Where Does Organized Religion Go Wrong

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So I am definitely someone who is spiritual and tries to be faithful to G-d.


I believe, He is my creator and sustainer and that we are here to learn and grow our soul before it goes back to Hashem. 


Yet often, like so many others now-a-days, I find organized religion to be a turn-off. 


Why?


1) There is a consistency and sincerity problem.


To some people, I believe it’s partially the rote and robotic nature of some of the practices–where we just do it, because we are told to do it, and we do it over and over and time after time, again–even when we don’t feel it in the moment, and even if we do other things that are not so right in other areas of our lives.  


In contrast perhaps, there can be more spontaneous and genuine feelings and actions, in the moment and every moment–that come from the heart and the soul of the person and directly to G-d–and they are consistent whether we are in a religious setting to how we treat others and how we act in business. 


In other words, we just don’t follow the rules, but we live them fully and integrated with ourselves and all situations we find ourselves in. 


2)  There is a money and power problem.


In some religious environments, all people are not created equal or treated equal. Instead, the say, the attention, and the honor goes to the powerful and the rich, who are courted for their donations and their votes to the institution and the spiritual leader. Who gets talked up? Who is given the honors at the religious rituals, at the events and the dinners, and with their communal “peers”? 


In other cases, it’s not just money and power that talks, but who is outwardly the “most religious” and presumably walks the walk.  If you but “seem” more religious than the next guy, then you are elevated and exalted in the religious community.  


Instead, what happened to welcoming and caring for everyone–to everyone being children of G-d–to each person having a soul and their personal life challenges. Why can’t we treat everyone as religiously worthwhile and give everyone a chance to learn and grow in their own way from their starting point and to their destination?  


Religion should be the one place that isn’t a competition with others. 


Religion is ultimately between man and G-d!


And only G-d knows what is inside man’s heart and in his soul–and what his actions really are all the time and what they truly mean in context and in essence


I welcome G-d in my life, because I:


– Have faith in Him and that ultimately He has a master plan and that everything is for the good 

– Love Him for giving me the chance to learn and grow my soul to be better

– Fear Him for when I do something wrong in my life and need a course correction 


I wish for a time and transformation when religion would not just be based on outward manifestations but on being sincere and consistent in people’s lives, and where people would no longer be superficially judged and (mis)treated because they are themselves and on their G-d given paths. 


If only we could religiously love, rather than endlessly judge, each other, oh what a heartfelt and inspiring religion that would be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Cyclops Looking Eye

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What’s the fascination with the mythical cyclops and the single eye in the center of the forehead?


If the eye represents seeing and knowing then aren’t we better off with two or even a dozen eyes to see with?


See more, know more, do more.


How about eyes in the back of the head?


Or all around the head in a cool circle–like a majestic crown of sight all around you.


Seeing is miraculous.


The beauty of the world–people, nature, and the stars above. 


Seeing is function.


Being able to navigate, get around, and do things with relative ease. 


Seeing is safety.


Sensing path from obstacle and friend from foe. 


It’s frightening to think of not having vision–what a challenge!


One old lady is possibly legally blind, but still serves as a notary public–how does she do that?


Eyes themselves are beautiful–brown and blue and hazel, and soft and deep and mesmerizing. 


Looking into someone’s eyes, have you ever seen their soul. 


Show me thy ways oh L-rd and let me learn and grow in the world you’ve created for us–seeing the material and spiritual world we’re enveloped in. 


I see the beauty, necessity, and lessons you have for me. 


However many eyes, seeing is believing in it all. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

613 Everywhere

So many times, I have written about the holy mystical number of 613 (the number of commandments in the Torah) and variations/transpositions on these numbers (316, 163, etc.).



My wife and I continue to see 613 all the time and everywhere!



Prices, receipts, license plates, accounts balances, stock price changes, lottery winnings, bar codes, time of day, wait times, schedules, number of email, rows in a spreadsheet, road numbers, social media views, etc. etc. etc.



– I have questioned myself over and over whether I am seeing it because I am sensitized to it or simply even looking for it at this point. 



The answer is a definite no!



Here’s a recent example, of the change in the stock price for Teva Pharmaceuticals (above)–it’s exactly -.0613!



But this isn’t a one time event or a fluke.  



As we all know stock prices fluctuate every moment on the marketplace. Yet, when I check at completely different and random times, it is up or down by a variation of 613!



Other times, I’ll check multiple stocks… and they will simultaneously be moving or priced at variations again of 613–at the exact same moment, I repeat, different stocks priced at the exact same moment.  



Here’s another non-financial example:

I did a post a few weeks ago on the critical importance of emergency preparedness. 



Look at how many views it got on LinkedIn…exactly 163!



This happens everywhere and all the time!



Here’s a third example:

A license plate. 



Here’s a fourth example:

Can you see the code on the package…613!



A fifth example:

A tracking code on a shipment. 



A sixth example: 

A bar code on a bottle of Life Water.



A seventh example:

A label on some spinach!



An eighth example:

A construction site.



An ninth example:

A public solicitation for the Department of Energy.



A tenth example:

The winning pot for Powerball. 



Hey, I am not superstitious and I am not OCD–seriously. 



