Facing Facts on Rosh Hashanah

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Facing Facts on Rosh Hashanah.”

In a sense, we all live at least two lives–represented by the two faces we wear: The first is the happy face, where we portray ourselves as if everything is going so well, almost near-perfect in our lives (our vacations, accomplishments, celebrations, and so on), and this is the face that we routinely show to the world. Then, there is the second face, which is essentially where everything is not (always) quite so rosy, where life’s challenges, troubles, and hardships take their tangible toll, and this is the face that we learn to keep private and regularly hide from the world. Usually, it comes down to a rationale that goes something like this: just imagine what would people think of us if they really knew us for who we are and what we were actually going through? Yet the funny thing is that everyone is going through something–that’s life!

In a couple of weeks, when we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, we come knowing that there is no mask to be worn in front of our Maker, and truly, we are naked before Him in all our thoughts and deeds. We can’t pretend anymore that our lives or ourselves are perfect, but rather this is the time for true and earnest reflection, repentance, as well as judgment for the New Year based on what each of us is really all about. May each of us have the courage and conviction to face our real selves, to learn, grow, improve, and ultimately to self-actualize, and may we receive G-d’s mercy and blessings for a happy and healthy New Year!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Wrong and Wrong

I thought this was a funny saying that my friend told me. 

I’d agree with you but then we’d both be wrong!


He said that he actually liked it so much that he got a sign with it and put it in his office. 


As they say, “Two wrongs don’t make right.”


If you think something is wrong, hold your ground–otherwise no one will be right. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Wrong Direction–Who Stands For The Truth?

So I thought this was pretty funny in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend. 

A wife is listening to the radio and she hears that a car is dangerously going in the wrong direction on the highway. 

Immediately, she calls her husband to tell him about the car going in the wrong direction, and to be careful. 

He husband replies: One car going in the wrong direction…there are hundreds of cars going in the wrong direction!

How true this little story is about life and what direction we choose for ourselves–in the face of the groupthink and the tidal wave of public opinion that will sweep you away if you aren’t strong of mind and especially of character. 


Whenever we choose the road less traveled, others see us as dangerous and going the wrong way. 


Yet to us, others may just be following blindly, and we may truly see something that everyone else is missing…could it possibly be that they are really the ones going the wrong way!


But there is always some doubt in our minds…we are fallible, we can wrong, we can be crazy.  


Whose truth is it anyway–Mine?  Yours?  Or could it really be “The (objective) Truth”?


Alternatively, maybe we just lack confidence or courage?


It is very hard to be the nail that stands up (and doesn’t get hammered down) and say that something is wrong and everyone should pay attention and change direction or their ways. 


Perhaps, they are all heading off a moral cliff or just heading towards disaster.


In some cases…


We know the agendas of the people who want to steer you wrong. 


We hear the propaganda and lies they are feeding you. 


We can see down the road or just around the bend where the danger lies in wait. 


– Can we stand up to the crowd?  


– Can we demonstrate the moral truth?  


– Can we get others to see what we see?  


It is certainly not easy to be the contrarian in the crowd. 


Not only may you not be recognized for what you are doing, but you may even be persecuted for it. 


It doesn’t matter…


Because you need to do it anyway just because you know deep inside that it’s the right thing to do. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Miracles of Charity and Faith

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “The Conviction of One’s Faith.”

What better way to welcome in the New Year of 2019 then with some inspirational true stories about amazing people and their faith in G-d and doing what’s right. Recently, I saw firsthand from some special people, the miracles that happen when one is charitable and sticks to ones beliefs. 


As my father always taught me about G-d and doing what’s right: “Stick to your convictions!” 😉


(Source Photo of this amazing Tzedakah (charity) box in Israel: Minna Blumenthal)

Listen, Empathize, Give A Little

A colleague was talking to me about negotiating and working with others:


He said something I liked: 


Listen, empathize, and give a little. 


Yes, we each have our beliefs and positions on things.


But we don’t live in a vacuum.


Other people have their own views, sensitivities, and wants. 


We have to get along so we can work together, and get things done. 


It starts by listening–not just hearing, but really listening to what the other person is saying. 


But that’s not really enough. 


To really understand the other person, we have to try to empathize with what they are feeling–we need to try to walk in their shoes even if just for a moment. 


But that also isn’t enough. 


We can’t have it all our way–we need to give a little to get a little. 


No one can have everything and have a good relationship like that. 


We need to compromise–as long as it’s not on things of integrity, conviction, or G-d. 


Everything else we have to listen, empathize, and give a little.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Fight or Surrender!

This is why President Reagan was able to “tear down that wall” and win the Cold War. 


He was a true role model for leadership and what a President is. 


– Faith in G-d.


– A strength of convictions.


– The Integrity that touches hearts. 


– Courage to carry forward. 


– Pride in our nation.


– Judicious use of our might.


Go USA! 😉

Bringing Down The House

I love this silver sculpture of Samson.


And one of my favorite stories and Biblical characters. 


Samson was dedicated to G-d from birth and was an enormous warrior. 


Even when he was betrayed, blinded, and bound, he maintained his ultimate faith in G-d.


He prayed that he be given the strength one more time to bring justice to G-d’s enemies. 


And that’s when he pushed against the pillars and brought the house down on them.


On one hand, a tragic figure that trusted and was fooled by the beautiful Delilah, but a completely heroic man of great integrity, who believed in G-d and in vanquishing his enemies.


Look to the Heavens for your strength and G-d can grant you the ultimate strength to achieve your mission in life and even in death. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Face The Fear

Face The Fear.jpeg

I have to give my wife credit. 


She said something to me the other day that was really profound and had a deep impact on me. 


Something bad had happened and honestly, it was a truly frightening situation.


