shot, gulped it down. 


I was choking watching this–it was so upsetting that any human being has to live this way. 


Like so many of these poor folks living off the streets, their belly was sick and widely distended. 


And their pants were very worn, with holes, and wrapped ill-fittingly around their waist. 


They dragged a small suitcase behind them. 


When people say that things are bad in their life, perhaps we often don’t stop to think about how bad things can really get (bli ayin hara).


G-d should have mercy on his children and bless us not to know any loss, sorrow, pain, suffering, sickness or hunger.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Kiss One Another Day

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So with all the divisiveness and hate in this country (and the world) lately…


I thought we need a day to celebrate, accept, and love each other.


Let’s call it: 

National Kiss Day!


Liberals and Democrats – give each other a kiss.


Christians, Jews, and Muslims – give each other a kiss. 


Men and women – give each other a kiss. 


Straight and LGBTQ – give each other a kiss.


Old, middle age, and young – give each other a kiss. 


White, black, yellow, and brown – give each other a kiss. 


Races and nationalities of all kinds – give each other a kiss.


Those with and without illnesses and disabilities – give each other a kiss. 


We are all G-d’s children, so it’s time to stop the crazy hate and fighting.


Love each other, work together to advance the world for everyone, and give each other a big, fat, heartfelt kiss – and maybe we can make the day into a lifetime!


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Communicate And Do Good In This World

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This is a really good quote by Jay Danzie:

“Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark.”


I heard someone else say it another way:

“The only way to read your audience is with eye contact and smiles.”


Basically, it comes down to leaving people with a positive feeling through your interactions, and influencing others for the good. 


We have one chance to make a first impression–so yes, wow people with your smile, personality, integrity, and inspire them to do and speak good. 


If we all just say or do just one more good thing everyday, imagine that multiplied by 7.5 billion people. 


Now, multiply that by 365 days a years and you have 2.7 trillion more good things said and done in just a single year.


Imagine our Heavenly Father looking down at us with so much good in our souls’ bank.


We can all be an influence for good–just think about it and go out and do it! 😉


(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)

613 Faith Redux

So between Nov 2015 to June 2016, we were all seeing the mystical number of 613, the number of commandments in the holy Torah. 



Then on June 12, 2016, there was a terror attack in Orlando, which killed 49 people and wounded 53 others. 



We read about this all over the front page of USA Today on 6.13.16  (the date spells 613 in BOTH directions!) 

Then all of a sudden we stopped seeing 613–completely stopped. 



That is until 2 weeks ago.



When out of nowhere we all simultaneously and independently started to see 613 again. 



On clocks, license plates, order numbers, treadmills, everywhere. 



Yesterday, I saw 613 displayed brightly on a warning cone (above) in the roadway!



And today again, an order number received “randomly” for a purchase online ends in 613! 

In Judaism, we are taught that nothing in life is random…everything comes from G-d. 



All I can say is that it is scary to see this–it feels like some sort of warning or message–and we need to have renewed faith in G-d, turn to him, and ask for his mercy. 



In the ongoing war of good over evil, I think it’s certainly a time for extra repentance, prayer, charity, and lots of good deeds. 😉



(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

The Evil Stink Eye

Stink Eye

So there is an important Jewish (and non-Jewish) concept of the evil eye (in hebrew, it’s called an “Ayin Hara”).


This is the idea that people who are jealous of you or simply don’t like you, can wish bad (or evil to befall) on you. 


And the more people or the more merits these people have in life that cast this evil wish (in mystical terms, some may call it a spell), perhaps the stronger the potency of it on you. 


Superstition or real? This is a matter of what you believe in and maybe experiences you’ve had in life have taught you to beware of when others don’t wish you well. 


This is why many righteous people try to avoid the limelight–they don’t want others to focus on them and harbor bad feelings toward them. 


Better in a sense to remain more private and discrete than suffer the evil eye of others. 


If we understand that there are not only physical powers in the universe, but also spiritual and metaphysical ones, then we may choose to protect ourselves by shielding ourselves from the public eyes of jealousy and hate.


Others may choose to do extra charity, prayer, and good deeds in an effort to protect themselves from competitors and antagonists in life. 


It’s funny, but when my wife sees someone she perceives giving another the evil eye, she calls it, “The stink eye!”


And truly, it does stink that people can be so mean and hateful to others, but unfortunately, not everyone in life is nice and good.


It takes all types, and that is why it’s critical to avoid those evil glances, feelings, and thoughts of others.


Hurt can take many forms–words and deeds are the two that we recognize most often. 


However, we shouldn’t discount the harm that thoughts and feelings can cause as well. 


The mind and spirit of humans can reach out and up to the Heavens, and so we must live our lives good to G-d as well to people, and Bli Ayin Hara (without the evil eye) for blessings and not for curses. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)