Grass Not Always Greener

Sometimes the grass isn’t (always) greener.

Instead the grass grows in beautiful multi-colors.ย 

The grass art in this garden looks a lot better than the grass itself.ย 

The only real green is money and envy!

When comparing your lot with others, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges.ย 

Even then you’ll never know the person’s real “package” (or basket) in life.ย 

Be sure that everyone has their share of good and bad, so never be jealous of anyone. ๐Ÿ˜‰

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Song of Saul and David

Great song:ย David and Shaul from Ehud Banay’s third album, โ€The Third/Hashlishiโ€

The song is about the “bipolar” feelings of King Saul toward David (then the next king of Israel).ย 

Here are the lyrics:

ื›ื•ืœื ืžื–ืžืŸ ื”ืœื›ื• ืœื™ืฉื•ืŸ
ืจืง ืฉืื•ืœ ืขืจ, ืงื•ื“ืจ
ืžืจื™ื ืœื“ื•ื“ ื˜ืœืคื•ืŸ

A late-night hour

Everyone is long gone to sleep

Only Shaul is awake, cheerless

He calls David up over the phone

ืื•ืœื™ ืชืงืคื•ืฅ ืืœื™, ื™ื ื“ื•ื“
ื ืคืฉื™ ืื’ื ืฉื—ื•ืจ
ืชื‘ื™ื ืื™ืชืš ืืช ื”ื’ื™ื˜ืจื”
ื›ื™ ื‘ืืฆื‘ืขื•ืชื™ืš ืื•ืจ

Maybe you should stop by, Ya David

My soul is a black lake

Bring the guitar with you

For you have light in your fingers

ื“ื•ื“ ื‘ื ืžื™ื“ ืจื’ื•ืข,
ืžืชื™ื™ืฉื‘ ื•ืžื›ื•ื•ืŸ
ืืช ื”ืžืœืื›ื” ื”ื™ื˜ื‘ ื™ื•ื“ืข
ืขื•ืฆื ืขื™ื ื™ื™ื, ืžื ื’ืŸ

David comes right away and he is calm

Sit down and tunes (the guitar)

The job he well knows

Closes his eyes, he plays

ืขืฉืจ ืืฆื‘ืขื•ืช ืœื“ื•ื“
ืงืฆื” ื›ืœ ืืฆื‘ืข – ืงืจืŸ ืื•ืจ
ื›ืฉื”ื•ื ืคื•ืจื˜ ืขืœ ื”ืžื™ืชืจ
ื”ื–ืžืŸ ื–ื•ืจื ืœื• ืœืื—ื•ืจ

Ten fingers David has

The tip of each one – a ray of lightย 

When he port on the string

The time is flowing backwards

ืฉืื•ืœ ืžื‘ืคื ื™ื ืงืจื•ืข
ืงืจื‘ื•ืช ื‘ืชื•ืš ื‘ื˜ื ื•
ืื•ื”ื‘-ืฉื•ื ื, ื•ืžืงื ื
ืžื›ื•ืจ ืœื—ื‘ืจื•

Shaul is torn inside

Battles in his stomach he has

Love-hate, and jealous he is

Addicted to his friend

ื“ื‘ืจ ืžื” ืืคืœ ื ื•ืคืœ
ื”ืฉื“ ื—ื•ื–ืจ ืœื”ืฉืชื•ืœืœ
ืกื›ื™ืŸ ื ื–ืจืงืช ื‘ืื•ื•ื™ืจ
ืคืชืื•ื ื™ืฉ ื‘ื™ืŸ ื”ืฉื ื™ื ืงื™ืจ

Something dark falls

The demon is back to a rage

A knife is thrown in the air

Suddenly there is a wall between the two

ื“ื•ื“ ืžืชื—ืžืง ืžืฉืื•ืœ

ืื‘ืœ ืฉืื•ืœ ืœื ืžื•ื•ืชืจ
ื“ื•ื“ ืฉื•ื›ื— ื•ืกื•ืœื—
ื›ืฉืฉืื•ืœ ืžืชืงืฉืจ

David is avoiding Shaul

But Shaul is not giving up

David forget and forgives

When Shaul call up

ื‘ื•ื ืฉื•ื‘ ืœื ื’ืŸ ืœื™ ื“ื•ื“
ืงื— ืื•ืชื™ ืœื›ื•ื›ื‘ื™ื
ื‘ื•ื ืฉื•ื‘ ืœื ื’ืŸ ื”ืœื™ืœื”
ืฉื™ืจ ื’ืขื’ื•ืขื™ื

Come again to play to me David

Take me to the stars

Come again to play tonight

A song of longing

ื‘ื•ื ืฉื•ื‘ ืœื ื’ืŸ ื”ืœื™ืœื”…

Come again and play tonight..

ื‘ื•ื ืฉื•ื‘ ืœื ื’ืŸ ื”ืœื™ืœื”
ืฉื™ืจ ื’ืขื’ื•ืขื™ื…

Come again and play tonight..

A song of longing..

