We’re Part of a Much Larger Script

I loved this explanation of the Book of Job by Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

G-d answers by showing Job the incredible elements of creation and the universe.

Why?

1) Complexity and Interrelationship of the Universe:

As isolated individuals, we might expect to be judged solely by our individual deeds of good and bad (2-dimensional), but also we are cogs in the larger universe (the 3rd dimension).

Therefore, what happens to us is not just a result of what we do, but also is a part of G-d’s larger overall plan for the world. 

Even small acts can have large impacts.

For example, you sneeze and somewhere down the line it causes a tsunami.

Similarly, like actors in a cosmic play of a billion pages, we may not see or understand why our individual role may be what it is, but if you would see and understand the context of the overall drama (what came before us, after us, and how it all interrelates) then from a G-d’s eye view, it makes sense.

Every act of destruction can lead to a higher divine purpose.

Like the grass that is mowed over and uprooted to plants crops or the wheat that is harvested and ground up to make bread.

So, we can have faith that there is a reason and purpose for everything even if it is a mystery or unanswered question to us.

And even in our suffering, G-d, the master of the Universe, is saying that “I’m here with you thru it all.” You are not alone!

2) By challenging us, G-d gives us the “tough gift” to cope, grow, and become better people. 

Even though things that happen may look bad to you, they can lead to good for you.

You don’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.

You have choice: you can be bitter, resentful, cynical, and angry or can look at life with hope, optimism and resilience.

Thus, suffering can be a vehicle of self-transformation and elevation. The challenges you face can help you become a different person–a greater person.

You can learn to feel not just your own pain and disappointment, but that of others.

You have the opportunity to grow yourself and the opportunity to help others.

(Thank you to Rebecca Ochayon for sending me this awesome video!)

An Early Death

So I received an email last night from the teacher of my Ulpan class. 


She was passing along a message from a wonderful man in class letting her and us know some terrible news.


His son suddenly and unexpectedly died at just 28-years old this past week. 


He wrote about how tragedy like this impacts a person and family, and that obviously he didn’t know when he would be coming back to class. 


The message from this man who had just prematurely lost his son in the prime of his life really hit me. 


Life is so tenuous–where everything truly hangs in the balance by a thin thread. 


You can think you are building a fortress of success where no one and nothing can touch you, hurt you.


But life has its own catapults, battering rams, siege towers, and explosive moments in store.


You can’t really plan for these things, and you are never ready when they happen. 


Having to bury a child is not the normal way of the wold, and the pain of this is unimaginable. 


A child is the culmination of all our efforts and represents the future, even while we are the past. 


I am so sorry for what happened to my friend from class and I wish him my sincerest condolences and that no one should have to go through such tragedy any more. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Synagogue, To Laugh And To Cry

So I am learning that synagogue is more than a place to worship G-d.


It is a place of and for the people to express their full range of emotions. 


Frankly, I think it is a place for people to laugh and to cry. 


Rarely, a week goes by when not one or both of these emotions/actions happen. 


Yes, we cry out to G-d in supplication and also are joyous in his holy majesty and presence. 


But more than that, as a community, we come together to share of our week and ourselves with each other. 


One one hand, we laugh with each other at the funny and ridiculous things that happen to us and at the joy we feel for the blessings that G-d bestows on us daily. 


On the other, we cry on each other’s shoulders at the pain and loss that we (G-d forbid) at times must face and endure in the face of illness, evil, and tragedy.


Just today, both things happened in the synagogue and my heart was at one time uplifted with gladness and then at another greatly saddened with the hurt shared–occurrences of each in just a short span of time. 


Yes, we laugh and we cry together–alone, it is at once empty and at the other unbearable. 


We need to support each other; there is no other way that is not extreme madness. 


Put your arms around another to embrace them in great happiness and to let them cry mightily on your shoulder. 


Sharing with each other at our houses of worship–that is how we show G-d that we are bound to Him and to each others’ souls–all children of G-d trying to make it together to the next service. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Look Down To Feel Up

Feet.jpeg

Listen, everyone has problems.


Whoever I talk to has something bad and fairly serious to complain about, and there seems to be new things coming all the time.


Just today, I heard from one person who went to the dentist with a tooth pain only to discover it had been silently infected for over a year, and was so serious that it literally could’ve killed him.


Another person told be about having a child with special needs and moving to an area with a school that could more effectively deal and help them. 


And a third person told me how they lost their husband many years ago at the age of just 39-years old and being left a widow. 


But people make the best of it!


They have to.


I remember my father saying when my mother got so sick with Parkinson’s Disease:

“We are part of the survivors club.”


