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)

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Beyond Money

Okay, I don’t impress easily, but I got to tell you somebody really did.


Tring to keep their confidentiality, let me just say this…


A couple returned some money to us, but they went truly above and beyond. 


They returned some money that technically they were entitled to, and I never would’ve imagined that they should give it back to us. 


When I saw the check and what they did, I really couldn’t stop myself saying how amazing this couple is. 


They are a religious Jewish couple, and I just feel that what they did was such a “Kiddush Hashem” (their behavior is a sanctification of G-d’s name in the world). 


Some people pretend to be religious on the outside, but inside their behaviors don’t reflect it. 


In this case, the people were generally religious not just on the outside, but on the inside as well.


Their doing righteous literally was uplifting for my soul to see that there really are such incredible people in this world. 


Yes, some people are bad–do bad–and we can get not only disappointed but depressed that they seem to thrive anyway. 


So to see the good in people–extra good–it renews my hope in mankind and in G-d Above who shows us the way and can inspire us to behave morally and ethically amazingly.  😉


(Source photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Failing Forward

There were 2 inspirational student speakers today at my daughter’s graduation from American University.


One spoke about how he got sick soon after starting college with a serious vascular disease, but despite numerous hopsitalizations, treatments, and falling behind his peers, he persevered and was graduating today and in very good spirits. 


Another women spoke about her many failures leading up to the success today of her graduation. She described how her father used to ask her: 

“What did you fail at this week?”


Why?


Because even though we don’t like to admit it, most people have many, many more failures in life than successes.  


Even Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb is said to have failed 1,000 times before getting it right.


This women explained how failure is actually something to celebrate–does that sound crazy?.


But it’s really not, and here’s why?

“To fail is to learn.
To learn is to grow.
To fail is to grow forward.”

Now, I had heard about failing up, but never failing forward. 


Many who fail still manage to advance themselves in the process. 


But failing forward is different. 


It’s not taking advantage of the failure, but legitimately learning from the experience so that you can grow yourself, and advance yourself, by becoming a smarter, stronger, and more capable person from it. 


Sure, it hurts to fail. 


Who would normally want to celebrate failure?


But if we understand life as a journey and not a specific destination, then we enjoy every blessed moment that we have to become better today and tomorrow than we were yesterday. 


In this case, failure is not the opposite of success, but rather is part and parcel of achieving it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Drive The Tractor

Thank you so much to Rabbi Schneur Kaplan for his wonderful speech today in Downtown Jewish Center Chabad synagogue, Fort Lauderdale.


He told the story about the boy who grew up in Israel as a chasid, but later left chasidism to work the land–he drove a tractor!


Years later, the young man rediscovers his religion and goes back to yeshiva to study, and he is excellent and surpasses many of his peers.


Eventually, he ends up in a one-on-one with the Rebbe–and he waits with baited breath for what the great Rebbe will tell him that will guide his life–will he become a great scholar, Rabbi, shaliach, or head of a Yeshiva.


Then the Rebbe speaks, and says:

“You will be a tractor driver”


The young man is shocked and goes back to studying Torah with even more determination and harder than ever.


Once again, he comes before the Rebbe, and he is anticipating what he will say.


Again, the Rebbe looks deep into his soul and says:

“You will drive a tractor!”


Sure enough, the man now understanding that he has to meet his particular fate head on, goes back to working the Holy Land and driving the tractor.


But in so doing he is able to do outreach to tens of thousands of people who otherwise would have never had the opportunity to be brought close to Hashem through Chasidism.


The message was that we are not all destined to be clones, robots, or do the same thing in life.


The Torah is our guide to serve Hashem and do what is right.


But each of us has our own mission in serving Him and we can achieve greatness and Holiness even when we drive a tractor or do whatever we do.


I am not a Rabbi, but in my own way, I try to raise my family–be a good husband, father, and prior a good son–and also to serve with integrity and a good example in my professional and educational endeavors.


