Reflections B4 Yom Kippur

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Reflections Before Yom Kippur.

“I get up in the middle of the night, and I’m still 3/4 asleep. My mouth feels dry, and I walk over to the mouthwash to refresh. I reach for the bottle, but I grab the image in the mirror…”

Hope you enjoy this true story and the parable for living our spiritual lives and not just reach for the ego image in the mirror.

May you be sealed for another year in the book of life. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Tisha B’Av @Kotel – Ushering In The Redemption

 

 

 

Last night, as Tisha B’Av (the commemoration of the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples in Jerusalem) was nearing conclusion, we watched these beautiful videos of:

1) The singing of Ani Ma’Amin at the Kotel yesterday in 2018. 
2) An amazing NCSY kumzitz, including at the beginning, the singing of Kol Berama Nishma/Rachel Mivakah at the Kotel a few years ago in 2015.

“A voice is heard in the Heavens, lamentati​on, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children;​ she refuseth to be comforted​ for her children,​ because they are not. Thus saith the Lord: Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded,​ saith the LORD; and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. And there is hope for thy future, saith the Lord; and thy children shall return to their own border. “


Both are so beautiful, and we imagined G-d looking down from the Heavens and being moved to rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and bring his amazing presence closer to us once again on Earth. 


Oh let it be!  😉

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)

Making A Real Difference

I saw this sign posted at an organization’s office. 


I thought it was a nice way to motivate people working there. 

“What people are saying:
You are making a difference.”


Later in the sign, it says:

“The work you do is important.”

Isn’t this really what is critical to people–that what they do is important. 


Yes, we need to earn a living and pay our bills. 


And sure, we’d like something left over to save for a rainy day. 


But our lives are more than materialism. 


We are spiritual beings inside. 


At the pinnacle, we need to know that our lives mean something!


– That we are touching people’s lives. 


– That we will be remembered for the good we did. 


– That our good deeds and words will live on. 


– That our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren (etc.) will carry the lessons and message forward. 


– That we’ve contributed in some meaningful way to the fight of good over evil in this world and the next. 


– That we’ve shown proper respect and worship to our L-rd/Maker/Sustainer. 


When we make a difference, it’s about so much more than what money can buy. 


It’s about our soul, our contribution, and even destiny.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The 3 P’s Do NOT Matter

So I heard Joel Osteen give a great speech. 


He said that it’s not any of these things that make a person worthwhile:


1. Possessions

2. Performance

3. Popularity


But rather, it is a person’s inner self and soul that determine their value. 


Each person is a son or daughter of G-d.


I agree that our personal worth is a matter of how we act as human beings in choosing right over wrong and good over evil; and it is not based on how much we have, how successful we have become, or how much we are liked. 


In the end, a person must return to their maker alone to answer for their actions.  


You can’t take anything with you.


Materialism and vanity all fade away and only your spiritual inner self will pass over and live on.  


So how will you spend your time and attention–chasing vanity of vanities or doing good in all your words and deeds? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mikva = Tikva

I thought this was a really special Jewish clock I saw in the store yesterday. 


It promotes holiness and sanctity in the family.

Mikva (Jewish ritual bath) = Tikva (hope) 

Rebirth and renewal (from the immersion in the holy water).

Build your family in sanctity!

Purity leads to sanctity.


The Jewish laws of refraining from sexual relations during Nidda (a women’s menstruation) and of immersing in the mikvah at the end of the cycle and before the husband and wife coming back together physically are cornerstones of acting with self-control and a couple dedicating themselves to Hashem first.


The family is the core of raising and educating our children and of the makeup of the community and ultimately of serving G-d in everything we do. 


Self-control (with sexual purity, kosher food, Sabbath time, etc.) is what separates us from animals and how we emulate being more like the angels. 

It is also a way for a husband and wife to elevate their love and show respect for each other as human beings and not just physical beings.  


I never saw a clock that reminds us of these holy concepts and laws like this. 


Also at the top it says another well-known Jewish quote about managing our time wisely:

“The day is short and the task is great.”


Another good reminder to maximize the use of our time every day here on Earth and to make the most out of every moment. 


If we dedicate ourselves to serving G-d, raising our families, being productive professionally and personally, and acting with integrity and sanctity always–this is a good life! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Most Precious and Beautiful Song

Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from the Earth.


Sing throughout all the Heavens.


Sing from the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.



Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from the People.


Sing throughout all the Angelic Host.


Sing from the Animals, the Fish, and the Fowl.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.


Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from the Begining of Time.


Sing throughout the End of Time.


Sing in the Morning, the Noon, and the Night.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.

Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from the Mountains.


Sing throughout the rolling Valleys.


Sing in the Forests, the Cities, and the Seas.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.



Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from every Tree.


Sing throughout the sprawling blades of grass.


Sing from every drop of dew, pouring of rain, and howling of wind.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.



Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from each Word.


Sing throughout all your Deeds.


Sing in the Thinking, the Doing, and the Speaking.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.



Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from every beating Heartbeat.


Sing throughout all your Breaths.


Sing in your Comings, your Goings, and Wherever you are.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.



Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing with your Material wealth.


Sing throughout all your Spiritual awakenings.


Sing during your Journey, at your Milestones, and when you arrive at your Destination.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.



Sing the most precious and beautiful song to the King of Kings.


Sing from your successes.


Sing throughout all your failures.


Sing during your tryings, your learnings, and your growing.


Sing with all your heart and soul to the Almighty G-d.


(Note 1: Incredibly, this is my first song and it came to me early on the Shabbat where we read the portion of the Torah when G-d miraculously led the Israelites through the split sea and they sang the “Shirah” (song) of thanksgiving to G-d for saving and redeeming them from slavery to freedom, and I didn’t even know it was this Shabbat!)


(Note 2: I would love if someone can put this to music and make this into an amazing song to G-d.)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)