(Kudos to my Ulpan teacher, Rivka D. for sending me the video and to Izchak, my wonderful son-in-law, for providing the Hebrew/English lyrics)

Four Types of Desire

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “I Want What I Want.”

There are four types of greed/jealousy:

  • I want what Iโ€™m missing
  • I want what I had
  • I want what you have
  • I want you to not have what you have

We can be slaves to our egos, emotions, and desires, or we can seek to control them and be better than mere animals. We have a soul, a conscience, and the Torah, so the choice should be clear even if not always easy.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Longing For The Slow and Happy Bungalow Days

So I used to hear from my wife about when she was young and went to the bungalow colony in the Catskill Mountains.

And today, I heard from a wonderful young Ukrainian woman whose family does the equivalent in the mountains there in the summer.ย 

When I listen to the stories, it soundsย so goodย to get away with your family and friends for the summer to the countryside.ย 

Just live simply in a cabin, stay up late by the campfire singing songs, get up lazily in the morning, and during the day play sports, go fishing, and swim in the lake.ย 

I can’t imagine talking 3 months a year and actually being able to do this…so natural, so carefree, so back to living!

Yes as kids, we went to camp, but it’s not the same as living communally like this in such freedom and fun.ย 

Honestly, listening to the stories about this, left me amazingly jealous!

Perhaps, it’s a lesson about life these days…we’re adults, we’re responsible, we have to earn a living and take care of the bills and all of life’s responsibilities.ย 

But maybe, just maybe, there is something–a lot–to be said for letting loose a little, and just being with your loved ones, and living, really living again.ย 

Why do we have to wait until we’re old…too old to work anymore…and maybe too old to appreciate life as life was meant to be. ย 

We can’t run from our responsibilities but isn’t it worth looking for ways in life to enjoy more than a long weekend or a week vacation.

Life is too short to let it get away from us.ย 

Balancing the contributions of our hard labor with the enjoyment of family, friends, and fun…those are the memories that last a lifetime and beyond.ย 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Thou Shalt Not

10 Commandments.jpeg

Interesting speech by the Rabbi today in synagogue.ย 

What stood out to me was when he talked about the Ten Commandments, particularly the 2nd set of five.ย 

And howย someย people hear what they want to hear.ย 

All of the 2nd five start with “Thou shalt not,” ย but there are those people that only hear the part that comesย afterย those words.ย 

So for example: Thou shalt not kill…steal…commit adultery…lie…desire.

But not everyone listens to the “Thou shalt not” and instead they just hear–selectively:

– Kill

– Steal

– Commit adultery

– Lie

– Desire

If you take out the “Thou shalt nots,” you are left with a list of terrible and evil deeds.

How convenient for those who are looking for the upper hand and pleasures in life–get rich quick, get and maintain power, take whatever and whomever you want and when you want it–no matter who it belongs to or how they feel.

Like the good angel and bad angel sitting over our shoulders and one says don’t do the bad thing and the other encourages us to do!

Who you going to listen to?ย 

Not everyone seems to care–they live for today and forget about tomorrow.ย 

Yet every misdeed leaves a tarnish on our soul, while every good deed adds a merit.ย 

And if there is no justice in the end then who the hell wants to be in such a world anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Satisfied and Bless G-d

Fancy Car.jpeg

I loved Chabad Rabbi Schneur Kaplan’s speech today in synagogue.

It was about how we can learn to be happy with what we have in life.

The biggest marketing gimmick is to say to the guy, “Look at what your neighbor has next door!”

Jealousy, desire, greed, having more and better than the next guy/girl…

That’s what many people live for and how they think.

Some can have as much as the founders of Apple, Google, and Facebook combined and still it’s not enough.

If just one person has something more…it can drive that person crazy.

Like Haman on Purim, who had wealth, power, large family and everyone bowed down to him…

Except one person named Mordecai who wouldn’t bow.

And despite having everything, but missing that one thing drove Haman so crazy–it was his downfall!

When we eat, we can be satisfied with one slice of pizza and say grace or we can have four slices and still not be satisfied.

How do we look at things?

We can be grateful for whatever we have and say that G-d gave us just what we needed at this time and place.

Or we can look at what we don’t have, and forever be bitter and unsatisfied.

What joy we can experience in life when we realize the graciousness for what G-d has bestowed on us and we are thankful for what we have. ๐Ÿ˜‰

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why We Fight?

Google Diversity.jpeg

Well first of all, let me say that I really liked this image on Google the other day.ย 

Beautiful to see the diversity and brotherhood (and including those with disabilities)!

I had a an interesting conversation with my daughter the other day about why people often don’t get along.ย 

She said something that I thought was really astute:

“If there were unlimited resources, then no one would have a reason to fight!”

Think about that a moment…

Everyone feels they don’t have enough or someone else has more then them or they are afraid they won’t get their share, and so what happens?

Like jealous little children, we fight for the pail and shovel in the sandbox.ย 

Only as adults, our sandbox is a lot bigger and it involves hate, bigotry, racism and deadly weapons including guns, knives, and even nukes!

