Facing Facts on Rosh Hashanah

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Facing Facts on Rosh Hashanah.”

In a sense, we all live at least two lives–represented by the two faces we wear: The first is the happy face, where we portray ourselves as if everything is going so well, almost near-perfect in our lives (our vacations, accomplishments, celebrations, and so on), and this is the face that we routinely show to the world. Then, there is the second face, which is essentially where everything is not (always) quite so rosy, where life’s challenges, troubles, and hardships take their tangible toll, and this is the face that we learn to keep private and regularly hide from the world. Usually, it comes down to a rationale that goes something like this: just imagine what would people think of us if they really knew us for who we are and what we were actually going through? Yet the funny thing is that everyone is going through something–that’s life!

In a couple of weeks, when we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, we come knowing that there is no mask to be worn in front of our Maker, and truly, we are naked before Him in all our thoughts and deeds. We can’t pretend anymore that our lives or ourselves are perfect, but rather this is the time for true and earnest reflection, repentance, as well as judgment for the New Year based on what each of us is really all about. May each of us have the courage and conviction to face our real selves, to learn, grow, improve, and ultimately to self-actualize, and may we receive G-d’s mercy and blessings for a happy and healthy New Year!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Arguing The Negative

Evidence.jpeg

I thought this was an interesting sign this gentlemen had.


It says:

“Those who reject Jesus do so because of sin, not science or evidence.”


Overall, religion is a matter of personal faith not to be argued, but rather when based to good, to be wholly respected. 


This argument though was basically saying, not to reject this particular tenet of faith of a major religion because there is “not science or evidence” from which to reject.


But usually, don’t we look for science or evidence to accept or do something. 


In other words, the default usually is that if you want me to believe in something or somebody, prove to me why I should


It’s a bad argument when you ask me to prove to you why you shouldn’t believe in something. 


Very often this is the same argument people use in relationships and in organizations.


We do the same thing everyday or over and over again, and we often don’t ask ourselves why we do it this way or believe this is a good way of doing something…we just do it. 


And in fact, when someone new comes in with “fresh eyes” and questions why we do it a certain way or have we considered another approach, we ask them to prove to us with “science or evidence” why their way is better, rather than reexamine our own ways and means.


I’m not in any way questioning here G-d or religion, but rather simply our approach to self-examination, introspection, and betterment.


Don’t ask me to prove to you why you should reject something, but rather be prepared to defend your hypothesis. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Stop To Think OR Stop Thinking

Thinker

The Thinker.


It’s very important to have time (and space) to sit down and think. 


Not just go through life in the motions–“doing”–because that’s the way we always did it or that’s the way your parents did it, or that’s what your teachers or society told you to do. 


Thinking means we evaluate and assess what we are doing.  Are we going in the right direction?  Are we happy with ourselves?  Are we good people doing good things?  Are there things that we regret and need to learn from and/or course correct. Can we do better and what does better mean? 


I remember at a certain point in my life working very hard, but also feeling like I was in a fugue–and when I “awoke” I couldn’t figure out where the time went to and why I had been sort of numb for a time. Were some things perhaps too raw or painful to deal with (better to shut them off somewhere in a little box) or was I just moving so fast and so hard that I just lost sight of my surroundings and the meaning or lack from it all. 


But then I started to feel and think again. And I knew it because it was like an monumental awakening from a long hibernation through eons of time and space. What precipitated it all, I don’t really know. But when it started coming back–memories, feelings, some satisfactions, too many regrets–I knew that I had been gone a while and wasn’t sure exactly where I’d been. 


So need to regularly stop and “smell the coffee”–think and feel–not just do like a real dummy or stubborn a*s. 


The dilemma with thinking is too much or too little is that it can be a dangerous thing. 


Too much time to ponder and you can become lost in thought or mired in analysis paralysis. Don’t bother me, I’m still thinking about it. Or perhaps, your thinking can be “all wrong” and messed up–your misunderstanding, misconstruing, not thinking clearly or brainwashed by others–maybe those with good intentions who want you to be like them, who think they know better, who mean well but are misguided when it comes to YOU or are engulfed by their own zealousness, self-righteousness or are even jerks trying to f*ck with you. 


Also, while ample time to think can leave you revitalized, with new direction, commitment, and enthusiasm, the flip side is you can become demoralized or depressed by “it all,” It’s too much, it’s too hard, it’s too meaningless, or even it’s too overwhelming important and meaningful. 


Then there is too little thinking going on in that head of yours, and you are a dumb, numb robot who washes, rinses, repeats…not knowing why they are doing it or maybe even that they are doing anything, just that they are in a state of being. It easy maybe to turn off to the world, to keep running on the treadmill of life, get up and do the same routine day-in and day-out.  Not questioning.  Not feeling.  Not getting hurt or dealing with issues better left for another day. But that’s not living. That’s a life of a sick roaming flesh-eating zombie. Someone just stick that iron rod through that useless skull already. 


