@Tree Top Park, Davie, Florida

It’s funny that just as I am expressing gratitude for the peace, mindfulness, and zen good feelings, a plane is loudly flying overhead in this Florida park.  


No winning even in nature anymore! 😉


(Source Video: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Stained Glass Majesty

There is something about stained glass which is so beautiful and amazing. 


It’s not only artistic and colorful, but also it’s a magical combination of opaqueness and translucence.


It provides cover and privacy from the outside world, yet it plays with the light that comes in through it to give a wonderful effect to any room.


If I could, I would make every room in every building with stained glass. 


I would bask in the light and the color. 


It would feel warm and holy–the light of G-d on me. 


It’s as if G-d and His holy host are streaming in from the Heavens, and surrounding me all about. 


I feel lifted up in space and time stops, all is safe and wonderful in the world. 


Beautiful and holy spiritual energy celebrating, dancing, and singing all around me. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Monopoly Yerushalmi

I am so excited to play this edition of Monopoly Jerusalem edition. 


The properties of obviously from famous places in the Holy City of Jerusalem, such as The Kenneset, Mount Olives, Mount Herzl, Hebrew University, Montefiore Windmill, Mahane Yehuda Market, The Biblical Zoo, The Israel Museum, Tower of David, and of course, The Western Wall, and more. 


The cards are in both Hebrew and English so I can continue to improve my Hebrew language skills. 


I think this is a perfect topic to be thinking about today, which is  Tisha B’Av (the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av).


This is a perfect Shabbat game for after Shul and Kiddish, and I am looking forward to the family sitting down to play Monopoly Jerusalem style. 


I want to also note that Jerusalem along with the Holy Temple (may it be rebuilt speedily in our day) is a perfect topic to be thinking about today, because this is the day on the Hebrew calendar when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in both 586 BCE by the Babylonians as well as in 70 CE by the Romans after they had laid siege to the city–the exact same day of the calendar year over 650 years apart–and so this is a day of commemoration, mourning, introspection for the Jewish people. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Living Your Values

So I had this great conversation today with someone about values.


Thinking about what I really value and whether I am living consistently with these…


For me, I was able to clarify for myself these critical values:


1) Being a good person and influence in the world (having a positive impact on people and ideas)


2) Being a good family man (a loving husband, father, and previously son)


3) Being spiritual and serving G-d (living selflessly for my Maker and not selfishly for myself)


4) Being a hard worker (living productively and not as a laggard or sloth)


5) Being a balanced person (living along the “golden path” or “middle of the road”–not an extremist)


6) Being a generally healthy person (living a lifestyle that includes activity, exercise, good nutrition, and no smoking, drugs, or excessive drinking)


What I realized is that when I need to let my values guide me every moment of every day. 


This ultimately means my success and happiness! 


Being what I think that I am supposed to be or what others would want me to be, just doesn’t work–it’s a strategy for failure. 


My father used to tell me:

“Let your conscience be your guide”  (that and the Torah, of course)


This is the answer to a lot of questions that I have in my life–about what to do with my life and what decisions to make.


Values–driven by conscience and integrity–that’s where I want to go next and next. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Where Does Organized Religion Go Wrong

Organized Religion.jpeg

So I am definitely someone who is spiritual and tries to be faithful to G-d.


I believe, He is my creator and sustainer and that we are here to learn and grow our soul before it goes back to Hashem. 


Yet often, like so many others now-a-days, I find organized religion to be a turn-off. 


Why?


1) There is a consistency and sincerity problem.


To some people, I believe it’s partially the rote and robotic nature of some of the practices–where we just do it, because we are told to do it, and we do it over and over and time after time, again–even when we don’t feel it in the moment, and even if we do other things that are not so right in other areas of our lives.  


In contrast perhaps, there can be more spontaneous and genuine feelings and actions, in the moment and every moment–that come from the heart and the soul of the person and directly to G-d–and they are consistent whether we are in a religious setting to how we treat others and how we act in business. 


In other words, we just don’t follow the rules, but we live them fully and integrated with ourselves and all situations we find ourselves in. 


2)  There is a money and power problem.


