Among All The Apples

This was an interesting photo moment at Whole Foods–this Valentine’s Day huggy bear sitting among all the apples. 


Sort of how I felt after synagogue today and at other times. 


I’ve learned the importance as my father had so often tried to teach me of going to synagogue.


Yes, the prayer and service to Hashem.


But also the community. 


We all need people. 


None of us is an island. 


At synagogue, aside from the opportunity to speak and be close with G-d, I appreciate the hearty calls of “Shabbat Shalom,” the embracing handshakes, hugs and occasional kisses, the chance to see and kiss the holy Torah, and being among friends.


Like the apples, we’re all sort of the same, yet unique, and we stand together. 


As apples, we all have our glowing and shiny outsides, a sweet inner core, and also plenty of juicy meat. 


People too put on their best clothes, shoes, and do themselves to look their best going to synagogue, and inside they are there to express their goodness with G-d and the community.


Also though, you hear plenty of the heartbreaking stories about what is happening to them as families and individuals. 


Sure, there are the lovely smachot (happy occasions) in their and our lives to celebrate, but there is also plenty of adversity and challenges faced daily. 


One member passed away this week, another is getting cancer treatments, and someone got hit by a car crossing the street and is in the hospital with literally 79 screws holding their ribs together!


Then there are those out looking for work, others suffering from bad marriages or getting divorced, someone with a sick child that needs lifelong care, and someone who even got robbed this week.


Yes, shiny on the outside and with the sweetness of souls and hearts, and yet everyone has their baskets of challenges to deal with. 


For someone like me, I literally feel it inside for people–it’s like I can almost imagine what it must be like to be in their shoes. 


Obviously, I can’t–no one really can–but I imagine myself and ask myself OMG what in the world would I do–and of course, I have no real idea. 


Synagogue is I guess the most perfect place to experience all this–since we are before G-d, asking for his blessings and mercy, and with others, we bond to who are all in the same boat paddling and trying to survive and live a full and meaningful life. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Good People And Bad

So what is one of the hardest lessons in life to learn?


There are really good and holy people out there, but there are also truly bad and evil ones. 


It’s not such a difficult concept, except if you just don’t think that way. 


I think some of us just want to believe that at the heart of it all, people are fundamentally good–or at the very least they struggle in order to fight off the evil impulse.


They are created by G-d.


They have parents and families.


They have challenges and disappointments. 


They have a good soul. 


Or do they?


Perhaps like everything in life–G-d created everything and it’s opposite.


– There is life and death.


– There is light and dark. 


– There is cold and hot.


– There is land and water. 


– There is male and female. 

– There is pleasure and pain.


– There is work and rest. 


– There is holy and profane.


Everything has it’s counterpart.


– In this respect then, there are good people and there are bad.


Not that there aren’t people who are both–they do some good things and some bad.


Just like with everything, you can have greys or mixtures–some of this AND some of that. 


But still, G-d created everything and its opposite.


– Again, there is heaven and hell. 


And yes, there are some people that are perhaps truly good and others that are very bad.


The really good ones–they are holy, they give, they love, they inspire. 


The really bad ones–they are vicious devil wolves. 


That doesn’t mean anyone is completely perfect or imperfect, but as with everything, there are people as there are inanimate objects that function at the extremes. 


Most of us don’t live in the extreme, yet we do see those that we know are examples of each:


We recognize the best and these are people with a heart of gold and a soul that shines light, love, and gives to others.


Similarly, the worst ones are with a heart that is selfish and greedy and a soul that is dark, hateful. and violent.


We don’t like to think of the extremes.


They either are too perfect or too frighteningly evil, but yet they do exist and we know it just as we know life and death, light and dark, cold and hot, land and water, male and female, pleasure and pain, work and rest, holy and profane, and even the destinations of heaven and hell. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Fulfilling Dying Children’s Wishes

I am just so impressed with this charity…the Make A Wish Foundation


They grant the wishes of children diagnosed with terminal illness–and in the U.S. alone, they grant a wish every 34 minutes!


What nobler and giving act can there be, especially when it comes to an innocent child who never even had the chance to live their lives and try to make their dreams come true. 


Whether it’s letting the child meet a famous world wrestler and actor, John Cena (featured in the video above)–who has granted more wishes than any other celebrity in the history of the foundation–to taking a child to a special travel destination or helping them be that incredible superhero for a day. 


Seeing the joy on the faces of these children–despite the pain of their illnesses and their dire situations–seems like one of the holiest and most incredible things that we can do. 


I really want to acknowledge the famous people, like Cena and others, who take the time and effort to really give back–and with a loving and caring heart to these kids. 


Again, there are truly good people out there–who don’t just live for themselves–but who think about and give generously to others. 


Life is not just about “I” but about all the people we can reach and uplift.


Cena isn’t just a champion wrestler, but he has a champion heart. 


And the Make A Wish Foundation is an incredible organization composed of thousands of incredible people doing righteous work that I believe makes G-d smile down at us from the Heavens above. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

World Of Amazing Times and People

Took this video at the World of Montgomery Festival today. 



The dancers, singers, drummers, and costumes were all great.



The weather today an unseasonably warm 76 degrees and being out and about was fun. 



Plus it was an extra special treat to meet up with my pal Congressman Jamie Raskin. 


Thank you G-d for all the amazing times and good people. 


(Source Video and 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)

The Meaning Of Pain

Buddha.jpeg

Wow, I am so impressed with my daughter.


I spoke with her this evening and she has grown into such a smart, mature, and good person. 


We were talking about some hard times.


And she said to me so smartly (and I am so proud of her):

“The reason that we have pain is to avoid more pain.”


Wow…think about that for a moment. 


Everyone gets physical, emotional, and even spiritual pain in their lives. 


Even little things like stubbing your toe, getting a small burn, or a paper cut–these things give you a instant or more of pain…but it jolts you into attention of what to avoid and to action how to protect yourself to prevent further and worse pain down the road. 


A little pain now can fortunately save you a lot of pain later!


(Or in the gym they say, “No pain, no gain.”)


My father used to say about difficult life lessons:

“Better to cry now than to cry later!”


He was right–bad situations generally don’t get better with age. 


Continuing the discussion with my lovely daughter tonight, she said to me:

“A person becomes better when they struggle. I’ve become better by struggling.”


Again, like little pains, even larger struggles in life challenge us to learn, grow, and become better and stronger people. 


I remember as a kid–when we went through those growth spurts–it would actually hurt a little–some muscle aches here and some cramps there–whew, a few inches taller already. 


Growth hurts, but it’s kind of a good hurt that only someone with the emotional intelligence to understand maturity and betterment can really grasp. 


No, I’m not advocating for self-flagellation–just that we know when pain and struggle is a defining moment in life–like shaping and sharpening a great sword in fierce fire. 


It’s hot, but the heat is healing and necessary sometimes to grow as human and spiritual beings. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mine and Yours

Mine Yours.jpeg

In synagogue today, we read from Pirkei Avot (“Ethics of Our Fathers”).


And I talked with my friends at lunch about one passage from this timeless wisdom.


There are 4 types of people:


1) “Average Joe”

What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours in yours. 


Someone described this as “his and her–separate–accounts.”


2) Stupid

What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours in mine. 


Ah, this is just someone whose plain old confused.


3) Wicked

What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.  


One guy described his ex-wife this way.


4) Righteous 


What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is yours.  


We all agreed this is the meaning of life–to be kind and giving to others.


What type of person are you? And what type of person do you want to be?  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)