Lessons In Teshuvah – Near-Death Experience


Great Video on the incredible Near Death Experience (NDE) of Rabbi Alon Anava. 



What he experiences, sees, and is told can change lives forever. 



What a perfect learning right before Rosh Hashanah. 



Teshuvah, Tefillah, U’Tzedekah.



Shannah Tova! 😉

 

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Prayer For Rosh Hashanah

Please see my new Times of Israel post with a heartfelt:

Prayer for Rosh Hashanah.


May it be truly a year of blessings. 


Wishing everyone a sweet and happy New Year!


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

There Is Always A Bigger Fish

Fish.jpeg

So as we are about to enter Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year…


I want to share a very important lesson that I came across again this year. 


The lesson is:

No matter how big a fish you think you are, there is ALWAYS a bigger fish out there.


You may have position, title, money, status, and all the trimmings, but someone with more of this and that and the other thing (and overall power) can come along at any time–at G-d’s decree–and swallow you right up.  


I connect this to the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah when it is customary to go and cast bread (symbolic for our sins) into a natural body of water, so the fish can eat them up–and in a spiritual sense we throw away our sins and cleanse ourselves of our wrongdoings over the last year–let the fish have them. 


And like the fish eating our sins, I think another more powerful person can come and swallow us up and even spit us out (like Jonah and the Whale)–we are all fallible and mortal. 


We are made from dust and we go to dust, and my dad would joke to clean up the mounds of dust under my bed!


As we enter the New Year, may Hashem have mercy on us and bless us, and may we have peace, health, and prosperity, and may we be written in the Book of Life.


Oh yeah, and may no fish big or small come against us to cause us distress or harm–G-d is the Almighty Protector–Amen! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Ultimate Rejection (Not)

Rejection.jpeg

Ok, folks.


This picture is not the message you want to get before Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year and time of judgement). 


We want to see the long hand of G-d come down with love, caring, forgiveness, and blessings!


A flick of the Almighty index finger, definitely not what we want to see or get.  


Worse would be getting the middle finger, of course. 


But I definitely don’t think G-d does that! 


Talking about rejection with a big R. 


To all my family and friends, a most happy, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous New Year!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

 

Lucky Cat

Lucky Cat.jpeg

So a retail establishment opened in the area.


They had all these cat symbols hung inside. 


I asked the owner what it said, and she told me:

“Lucky Cat”


Why a cat symbolizes luck I don’t really know.


But the bigger question is whether there is any such thing as luck in the first place.


We constantly wish people good luck on any and every aspect of their lives: from birth to bar/bat mitzvahs, engagements, weddings, graduations, new jobs, journeys, and basically anything we embark on. 


That’s what Mazel Tov means–good luck!


But I thought we believe in G-d and not luck?


We strive through prayer, charity, repentance, and all sort of good deeds to try and move the scale of justice in our favor. 


With the Jewish high holidays approaching next month–Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur–we do everything to atone for our sins and commit to being better in the future. 


We seek G-d’s mercy and his blessings. 


There is no arbitrary luck or fortune. 


Life is what we make out of it. 


What about the Massachusetts women who won $758 million in Powerball last week or the person that gets cancer or some other horrible tragedy–did they deserve it?


I suppose it’s impossible for us to judge why some people have amazing fortune and others have schlimazel (misfortune).


As it says in Genesis (18:25):

“Shall not the judge of all the Earth do justly?”


Surely, G-d has the bigger picture and the omniscience to know what is good for us and what is not. 


How he tests us and tries us and to what ends…that is a matter of faith and conviction–and we believe that it is all ultimately for our best. 


The judge of all Earth…please have mercy on us and bestow your blessings on us, your faithful children. 


As to the lucky cat–wave us some good vibes–all long as we realize that we all need G-d’s grace! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Yom Kippur, When The Masks Come Off

Mask

This mask does not mean that Jews have horns–that is a crappy and evil stereotype, so cut it out. 


Masks are dress-up and pretend, like the way most people behave day-in and day-out. 


People imagine and feign to be what they would like to be or what they want others to believe they are. 


Like when someone is gearing up for a fight, they extend their arms, raise their voices, bob up and down to make themselves appear bigger and more formidable than they really are. 


It’s a fake out–but perception is (often) reality. 


Similarly, people may wear clothes, drive cars, or live in big fancy homes that make them look well-to-do, but really it’s a great act and all bought on extensive credit (ever hear of 0% down!). 


Others may dream of being seen as smart and the go-to guy for answers, the subject matter expert, or the generally wise person for advice and guidance, but are they really smarter than everyone else or do the degrees plastering the wall like wallpaper or titles like doctor, lawyer, accountant, entrepreneur, professor, and Rabbi simply often invoke credentials and an air rather than the smarts that should accompany them.


Even parents may pose for loving pictures with their children, seem to dote on them, and act the helicopter parents, but still when it comes to their own busy schedules, they have no real time or attention left for the little ones–because the parents put themselves first. 


It happens all the time, every which way, the authority figure who really abuses their authority rather than lives up to it. 


People are human, weak, fallible–and the show is often a lot better than the characters behind it. 


But that doesn’t mean we stop trying to be inside what we know we really should be–more loving, caring, giving, and good people. 


This is the essence of Yom Kippur to me, the Day of Atonement–the day when we shed all our phony masks–and instead we bear out our sins, bend our heads with shame, are sorry for what we have done wrong, and commit to doing better in the future.


Yom Kippur is the day when all the masks are off–we cannot hide from G-d Almighty, the all seeing and all knowing.  


On Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgement we are inscribed, and on Yom Kippur the book is sealed. 


In Judgement, we may enter the court of heaven with heads still held up high, with the same act that we try to show every day, but on Yom Kippur we leave the court with our heads down and our hands humbly clasped, the sentence meted out for who we really are–based not on pretense, but on our underlying behavior.


A mask covers what is, when the mask is off we are left with who we are–naked before our maker, where all is revealed, and we must account for our actions–good, bad, or even just plain indifferent. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Taking Back Control

Superman

Ok, I’ve had mobility issues for over 2 years now that started with a broken foot and ended in 3 surgeries and 2 hip replacements.


Over this time, I have had enormous pain walking and doing other activities. 


And unfortunately, I have put on some extra weight, which I am unhappy about. 


Today though this changes, please G-d.  


I am taking back my life!


I want to lose the weight and be what I know I can be. 


Time to stop the excuses.


It’s Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) next week, and this is a good time to reflect, be introspective, self-critical, and aim high. 


G-d, please help me to be strong, to resist temptation, and shut my mouth from eating the wrong foods. 


I am determined, but G-d I need your help to be successful. 


We’ve accomplished so much together–let’s do this! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)