But this happens all the time.



I cannot help but think that G-d is sending us an important message.



From a personal level, my wife and I have both tried to take the messages seriously and to continue to improve our lives–albeit we know, we are far from perfect human beings. 



However, we also feel compelled to share this message more broadly.



There is a lot going on in the world, and could this mean something bigger and more consequential to a lot more people?



Please, please, please, G-d have mercy on your children…we are but flesh and blood…and we desire to do good. 



(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

There Is Always A Bigger Fish

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So as we are about to enter Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year…


I want to share a very important lesson that I came across again this year. 


The lesson is:

No matter how big a fish you think you are, there is ALWAYS a bigger fish out there.


You may have position, title, money, status, and all the trimmings, but someone with more of this and that and the other thing (and overall power) can come along at any time–at G-d’s decree–and swallow you right up.  


I connect this to the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah when it is customary to go and cast bread (symbolic for our sins) into a natural body of water, so the fish can eat them up–and in a spiritual sense we throw away our sins and cleanse ourselves of our wrongdoings over the last year–let the fish have them. 


And like the fish eating our sins, I think another more powerful person can come and swallow us up and even spit us out (like Jonah and the Whale)–we are all fallible and mortal. 


We are made from dust and we go to dust, and my dad would joke to clean up the mounds of dust under my bed!


As we enter the New Year, may Hashem have mercy on us and bless us, and may we have peace, health, and prosperity, and may we be written in the Book of Life.


Oh yeah, and may no fish big or small come against us to cause us distress or harm–G-d is the Almighty Protector–Amen! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Ultimate Rejection (Not)

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Ok, folks.


This picture is not the message you want to get before Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year and time of judgement). 


We want to see the long hand of G-d come down with love, caring, forgiveness, and blessings!


A flick of the Almighty index finger, definitely not what we want to see or get.  


Worse would be getting the middle finger, of course. 


But I definitely don’t think G-d does that! 


Talking about rejection with a big R. 


To all my family and friends, a most happy, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous New Year!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

 

G-d Created Evolution

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So I’ve been thinking a little bit about evolution.


And I don’t see any contradiction between evolution and creation.


In fact, G-d created evolution!


You see, in His infinite wisdom and love, G-d made his creations with the ability to change over time. 


We are not static creatures, but we are able to evolve, adapt, transform, and grow ourselves, our species, and our world over time. 


But, but, but…there are fossils hundreds of millions years old…how could G-d have created the world less than 6,000 years ago?


Well, who says G-d created the world at time horizon zero–if the world was fully formed with trees and plants, and fish, birds, animals, and people–then these could all have had age associated with and built into them already. 


Boom…G-d just created Adam and Eve–was that from the point of conception, day of birth, or fully grown adult?  Similarly, how old is the tallest mountain or the fullest forest when it was created? 


Time is not a function of G-d who is timeless. 


And the formed world appears at the blink of G-d’s eye and it can disappear that way too. 


Similarly, we learn in the Bible how G-d created the world in 6 “days” and rested on the 7th, but who says a day is literally that.


Couldn’t a day as in 1, 2, 3, etc. be phases of creation…where a day could be anything from a split second to a millennium or even a hundred million years.


To the G-d who Was, Is, and Will Be–what is a day, but a span of infinitesimal to infinite time to create His children and the world to teach and grow them. 


We are here in a infinite universe enveloped by the love of a limitless G-d. 


Evolution is no more a constraint on G-d then time or space is–to the contrary, evolution is a blessing of G-d that lets things develop and mature from the image of G-d to the imagination of His mind’s glory. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Lucky Cat

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So a retail establishment opened in the area.


They had all these cat symbols hung inside. 


I asked the owner what it said, and she told me:

“Lucky Cat”


Why a cat symbolizes luck I don’t really know.


But the bigger question is whether there is any such thing as luck in the first place.


We constantly wish people good luck on any and every aspect of their lives: from birth to bar/bat mitzvahs, engagements, weddings, graduations, new jobs, journeys, and basically anything we embark on. 


That’s what Mazel Tov means–good luck!


But I thought we believe in G-d and not luck?


We strive through prayer, charity, repentance, and all sort of good deeds to try and move the scale of justice in our favor. 


With the Jewish high holidays approaching next month–Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur–we do everything to atone for our sins and commit to being better in the future. 


We seek G-d’s mercy and his blessings. 


There is no arbitrary luck or fortune. 


Life is what we make out of it. 


What about the Massachusetts women who won $758 million in Powerball last week or the person that gets cancer or some other horrible tragedy–did they deserve it?


I suppose it’s impossible for us to judge why some people have amazing fortune and others have schlimazel (misfortune).


As it says in Genesis (18:25):

“Shall not the judge of all the Earth do justly?”


Surely, G-d has the bigger picture and the omniscience to know what is good for us and what is not. 


How he tests us and tries us and to what ends…that is a matter of faith and conviction–and we believe that it is all ultimately for our best. 


The judge of all Earth…please have mercy on us and bestow your blessings on us, your faithful children. 


As to the lucky cat–wave us some good vibes–all long as we realize that we all need G-d’s grace! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)