Shabbat Risk

I haven’t played Risk in years. 


But my daughter and her husband came for Shabbat, and we sat down and had a great game. 


We distributed the countries. 


Placed our enemies. 


And went to battle, army to army. 


By the time it was over, my daughter had conquered Europe, Africa, and North and South Americas.


It was so good to see her taking country after country from my son-in-law and me. 


My son-in-law joked that he had underestimated her. 


We had a good laugh and nice time just sitting down at the kitchen table and playing a board game. 


Afterward, we went down to the pool and relaxed in the deck chairs and then my wife and I took off our shoes and walked in the grass in the garden. 


I laid down on the beautiful green lawn and looked up watching some planes jet over in the clear blue sky. 


It was absolutely beautiful weather and a marvelous day today with my family. 


In the morning we went to Synagogue and the sit-down kiddush with our friends.


I am grateful to G-d for all this and for the peace of the wonderful Shabbat! 


Also, what more can a man ask for Father’s Day. 😉

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Expect Less / Appreciate More

I thought this was a great saying in the Wall Street Journal book review today.


“Expect Less, Appreciate More.”


Many people in their late 30s and early 40s become disillusioned with life. 


They have been on the treadmill chasing love, fame, and fortune for so long. 


But reality sets in and they don’t get everything they think they have coming to them.


Hence some level of mid-life crisis sets in. 


However by the time people reach their 50s, things seem to shift again, and a happiness or peacefulness sets in. 


People start to expect less and instead appreciate more from the blessings they do have. 


The treadmill becomes a long walk along the beautiful beach or park trail. 


We don’t need to chase success, but rather just see the great lives in so many ways that G-d has already bestowed on us. 


The U-shaped curve of life–where we start all bright-eyes and bushy tailed in our younger years and which descends into disappointment and disillusionment in mid-life, comes up once again to happiness and a fulfillment in our later years. 


Over the course of our lives, we learn that life does not ask, but rather it tells us. 


And if we just listen, we can find meaning and contentment amidst it all. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Going To Bed Hungry

So lots of people like to drink tea. 


But the other day, a nice person was telling me how they drink tea all the time. 


It’s not just that they like tea, but there was an important true story behind it. 


You see, they said, when they were young growing up in a foreign country, they often didn’t have enough to eat. 


So instead, they had resorted to drinking lots of tea. 


They went on to say, that as children, they often had to go to sleep hungry. 


It is truly a wake-up call for those of us who, thank G-d, have what to eat and so much choice and plenty in this great country. 


Not everyone in the world is so blessed to eat heartily and go to sleep with a full and satisfied belly. 


It is especially saddening and tragic when we are talking about innocent children in this world. 


As we go from the workweek to the weekend, perhaps it is a good time to reflect on how much we have to be grateful for and to wish blessings of peace, health, and prosperity on all our fellow mankind, here and all around the world. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumethal)

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)

It’s For Us

I love this saying from one of my colleagues:

“G-d doesn’t do it to us. 
He does it for us!”

Instead of asking with anger and resentment “why me?” — perhaps we can try to see the larger picture and be grateful for all the blessings and opportunities that G-d does give us. 

While certainly there is pain and suffering in this world, there is also the chance to learn, grow, and become stronger and better people. 

We are here to hopefully leave the world a better place than before we got here. 

The perspective that the challenges and obstacles are not meant to really harm us, but to help us is not an easy pill to swallow.

But maybe it really is the enlightened view of faith that we all need to fight on and overcome. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Bright Side

My daughter, Minna Blumenthal, received this beautiful and hopeful message online, and I want to thank her for sharing it with me.


In turn, I am paying it forward to you all, and hope that you enjoy it’s meaning, which is really quite profound and inspiring. 

There was a blind girl who hated herself because she was blind.

She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her.

She told her boyfriend, ‘If I could only see the world, I will marry you.’

One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her. When the bandages came off, she was able to see everything, including her boyfriend.

He asked her,’ Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?’

The girl looked at her boyfriend and saw that he was blind. The sight of his closed eyelids shocked her. She hadn’t expected that. The thought of looking at them the rest of her life led her to refuse to marry him.

Her boyfriend left her in tears and days later wrote a note to her saying: ‘Take good care of your eyes, my dear, for before they were yours, they were mine.’

This is how the human brain often works when our status changes.

Only a very few remember what life was like before, and who was always by their side in the most painful situations.

Life is a gift.

Today before you say an unkind word – Think of someone who can’t speak.

Before you complain about the taste of your food – Think of someone who has nothing to eat.

Before you complain about your husband or wife – Think of someone who’s crying out to Almighty G-d for a companion.

Today before you complain about life – Think of someone who died too young.

Before you complain about your children – Think of someone who desires children but they’re barren.

Before you argue about your dirty house someone didn’t clean or sweep – Think of the people who are living in the streets.

Before whining about the distance you drive – Think of someone who walks the same distance with their feet.

And when you are tired and complain about your job – Think of the unemployed, the disabled, and those who wish they had your job.

But before you think of pointing the finger or condemning another – Remember that not one of us is without sin and we all answer to one Maker.

And when depressing thoughts seem to get you down – Put a smile on your face and thank G-d you’re alive and still around.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)