Israel 2020: Day 3

Went to the Holy city of the Kabbalists today, Sefad.


Saw the beautiful 15th century Abuhav Synagogue, the Candle Factory, the artist colony, and the of course, the holy graves of the Tzadikim to pray.


It was a marvelously spiritually uplifting experience (as well as being up high in the mountains) and is an overall beautiful and unique city of ancient winding alleys and treasures at every turn. 


So grateful to have had this opportunity to visit there, thank you Hashem!  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Visiting My Parents

graves

We went to visit my parent’s graves yesterday. 


Now, between the Jewish high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it is customary to visit and remember our blessed loved ones. 


We went to spend time with them, tell them how much we miss and love them, and how hard it is without them. 


I was so moved by how beautiful my daughters spoke out loud to my parents in heaven–their words and tears were so full of sincerity for how they miss and love their dear Oma and Opa. 


They could articulate what was so hard for me to say, but which weighs so heavy always on my heart. 


We sat on the ground at the base of their headstone feeling their presence and hearing their words in memory and through my wife who has a special ability to somehow reach them.


My wife told me how she could see my mother literally dancing in heaven, and my dad always worrying about us and looking out for and telling us to be more religious…always, more religious. 


I wiped the dust off that had settled on the stone over the last months, and wished that I could somehow magically, with whatever spiritual energy I could muster, raise them up and bring them back to us.


The thought of years or decades of going on and not being able to see and speak with them again, in person, is forever impossible for me to imagine. 


The loss of my parents over the last few years has left an emptiness in my heart and keeps me asking myself, will I really be able to see them and be reunited with them again some day in heaven. 


My daughter reassured me that energy, including our personal energy, never disappears, it only transforms, and my wife said that she could feel that they were okay and happy!


I recounted the joke my dad used to tell about not wanting to be buried at the edge of the cemetery, because that’s where the water runs down, and he didn’t want to get rheumatism. 


I know how much they loved us and I could feel it sitting at their graves with the warmth of the sun over us and the cool breeze blowing against us. 


I will live out my days, trying my best to emulate in my own way my father, who was a servant to the L-rd in all that he did, and who taught us strict right from wrong, and as my mother who took care of us no matter what challenges or suffering were faced. 

 

Finally, we asked for their forgiveness for any wrongs we committed and for their blessing for what is to come.


I am grateful to them and G-d for every blessed moment with my family and to experience the beauty and learning of the world, until it is my turn to be gathered to my family and the L-rd in the after. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

ISIS Ruined Our Vacation

613.jpeg

So we rolled the dice this Thanksgiving vacation and came up sort of empty.


We were supposed to go to Las Vegas, but then there is ISIS threatening to strike the U.S. 


Already, ISIS is claiming 71 soldiers in 15 states in the U.S., and the FBI is saying that ISIS terrorists are being recruited in all 50 states


Yet our leadership doesn’t want to fight ISIS while they are still over there–instead, we are foolishly waiting for the next big terror attack over here, as if 9/11 with 3,000 dead wasn’t enough!


We are stubborn, deaf to the terror threats, reactive, and refuse to wake up to the danger that is facing our country. 


Dancing around the issue with some drone and airstrikes–no matter how lethal–is not going to remove this enormous terror threat–coming from some of the most barbaric of enemies that we have ever faced. 


My sister told me from a lecture she heard recently about the terrorist threats we are facing, “We are used to fighting finite wars–there is a start/middle/end. [But] they [ISIS] fights infinite wars–not defined [by time or space].”


So how did we come to cancelling our Vegas holiday vacation?


Here is our story…


The number 613 in Judaism is very important–it represents the number of commandments in the Torah.


We have been seeing this number lately wherever we go: We look at the clock, it’s 6:13. We are driving and look at the license plate in front of us–613. We go shopping and the receipt is for $6.13. We rolled a pair of dice (above), that’s right 613, and much more. 


We asked what this means and were told it’s a warning and to do teshuva (repentance) and follow the commandments more stringently. 


On Shabbat this week, I was reading the Wall Street Journal, and then saw an article on a new illustrative book of the commandments called, “The 613.”


That night, I dreamed the entire night about 613–and the need to unlock the code of what it meant for us. 


The next day, my wife said “I have a really bad feeling about Vegas, let’s go visit your parents graves.”


When we got there, my wife touched the tombstone, and said she could hear my dad telling her not to go to Vegas–was this just playing on her imagination?


So she calls her father who is chasidic and he contacts a famous, pious and mystical Rabbi, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe–and without asking him about the trip–the Rebbe just pops out to my father-in-law that he should tell us not to go on our trip, and if we have to go, to take a different path.


My wife tells her father that we already made plans, have tickets, and don’t want to cancel the trip, so we are instructed to give charity (so I immediately write a check for $613!) and do other deeds for repentance instead. 


Then the night before we are supposed to fly out, my daughter comes out with her iPhone and a news items on the State Department issuing a global travel alert “amid concerns that terror groups and individuals plan more attacks after the Paris massacres.”


If all this wasn’t enough, my back which has been hurting the last week, then completely gives out out on me–and in enormous pain, we simply can’t go anywhere.


One warning, two warnings, three warnings…we can’t be deaf to G-d’s message.


So on this Thanksgiving, a sincere thank you to Hashem (and the Vizhnitzer Rebbe) for guiding us and keeping us from danger.


And a not so thank you to ISIS for implicitly spoiling our Thanksgiving holiday plans to Vegas. 


A small and insignificant, but nevertheless a casualty to our political disengagement, false appeasement, fearfulness to recognize the enemy, and war-weariness to take the bastards down and take them down hard and for good before something, G-d forbid, serious and much worse happens. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)