So this isn’t the Garden of Eden where everyone prances around free and with plenty and nothing to worry about.ย 

Instead, everyone has to work “by the sweat of your brow,” and there are limits to what we have, and there is fighting over who has what.

Yes, truly “greed is the root of all evil.”

What we need to learn and internalize is that it’s more important how we act towards each other than what we have and that the real gold in life is the good we do and not the plenty we amass.ย 

Sure we each need enough to be able to survive and excel as human beings, but it’s fool’s gold that prevents us from seeing each other as the real brothers and sisters we all are.ย 

If only we had enough–in both perception and reality–then peace could reign among mankind. ๐Ÿ˜‰

(Source Photo: Google)

The Evil Stink Eye

Stink Eye

So there is an important Jewish (and non-Jewish) concept of the evil eye (in hebrew, it’s called an “Ayin Hara”).

This is the idea that people who are jealous of you or simply don’t like you, can wish bad (or evil to befall) on you.ย 

And the more people or the more merits these people have in life that cast this evil wish (in mystical terms, some may call it a spell), perhaps the stronger the potency of it on you.ย 

Superstition or real? This is a matter of what you believe in and maybe experiences you’ve had in life have taught you to beware of when others don’t wish you well.ย 

This is why many righteous people try to avoid the limelight–they don’t want others to focus on them and harbor bad feelings toward them.ย 

Better in a sense to remain more private and discrete than suffer the evil eye of others.ย 

If we understand that there are not only physical powers in the universe, but also spiritual and metaphysical ones, then we may choose to protect ourselves by shielding ourselves from the public eyes ofย jealousyย and hate.

Others may choose to do extra charity, prayer, and good deeds in an effort to protect themselves from competitors and antagonists in life.ย 

It’s funny, but when my wife sees someone she perceives giving another the evil eye, she calls it, “The stink eye!”

And truly, it does stink that people can be so mean and hateful to others, but unfortunately, not everyone in life is nice and good.

It takes all types, and that is why it’s critical to avoid those evil glances, feelings, and thoughts of others.

Hurt can take many forms–words and deeds are the two that we recognize most often.ย 

However, we shouldn’t discount the harm that thoughts and feelings can cause as well.ย 

The mind and spirit of humans can reach out and up to the Heavens, and so we must live our lives good to G-d as well to people, and Bli Ayin Hara (without the evil eye) for blessings and not for curses.ย 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)ย 

Only Game In Town

Only Game In Town.JPeG

This was a funny sign up in Harpers Ferry yesterday, Thanksgiving Day.ย 

Outside this restaurant, it says, “Only OPEN Place in Town, GREAT Food.”

I suppose if it’s the only game in town, then whatever food they have is by definition “great”-compared to going hungry that is.ย 

Life is very much like this–where everything is relative.ย 

If I have too many choices–how do I choose?ย 

Whatever I choose, I may second guess myself that maybe another one would’ve been better.ย 

It’s like when I go out with my daughter to eat, somehow whatever she orders is always better than what I got!

But when choice is limited or non-existent, well then “beggars can’t be choosey.”

Essentially, your happy with what you have– perhaps, something is often better than nothing.ย 

But really it’s much more than that, because if you look closely at others, you realize that what you have is actually a pretty darn good lot in life–so don’t be envious, jealous, or be too quick to want to change places with your neighbor.ย 

Obviously, this was a very apropos sign for Thanksgiving–where we need to learn to be grateful for everything we have in life.ย 

It is our basket, and we wouldn’t want to trade it for anything in the world (and if you did, you’d be sorry afterwards). ๐Ÿ˜‰

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Appreciating G-d’s Gifts

Chassidim Dancing
Today, I heard a fascinating speech from Rabbi Haim Ovadia of Magen David Synagogueย that put a beautiful new perspective on the Ten Commandments.

He explained how the commandments are not just commandments, but actually a covenant between G-d and mankind. ย 

G-d gave man gifts of:

1) FREEDOM and choice (He is the L-rd who brought you out of bondage)

2) DIVINITY, a direct spiritual connection (Thou shalt have no idols)

3) PRAYER, heartfelt (Thou shalt not take G-d’s name in vain)

4) SABBATH (On the seventh day thou shalt do no work)

5) FAMILY (Honor thy father and mother).

In turn, G-d asks that we appreciate His gifts to us, and not take from others what isn’t ours:

1) LIFE (Don’t murder)

2) Another Man’s WIFE (Don’t commit adultery)

3) THINGS (Don’t steal)

4) DUE PROCESS/JUSTICE (Don’t bear false witness)

5) Someone else’s BLESSINGS (Don’t covet, and essentially bring an “evil eye” on them)

This interpretation is sort of the ah-ha in the Ten Commandments, which otherwise some would say, “what’s so novel or special about G-d telling us not to do these bad things–wouldn’t we already know (many of) these ourselves?”

But what is novel here is that the Ten Commandments is a whole philosophy of thinking about life, one where we appreciate G-d’s many gifts to us, but where we control our animal instincts and in turn act spiritually.

Thank you G-d for the many wonderful gifts, and for giving us the opportunity to elevate ourselves and be satisfied with our lot in life.ย 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)