I’m Still Alive!

600 Holocaust Survivors and their descendants sing “Chai” (Life) by Ofra Haza.

Hope is not yet lost.

I live. I live. I live. 


I cried my eyes out watching this. 


The Jewish people not only survived the Holocaust as most of the world sat by and watched the genocide of six million men, women, and children with a soulless indifference, but G-d has kept his promise and restored the Jewish people and returned them to the Holy Land and made it flourish again!


(Thank you to my sister, Roz, for sharing this with me)

The Times of Mashiach

Truly, we are living in the times of Maschiach. 


Someone contacted me with a friend request on Facebook, and his profile included that he is a:

Torah-Observant Gentile


Wow! 


It’s truly like we say in the Aleinu prayer every day:

All Mankind shall invoke Your Name, to turn to You all the wicked of the earth.  They will recognize and know–all the inhabitants of the world—that every knee should bend to You…The L-rd will be King over the entire earth; on that day the L-rd will be One and His Name One.

We are on the way and I hope we all get to see and cross over the finish line soon. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

Our Journey To Freedom Is Almost At The End

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Our Journey To Freedom Is Almost At The End.”

Despite our redemption from slavery in Egypt (1312 BCE), we continue through cycle after cycle of enslavement and exile.


In Kabbalah, we learn that the Jewish soul reincarnates until it reaches its spiritual enlightenment and fulfills all the mitzvot. Similarly, the soul of the Jewish people is reincarnated and relives painful destruction, slavery, and exile until we learn, grow, and finally become what we are destined to be as servants only of Hashem and as a light unto the nations. This has been our fate, but also it is one that we are finally nearing the end of with the return to the Promised Land and perhaps even the arrival soon of Mashiach.

(Free Photo via Pixabay)

Synagogue or Sickness?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Synagogue or Sickness?

When I was a kid and my father would {strongly} encourage me to go to synagogue. My father was a man of deep faith and he used to say warningly to me: “It’s better to go to synagogue than to the hospital.” Obviously, he was implying that if I didn’t follow G-d’s word, then G-d forbid, he would punish me and instead of going to Shul, I would go to the hospital. Maybe not the best way to teach someone to want to go to prayer services, but I know he meant it out of complete love for me and ultimately for my best.


Yet ironically, now with coronavirus preventing us from practicing the many communal aspects of our faith, so many of us can only but wish that we could just go to synagogue to celebrate the holidays and Shabbat together once again. Unfortunately, for now at least, we don’t even have the option to go to synagogue⁠—the choice has been taken from us. G-d willing, hopefully soon, we can once again go⁠—with willingness and love⁠—not only to pray at synagogue, but also to the holy Third Temple in Jerusalem itself.


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Corona Matzah Man

So this is what happens when Coronavirus pandemic coincides with Passover. 


We get a Corona Matzah Man wearing his face mask so he doesn’t get sick, G-d forbid. 


Even as we get ready to celebrate the seder tonight and recall G-d’s mercifully delivering us from Egyptian servitude, we also can be certain that He will deliver us from this dreaded Coronavirus. 


G-d is all powerful and has a purpose for everything. 


Perhaps, we just needed a reminder of who was in charge not only on Passover, but all the year round. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Why The Happiness of Purim?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Why The Happiness of Purim?

In a world that is constructed of the story of Purim, everything looks like it’s based on mere happenstance and there seems to be no G-d involved—this is a world of randomness and meaninglessness. Whatever happens, just happens by nature or luck, and what can be more meaningless and depressing than that! Thus, the Rabbis had to decree all the laws for the happiness of Purim, because happiness is not innate to a story that is seemingly happenstance and devoid of G-d. That is the big difference between Purim, where Hashem is hidden, and Passover or Hanukah, where Hashem revealed Himself and made incredible miracles—the 10 plagues and the splitting of the Red Sea or the one day of oil that lasted for eight days.


On Purim, we celebrate our deliverance from the evil Haman and the king’s decree to kill all the Jews, but also we are overflowing with Joy remembering that G-d is always with us—in good times and G-d forbid in the bad times–we are not afraid of anything (another indecisive election, the stock market downturn, our enemies, Coronavirus, etc.) knowing that He loves us and cares for us, and will deliver us in the old days and in the new. May the final deliverance soon be completed with the arrival of the Mashiach—and the hidden will become revealed like on Purim and the joy will be forever increased. Amen.

 
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Israel 2020: Day 4

Wow what an amazing day in Jerusalem!


We went to the Israel Museum (the best museum that I have ever been at), the Shrine of the Book with the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the best part was a tour of the Israeli Knesset. 


One of the interesting facts that I learned was that the 120 seats in the Knesset is in the shape of the menorah, and I loved seeing Herzl’s picture facing the speaker (front left).


Also, got to see the Israel Declaration of Independence with all the amazing signatories as well as the most beautiful Chagall paintings!


Inside the Knesset, all I could say to my wife is what a tremendous zechus (merit) it is to be able to be here today in this great hall where the modern laws of the State of Israel are made just as they were thousands of years ago by the Great Assembly of the Israelites.  


We are living in the most amazing of historical and religious times. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From Victims To Victors

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “From Victims To Victors.”

The critical image of transformation of the Israelites going from the very depths of slavery to the lofty heights of redemption, the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, and going to the Promised Land is relived again in our very own times. This happened immediately after the Holocaust, when the Jews left the death camps of Europe (in fact, many coming by boat over the Mediterranean Sea instead of on foot over the Red Sea as in biblical times) to come to Israel. Here too, the Jews went on to fight as free men in the War of Independence for the founding of the State of Israel just like the Israelites fought the Amalekites in the desert and the Seven Nations to receive the Promised Land of Israel. Furthermore, just like we received the Torah after the redemption from Egypt, we are seeing an incredible resurgence of Torah learning in Israel today.


In both cases of redemption, we had to transform from being victims of slavery and persecution to instead taking the reins in our hands, and with Hashem’s help, determining our own destiny and becoming the victors! Incredibly, just as the Israelites were redeemed by Hashem from Egypt and brought to conquer the Promised land 3300 years ago, so too were we, Jews, brought from the ashes of Auschwitz to the shores of the Israel to fight and become “a free nation in our Land, the Land of Zion, Jerusalem” (Hatikvah). And just like the redemption from Egypt resulted in the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) to worship Hashem in the desert, so too will we soon relive the redemption in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Again, in the right time, we will need to have faith and courage to rebuild it with our very hands, and this will happen speedily and truly in our days. May Hashem let it be!

 
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Vision of Jewish Strength

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “A Vision of Jewish Strength.”

 

With the rebirth of the State of Israel came the rebirth of the Jew. No longer the Jew cowering in the face of pogroms, Inquisition, Crusades, persecution, expulsions, and the Holocaust. The new Jew, as epitomized by the brave men and women of IDF, would be remade in the image of Moses who led the Jews out of Egyptian slavery, and King David who vanquished our enemies in our land, as well as the Jews of Purim and Hanukah, who fought ever so valiantly and to victory against the great empires of Persia and Greece or for us, whoever rises against us as the modern day equivalent.


But as important to the new Jew as our physical survival is that of our spiritual wellbeing. The persecution of Jews over thousands of years was not just a physical attack, as horrible as it was, but also a spiritual, religious, and cultural one, where Jews were prohibited from learning Torah, worshiping, and practicing as Jews. Thus, the second point of criticality in having the State of Israel is that it provides for Jewish sovereignty and ensures “the Jew as actor, determiner of his or her own destiny.” The Jewish people to truly thrive must be able to express themselves through their own language and history, religiously and culturally, and practically through their own leadership and decision-making to forge their own future.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)