Think and live…live and think…go forward as in a directed, meaningful way, and not as the walking dead in pain and sorrow or lost in the abyss of lifelessness. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Taking Back Control

Superman

Ok, I’ve had mobility issues for over 2 years now that started with a broken foot and ended in 3 surgeries and 2 hip replacements.


Over this time, I have had enormous pain walking and doing other activities. 


And unfortunately, I have put on some extra weight, which I am unhappy about. 


Today though this changes, please G-d.  


I am taking back my life!


I want to lose the weight and be what I know I can be. 


Time to stop the excuses.


It’s Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) next week, and this is a good time to reflect, be introspective, self-critical, and aim high. 


G-d, please help me to be strong, to resist temptation, and shut my mouth from eating the wrong foods. 


I am determined, but G-d I need your help to be successful. 


We’ve accomplished so much together–let’s do this! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Self-Aware Grafitti Artist

Writing
So got to hand it to this graffiti artist. 



He/she is quite introspective. 



They wrote on this pole in D.C. “Writes his problems away!”



Thus, it’s not just any old graffiti that often desecrates public or private property, but in this case it is an emotional and psychological catharsis for the artist.  



Sure when you write, you can express yourself and your feelings–you can think things through and work them out in your head. 



Also, you can share of yourself with others and influence them too. 



On the lamp pole, bus stop, or building wall–ah, not the best place to work these things out. 



But on paper or the computer, if you have something important to say, get it off your chest–go for it–and you can feel better too! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Fighting With A Fear Of G-d


Amazing video from Al Jazeera Arabic that praises the Israeli and French militaries for respecting and protecting civilians.



This, in contrast–as Al Jazeera reports–to Hezbollah, Syria, and others extremist militants that deliberately target civilians and use them as human shields. 



We’ve heard in recent days again, how the IDF continues to go to great lengths to avoid hitting mosques, hospitals, and even trying to warn residents before an attack to save their lives. 



While mistakes happen in fighting and war, I must say how proud I am of the IDF for their efforts to act humanely under inhumane circumstances, while attacks are underway across the nation, and to always consider the moral implications of what they do. 



In the Wall Street Journal today, Bret Stephens states, that the weakness of the Israel is only through moral defeat, because the Jewish people “favors moral self-regard over normal self interest.”



Similarly, Woody Allen’s frequent humorous portrayal in the movies of Jewish introspection is funny, because it resonates so true for a people always trying to do and make right. 



Again today, we saw that Israel, not wanting to fight unless absolutely necessary, respected the ceasefire with Gaza, while Hamas outright rejected it and continued shooting off volleys of missiles indiscriminantly into Israel.



As Hamas has themselves stated about their waves of suicide bombers, rocket launches at population centers and critical infrastructure, and other dirty tactics, “We love death more than you love life.”



The IDF is an inspiring example of fighting with ethics, dignity, and ultimately a fear of G-d more than any enemy could evoke. 

Just Can’t Bear To Think

Whether though endless work, family activities, exercise, computer time, or whatever, people have a hard time just stopping to think. 

According to the Washington Post, a study in Science shows that people would rather do just about anything–including administer electric shocks to themselves–rather than having to just think for a little while. 

Fully 67% of men and 25% of women chose electric shocks over sitting and thinking for just 6-15 minutes!

People are “desperate for distractions”–whether through social media or smartphones and more.

This is why many ancient practices such as Buddhism, martial arts, yoga, and other disciplines teach meditation–sitting silently, without distraction, deeply in thought. 

People are afraid to stop their endless running, rounds of chores and activities, hustle and bustle, and just think about what they are actually doing and where they are going.

Sitting alone with yourself–you have to confront you!

  • Fears and anxieties
  • Life problems of all sorts
  • Mistakes and personal inadequacies
  • Bad habits and even dangerous addictions

Keeping yourself endlessly busy is an enabler to avoid sometimes painful reflection, introspection, and even necessary self-help. 

While you often hear that doctors recommend a certain amount of activity to keep physically healthy, I believe that similarly, mental and spiritual guidance would be for carving out time for physical inactivity and instead focusing on meditation and reflection. 

Perhaps, this is one reason that the Sabbath (kept in various ways by religions around the world) is so important to the mind and soul–it is a time to stop the work and daily mundane activities and instead focus on your spiritual side. 

Contrary to what you might think, refraining from all the activity may be one of the hardest things to actually do, but stopping and thinking (instead of just continuously doing), confronting yourself, and making life course corrections can be some of the most rewarding. 

Can you stop and think for just 15 minutes or do you need that next fix of compulsive distraction? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)