613 Lottery

613 Lottery.jpeg

On the way into the office today, this was the sign for the lottery jackpots for Mega Millions and Powerball.


251 and 110. 


Combine the numbers and yes, it is exactly 613 again!


Mystical, holy number of commandments in the Torah.


Please G-d for blessings. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Need Some Money

Monopoly

Big banner advertising Money!


A Monopoly sweepstakes by McDonalds to draw customers. 


Sort of ironic a low-cost fast food provider “giving” money away.


But who doesn’t need money? 


I remember the song as a child, “Money makes the world go round…”


Always distasteful at the focus in the world on money, instead of on being good decent people with a bigger picture on issues, suffering, and tikkun olam. 


Really, it’s the tug of war between people’s personal selfishness and the ability to exhibit selfless giving to others. 


Does a person need a certain amount of financial stability and security to be a better giver?


I guess that makes sense–if you have more and don’t feel financially burdened and threatened at every turn in life, you can be more charitable with your own giving–not feeling pinched and vulnerable. 


Still, I think it’s important to remember that money can certainly be at “the root of all evil” when it becomes the end rather than the means to a life of purpose, understanding, and compassion that goes way beyond our own little desires and selves. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Need For Speed

Speed

In the gym this morning, I watched Joel Osteen giving his Sunday sermon on the monitor. 


The guy is a genius–always on message, always inspiring hope, always uplifting the masses. 


Today, he spoke about acceleration. 


The idea was that no matter how deeply bad our situation in life (e.g. illness, debt, demoted) and no matter how many months or years it would normally take us to recover or get out of it, G-d can accelerate things so that we are healed, solvent, or promoted tomorrow. 


He didn’t say this, but as I understand it, G-d is above time and space, and so he can move you faster out of your funk then anyone would normally think.


Osteen gave the analogy of a bow an arrow, and the further back you are pulled–the more pressure and tension you are under in life–then the further and faster, G-d can propel you forward. 


To me it’s interesting that when we are enjoying a wonderful moment in life, that we wish time would slow or completely stop, so we could savor the good times that much longer or just “stay in the moment forever.”


And at other times, when we are down and suffering, the days of despair and defeat can drag on and on, and it seems like the hours and days just don’t pass fast enough…it’s almost like torture in that it seem to go on forever. And that is when, we hope and pray for a speedy resolution to whatever ails us–we just want to be free from the problems, the illness, the suffering–and so if only, we could leap forward in time and this “would all be over.” 


If you are happy, life is too short.  But if you are in pain and suffering, every moment can be torture.


So if we are worthy, time can magnify and be an accelerant for prolonging the good times and getting out of the bad times (or G-d forbid, it can work in reverse as well–shortening the good times in life and extending out the bad ones). 


Similarly, long life can be a blessing if we are healthy and able to enjoy a real quality of life or it can be grueling for those in pain and suffering. 


My wife told me about this news item from a couple of days ago, where a guy won the lottery, but shortly after was murdered–his life cut short–in a home invasion (this “lucky” guy never got to enjoy his winnings).


G-d who controls time (and space) has quite a lot of leeway to test us or meet out justice–just speed things up or slow things down and the experience and feelings are magnified accordingly. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to spitfirelas)

Whiskey Pie

Piehole
So I picked up a Powerball ticket this week…hard to resist with a jackpot of $360 million!



The store that sells the lottery tickets sells liquor.



I see these 3 bottles side-by-side.



And it’s for whiskey.



The whiskey has cherry, pecan, or apple pie flavored liquor.



The ladies pictured on the bottles are sitting on the different pies. 



And this “Pie-oneering” whiskey is called Piehole!



70% proof, and makes for quite some table talk. 



Not surprisingly, they never has this at the kiddush in shule on Shabbat! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Building Happiness, One Contribution At A Time

Dirty_hands

There was an interesting editorial in the Wall Street Journal(20 December 2012) comparing people who the [Powerball] lottery to those on social entitlements.

The author, Arthur Brooks stipulates that money unearned–“untethered from hard work and merit”–does not make people happy.

Brooks states that “Above basic subsistence, happiness comes not from money per se, but from the value creation it is rewarding.”

And this seems to jive with the concept that the greatest producer of happiness aside from social relationships is doing meaningful and productive work (and generally good deeds), not having lots of money and things!

In terms of winning the lottery (big) and not finding happiness, there was another article to this effect in Bloomberg BusinessWeek (13 December 2012), about someone who won the $314 million Powerball jackpot and had at one time been the largest lottery winner in history–but in the end, he found nothing but misery (lost his granddaughter, wife, money, and ended up a substance abuser) and wished he had never seen that “winning” ticket. Instead, he appreciated his previous life when he was known for his “good works,” and not just his money!

According to Brooks, “While earned success facilitates the pursuit of happiness, unearned transfers generally impede it.” And CNN reports that now more than 100 million Americans are on welfare, and that “does not include those who only receive Social Security or Medicare.”

The result as Brooks states is the fear is that we are becoming an ‘entitlement state,” and that it is bankrupting the country and “impoverishing” the lives of millions by creating a state of dependency, rather than self-sufficiency.

So are social entitlements really the same thing?

No. because without doubt, there are times when people need a safety net and it is imperative that we be there to help people who are in need–this is not the same as someone winning the lottery, but rather this is genuinely doing the right thing to help people!

At the same time, everyone, who can, must do their part to contribute to society–this means hard work and a fair day’s pay.

However, With the National Debt about to go thermonuclear, and the fiscal cliff (in whatever form it finally takes) coming ever closer to pocketbook reality, the country is on verge on confronting itself–warts and all.

We all woke up this morning, and the world was still here–despite the Mayans foretelling of the end of the world today. Perhaps, the end was never meant as a hard and fast moment, but rather the beginning of an end, where we must confront our spendthrift ways and historical social inequities.

While we cannot erase decades of mismanagement, what we can do is continue the march to genuinely embrace diversity, invest in education and research, help those who cannot help themselves, work hard and contribute, and build a country that our grandparents dreamed of–one that is paved in opportunity for everyone!

Let us pray that we are successful–for our survival, prosperity, and genuine happiness. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Brother Magneto)