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)

G-d Is Good

What a cool barber shop in downtown Miami called, The Spot Barbershop.


When you are lying back in the chair, look what you see on the ceiling:

G-d Is Good.


The other day we went out to eat with some folks. 


And the question came up whether you think most people are good or bad. 


Interestingly, most of the people at the table thought either they are predominantly good or at least that they have the potential for good. 


Really, it is G-d that is the ultimate good. 


And to the extent that we are created in His image and have the opportunity to choose good from evil, then we too can be good. 


G-d is inherently good, but man is a toss up based on which direction he goes. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Four Types of Desire

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “I Want What I Want.”

There are four types of greed/jealousy:

  • I want what I’m missing
  • I want what I had
  • I want what you have
  • I want you to not have what you have

We can be slaves to our egos, emotions, and desires, or we can seek to control them and be better than mere animals. We have a soul, a conscience, and the Torah, so the choice should be clear even if not always easy.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Never Alone Or Meaningless

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Never Alone or Meaningless.”

  • We are never alone, because G-d is always right there with us, and in us!
  • And what we do is never meaningless, because everything we do affects the G-dliness of everything else–everything and everyone are wholly intertwined and connected.

Instead of feeling alone, aimless, and sad, we can delight in our oneness with G-d and the cosmos and in knowing the everything we do can have a positive impact on everything else.  😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Finding Our Innerspace

I liked this painting and the caption:

Innerspace


There is outer space.


And there is innerspace. 


Outer space is the universe, the cosmos, the galaxies, the solar systems, the stars, and the planets–it’s the big picture of what is all around us.


Innerspace is the our soul, conscience, thoughts, feelings, who we are, and what we’re all about–it’s the infinity of what makes us up and what’s inside each of us. 


The perspective is infinitely big as we look upward and outward to the heavens, and infinitely small as we zoom inside ourselves to the subatomic levels. 


The innerspace makes me think of mindfulness, meditation, and finding purpose, meaning, truth, and inner peace. 


Our search for self is really the intersection of outer- and innerspace.


We are but a speck of dust and yet we have the power to do such immense good.  


It’s a contradiction that is so powerful–for who are we that G-d is mindful of us and cares for us and gives us the power to choose good from evil. 


Yet that is exactly our world and our place in it–and this is where we find innerspace in all of outer space. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Hopefully, All’s Well That Ends Well

I liked this Hebrew sign that says (translated):

When the end is good, all is good. 


Or as we commonly say:

All’s well that end’s well. 


Lot of truth to this. 


And there are so many languages that talk to this.

I remember my father used to say it in German as well.


When things end well, it’s as if everything went well. And when things end badly, it’s as if everything was bad. 


The human mind seems to focus on the last thing (and forgets virtually everything leading up to it). 


Perhaps, we justify the means with the end (i.e. all the time and effort leading up to it). 


Or maybe we recap our lives as either a success or failure by how things ended up. 


In 20/20 hindsight, we can see the consequences of our actions.


– Was all the hard work worth it?


– Did we even focus on the right priorities and goals in life?


– Were the choices and decisions we made well-founded? 


– What was the impact on ourselves, our loved ones, and more broadly?


We look for meaning and purpose in our lives, and hopefully in the end when we look back, we are blessed to see that it was all for the good. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Dark Side

Thought this was a fascinating piece in the Wall Street Journal’s Review Section called, “The Dark Triad and The Evolution of Jerks.”


Antisocial Personality Disorder is where people exhibit three primary symptoms:


1) Narcissism – Excessive focus on oneself.

2) Machiavellianism – Manipulating others for one’s own gain.

3) Psychopathy – Overall disregard for others, including impaired empathy and remorse


Together, these 3 traits make up “The Dark Triad” or perhaps they  come across as being from the dark side, because of how badly they can treat others. 


Studies have shown that these three traits are positively correlated with one another, and that more than 10% of the population has these. 


In reading a little more online at WebMD, I learned that the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath is that while they share similar traits, a psychopath typically acts as if they have no conscience, while a sociopath acts with a weak conscience. 


“At worst, they’re cold, calculating killers,” while at the less extreme, they may be okay with hurting others to get what they want. 


– Moreover, while psychopaths are more cold-hearted and calculating,” sociopaths are “hot-headed” and “act without thinking how others will be affected.”


Another study found that people with these traits often “experienced low-quality or irregular parental care.” Thus a harsh or unstable childhood may cause these symptoms. 


Whether these people come from the dark side, are going to the dark side, or just are scary and hurtful, it is important to be able to recognize who you may be dealing with.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)