In some religious environments, all people are not created equal or treated equal. Instead, the say, the attention, and the honor goes to the powerful and the rich, who are courted for their donations and their votes to the institution and the spiritual leader. Who gets talked up? Who is given the honors at the religious rituals, at the events and the dinners, and with their communal “peers”? 


In other cases, it’s not just money and power that talks, but who is outwardly the “most religious” and presumably walks the walk.  If you but “seem” more religious than the next guy, then you are elevated and exalted in the religious community.  


Instead, what happened to welcoming and caring for everyone–to everyone being children of G-d–to each person having a soul and their personal life challenges. Why can’t we treat everyone as religiously worthwhile and give everyone a chance to learn and grow in their own way from their starting point and to their destination?  


Religion should be the one place that isn’t a competition with others. 


Religion is ultimately between man and G-d!


And only G-d knows what is inside man’s heart and in his soul–and what his actions really are all the time and what they truly mean in context and in essence


I welcome G-d in my life, because I:


– Have faith in Him and that ultimately He has a master plan and that everything is for the good 

– Love Him for giving me the chance to learn and grow my soul to be better

– Fear Him for when I do something wrong in my life and need a course correction 


I wish for a time and transformation when religion would not just be based on outward manifestations but on being sincere and consistent in people’s lives, and where people would no longer be superficially judged and (mis)treated because they are themselves and on their G-d given paths. 


If only we could religiously love, rather than endlessly judge, each other, oh what a heartfelt and inspiring religion that would be. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Cyclops Looking Eye

Cyclops.jpeg

What’s the fascination with the mythical cyclops and the single eye in the center of the forehead?


If the eye represents seeing and knowing then aren’t we better off with two or even a dozen eyes to see with?


See more, know more, do more.


How about eyes in the back of the head?


Or all around the head in a cool circle–like a majestic crown of sight all around you.


Seeing is miraculous.


The beauty of the world–people, nature, and the stars above. 


Seeing is function.


Being able to navigate, get around, and do things with relative ease. 


Seeing is safety.


Sensing path from obstacle and friend from foe. 


It’s frightening to think of not having vision–what a challenge!


One old lady is possibly legally blind, but still serves as a notary public–how does she do that?


Eyes themselves are beautiful–brown and blue and hazel, and soft and deep and mesmerizing. 


Looking into someone’s eyes, have you ever seen their soul. 


Show me thy ways oh L-rd and let me learn and grow in the world you’ve created for us–seeing the material and spiritual world we’re enveloped in. 


I see the beauty, necessity, and lessons you have for me. 


However many eyes, seeing is believing in it all. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Nourishment For The Soul

Aron Kodesh.jpeg

So the Rabbi , a Kabbalist of mystical Torah interpretation, told my wife to concentrate on 3 commandments.

1) Shabbat

2) Kosher

3) Going to Synagogue

Today, we had a little delay and almost didn’t make it to synagogue, but my wife said, “Remember what the Kabbalist said about going every week,” so we went even though we were a little late. 

We went to a conservative synagogue today called, B’nai Israel, in Rockville – it was our second time there. 

The services there are so orchestrated down to the tiniest of details…you could tell that a lot of thought, planning, and effort goes into every service. 

I was really impressed at how meticulous they were for example: 

– Explaining everything and even handing out the sources to their Shabbat speech

– Having everyone ready for their part of the service whether leading the prayers, reading the Torah, or making the blessings over the wine and bread (which was already on a cart on the bimah–alter)

– Including a women who read the weekly Torah portion, children who led some of the prayers, an elderly lady who spoke about upcoming events for the Seniors group, and they even sang Hanukah songs in everything from Ladino to Yiddish.  

At the end of the service, we spoke briefly to the Rabbi and thanked him for such a “perfect service,” and my wife commented how he had such a cool radio voice when he leads the congregation (and he really does..like JM (jewish music) in the AM).

After service, I told my wife how happy I was that we made it to synagogue, that is was like nourishment to my spirit and soul for the week.

We have to feed ourselves physically as well as intellectually, emotionally, socially, and of course spiritually.  

Like the fingers on our hand…we need them all to hold unto life itself. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)