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)

Japanese Cuisine Through Sheltered Eyes

Japanese

So I had my first Miso Soup today.


Actually, I shared it with my wife who checked that the stock was kosher–the lady said bonito–and my wife said, good. 


I’m a Jewish kid from the Bronx–what do I know from Miso Soup. 


So about the only thing that I can tell you about the soup is what a fishy taste!


I know it’s supposed to be really good for you–and that’s why I even tried it. 


But the closest thing that I can compare it to is the when my mom used to boil the wrapped gefilte fish in water before Shabbat–well the leftover water that gets discarded–that’s what in my imagination Miso Soup tasted like. 


Would I get it again? 


Let’s just say, I wouldn’t run to get it–however, for good health, I may hold my taste buds and sense of smell of all the fishy stuff in abeyance, and just drink in down.


In general though, I really like some Asian cuisine–for example, with vegetarian dishes things like Kung Po Tofu and Mo-Po Tofu or Crispy Eggplant and Vegetables in Fried Rice. 


The other thing I really like is the innovative Japanese Ramune “marble soda” in which you push out a real marble from the spout into the bottle and it rolls around inside while you drink the refreshing fruity flavors (don’t worry, it’s not as dangerous as it sounds). 


Last thing, I’ll mention is that I won’t eat sushi–raw fish seems like it’s primed to give you a nice big stomach ache–now this reminds me of another type of dish in Jewish tradition and that’s herring (often served with cream sauce) and prominent at many a Ashkenazi kiddush served after synagogue services. 


With the Sushi, if they can somehow manage to cook it for me and use kosher fish, okay–otherwise, I’m heading to the nearest Chinese Kosher Restaurant for some nice Sesame, Kung Pao, Moo Shu, or Lo Mein with Beef or Chicken. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Skip The Religious Brainwashing

Brainwash

So my wife and I took this picture yesterday of this Spongebob outside a matress store, but which you frequently find at places like a car wash.  


It gets some attention when your driving by. 


This cartoon fellow reminded me of something I heard in a movie trailer recently.


It was about people of faith, but rather than relying on being genuinely thoughtful about their beliefs, instead they adhere to a form of brainwashing, where the people in the community are kept in the fold by closing out any and all outside influences. 


When one of the ladies in the community was asked about this, she replied “You know what someone told me about brainwashing? What’s wrong with a clean brain!”


While I am a huge proponent of devotion and service to G-d, I think that relying on intentionally keeping people sheltered is not the path to G-d. 


Especially for the Jewish people, who are known as the “People of the Book” for their intense learning of the Torah, intellectual pursuit and challenge is a source of true faith.


Of course, there are bad influences in society–addictive drugs, alcohol dependence, indiscriminate sex, violent and deviant people, and more–and we want to keep our families away from these things and safe.  


Interestingly, when someone is free from drugs and alcohol, they often say that they have been “clean” for so many months or years. 


If that is what a “clean brain” is–then that is a positive thing. 


But if a clean brain is truly cutting people off from education and legitimate worldly pursuits just to force them to follow and keep them in state of brainwashing, then that level of a geder (i.e. gate or limitation) is destructive to the person and community. 


Recently, a 30-year woman, Faigy Meyer, “who broke free from the iron-tight grip of her ultra-conservative Hassidic community” and had been shunned by her family, leapt from a rooftop to her death.


The term iron-grip used in the article sounds like a medieval torture device used to force or keep people at bay, and if that is what the “religious” community is doing so-to-say to limit free choice of their members, then that is not honest belief and practice. 


For myself personally, I lived for some years in a highly religious community that despite having many wonderful people and families was for the most part not very accepting of anyone who believed or practiced not exactly like them–there was no room for that. 


One time, the legacy Rabbi on the pulpit (not the current one who is an extremely fine person that I greatly respect) even warned the members to beware of people in their midst who were not true worshippers (and could be a harmful influence). 


In a closed community thinking, one can feel quite alienated and a huge void of spirituality. 


Thank G-d, in our community with the Magen David Sephardic Synagogue, we have found not only a beautiful love of Hashem, but that mixed with acceptance for everyone to come and participate.


Now we actually love to go to synagogue and look forward to it. It has become a central part of our lives (similar in our own way to how it had been for my beloved father). 


Take away the iron-tight grip, the forcing, the brainwashing and fear of the regular outside world, and you have people from many walks of life, intellectual pursuits and experiences come together to seek and worship G-d with a pure and open heart. 


In a way, it is similar to technology: if you have a closed system (not connected to the Internet and the outside), you have a safe tool, but it is very limited as a standalone. Alternatively, hook the computer up to the Internet and while you take some risks browsing the limits of the virtual world, you come away with so much more you can do and richness in the experience. 😉


(Source Photo: Dannielle and Andy Blumenthal)