Avraham, The Ultimate Mensch

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, “Avraham, The Ultimate Mensch.”

The Rabbi asked why did Hashem who is omnipotent even need to create us? And he answered because in G-d being the ultimate good, He “had to create us”—this in essence being the ultimate expression of good by sharing that goodness with us to learn and be good as well. In short, what could be a greater good than extending that opportunity to be be good to others.


Like our forefather, my Hebrew name is Avraham, and for me personally, this has been a critical life lesson: learning to see challenges as opportunities to learn, grow, and consistently be a person that tries to do what is right even when it is hard or the lines seem to be grey. In the end, I believe that G-d put us in this world in order for us to choose good over evil and demonstrate kindness to others. With the Torah as our blueprint, and Avraham, our forefather, as our role model, we must apply the great teachings of the Torah and always strive to act as a proper mensch!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When People Can’t Admit They’re Wrong

So he’s a story from the pool today…


I’m doing my laps minding my own business.


And this guy gets to the pool, sits down, and immediately pulls out his cellphone.


Then he proceeds to literally yell into his phone for probably a good half an hour. 


I’m doing my laps and I can hear this guy yelling:


– At his end of the pool 


– ALL the way at the opposite end of the pool


– With earplugs


– AND even underwater


And he goes on and on and on. 


Doesn’t stop for even a breath of air. 


Now, in all the years swimming, I’ve never had to approach someone about their behavior like this.


BUT this was too much as my head was pounding from his incessant yelling.


I waited until he finished his call. 


And it happened to coincide with me finishing my laps. 


I come out of the pool and grabbed my stuff. 


I have to pass him on the way out. 


And I’m still debating with myself whether this schlemiel is even worth it. 


My head is still throbbing from his yelling.


I stop in front of his chair. 


Now he’s pulled out a book and is trying to read. 


I say:

Excuse me.

He knows he did something wrong, and he barely looks up, trying to ignore me. 


I say again:

Excuse me. Did you intend for everyone at the pool to hear your ENTIRE conversation?


He starts murmuring something, and then says throwing it back on me:

What’s the problem?


So I say:

You were speaking so loud, I could hear you all the way on the opposite end of the pool.  I could even hear you under the water. 


He’s agitating now and he says:

Well, I was speaking to someone 85-years old who doesn’t hear well.  You get it?


So I say respectfully:

I am sorry that he doesn’t hear well, but does everyone else here around the pool also need to hear the conversation? 


Then he says:

So what–I don’t care if everyone hears.


I try one more time.

Do you see all these other people trying to read, rest, swim–do you at all care?


He still can’t get himself to come around, and instead doubles down and says, 

Well. I’ll do whatever I want!

Now, I’ve had enough, and I say:

So basically you don’t give a shit for ANY of your neighbors, do you?


Finally, he must of been embarrassed enough at his terrible behavior, and he backs down and says:

Next time he calls me, I’ll take the conversation inside!


At which point, he goes back to his book, and I complete my exit. 


It took all that just to get him to say he’ll handle it differently next time and basically be respectful of his neighbors and not a selfish pig!


It’s amazing–some people really just can’t own up to when they are being a jerk.


But I was glad this guy finally came around–maybe there is still hope. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

On Time Is Late

Smart saying I heard today on time management:

Early is on time.
On time is late.
Late is unacceptable.

Having grown up in a very precise environment,  I can certainly appreciate this. 


Seriously, from a Yekke (Jewish German background), we were taught to be 15 to 30 minutes early–i.e. on time–for everything. 


I remember starting to get “little” reminders to get ready and get out the door well in advance and numerous times before the clock struck. 


Fashionably late or any other type is not in the vocabulary and frankly is a complete f*ckin insult. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Folly of Bullies

So there is an issue with people not treating other people with respect and dignity in life and at work.


Today again, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Companies Wake Up To The Problem of Bullies at Work.”


This is leading some organizations to issue “Codes of Civility” for people to act like mensches and treat each other nicely. 


Adults are just so like children–with work bullies not all that different from schoolyard bullies.


Why do people need to elevate themselves on the backs of others? 


Isn’t it better to join hands and work together as brothers for the betterment of all.


Bullying anyone at work or at home doesn’t benefit anyone, including the bully!


I read today in Psalms 37: 35-36:

“I have seen the wicked in great power and spreading himself like a green tree. Yet he passed away, and behold, he was not; I sought him, but he could not be found

[But] Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright for the end of that man is peace.”

How can people forget that the true “big boss” is G-d Almighty in Heaven.


And He judges us for a good or not so good end. 


We are all just flesh and blood and we all answer to the One That Was, Is, and Will Always Be!


Isn’t it obvious that we’re here to learn to act with lovingkindness to one another.


All are imperfect, but treating each other well is how we get closer to G-dly perfection. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Better A Mensch Than Money

Love.jpeg

Here is a lesson that I learned when it comes to love…

Better a mensch than all the money in the world.

Some people think that money is their Golden Calf.

They literally and practically worship it.

They are so greedy for it, hoard it, protect it, and believe in the power of it.

But what I say is you can choke on all the money!

Those who put the emphasis on money are sick and empty with materialism that means nothing in the end.

Better the love of a good, decent human being and best friend than all the money in China.

For money you can buy lots of meaningless things, but with a mensch you can have a potential for a life of real togetherness and even a chance at some soulful bliss.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Your Computer Is All Wet

Computer Chip

So I was at my first synagogue men’s club event last week.


A guy at the door was checking people in with a laptop lent by my friend, who is the head of the men’s club.


Sitting at the desk, the check-in guy had a cup of soda and at one point, it got knocked over and spilled on top of the MacAir. 


I raced over with some napkins to try and wipe it off quickly, and my friend grabbed his laptop and held it upside down to try and get the spill out.


For a while, the computer stayed on, but as I feared all the sugary stuff in the soda would do it in so it wouldn’t turn on again. 


I emailed my friend a number of times during the week to find out how his laptop was doing. 


He had made an appointment with AppleCare and they said they could fix it, but he said it would cost almost as much as a new computer. 


Also, they gave him a contact somewhere else that specializes in recovering the data/contents on the computer. 


The saga with the computer isn’t over, but on Shabbat my friend in synagogue said to me, “You know, you were the only one who contacted me to inquire how I was doing with the laptop.”


And he gave me a warm smile that said thank you for actually giving a damn. 


I thought to myself perhaps we only have a few real friends in the world and it’s not just about who gives us that old ada-boy at the fun events. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)