The Meaning of Silence

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Is silence a good thing or a bad thing–what does it really mean?


On the plus or neutral side:


Silence can mean modesty and humility–you withhold speaking out of turn or having a big mouth; you recognize that you don’t know everything and what you do know is not intended to put down or shame others. 


Silence can means secrets and privacy–you don’t say everything; you treat information properly based on need to know and propriety of sharing. 


Silence can mean good situational judgement–that you know prudently when to let others have their say, or when your opinion isn’t really welcome, or when it’s best to just stay below the radar. 


Silence can mean you simply don’t know–and it’s something you need to listen and learn more about rather than speak; it’s why we’re told that we have two ears and one mouth.


Silence can mean that maybe you don’t care about something–why get fired up or “waste your breath” on it when it’s just not your thing.


When can it be a negative:


There was a sign in the local school window that silence means (wrongful) acceptance; that is also something I learned in in the Talmud in yeshiva; if you see something wrong and don’t say or do something, you are (partially) responsible.


Silence can mean fear–perhaps you don’t accept something, but you’re afraid to speak truth or morality to power; you sit silently cowering, when you should stand up tall and speak out. 


Silence may also mean shame–you’ve done something wrong or don’t want others to know something that could make you look bad or put you in jeopardy. 


Silence can mean you are hiding something–it can be that you don’t trust or aren’t trustful; silence at a time when you need to answer or respond can result in suspicion about why you are “holding back,” instead of being forthcoming and truthful.


When to talk and when to remain silent? 


Certainly, “you have the right to remain silent.”


We need to use words with care and intent–to always seek to help and not to hurt. 


Words are so potent–the mouth is perhaps the strongest part of the human body, just like the pen is mightier than the sword. 


That’s why I pray that G-d put the “right words” in my mouth–to be constructive, positive, effective and impactful–to do good as much as possible with words and with silence. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Way Out Of Social Bounds

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So on the 10th anniversary of the iPhone…


I want to say that the iPhone is probably one of the greatest inventions of all times…congratulations to Apple and especially to Steve Jobs!


I also want to say how far people have gone crazy in using these smartphones without any filters as to privacy or propriety. 


HERE IS A TRUE STORY THAT JUST HAPPENED :


We are in this building waiting for an elevator to come. 


A man comes around the corner speaking into his smartphone held at chest height with the speaker on blast!


He sees us, but apparently doesn’t even think to pause the conversation or turn off the speaker and put the device to his ear.


Instead, we hear from the phone from what is apparently his immediate family member.

“That’s right, it’s a yeast infection!”


We are looking at each other like is this really happening or are we on Candid Camera or something.


And he respond still on with the speaker as we get on the elevator:

“A yeast infection, yeah, yeah, you better not let it get any worse.”


Then from the phone:

“With these yeast infections, you know how it can be. I’ll try to take care of it today,”


Him again, now as he’s getting off the elevator:

“Well anyway, hope I’ll be seeing you over later today.”


My wife and I look at each other, and I blurt out after the elevator door closes:

“Yeah, yeah, I guess we’ll be seeing you later today–with that yeast infection and all–hope it’s not contagious!”


And we both start cracking up at how insane people are. 


While we can’t (completely) help what people are over-hearing -and seeing through surveillance mechanisms on our smartphones, this guy with his phone, he didn’t even flinch at the conversation he was having in the open on the speaker. 


It’s a different day and age, and some people have no sense of boundaries anymore. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Nice Chompers

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So this was funny-weird at the dentist. 


The dental hygienist comes in and does the cleaning.


Ultrasonic cleaner, scraping, polishing, flossing, rinse–all sort of routine. 


Next the dentist comes in–looks this side, that side, bite, bite again, looks some more. 


Then sort of out of the blue, the dentist goes to me:


“You got some nice chompers!”


Ah, never quite heard anyone say that before or quite the way this dentist said it.


Uh, a little strange sounding and feeling a little uncomfortable. 


I go out and tell me wife about this weird thing. 


And I start laughing and going…


“Doctor, you got some nice chompers there too!”


Somehow the way I said it, we both cracked up laughing. 


I’ll never think of going to get my teeth cleaned at the dentist quite the same way again. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Know Before Whom You Stand

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So this was one of those amazing types of photos–like a one in a million. 


It was taken in Synagogue in front of the aron (ark) where the Holy Torahs are kept.


