The Life and Legacy of Sarah

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “The Life and Legacy of Sarah.”

The Rebbetzin explained beautifully that when we live a good life, not only does our soul live on in the afterlife, but our good deeds continue to have an influence in this world even after we, ourselves, have passed.


We should never underestimate our influence in this world, and that what we say and do reverberates like concentric circles that spread out from the source farther and farther. Moreover, while you might not think that what you do matters all that much or is a big deal, you never really know the outsize impact that it can have. Therefore, even while Sarah had passed and Abraham mourned her, the truth is that her legacy of the great Jewish nation was only just beginning!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

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 Is Life?

Here is a great parable that speaks to the meaning of life:

A man died.

When he realized it, he saw God coming closer with a suitcase in his hand.

Dialog between God and Dead Man:

God: *Alright son, it’s time to go*

Man: So soon? I had a lot of plans.

God: *I am sorry but, it’s time to go*

Man: What do you have in that suitcase?

God: *Your belongings*

Man: My belongings? You mean my things…clothes…money…

God; *Those things were never yours, they belong to the Earth*

Man: Is it my memories?

God: *No. They belong to Time*

Man: Is it my talent?

God: *No. They belong to Divine Providence*

Man: Is it my friends and family?

God: *No son. They belong to the Path you traveled*

Man: Is it my wife and children?

God: *No. they belong to your Heart*

Man: Then it must be my body

God: *No, No… It belongs to Dust*

Man: Then surely it must be my Soul!

God: *You are sadly mistaken son. Your Soul belongs to me.*

Man: I never owned anything?

God: *That’s Right. You never owned anything*.

Man (with tears in his eyes and full of fear took the suitcase from God’s hand and asks God): Then? What was mine?

God: *Your choices.*

Every choice you made was yours.

Create each moment by filling it with meaning.

Do G-d’s will at every moment.

Choose to act kindly to others in every moment.

Life is the choices of every moment.

(Adapted from and with Gratitude to Minna Blumenthal for sharing this with me)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Shut Up In Shul

Menorah

So today, I went to synagogue for Shabbat. 


I sat by one of my friends and in between some prayers was catching up with him from the week. 


Okay, I know that I shouldn’t be talking (so much) in shule, but it is an important way for me to connect with other Jewish people and community. 


Then all of a sudden, another person says to me without any warning, “Shut up!”


At first, I thought it was a joke, then he says it again with a serious face, and I was so embarrassed. 


And only partially for me, but maybe even more for him.


What type of person uses that type of language to someone and in synagogue. 


He didn’t say, can you keep it down or let’s focus on our prayers or something human and kind. 


Instead, he talked to me like an animal and I couldn’t believe it and tonight is Tisha B’Av, when Hashem twice destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem (in part it is said because of hatred of Jew against Jew). 


It reminded me of how I saw some horrible videos on Facebook this week of Chasidim from Neturei Karta and Satmar protesting against Israel and their fellow Jewish people…what a complete sickness to wish evil and destruction against your own brothers and sisters, rather than helping them to build and grow a beautiful state in service to G-d and a light unto nations. 


In synagogue today, while I was silent before this person’s horrible words of rebuke, my friend said to him, “This is how you talk?  You say shut up [and in shul]!”


I appreciated that he said something, and the other guy actually apologized then.


I hope Hashem can forgive me for talking in shule and the people who treat each other badly. 


I am sad at how twisted religion has gotten to some, and know this is not the way it is supposed to be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Light Up The Night

Light Sticks
This was a beautiful piece in the New York Times today.



It was about how two sons handled the final hours with their father after he was removed from off life support.



With the prodding of one son, the father reluctantly agrees to see a Rabbi before his death, and this Rabbi describes to the dying man the meaning of his (and our) life:



“Imagine your whole life now, and for each [and every] time you did something good, imagine it as a little glow you left behind that lights a dark road stretching back in time. It’s a long, long row of lights now, isn’t it?”



Remembering over time, the father nods, smiles and is obviously comforted in this final hour as he sees in his mind’s eye all the shinning lights for the acts of kindness that he was leaving behind. 



Isn’t this what life is all about?



Every choice we make, everything we do, can have an amazing impact and leave light when before there was just darkness. 



Imitating G-d in creation, we create light separating it from the darkness out there, good from evil…we create the future. 



Our goal…light up the night. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)