Teshuva Through An IDF Soldier’s Eyes

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Teshuva Through An IDF Soldier’s Eyes.”

He said, just think about it: “You have the chance to say I’m sorry, I regret what I did, and I won’t do it again, and be forgiven — what a tremendous opportunity that is!” I had never really thought of repentance in this particular way…as an opportunity. Usually, it’s more of something that is uncomfortable, difficult, and that we really don’t want to have to do.


So with a few more days to go before Yom Kippur, let us thank G-d for the chance to make amends and do better in life, because this is an incredible opportunity and a true blessing, and one that we do not know will ever come again.

(Credit Photo: Gil Kremer, Israel Defense Forces)

Favorite Chocolate Pastries

So these are my favorite chocolate pastries. 


They are liked over-sized or really supersized Rugelach. 


When these come out of the oven, the soft, hot pastry dough interspersed with overflowing, dripping layers of chocolate are unbelievable!


This mound of chocolate pastries is from Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem. 


OMG, I can’t wait to visit again and have one (or more) of these–totally lose all self control! LOL  😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Out of Control Ice Cream

I’m not sure how you control yourself around this Alpaca Ice Cream.


But somehow I managed not to get any…this time.  


I promise!  


LOL


These are made with fresh hot waffles wrapped around your choice of ice cream and toppings. 


As you can see these are pretty big and scrumptious!


Anyway, they have a store in Rockville and I absolutely must stay away from it. 


Oh, maybe I just go in once for a taste.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Unbridled Government Spending

I liked this notion from Margaret Thatcher:

The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money. 

And from the Wall Street Journal:

The problem with resisting socialism is that until the money runs out free-spending progressive politics are remarkably seductive. 

In other words, we love to spend what appears as “free” government money–more and more entitlements, bigger and bigger government…basically, we can’t resist the candy in the candy store.

But the problem is that the money eventually runs out and by then we have gone too far and are left eating our own flesh. 

 Why can’t we spend our precious money and scarce resources prudently and also save wisely for a rainy day–why do we have to act like pigs in the poke?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

How Angry Do You Get?

Anger is one of those emotions (like jealousy) that can clearly get the best of people. 


Hence, the term anger management!


The Talmud teaches that there are 3 ways to know a person’s real character: 


– Koso, Kiso, and Ka’aso.


From Aramaic to English it translates as:


– Cup, Purse, and Anger. 


In other words…


Cup–When a person “drinks,” this is how they handle their alcohol and how they act when physically (or perhaps emotionally) inebriated or as we say, “When the wine goes in, the secrets come out!” Are they jumping on the bar, ripping it all off and saying and doing the inappropriate and profane or are they able to recognize their point of weakness and ask someone for a ride safely home. 


Purse–This is how a person handles money (and power). Materialism of people speaks volumes. Are they cheap, misery, and narcissistic or compassionate, caring, and giving to others.  


Anger–When a person is angry, this is often when their “true colors” show.  Do they get mean, bullying, abusive, and violent–do they go for the throat and the kill or are they situationally aware, measured, and do they listen, understand, and are they able to cope well when “under the gun.”  


Focusing on the anger piece…


It’s easy to get angry, and it’s also easy to look for a scapegoat and let it out on people that really have nothing to do with why you’re really angry. 


Maybe people can’t always address their anger with the true source, maybe they don’t even recognize their feelings fully, or have no idea how to safely release and reset.


In any case, anger is a dangerous emotion if not dealt with. 


Many mistakes are made that cannot be undone when people lose their cool (or sh*t, as now seems more commonly said). 


Thoughts on this…


Take a breath, slow down. 


Evaluate what’s really going on


Think about whether it’s truly the end of the world or not. 


Assess the options for coping with it. 


Look for ways to deescalate and resolve. 


If necessary, seek help from others.


Finally, where possible be compassionate and forgiving. 


And where not, cope, cope, cope–and survive another day!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

How Do I Choose?

So I thought this was an interesting topic for the sermon on Shabbat by Ben Shemony. 


It was about how we are confronted in life with whether to follow our impulses or our values. 


I think there is a lot to this topic…


Some may see it as the little good angel standing over one shoulder and another bad angel standing over the other trying to convince us what to do when it’s decision time.  


Others may be perpetually torn between temptations or pleasures of materialism and the flesh versus of pursuing what you know to be spiritually good and right in this world. 


Either way, as human beings, we are a complex make-up of both body and soul.


Do we give in to temptation and do what feels good–more money, more food, more clothes and jewelry, more houses, cars, and yachts, more vacations, more carnal pleasures from the proverbial “wine, women, and song” or do we pursue the path of spirituality, serving our maker, caring and giving and doing good for others and the world?  


It sounds simple, but our impulses tell us one thing and our values tell us another. 


Are we being selfish or selfless?


Perhaps, too much of anything is bad for us–even too much giving and selflessness–we need to care for ourselves too–we are mortal, we have needs, we have to nourish ourselves, and we need to live. 


But you can’t be a glutton or a slave to your impulses–you can’t take and not give, your can’t indulge until you make yourself sick, or take at the expense of and harm to others.


Like all things in life, there is a need for balance.


Certainly our spirit should guide our animal. 


If and when our animal is dictating to our spirit then we are in real trouble. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Keep A Cool Temperament

So this was amazing. 


I was working with someone for a number of weeks/months. 


All of a sudden, I got a complete blow off email from them that said they are done and they wished me well in a sort of very sarcastic and even contemptuous way–like a real f*ck off!

Were they just being nasty or trying to pick a fight or something?


First, I was taken aback and honestly hurt–like what the heck happened that they showed their true strips…did I miss it all along. 


I showed my wife their email, and she read it the same way, and said “What an asshole!”


I continued to hold my mouthpiece and feelings as I contemplated how I would respond. 


I have to admit that some choice words and wishes back to them definitely came to mind. 


But I said to myself, “Hold, hold, hold!”


It wasn’t easy not to respond in kind–lash back out at them–and even then some for good measure. 


No, that isn’t the way. 


You can rise above this. 


I kept my mouth shut and literally controlled my reactions.


Well, lo’ and behold, I thought I would never hear from this person again the way they spoke to me, but then a few days later,  I received another email where apparently they rethought what they did.


It didn’t have to come from me to them to “set them straight!”


Their own conscience seemed to have played on them and they came to their own senses about how they behaved and spoke. 


I learned from this that it is critical to maintain your composure and keep your cool under all circumstances, no matter how trying. 


Don’t stoop to their level–you rise above it!


Sometimes, the other person may just surprise you and rise back up too and do the right thing in the end. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)