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)

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Yearning for Redemption

Just an impression from my recent trip to Israel. 


There is such a yearning for people to do good and to merit the coming of Mashiach (Messiah) towards the ultimate redemption for mankind. 


It’s on every street corner and light post.  


Whether it’s eyes gazed on the righteousness of Rabbi Nachman or The Rebbe–as we used to sing as kids in NCSY:

“We want Mashiach now!”


Whether Mashiach is an actual person or a spiritual revelation in the world leading to redemption–it represents an unprecedented enlightenment, holiness and a spiritual healing, and love and peace for mankind. 


While we strive to earn our daily bread, it’s nice to have a part of us that also seeks a greater good and achieving betterment for the world. 


Any small or big things we can do in our lives to contribute to Tikkun Olam (“fixing the world”), it’s purposeful, hopeful, and uplifting to try. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Traveling Chassidim

We went to Havdalah with the Traveling Chassidim at Aish HaTorah in Rockville. 


It was so wonderful and spiritually uplifting. 


At around mark 11:00, I get to wear the shtreimel hat and I get to drop the shtreimel hat (that was funny)!


These Chassidim from Monsey and Brooklyn were so wonderful. 


They leave their communities and homes to come out for Shabbat to other Jewish communities around the country and do beautiful outreach. 


So giving, loving, and caring with their whole families. 


The music, song, and joy they bring are beyond words. 


The Traveling Chassidim are wonderful and they make a terrific Havdalah at the end of the Shabbat. 😉


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

Beautiful Israel Architecture

Just wanted to share some of the beautiful architecture from Israel. 


Side by side…


The old and the new.


The proud and the natural.


The strong and the spiritual. 


Obviously, I’ve only had a chance to see a very little bit.


But everywhere just seems marvelous.


So much achieved, and still such great potential. 


A people who survived the genocidal Holocaust and faced down the devil himself, with G-d’s help have rebuilt their ancient homeland.


Miracles everywhere, I can attest to it with my own eyes and soul. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Time For Everything

Being in Israel this week has reawakened the essence of my Jewish soul. 


Today, we took a long Shabbat walk–winding through the beautiful and ancient streets to reach the beach of Tel Aviv.


It was awesome seeing and hearing Hebrew everywhere–just like in the Bible/Torah.


The street names of famous people and things like Menachem Begin, Shaul HaMelech, Weizman, Ben Yehuda, Shalom Aleichem, Bar Kokhva, Ha-Nevi’im, Yona HaNavi–it all had so much historical and identifying meaning as a proud Jew and Levite servant of the L-rd. 


Already, when I awoke this morning–my brain was reciting and my voice signing from Ecclesiastes 3: “There is a time for everything.”


And I don’t know why, but I was humming it and mouthing over an over again:

“A time to love.
A time to hate.
A time for war (shuttering).
A time for peace (extended and deep longing).”


I pray to you my G-d to protect, guide, and show us–your faithful servants–the way ahead.


In my head, I understand that we do not choose the situations and challenges we face, but that they, in a very strong sense, choose us.


And we must rise to each and every occasion, even as our soul longs for a true and lasting peace. 


May G-d grant us to utterly confuse, scatter, torment, and defeat our enemies.


And may we merit a time when we will fully achieve and forever experience and dwell in love and peace, Amen. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Beautiful Innocent Child Angel

So wonderful news is that one of my daughters is getting married, please G-d, at the end of the month.


Today, we had a celebration in synagogue called an Aufruf, where the groom is called to the Torah and makes the blessing and then we all throw candies (we chose bags of chocolates).


After the services, we had a kiddush luncheon and it was really nice to see everyone from the community sharing in this wonderful Simcha with us. 


But something happened towards the end of the services that had a really big impact on me…in fact, I can’t stop thinking about it–I need to write it down. 


As services concluded and we were leaving the sanctuary, this beautiful innocent little girl came right up to my daughter–sort of out of nowhere and without her parents–and wished her Mazel Tov. 


There was something about her and the way she did it with such sincerity–I literally couldn’t have been more touched. 


It was almost like this child was some sort of angel–I mean it!


The child’s eyes and facial expression had an innocence like I have never quite seen before. 


All I could do was marvel at this child and how she came up all by herself with this incredible pureness of heart that I can’t fully explain to wish the bride and groom well. 


Then I found my words to say thank you and wish her that in a “few” years she would be getting happily married too, G-d willing. 


I think I will always remember the piecing innocent eyes of this child and how she was like an angel visiting us on this special occasion today. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Our Forefathers Were Planners And So Are We

Thank you to Rabbi Haim Ovadia for his speech today at Magen David Synagogue on the topic of how our forefathers in the Bible were planners and so are we today. (Note: some of the thoughts below are directly from Rabbi Ovadia and others are added by me.)


In the Biblical story of Jacob, there are numerous examples teaching us the importance of planning.


1) Shepherds vs Hunters:  Jacob was a shepherd versus his brother Esau who was a hunter.  Shepherds have a long-term outlook with their animals, tending to them and caring for them over the long-term, while hunters go out for the kills to eat for that day. 


2) Working for Rachel and Leah vs. Selling the Pottage:  Jacob worked for 7 years for Rachel and another 7 for Leah–this was the long-term view and commitment to work for Lavan in order to marry his daughters. In comparison, Esau came in hungry from the field and sold his birthright for the immediate gratification of a bowl of pottage.


3) The Plan to Take Esau’s Blessing: Rebekah worked with Jacob to prepare meat for Isaac and put hair and clothes on Jacob that made him look and seem like Esau, so Jacob could get the blessing from Isaac, while Esau was still out hunting in the field. 


4) Dividing his Camp in Two: Jacob sent messengers (i.e. reconnaissance) to see and plan for what Esau was doing in coming to meet him. When the messengers returned with word that Esau was coming with 400 men, Jacob planned for the worst, dividing his camp in two, so should one peril the other could survive. Additionally, Jacob prayed and sent rounds of gifts to Esau and also presented himself to Esau before his beloved wife Rachel and son Joseph in the safety of the rear. 


Long-term planning has been fundamental to the Jewish people throughout history and to modern times:


1) “People of the Book” – The Jewish people are known as “the people off the book” for the devotion to Torah study, learning, and continually investing in education, which is a view for long-term investment and success.   


2) Good Deeds to Inherit The World To Come – Fundamental to Jewish belief is that this earthly world is just a “corridor” to the World to Come.  We do charity and good deeds, not only because it’s the right thing to do (certainly!), but also because we believe that these merits will help us long-term when we pass, and go to the spiritual next world, Heaven. 


3) Believing and Praying for the Return to The Promised Land – For 2,000, the Jewish people never gave up hoping and praying on the deliverance of G-d’s promise to return them from exile to the Promised Land.  This was a long-term view that helped sustain the Jewish people throughout their far-flung exile and through millennium of persecution and genocide.

Ezekiel 11:17: “Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”

4) Waiting 6,000 years for the Messiah: For 6,000 years, the Jews have maintain faith and plan for the coming of the Messiah, the rebuilding of the Temple and the ultimate redemption of the world.  

“(Ani Ma’amin) I believe in complete faith in the coming of the Messiah…Even tough he may tarry, none-the-less, I will wait for him.”

Like our forefathers, it is critical to maintain faith in the Almighty and practice long-term planning as keys to success in life. 


If we take the long-view, we can overcome so many short-term challenges, obstacles and even suffering–believing, praying planning, and doing for a better, brighter future. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)