Synagogue, To Laugh And To Cry

So I am learning that synagogue is more than a place to worship G-d.


It is a place of and for the people to express their full range of emotions. 


Frankly, I think it is a place for people to laugh and to cry. 


Rarely, a week goes by when not one or both of these emotions/actions happen. 


Yes, we cry out to G-d in supplication and also are joyous in his holy majesty and presence. 


But more than that, as a community, we come together to share of our week and ourselves with each other. 


One one hand, we laugh with each other at the funny and ridiculous things that happen to us and at the joy we feel for the blessings that G-d bestows on us daily. 


On the other, we cry on each other’s shoulders at the pain and loss that we (G-d forbid) at times must face and endure in the face of illness, evil, and tragedy.


Just today, both things happened in the synagogue and my heart was at one time uplifted with gladness and then at another greatly saddened with the hurt shared–occurrences of each in just a short span of time. 


Yes, we laugh and we cry together–alone, it is at once empty and at the other unbearable. 


We need to support each other; there is no other way that is not extreme madness. 


Put your arms around another to embrace them in great happiness and to let them cry mightily on your shoulder. 


Sharing with each other at our houses of worship–that is how we show G-d that we are bound to Him and to each others’ souls–all children of G-d trying to make it together to the next service. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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Growing With The Challenge

Thought this was a good saying, and wanted to share it.

“A man grows with the greatness of his task.”


In Hebrew, there is a similar saying:

“Lefum Tzaara Agra.” (Which translates roughly too: “As the suffering, so to is the reward.”)

Adversity, hardships, challenges, pain, suffering–these all test our mettle.


Obviously, these are not fun, but in the end, we are forced to grow from these experiences. 


– What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. 


Sometimes though, they really can kill us. 


So, push yourself as far and as fast as you can, but also you better know your true limits. 


And we all have them, even when we think we’re invincible. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Breaking The Cycle Of Trauma

Thought these are some beautiful sentiments about breaking the cycle of trauma in our lives: 

“Hurt people hurt people.

That’s how pain patterns get passed on, generation after generation after generation.

Break the chain today.

Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness. 

Greet grimaces with smiles.

Forgive and forget about finding fault.

Love is the weapon of the future.”

– Yehuda Berg, The Kabbalah Center

This is powerful–it should only be that we can have a complete healing, betterment, and a renewal of peace for all. 


One other thing that I heard that was so plain and simple, yet so smart was that:

Our job in this world is to do the most good that we can do!

Thank you to Minna Blumenthal for sharing all this.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s For Us

I love this saying from one of my colleagues:

“G-d doesn’t do it to us. 
He does it for us!”

Instead of asking with anger and resentment “why me?” — perhaps we can try to see the larger picture and be grateful for all the blessings and opportunities that G-d does give us. 

While certainly there is pain and suffering in this world, there is also the chance to learn, grow, and become stronger and better people. 

We are here to hopefully leave the world a better place than before we got here. 

The perspective that the challenges and obstacles are not meant to really harm us, but to help us is not an easy pill to swallow.

But maybe it really is the enlightened view of faith that we all need to fight on and overcome. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Change Everybody Loves To Hate

I thought this saying from a colleague was really astute.

“Everybody hates the status quo

but nobody wants to change.”


How’s that for a conundrum. 


The question is are we more unhappy with the dysfunctional way things are or are we more afraid to make the necessary changes in our life?


I think that when the pain and dysfunction of the status quo are greater than the fear and inconvenience of changing, only then will people quite resisting and adapt to the new reality. 


Welcome to change!  😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Among All The Apples

This was an interesting photo moment at Whole Foods–this Valentine’s Day huggy bear sitting among all the apples. 


Sort of how I felt after synagogue today and at other times. 


I’ve learned the importance as my father had so often tried to teach me of going to synagogue.


Yes, the prayer and service to Hashem.


But also the community. 


We all need people. 


None of us is an island. 


At synagogue, aside from the opportunity to speak and be close with G-d, I appreciate the hearty calls of “Shabbat Shalom,” the embracing handshakes, hugs and occasional kisses, the chance to see and kiss the holy Torah, and being among friends.


Like the apples, we’re all sort of the same, yet unique, and we stand together. 


As apples, we all have our glowing and shiny outsides, a sweet inner core, and also plenty of juicy meat. 


People too put on their best clothes, shoes, and do themselves to look their best going to synagogue, and inside they are there to express their goodness with G-d and the community.


Also though, you hear plenty of the heartbreaking stories about what is happening to them as families and individuals. 


Sure, there are the lovely smachot (happy occasions) in their and our lives to celebrate, but there is also plenty of adversity and challenges faced daily. 


One member passed away this week, another is getting cancer treatments, and someone got hit by a car crossing the street and is in the hospital with literally 79 screws holding their ribs together!


Then there are those out looking for work, others suffering from bad marriages or getting divorced, someone with a sick child that needs lifelong care, and someone who even got robbed this week.


Yes, shiny on the outside and with the sweetness of souls and hearts, and yet everyone has their baskets of challenges to deal with. 


For someone like me, I literally feel it inside for people–it’s like I can almost imagine what it must be like to be in their shoes. 


Obviously, I can’t–no one really can–but I imagine myself and ask myself OMG what in the world would I do–and of course, I have no real idea. 


Synagogue is I guess the most perfect place to experience all this–since we are before G-d, asking for his blessings and mercy, and with others, we bond to who are all in the same boat paddling and trying to survive and live a full and meaningful life. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Adversity Is Not What You Think

This TEDx video is truly WOW!


Definitely worth watching in full.  


So many takeaways from this that I want to remember.


– Three things can happen in life:


1. What you hope will happen


2. What you fear will happen


3. What actually happens


– There is not always a tomorrow!


Think if you were paralyzed from the neck down, what would you wish you had done differently, and go do it.


– See adversity as a gift:


1. It is harsh and ruthless.


2. It shows up unannounced.


3. It doesn’t care what you want.


4. It doesn’t give a darn how you feel.


5. It doesn’t take no for an answer.


6. It hates your weakness.


7. It is your best teacher.


8. It is the most honest person you will ever encounter.


9. It forces you to up your game.


10. It knows your true potential even if you don’t.


11. It offers you no other choice, so the choice is simple.


12. At the end of the day, we are only as strong as the adversity we overcome!


13. It will recede, but the lessons will always remain.


14. It will strengthen you to endure your next battle, stronger and wiser than before.


15. How we overcome adversity is by facing it head on. (If you try to avoid it, it can crush you; and if you try to go around it, you will never avoid it’s grasp.)


My absolute congratulations and gratitude to Marcus Aurelius Anderson on this magnificent and brilliant talk and lessons for all of us!


And thank you Minna Blumenthal for sharing this wisdom with me!