It’s okay that I’m not a Chabad Rabbi doing outreach–that’s not me–although I did meet someone today from my elementary school, Manhattan Day School, that did become just that and we had a nice kiddish lunch with him and caught up together after services.


I am me–and I am okay with me.


I don’t have to be someone else–anyone else.


I can do good being me–and that is what I will try to do with each and every breath of every day.


Whether I drive a tractor (or this cool VW van with a big smiley face), we all serve our Maker.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Inspiring Greatness

I thought this was inspirational. 


Muhammad Ali believing that he’s the greatest boxer.


And the child sitting in front with these huge red boxing gloves on–presumably dreaming about becoming the next Muhammad Ali!


The butterfly sitting on the boxing gloves in front of the child adds an interesting dimension, where the child dreams of developing into the “next great one,” just like a butterfly morphs from a caterpillar into a beautiful flying creatures with colorful and expansive wings. 


This child wants to fly and soar to greatness like Muhammad Ali did. 


We all need an inspiration that has overcome adversity to make it against all odds. 


For me, this inspiration was Rocky who rose from the streets to become a fighter and winner not only in the ring, but in life as a person of integrity and a mensch. 


If we dream it, it can be–with G-d’s blessing and plenty of hard work. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Winning Attitude

Attitude.jpeg

I met this lady at the shopping outlets a few weeks ago. 


One of the awesome brand stores was running a sale with 70% off!


Check, check–not a gimmick–we race over with the crowd already forming lined up outside the doors. 


This salesperson was there to guide just a few people in at a time–I guess, so the mob wouldn’t rip the joint to sale shreds!


This lady (pictured) had something awesome about her.


Working part time in retail, I’d imagine that it’s not the job’s salary and benefits that is perking her up or “getting her out of bed in the morning.” 


Yet, she had the most unbelievably great attitude. 


She stopped to talk with us and tell us about her background studying and living in Israel during the year, and that she had a twin sister working in the same store for the Summer. 


Her energy and enthusiasm was inspirational and I would imagine could even be contagious to many who let themselves revel in it rather than resist it. 


As people waited on the line, this women offered them her umbrella to stay dry and cool. 


Waiting on line is not the most fun thing, even when it’s for a 70% off sale, but this lady kept everyone smiling and sort of stress free with frequent updates and walking and talking up/down the line.


Listen, we all know people who do the same or similar jobs: one is grouchy, sullen, and is for all intensive purposes miserable all or most of the time; the other is generally smiling and happy to be there learning and contributing, and have the job.


What a difference between these 2 types of people!


And what a enormous contrast between the positive and negative impacts they have on others and on the organization. 


It’s not just what you say and do, but how you go about doing it. 


Yes, we all have various challenges and problems in our lives, but how do you deal with it.


This doesn’t mean you should be a phony baloney head–you need to be genuine and real to be credible and a high-functioning human being–and of course, everyone has bad days. 


But an overall winning attitude goes a long way in life and towards success–for yourself and how you can influence others. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Born Or Forged To Lead

Born Leader.jpeg

So are we born to lead or are we forged to greatness through adversity and lots of hard work?


Some people definitely seem to have innate leadership characteristics:


– Charisma


– Integrity


– Decisiveness


– Passion


– Determination


– Agility


– Intelligence


– Inspirational


– Confident


– Articulate


Other people maybe weren’t born with it, but they learn to become great leaders through:


– Hard Work


– Willingness to learn


– Continuous improvement 


– Motivation to advance


– Finding a meaningful mission 


– Belief that they can make a difference


– Faith that G-d is guiding them


Like with most things in our life, it’s a combination of nature and nurture. 


Good raw material starts us off on the right track and then forging it with fire and a hammer and polishing it off into a great sword with hardness, strength, flexibility, and balance. 


As Joanna Coles, Chief Content Officer at Hearst Magazine says:

“I’m an overnight sensation 30 years in the making.”


Birth is just the beginning… 😉


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)