The Value of Pain

Three notables on the value of pain:


1) Pain is a warning of dangerous threats and helps safeguard us.


2) Pain that doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!


3) Pain lets you know you ain’t dead yet.


Then again, nothing wrong with a little pain relief. ūüėČ


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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The Heart of The Matter

Please¬†see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Heartfelt Challenges.”¬†¬†


It’s about some of my reflection on having a heart condition.¬†

Over time, what I’ve learned is that what is really important in life is not money, honor, power, or pleasure, but the simple things of family, community, faith, caring, giving, and generally trying your best in all circumstances. Every day is a chance to keep learning. 


Praying and hoping that please G-d everything goes well with the upcoming procedure. 

(Source Photo: Andy  Blumenthal)

What Is Life?

Here is a great parable that speaks to the meaning of life:

A man died.

When he realized it, he saw God coming closer with a suitcase in his hand.

Dialog between God and Dead Man:

God: *Alright son, it’s time to go*

Man: So soon? I had a lot of plans.

God: *I am sorry but, it’s time to go*

Man: What do you have in that suitcase?

God: *Your belongings*

Man: My belongings? You mean my things…clothes…money…

God; *Those things were never yours, they belong to the Earth*

Man: Is it my memories?

God: *No. They belong to Time*

Man: Is it my talent?

God: *No. They belong to Divine Providence*

Man: Is it my friends and family?

God: *No son. They belong to the Path you traveled*

Man: Is it my wife and children?

God: *No. they belong to your Heart*

Man: Then it must be my body

God: *No, No… It belongs to Dust*

Man: Then surely it must be my Soul!

God: *You are sadly mistaken son. Your Soul belongs to me.*

Man: I never owned anything?

God: *That’s Right. You never owned anything*.

Man (with tears in his eyes and full of fear took the suitcase from God’s hand and asks God): Then? What was mine?

God: *Your choices.*

Every choice you made was yours.

Create each moment by filling it with meaning.

Do G-d’s will at every moment.

Choose to act kindly to others in every moment.

Life is the choices of every moment.

(Adapted from and with Gratitude to Minna Blumenthal for sharing this with me)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Hamsa, Hamsa, Hamsa

Thought this was a beautiful wall hanging in a local restaurant here. 


Three golden Hamsas!


Hamsa is symbolic for the protective hand of G-d. 


Three is a number for “chizuk”¬† (strengthening) that signifies something is firmly established.¬†


The three Hamsas together is a potent representation for G-d’s protection, mazel (good fortune), happiness, health, prosperity, and peace.¬†


Oh G-d, we pray that you show us your endless divine mercy and bless us with all that is for the good. 


Hamsa, Hamsa, Hamsa! ūüėČ


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Know Before Whom You Are Standing

So many synagogues have this important saying at the top of the Holy Ark where the Torahs are kept in front of the shul.


It says, translated into English:


“Know before who you are standing (i.e. G-d).”


The idea is to remember when you are in the holy place of worship that you are standing and praying before G-d and should conduct yourself appropriately and with respect and reverence. 


While certainly there are times when people forget themselves in the synagogue and say or do something not completely appropriate (e.g. socializing, talking, or even telling jokes to their neighbors during the service), usually it is not intended to be disrespectful, but rather to be friendly with their neighbors and community. 


However, this past Shabbat I witnessed behavior in the synagogue (name withheld)  that was truly a chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d). 


Out of respect for the Rabbi (and Rabbabite), I will neither mention their names or go into the details about what happened except to say that it involved the politics surrounding the end of the Rabbi’s 3-year term and the inability for him and the board to come to terms on a new agreement (even though one had¬† apparently been signed and reneged on).¬†


This did not belong in the synagogue on the holy Shabbat, period. 


Those embracing and kissing the Rabbi in his support and going against the President and the board that is elected to represent the congregation was disgraceful. 


Further, while I support the Rabbi saying his farewells, demanding to speak without the permission of the President and the board, and even before the President gave his regular announcements was inexcusable. 


And when the fighting between the Rabbi and President brought yelling and fighting to the congregants, this should have been a sign for that behavior to immediately cease. 