At first, it seemed like one of those negative surprises in life that brings bad news and you are at first sort of shocked. 


As things progress though and the news unfortunately doesn’t get better, but in fact gets worse, the shock turns to fear and maybe even panic. 


Oh shit, what do I do now?


Turn this way..no good. 


Turn that way…no good.


Retreat…not an option.


So I speak to my wife, and at first she says:

“Just look away.”

But I can’t look away…I can’t ignore a problem…my instinct is that I have to plan for it, deal with it, solve it. 


I go back to my wife, and she says to me:

“Face the fear, and walk through it.”

And I had to stop in my tracks at that. 


She was right–there is no use being fearful or worrying–I would face it and walk through it, and come out the other side better for it. 


That was some of the best advice anyone I think has ever given to me. 


Got to be strong, have courage, face the challenges in life, and “walk through it!” 


What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. 


Have to have emunah (faith), and realize it’s just a test. 


And the Almighty G-d is my shield and protector. 


It’s a test, but I can pass it with G-d’s help, and everything will be alright. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Panera Bread and The Disabled Man

Panera_bread
So how many of you have seen the ABC show “What Would You Do?” hosted by John Quinones.
The show is a little like “Candid Camera,” which ran for over 5 decades, in which a practical joke was played out on people with a hidden camera capturing their reactions. Then when the joke was over, the people would be told “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera.”The new show “What Would You Do?” is similar in that a scenario is played out with a hidden camera, but rather than a joke, people are tested with illegal or unjust situations to see what they would do and whether they would speak up for the victim? It is a test of character and conviction. And at the end of the scenario, Quinones and the cameras are revealed.

I was reminded of this show yesterday, when I was in at Panera Bread and at the table next to me was a disabled man in a scooter–hunched over and not looking too well.

At one point, the disabled man leaves the table for a moment to get something to eat or go to the bathroom, perhaps.

In the meantime, another man comes over and takes his table. When the disabled man in the scooter returns and asks for his table back, the other man simply ignores him (intentionally) and keeps eating as if the diasabled man wasn’t even there.

The kicker here was that the disabled man could not really sit anymore else as this particular table had the extra room around it that he needed to get his scooter in at.

The disabled man put his head down and just shook his head in disbelief that the other man wouldn’t let him sit back at the table.
The man eating his sandwich finally says, “No one was here–this is my table!”

At this point, I couldn’t stand seeing this poor man suffer anymore, and I said “He was sitting there, the whole time, and just left for a moment.” To which, I thought this whole “misunderstanding” between the men would be resolved.

But I was wrong!

The man eating his sandwich at the table then shakes his head and nods his shoulders indicating that he just didn’t care and too bad on the disabled man.

In turn, I offered the disabled man our table and that we would move instead, but he refused and just waited for the other man to do the right thing.

At this point both myself and my wife and the people sitting on the other side of the man try to intervene and ask that he please give the disabled man his table back, where he had been sitting, so he could finish his meal.

Then, the man at the table slams his fist down and starts cursing us all out, loudly.

My wife got up to get the store manager, and while she does this the man finally moves to another table pushing an empty chair at us.

I couldn’t help thinking how this was like the show “What Would You Do?”–but this was real life and this horrible man was no actor!

And John Quinones did not appear to interview everyone after and have a few laughs. Instead, we were saddened by how some people can be so cruel to others and I was reminded by something I had read from Voltaire that stated that “every person is guilty of all the good he didn’t do.”

My hope is that whatever hurt this person had in their life that would cause them to treat others this way is healed and that they can find in their heart to have mercy on others and help them rather than get angry and spiteful–there are more tables to eat at and the food is just as good over there. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s The Right Thing To Do

Berlin_wall

In election season, there is a lot of confusing messaging and as citizens, we are left trying to figure out where to go with our country’s leadership next.

 

The rhetoric is heating upas each side tries to outdo the other on why they are right and the other side is wrong on the issues and who will be better at leading us into the future.

 

– But where is the negotiation, balance, compromise, and win-win for all the people?

 

Then of course, there is the blame gamethat seems to go on too, with politicians saying things aren’t getting done because of partisanship or this administration or that’s mistakes–this is the finger-pointing.

 

– What ever happened to the buck stops here?

 

Related, we have others that won’t even admit what they’ve said or where they standon the issues–first, they may just try to deny it and say they never said it, and perhaps later, they admit they said it, but they didn’t mean it quite that way–like, it’s a sound bit taken out of context.

 

– Is this conviction or just playing to the audience?

 

Finally, what are candidates even trying to sell us when they are electioneering–slogans, potshots, sleight-of-hands, political publicists or genuine directionfor how to make this country great.

 

– Is it a person, a party, or a platform that we are even voting for and how does race, ethnicity, sex, religion and so forth factor in to the votes?

 

Some commentators, like Peggy Noonan, have rightfully said (Wall Street Journal, 18-19 June 2012) that candidates must find a theme that people can sensibly grasp unto–something that gives a “sense of meaning” for their run.

 

Ultimately, we need to know who the candidates are as human beings–what is in their soul–what do they really think–and most important, what will they actually do, if they have the power.

 

A few weeks ago the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial called “Four Words that Moved The World: ‘Tear Down This Wall'”–those where the words uttered by then President Ronald Reagan on June 12, 1987 in a speech in front of the Berlin Wall.

 

Reagan told his deputy chief of staff that even though some would be mad at him for saying it, “it’s the right thing to do.”

 

Those six words are even more powerful than the four in his speech, because, especially as a leader, doing–not just saying–the right thing, is everything!

 

The hard part, as voters, is figuring out who will dowhat the right thing when they are called on.

 

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to Randy Robertson)