Emo Art

So I’ve been wanting to post this example of this special art form from my daughter, Rebecca. 


She makes this novel art called, “EMO”, which stands for emotional.


In this art she mixes children and monsters–and it depicts how innocent kids have to deal with the monsters they find in an often unscrupulous and morally-tarnished society. 


I love the feelings and message of this art in that it encapsulates how children enter this world in purity, but how so many bad people and things around them (and us) can corrupt that. 


I always learned that the goal for each person was to leave the world a better place then the way we found it; however, I think a more personal goal should also be for us to leave here as better human beings than the day we arrived.  


Challenging ourselves–learning and maturing–yet at the same time keeping that essence of decency and integrity of mind, heart, and deed–that is a life where we can grow up, but not turn into the morally-bankrupt monsters that we see all around us. 


(Source Art: Rebecca Ochayon)

Ship+ In A Bottle

You ever wonder how they build that big ship in that little bottle. 


Someone needs very dexterous hands and a lot of patience to put the pieces through the opening of the bottle and assemble the ship inside. 


But this second grader, Dylan Yasseri, upped the game on this whole concept and imagined a whole beach in the bottle. 


The sand, ocean, sky, birds, crabs, fish, umbrella, and even the shack (snack?) bar!


This is one reason that kids are so awesome–their purity of heart and their endless imaginations make almost anything possible.


The fantasy becomes the reality. 


The colors are magical too here. 


If adults could maintain even half the heart and creativity of our children–oh what a world it could be. 😉


(Source: Andy Blumenthal Photo of Dylan’s beautiful painting).

Mikva = Tikva

I thought this was a really special Jewish clock I saw in the store yesterday. 


It promotes holiness and sanctity in the family.

Mikva (Jewish ritual bath) = Tikva (hope) 

Rebirth and renewal (from the immersion in the holy water).

Build your family in sanctity!

Purity leads to sanctity.


The Jewish laws of refraining from sexual relations during Nidda (a women’s menstruation) and of immersing in the mikvah at the end of the cycle and before the husband and wife coming back together physically are cornerstones of acting with self-control and a couple dedicating themselves to Hashem first.


The family is the core of raising and educating our children and of the makeup of the community and ultimately of serving G-d in everything we do. 


Self-control (with sexual purity, kosher food, Sabbath time, etc.) is what separates us from animals and how we emulate being more like the angels. 

It is also a way for a husband and wife to elevate their love and show respect for each other as human beings and not just physical beings.  


I never saw a clock that reminds us of these holy concepts and laws like this. 


Also at the top it says another well-known Jewish quote about managing our time wisely:

“The day is short and the task is great.”


Another good reminder to maximize the use of our time every day here on Earth and to make the most out of every moment. 


If we dedicate ourselves to serving G-d, raising our families, being productive professionally and personally, and acting with integrity and sanctity always–this is a good life! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What’s With The Water

Water.jpeg

At this time of some major hurricanes hitting the USA (first Harvey, and now approaching IRMA and Jose)…


I have been remembering from the other day when I was in the pool, but I had a very different experience from usual. 


Yes, I was swimming hard and disciplined doing my laps.


But my mind decided to focus on the water.


Just the water…nothing else. 


I literally blanked out the world around me…no pool, no exercise, no other people, no current events, no random thoughts.


I just put all my senses unto the water itself. 


The cool softness of the water as it glided over my hands and body. 


The subtle resistance of the water, yet the buoyancy it provided. 


The waves and current as the water flowed around my body moving crisply through it.


The healing purity of the water physically and spiritually. 


I imagined the clearest and cleanest water, and how it quenches our thirst and washes everything in the world clean again. 


Water, earth, wind and fire…the wisdom and perfection of them and us cannot possibly be random events, but they are testament to the genius of our Creator. 


Thank you G-d especially for the water in the time, place, and amount that is for a blessing–and as a series of strong hurricanes continue to roar towards your people, let it be merciful. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Bird In The Bush

Bird In The Bush.jpeg

Thought this was an absolutely amazing and spellbinding photo of a bird peeking out from a bush.

I’ve never actually seen anything like this captured up close like this. 

The bird seemed to cooperate.