It wasn’t easy to see her endless suffering while he selflessly tried to help her day-in and -out and cope with the physical and emotional pain of it all. 


When I was younger my dad would teach me about not feeling bad whatever the situation, and to always be grateful for what you have, and he told the story:

“There was a poor man who had no shoes, and he felt very bad…that is, until he saw someone else who had no feet.”


It doesn’t take much for things to get really bad in life…sometimes it can seem like we’re literally just holding on by a thin thread. 


But as G-d tests us and teaches us, we need to try to look on the bright side and be grateful that things aren’t worse….and yes, they can even get better again. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Key Is Calm

Calm.jpeg

So what happens to most of us when we experience the stresses, disappointments, and conflicts in life?


We feel…


– Angst


– Anger


– Upset


– Frustrated


– Murderous at times


We even question, “Why me?”


But none of this helps.


In fact, it just makes things worse.


Because we compound our life challenges with more problems in how we react!


What should we do instead?


The key is to remain calm, cool, collected, and composed. 


Don’t get rattled, disjointed, and out of whack over anything or anybody. 


These are all tests in life.


They are all fleeting. 


G-d is watching us and seeing if we have faith in him.


When you remember the creator and sustainer of all life then you can rise above the adversity before you.


Go beyond the superficial.


Experience the world beyond the earthly bounds of time and space. 


See the larger picture.


Breath deeply…a sigh of relief. 


There is nothing to be upset about that G-d can’t make right for you. 


Face the challenges with a clear head, a brave heart, and follow your conscience.


Act with determination to speak out and right the wrongs you encounter. 


Remember, you are one with G-d and the universe, and all will be for the good. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Compassion Instead Of Anger

Compassion and Anger

So I was speaking to someone recently about how angry they were with some stressful things and people in their life. 


I listened carefully and tried to empathize–also in full transparency, it got to be a lot and I at some point was begging them to stop!


At one point, I just said, instead of being angry maybe try to be compassionate. 


And I could see in other person’s reaction that they thought perhaps that I had hit on something a little eye-opening here. 


We can get angry about all the stresses and injustices that we perceive in our lives. 


People blame us, attack us, don’t appreciate us, talk down to us, disrespect us, even bully us or try to hurt us.


Also life throws some pretty stinging to earth-shattering circumstances upon us.


And maybe we have every right to feel angry.


But usually the anger, unless we need the adrenaline-rush in fighting for our survival and for our core beliefs and values, doesn’t help us achieve what we really want. 


What we want most of the time is to resolve things!


But getting angry and lashing out often only makes things worse. 


We act rashly, we overreact, we say and do things we may regret afterwards, and the consequences of our reaction can be severe to us afterwards in terms of alienating and harming others, escalating the situation and making it worse, creating hurt and destruction in our own wake, and even losing jobs or getting yourself in trouble and sent to the pokey.


If instead of getting angry and flinging arrows, we look at things from eyes of compassion, we can listen to others more carefully, understand the situation better, and try to rectify bad relationships or cope with stressful life events by employing emotional intelligence and a soft hand/skills. 


This is not to say that we should excuse really bad behavior or truly unforgivable misdeeds, but rather that we should look at things in a larger context, the role we play, and as part of our our life challenges to make things better and overcome.


Anger and the associated response is appropriate when the little devil is doing their misdeeds (lashing out severely and/or repeatedly with harm and intent), but compassion can help to see everything else for what it is or isn’t and gives us an opportunity to react with a level head, a stable hand, and humanity as a first resort. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Disability Stories And Resources

Disability

Just wanted to share this great site called Disability Blog where people tell about their experiences of being disabled and how they have overcome the odds. 


It is hosted by Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.


And it is the official blog of Disability.gov where there is lots of information on “disability programs and services.” 


The blog site promotes the “full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workforce and communities nationwide.”


Disability Blog posts guest bloggers on various topics and I read some of the recent posts and they were very good, including:


– Disability rights activism

– Small business loans and mentoring support with SCORE for a veteran with disability

– Resources and support from the Amputtee Coalition for a child that was hurt in a lawn mowing accident

– A courageous description of how someone lives with syndactyly (fused fingers).

– Options for workplace accommodations at the Job Accommodation Network


As someone myself who has had two total hip replacements, I encourage people to get their personal stories out there to increase disability awareness, rights, and resources and support to help them.


I used to dream about retiring one day and running along the boardwalk and ocean every morning in Florida, but I know that will not happen for me anymore (so thank G-d for swimming). 


Disabilities can happen to anyone. 


We all need to be sensitive to what it’s like to be different and have unique challenges, and to try and help anyone who does.  😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Abhijit Bhaduri)