Hearts and Stones

I love the saying by Rav Zvi Yehudah Cook:

There are people with hearts of stone, and there are stones with hearts of people. 

The people know who they are, and the stones reside where has G-d set them. 

In the final redemption, the peoples’ hearts will turn back to Hashem and the stones with hearts will rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. 😉

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Jerusalem Center of The World

I love this map by Heinrich Bunting, a German Protestant pastor and cartographer. 


This beautiful artist and thoughtful map was published in 1581.


It shows the 3 continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa as 3 leaves of a clovers with Jerusalem at the center. 


Jerusalem, Israel is the focus, nexus and crossroad between these 3 worlds of Western, Asian, and African civilizations. 


Israel is so multi-cultural and holy to the 3 major monotheistic religions of the world (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism).  


Light, healing, peace, and prosperity should emanate from Jerusalem to the whole world and G-d should bless us from his heavenly abode.  😉


(Source Photo: Wikipedia)

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)

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)