It reminds me of a baby gestating in it’s mother’s womb, so content, so sheltered. 

Not quite ready to come out into the real world, but snug in place, yet observant.

Too soon to be contemplating next steps in the complex world outside its immediate cozy shelter. 

Perhaps, there is a part of us that craves that simplicity, innocence, and existence sheltered from all the bumps and bruises.

Oh, to have such peace of mind and spirit, absent heart-wrenching day-to-day dilemmas we face.

Like a bird nestled in a bush looking out with that simple wonder and purity of life itself. 

(Source Photo: The Highly Talented, Rebecca Blumenthal)

Heaven To Look Forward To

Heaven To Look Forward To

Took the family today to see the movie Heaven Is Real.

We were all crying like babies, including me.

Loved it!

When the boy has a near-death experience (NDE) and sees heaven, he comes back with stories about it being like here but more beautiful, where everyone is young, and relatives long gone hug him.

In heaven, there is no hate or fear–only love.

It was eye-opening, when his father, a pastor, goes to the hospital to say the last prayers with a dying man and the pastor asks, “Do you have any regrets?” and the old man answers, “I regret everything!”

While living for our selfish satisfaction and fun may be great for a moment’s high, it is certainly not a life of meaning and purpose–and will not open the gates of heaven to us.

That life is hard is portrayed in the movie–with loss, physical hurt, and financial hardships.

But when these are viewed in the bigger picture as tests in life for us to overcome in order to merit a heaven that awaits us–perhaps this gives us some added perspective.

In the movie, as in real life, there are those who are angry at others and G-d for what they lost, and it is our challenge to replace that anger with understanding, forgiveness, and love of each other and the Almighty.

Regretting everything is tragic, but probably not that unrealistic for many of us…particularly in a world where we constantly strive for our individualized versions of perfection.

In the end, I think our failures weigh on us and it’s challenging to see past them to appreciate our successes as well–in whatever measure we’ve achieved them.

Let’s face it, it is not easy to maintain 100% purity of heart amidst a world of lust, envy, and sin–but that should not take away from us constantly trying.

Heaven awaits–even the imperfect. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Boy Who’s Name Is Light

Recently, I inspired by an award-winning documentary that I watched on Netflix called Praying With Lior (2007).The movie is about the development and spiritual maturation of a Jewish child with Down Syndrome to his Bar Mitzvah (and a few years past).As a young child, Lior Liebling is comforted by his mother, who is a Rabbi, who teaches Lior to pray and sing to G-d.

She holds him and they share an amazing bond both maternal and spiritual that never leaves Lior.

Unfortunately, the mother has breast cancer and passes away when Lior is only 6.

Right before his bar mitzvah, Lior goes to his mother’s gravesite and clings to it saying, “I miss you,” and then breaks down in tears that I could feel or imagined rising up to the heavens itself.

Lior is deeply loved by his family–father (also a Rabbi), stepmother, and 3 siblings–who play, engage, teach him, and learn from him as well.

Lior means light in Hebrew, and Lior brings light to everyone he meets–inspiration to overcome challenge, deep love of G-d and community, and faith that his mother is watching over him.

Lior makes it to his bar-mitzvah–and becomes a proverbial Jewish man–he says the blessing, reads from the Torah, celebrates with his family and loved ones, and even gives a speech on the importance of Torah.

At the celebration, he goes over to another retarded girl, and says something about how she is special and that “I am going to marry you.”

I watched this young man, Lior, pray with a rigor that I have not been able to do for some time, and I was inspired not by the words he said, nor the song he sang, or even the cheer he brought others, but rather I think I was moved by the simple sincerity and purity of his heart.

Lior didn’t want anything, didn’t have an agenda, wasn’t trying to do anything to anybody, he was just a soul that reached out to others–loving them, hugging them, kissing them, and yes, praying with them–often actually leading the services.

One of Lior’s classmates that was interviewed said that everyone has a test, and Lior’s is an incredibly difficult one–but he is succeeding extraordinarily by not only surviving with his disability, but also showing others the way.

Thank you Lior for being such an amazing inspiration to us all–may you go from strength to strength and someday reunite with not only your heavenly father, but also your mother who awaits to sing and pray with you in great joy again.