On Sabbath and holidays, after services, devout people often go up to the doors of the ark to say a personal and silent prayer of devotion getting up close to the Torahs (G-d’s sacred words to us). 


What you’ll see here is that someone is dressed (for Purim) as Superwoman. 


The juxtaposition of Superwoman to the Holy ark is accentuated by the words above the ark, which translated from the Hebrew states:


“Know before whom you stand.”


A cautionary note and reminder that before the ark, we are literally standing before the presence of G-d (and to conduct ourselves with the utmost respect and propriety)


So in this picture, we have Superwoman standing before G-d, the most super of them all!


When I think of how minuscule we as human beings are before our Maker, it is magnified for me that even the most super of human beings infinitely pales when standing in front of the majesty and omnipotence of our L-rd. 


Superman and Superwoman prostrate yourselves before Hashem, even as we all must do. 😉 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal with compliments to Monique for the photo)

Modesty And Privacy Of Body and Information

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So modesty and privacy is very important in terms of propriety and security.


Both are intimately connected. 


Already as children, we learn not to show or talk about our “privates” to others. 


And as adults, we understand that there are certain things about ourselves that we don’t just talk about or divulge to others indiscriminately. 


Not being discrete with these and showing either your private parts or your personal information can get you in a load of trouble by giving others the opportunity to take undue advantage of you. 


Both open you up to be ridiculed or even raped of your person or information identity. 


That which is yours to use with others in propriety is instead disclosed for taking out from your control and for use against you. 


Security demands modesty of body and of information, and if not taken seriously, then no amount of lame covering will keep that which is private from public consumption. 😉

A Story Of Modesty

Lady

There was an very interesting article in the New York Times last month called “The Orthodox Sex Guru” that examined the life of Bat Sheva Marcus, an Orthodox Jewish Sex Counselor.


Yes, you can be a religious person, but also be sexual!


In Judaism, sex is not only a physical act of procreation, but also of love and intimacy between two people within the larger framework of personal spirituality and G-dliness in the home.


Judaism teaches that sexual relations is a holy act and a “blessing, a union full of Shekinah, of G-d’s light.” In this holiness, husband and wife, as true soulmates and beloveds, live each one for the other, and always together with Hashem.


Part of this special relationship entails women maintaining a spiritual modesty by physically covering up their femininity and behaving with propriety, especially in mixed company. 


Of course, men need to behave with sexual rectitude as well (although just not as often–just kidding).


The article describes however that with extreme chastity perhaps, some people may become constrained in their sexuality and develop almost a type of “sexual aversion,” rather than healthfully being able to experience the natural joy of love that G-d provided for us. 


In terms of proper modesty, there is a beautiful story recounted, as follows: 


One time, when the Jews were being persecuted by the Cossacks, there was a Jewish girl that was to be “roped to a horse and dragged through the streets” to death.  


But before the verdict was to be executed, “she manages to pin or sew her skirt to her lower legs, stitching fabric to flesh,” so that she could maintain her modesty even under these unbelievably tortuous conditions. 


It is an amazing story to think how someone about to face such a cruel and horrible edict could still think about maintaining their modesty and dignity in the face of such horror.


Whether you cover yourself with a tichel (headscarf), a sheitel (wig) or everyday hat, dress modestly, and act with decency, the point is to remember that we are G-d’s children and are to behave in a manner befitting soulful beings, and not mere animals. 


We can experience the love and joy between people, and do it with devotion for each other and in spiritual connection to the Almighty. 😉


(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)

“Shitty” Advertising

Toilet Advertising
Florida is a beautiful, but sometimes a strange place.



I stop in a restaurant to use the restroom.



Now, I know sometimes people put art inside to sort of spiffy the place up.



But in this (semi-fancy) restaurant’s restroom, there was actually advertising–yes, right where you do your thing.



And in one spot, they had this sign from Insite Advertising, Inc. for the bathroom advertisements.



“…Thank you for allowing us to spend this time alone with you. We understand that during your hectic day quiet moments are few and far between…”



Well, this was one alone time that was definitely interrupted and a little less quiet.



Isn’t there any place we can go anymore without being bombarded by branding, marketing, advertising, selling, and companies trying to make a another quick buck.



Darn, leave us alone and give us our bathrooms back–I’m not buying from you at a time like this! 😉