The Miraculous Mezuzah

Mezuzah.jpeg

So there is a Jewish commandment to put a mezuzah on your doorposts. 


Reminiscent of ancient times when Jews were slaves in Egypt and G-d told the Israelites to put the blood of the Paschal lamb on the doorpost.


When they did this and the Angel of Death killed the firstborn in each home of the taskmaster Egyptians–he passed over the doorposts of the Israelites that had the blood on it as commanded by G-d.


So too these days, the Mezuzah has the holy prayer of the Shema Yisrael on it:

“Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One”.

And it is believed to be a symbol of G-d’s divine protection for the home. 


This week in Synagogue, Rabbi Haim Ovadia told some miraculous stories about the Mezuzah from when he was the Rabbi in Bogota, Columbia.


He told of how the cartels would raid the buildings where the people in the community lived.  The cops would be told not to respond to the calls for help for at least an hour.  But what was a miracle was that apartments with the mezuzahs were not harmed. Later, the people found out that the cartels, thank G-d left them alone, because they didn’t know what a mezuzah was and thought it was some sort of fancy alarm system!


Another story, was the boss who put mezuzahs on the offices at work, and what happened? The profitability of the business went up.  When they looked at why this happened, they realized that the boss would stop at the mezuzah to recite the Shema, and the workers thought the boss was there paying more attention to them and so productivity went way up. 


Finally, the last one was really funny.  They couldn’t easily get mezuzahs in Bogota, so when they heard someone was coming from a trip to Israel, they asked him to bring 5 mezuzahs for the home. When it arrived, they opened it up, but lo and behold, the parchment with the prayer inside was missing from them.  When they asked what happened to it–the person said, I already know how to put up a mezuzah on the doorpost with 2 nails and a hammer, so what do I need the instructions inside it for!


G-d is glorious and the holiness that he bestows on us with his commandments is amazing. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Look Who I Found In Synagogue

Pokemon

Well, this was quite a surprise in the hip Magen David Synagogue today.


I captured this amazing Pokemon. 


I can’t say that I actually saw him davening (praying) in shule. 


But he was on the way down to the kiddush (blessing and meal) after services. 


No virtual apps needed for this Pokemon.  


He was right there over the chulent (bean and meat stew)–Oh, that must’ve been another week. 


Anyway, this Pokemon is ready to defend in the next battle of good and evil. 


Thanks to Nintendo, Pokemon goes these days where the rest of our leaders are afraid to endeavor. 


Hence the search for Pokemon far and wide…it’s a true craze. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

United Jerusalem Of Gold, Of Bronze, And Of Light

Israel

We had a beautiful Shabbat service today at Magen David Synagogue. 

It was in honor of Yom Yerushalayim, which starts tonight. 

The day commemorates the reunification of Holy city of Jerusalem after the 1967 War.

The Rabbi read from Naomi Shemer’s poetic song called, “Jerusalem of Gold.”

And then we all sang the song together…

“Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze, and of light,

Behold I am a violin for all your songs.”

What was amazing to learn was that Naomi Shemer wrote this song in honor of Israel Independence Day (Yom Ha’Azmaut) three weeks before the 1967 War and reunification. 

She later added a stanza to turn the song from purely one of the longing for the holy city to one that rejoices in being reunited with it. 

Some people from the shule who actually fought in the 1967 War were called up to the bimah, in front of the Torahs, to recite the Psalms and lead us in joyous and moving prayer for the Holy Land of Israel. 

After almost 2,000 years of exile, G-d fulfilled his promise to the Jewish people. 

As the Prophet Amos said (9:14-15): 

“‘I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land that I have given them,’ says the Lord your G-d.”

And as Prophet Ezekiel said (37:10-14) and  (37:21-22)

“Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesize and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign L-rd says: O my people, I am going to open up your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel….I will put my spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land…”

[Note: Israel was reestablished in 1948 just three years after the end of the Holocaust where six million Jews perished.]

“I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them, and there will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.”

We are truly living in miraculous times when the words of the prophets are fulfilled, and there is not only a State of Israel, but a united Jerusalem of gold, of bronze, and of light. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Lag B’Omer Hillula @ Magen David

RabbiSamyRabbi Shimon nar YochaiRabbi Meir Bal HanessCandlesUs

Beautiful praying, learning Torah, fundraising, and evening celebration at Magen David Sephardic Synagogue.

Lag B’Omer 2016

Thank you to the Rabbi, Samy, and all our friends for a wonderful evening. 

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Pizza And Brew With Wonderful Friends

Pizza and Brew.jpeg

Yesterday, we had a beautiful little get together at our place. 

In the party room with pizza and brew and lots of nosh–almost reminded me of the “Chometz Party” we had a number of years ago in our old neighborhood (great way to clean out your kitchen pantry before Passover),

Many of our wonderful friends from Magen David Sephardic Synagogue came to visit with us and celebrate one year plus in our new home in Maryland. 

Truly some of the nicest and accepting people I’ve had a chance to come to know in quite some time. 

I want to thank our friends for coming and especially thank my dear wife, Dossy, who did all the heavy lifting to make the event so beautiful for everyone. 

One lesson was how to keep the pizza piping hot over many hours with people coming and going at different times–can anyone say melted cheese? 

Another was how to schedule anything this time of year with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Passover, Shavuot and Memorial Day holidays, Men’s Club/Sisterhood/and other community events, baby showers, weddings, vacations, and more–gee, there almost wasn’t a free Sunday on the calendar. 

Overall though, we had such a nice time with everyone, and Dossy is already asking about planning the next event and she says she is cooking, so watch out world! 😉

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Let The Genie Out

Lantern

I thought this was a very cool genie lantern on display at the Magen David Sephardic Synagogue last evening for the lecture on Women Poets of Morocco.  


Of course, people gathered around joking about whether, as legend has it, there was a genie inside. 


They asked, what do you have to do to try and get the genie out to make your three wishes. 


Well of course, they say you have to rub the lantern–where the heck did that come from?


Me being the curious jokster that I am just picked the lantern up off the table and flipped the top open!


Low and behold, it was completely empty–no genie to be found. 


Needless-to-say, I was quite disappointed hoping for an I Dream of Genie lady to magically appear or for a flying Persian magic carpet to whisk me away somewhere exciting.


Then I thought, perhaps someone else got to the lantern first?


And darn, they say you can’t put the genie back in the bottle!


A great notion when it comes to transparency, freedom of ideas and expression, no repression…but when you still are waiting for your three earth-shattering wishes then perhaps you still need to find your magic lantern. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

10 Commandments, 10 Plagues–What’s The Connection?

Ten Commandments

It occurred to me while listening to the Rabbi’s speech at Magen David Synagogue today that there is nothing random in the Torah (Bible).

Since this weeks’s Torah reading in Exodus was about the ten plagues in Egypt, I realized that this must be connected to the later ten commandments in a subsequent reading. 

This table explains how the commandments to the Jews (and all mankind) and the plagues on the Egyptians are connected one for one.

(Source Table: Andy Blumenthal)

Blessing Each Other

People.jpeg

Today in synagogue, we did not have any Kohanim (members of the priestly class) to do the ritual blessing of the people. 


So Rabbi Haim Ovadia did something really creative and beautiful.


He had each of us turn to our neighbor and put our hands over each other’s heads and recite the blessing from the Torah:


“May G-d bless and guide you.

May G-d shine his countenance on you and be gracious to you.

May G-d turn his countenance toward you and grant you peace.”


The gesture of brotherhood and caring for each other was very, very nice, and I got to meet someone new in synagogue today.


People need people…and we need G-d. 


Somehow it makes everything better. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)