The desecration of the “peace” of the Shabbat with the politics, money, and contract issues and the ensuing fighting (almost civil war between those supporting the Rabbi and those the President and the board) before the Holy Ark filled with the Torahs was reprehensible.¬†


For the spiritual leadership to behave in such a crude and disrespectful fashion was a mark of utter disgrace in the synagogue before G-d. 


I have never seen anything like this before and hope never to have to witness anything so irreverent again. 


This was a most traumatic event for the community and I hope we will recover in time and have a complete healing. 


Moreover, I pray that G-d forgives the behavior that happened and has mercy on this congregation because things got out of control and I think they forgot before whom they were standing.¬† ūüėČ


(Source Photo and not of the synagogue under discussion: Andy Blumenthal)

Everyone Deserves A Day of Rest and Happiness


So someone I know came over to this country and literally has to work 7 days a week for months at a time!


They don’t want or need to work that much, but their employer insists that’s the way it is.¬†


On top of it, they don’t even get overtime for all the unbelievable¬†hours they have to put in.¬†


One day, this person actually just broke down in incredible tears, just asking to get a single day off. 


Finally, finally, finally–the employer gave in–for just a single day!


The person was so happy–one day of freedom; one day to enjoy; one day to regain their inner beauty and humanity.¬†


I was so happy for them!


Every person deserves at least one day off per week. 


Every single one of the major religions in the world that is anchored in the Bible–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–have a holy Sabbath as a day of rest.


There is a divine and ancient wisdom to this. 


People need a day to rejuvenate.


Everything is nature does.


Even the fields have to lay fallow every 7th year so the earth can revitalize and replenish itself. 


There is a natural cycle to things–peaks and valleys–and we need to have some rest and relaxation–to work for something and not for nothing.¬†


The joy on this person to just have a day off–it was so incredible and touching.¬†


It spoke light years to me about treating people right–just–humanly–with compassion–and doing good over evil in this world.


What does the employer need to wring an extra days work out of their employees for the rotten greed of money and profits?  


Better to care for your people, and they will be better off for it and thus to the needs of the business and its customers. 


Care for people–they are people.¬†


Love people–they are G-d’s beautiful children.¬†


Treat others as you would like to be treated. 


Let everyone have a day of rest and something to look forward to–to enjoy, to have some happiness, to get time with their family and friends, to get back to themselves, to attain a deserved and proper peace of mind, body, and soul. ūüėČ


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)  

Rich, Famous, and Suicide

So I can’t believe¬†that Kate Spade (55) committed suicide — Hanging.¬†


What an amazing fashion designer–so much to live for!


Famous for her gorgeous handbags (that used to be the business my dad was in too). 


Her net worth was $150,000,000!


Why does someone so beautiful, successful, rich, and famous take their life???


Ultimately, none of these things make happy or meaning in life!


Still, it is incredibly hard to understand seemingly having so much and throwing your life away–unless of course,¬†we consider terrible things like severe depression and other horrible illnesses that can break anyone.¬†


Yet, there seem to be so many of these hugely successful people that take or lose their lives so young and with still so much to give the world:


Alan Turing (41) — Cyanide


Alexander McQueen (40) РHanging 


Amy Winehouse (27) — Alcohol¬†


Chris Benoit (40) — Broken Neck


Christine Chubbuck (29) — Shooting


Dana Plato (34) – Overdose


Ernest Hemingway (61) — Shooting


Jerzy Kosinski (57) — Overdose


Kurt Cobain (27) — Shooting


L’Wren Scott (49) — Hanging


Lucy Gordon (28) — Hanging


Marilyn Monroe (36) — Overdose

Michael Jackson¬†(50) — Overdose


Mike Alfonso (42) – Hanging


Prince¬†(57) — Overdose


Robbin Williams (63) –Hanging


Sawyer Sweeten (19) — Shooting

Sylvia Plath (30) РGas Oven 


Vincent Van Gogh (37) — Shooting


Virginia Woolf (59) РDrowning 


Whitney¬†Houston (48) — Drowning¬†

G-d should have mercy and help to take away the pain and suffering¬†from¬†people so that they can live and not die prematurely anymore. ūüėČ


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)