Triad of Determinants: Nature, Nurture, and Soul

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Nature, Nurture, and Soul.”

We are not just what nature and nurture make us–but rather, there is a third leg of this triad of factors that make us who we are, and that third and most important element is that we each have a soul. The soul of each person guides us to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, and sacred and impure, and to not just give in to our weaknesses, which each person has.

Hope you enjoy the article! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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43-Year Old Bar Mitzvah

Please read my article in The Times of Israel called, “Bring Every Jew Back.”

Today in a beautiful Chabad synagogue here in Florida, the Rabbi called to the Torah a bar mitzvah.  But in this case, the bar mitzvah “boy” was a 43-year old man!

Read what happened and hope you enjoy! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Training Them To Be Like Us

So I saw this in the supermarket. 


This kid was pushing the shopping cart with groceries in it. 


And a little sign at the top that says:

Customer in Training


His mom is nearby with the big shopping cart full of even more groceries. 


It’s interesting how we teach our kids to be just like us and at the same time to be not like us. 


They emulate some things and they reject others.


The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.


But no two apples are the same either. 


Teaching is an important component of parenting and schooling. 


We need to impart important lessons from the past, so children don’t have to recreate the wheel in the present and future. 


But spitting out little clones is not helpful to innovation and the engine of “what’s next.” 


Sometimes, I envision that there is a really big war–maybe World War III–nukes are used and all our bits and bytes are wiped out, and we are thrown back to the Stone Age. 


All the teaching is evaporated in the vapor of the blasts.


All that’s left in what’s in the soul of the remaining. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Not Really Yours

You can’t live without money, but you can’t just live for money. 


Didn’t someone say, “Money is the root of all evil.”


Of course, it’s not money itself that is bad, but the greed for it, and the use and hoarding of it for selfish purposes. 


On this topic, my daughter sent me this interesting story:

One business tycoon in China passed away. 
His widow, was left with $1.9 billion in the bank, and married his chauffeur.
His chauffeur said: “All the while, I thought I was working for my boss… it is only now, that I realize that my boss was all the time, working for me!”

We can have all the money in the world, but it’s never really ours. 


It all belongs to G-d, as does our entire life. 


He decides what we have or don’t have (any longer). 


We need to realize that life is ephemeral and all material things are given to us just for the time being. 


We should be generous with whatever bounty that G-d has given to us, because in the end that is all that is truly lasting. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

An 80-Year-Old’s Life Philosophy

So today an 80-year-old Algerian man sat our table for the Kiddush lunch after synagogue services. 


And he talked quite a bit about his life philosophy and told me I was a good listener. 🙂


1) TRUE LOVE IS LIKE AN ORANGE:

A man and women that are meant to be together are like two sides of an orange.  With his hands, he showed us putting the two sides together, twisting, and he goes, “You see it just clicks!”


2) WHEN LOVE IS NOT TRUE ITS LIKE TWO BIRDS IN A CAGE:

When a man and woman are not soulmates, maybe they just are meant to be together for a time to have children or make a home temporarily. But then, the birds need to leave the cage, and be free!


3) BURIED TOGETHER:

“When people are soulmates, they are buried together, next to each other. Otherwise, one is buried in Greece and the other in Hawaii, and it makes no difference because they are going their own ways in Heaven.”


4) 80 HERE AND 20 HERE

He pointed to his belly and said, “I’m 80 here.” And then pointed to his groin area, and said, “But I’m 20 here!”


5) WOMEN ONLY UNDER 40:

While he is 80, he claims to be robust in the bedroom, and “will never be with a woman over 40…not a day over!”  He said, “It’s like an old Cadillac!” Moreover, he said, if a woman is “not perfect” and has a scar like from having her appendix out, “forget it!”


6) WRITING, PLAYING GUITAR, AND DANCING:

He said, “I like to write, play guitar and dance.” And with his arms, he makes some swoops like he is on the dance floor having a good time. 


7) PEOPLE ARE LIKE CANDLES:

People are like candles.  The body is like the wax that burns down, but the soul is the flame that always rises up.  In the end, the soul ascends to heaven just like the flame. 


8) INFINITELY STUPID:

He pointed to the yarmulke on top of his head and said:  “You know what that means?  This means that there is no limit to how stupid some people can be!”  


8) YOU MAKE YOUR OWN LUCK:

I asked what he did for a living, and he said “Real estate, Jewelry, and even fashion salons.”  I said, “Wow, you’re very fortunate!”  He said, “No, in life, you make your own luck!”


10) RESPECT ME IF YOU WANT:

“You respect me, and I respect you. But frankly, I don’t care if you respect me or not. You can do what you want, and so will I!” I said, “Ok, see you next week and we’ll talk again.”  He said, “Maybe I will or maybe I won’t talk to you ever again.”


Like his philosophy or not, I never saw an 80-year-old with so much energy, life, and personality. Honestly, there are a lot of people half his age, who act more dead than alive. It was incredible to see this ageless person and hear what that’s like. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal 

When It Turns In

A friend told me something interesting about anxiety and depression…

Depression is anxiety turned inward. 


When people feel anxious and that they don’t have control over their situation that make them feel in a sense helpless, and then the anxiety “has no where to go,” it becomes depression. 


I guess it make sense that if you feel that you can’t really do anything to make things better–and no matter how hard you try–then you feel somewhat helpless/hopeless and get depressed


Perhaps it’s almost like a frustration at your own inability to change things you feel you need to change. 


That is why a person’s feeling some sense of control over their environment and life is so important. 


When things are looking down, it helps to try and do something to take back control over what feels like spiraling uncontrollable events and circumstances.  


Of course, only G-d really has control over what ultimately happens. 


But we need to do our part to try to make things better. 


Just taking that first (and second and third) step is freeing. 


I’m pretty sure that an element of this is that you can tell yourself that you “did everything you could” so in effect there is a lifting of guilt about the situation, but at the same time there is also a genuine feeling that you are here for a purpose and perhaps have made a difference in this world. 


Some people feel big and important, but the reality is that we are all so small in a very big world and universe where suffering and loss can strike (G-d forbid) at any moment. 


Man is but a speck of dust in the realm of things. 


But at the same time, our speck is filled with a soul of the living G-d. 


So we must do what we can to be a good influence and impact. 


Whatever it is, it is what we can do. 


If everyone–7.6 billion of us out there—does their part that can make a difference. 


Don’t let life’s anxieties become your depression.


Look for what you can contribute–do it!–try your best to make a difference and make the world better.


It’s what you’re here for and what you can positively do.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)