Our Forefathers Were Planners And So Are We

Thank you to Rabbi Haim Ovadia for his speech today at Magen David Synagogue on the topic of how our forefathers in the Bible were planners and so are we today. (Note: some of the thoughts below are directly from Rabbi Ovadia and others are added by me.)


In the Biblical story of Jacob, there are numerous examples teaching us the importance of planning.


1) Shepherds vs Hunters:  Jacob was a shepherd versus his brother Esau who was a hunter.  Shepherds have a long-term outlook with their animals, tending to them and caring for them over the long-term, while hunters go out for the kills to eat for that day. 


2) Working for Rachel and Leah vs. Selling the Pottage:  Jacob worked for 7 years for Rachel and another 7 for Leah–this was the long-term view and commitment to work for Lavan in order to marry his daughters. In comparison, Esau came in hungry from the field and sold his birthright for the immediate gratification of a bowl of pottage.


3) The Plan to Take Esau’s Blessing: Rebekah worked with Jacob to prepare meat for Isaac and put hair and clothes on Jacob that made him look and seem like Esau, so Jacob could get the blessing from Isaac, while Esau was still out hunting in the field. 


4) Dividing his Camp in Two: Jacob sent messengers (i.e. reconnaissance) to see and plan for what Esau was doing in coming to meet him. When the messengers returned with word that Esau was coming with 400 men, Jacob planned for the worst, dividing his camp in two, so should one peril the other could survive. Additionally, Jacob prayed and sent rounds of gifts to Esau and also presented himself to Esau before his beloved wife Rachel and son Joseph in the safety of the rear. 


Long-term planning has been fundamental to the Jewish people throughout history and to modern times:


1) “People of the Book” – The Jewish people are known as “the people off the book” for the devotion to Torah study, learning, and continually investing in education, which is a view for long-term investment and success.   


2) Good Deeds to Inherit The World To Come – Fundamental to Jewish belief is that this earthly world is just a “corridor” to the World to Come.  We do charity and good deeds, not only because it’s the right thing to do (certainly!), but also because we believe that these merits will help us long-term when we pass, and go to the spiritual next world, Heaven. 


3) Believing and Praying for the Return to The Promised Land – For 2,000, the Jewish people never gave up hoping and praying on the deliverance of G-d’s promise to return them from exile to the Promised Land.  This was a long-term view that helped sustain the Jewish people throughout their far-flung exile and through millennium of persecution and genocide.

Ezekiel 11:17: “Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.”

4) Waiting 6,000 years for the Messiah: For 6,000 years, the Jews have maintain faith and plan for the coming of the Messiah, the rebuilding of the Temple and the ultimate redemption of the world.  

“(Ani Ma’amin) I believe in complete faith in the coming of the Messiah…Even tough he may tarry, none-the-less, I will wait for him.”

Like our forefathers, it is critical to maintain faith in the Almighty and practice long-term planning as keys to success in life. 


If we take the long-view, we can overcome so many short-term challenges, obstacles and even suffering–believing, praying planning, and doing for a better, brighter future. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Wrapped In Bubble Wrap

So I thought this was an interesting risk management strategy…


One colleague joked with me that:

“Everyone should just wrap themselves in bubble wrap!”

Reminded me of that game where people put on big wearable inflatable bumpers and then smash into each other for fun.


The problem though is that sometimes we put on the bubble wrap, bulletproof vest, or seat belt, but then we get stupidly overconfident. 


We think we are protected, but nothing human in impenetrable. 


So the person with the seat belt and air bag drives too fast and off a cliff and still gets him/herself killed. 


Or the person with the bulletproof vest gets shot with a high caliber armor piercing shell or in the back of the head.


Like on many cars, where the mirror says, “objects in mirror are closer than they appear,” we need not over rely on safety, protective, and risk measures and still do stupid things.


One guy told me, he backed up into the wall in the garage, because he thought there was more room and that’s not how things looked in the mirror. 


Let’s face it, there is no bubble wrap that can fully protect us from life. 


Everyday we face risks out there, and we need to manage them with common sense or else… 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Deterrence Alone Is Not A Strategy

 

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So there is a military doctrine that has been in place for decades. 


– MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction 


If you attack the USA with weapons of mass destruction, you’ll get an overwhelming responses that will totally destroy your country. 


This was what supposedly held the USSR at bay during the cold war. 


And even recently, President Trump threatened North Korea that they would be “totally destroyed” if they try anything on us. 


The problem is that the MAD doctrine of deterrence assumes incorrectly that you are always dealing with rational actors and not with madmen.


Let’s face it, their are plenty of crazies out there, and some of whom may be willing to go down in a “blaze of glory” as long as they stand up to the United States and die a heroes death for their radicalized or “subjected” people. 


Whether it’s Iran or North Korea or others–we may not know what we are really dealing with here until it’s too late. 


Life is not everything to these people–remember many a terrorist has died a martyrs death with the promise of 72 virgins in heaven awaiting them. 


To some, as Prime Minister Gold Meir stated:

“Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us!”


Hate by virtue of perceived injustice, required Jihad or “holy war,” brainwashing or threats and the desire for a “glorious death” standing up to the infidels or the “great Satan…any of all of these can contribute to ignoring the consequences. 


Israel has tried to deter horrible homicide bombers/and other mad terrorists from performing their evil misdeeds on the civilian population by for example, demolishing the terrorist homes as a potent consequence that they know going into it, yet many terrorists still wear the explosive vests and detonate anyway.


Similarly, North Korea despite the President’s threat that they “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” brushed it off and shot off more volleys of ICBMs and threatened to engulf Guam in fire. 


– The point is that deterrence alone is not a strategy!


If our enemies can hit us with a devastating attack–whether WMD, cyber, EMP, or quantum attack— that can inflict immeasurable harm on us–they may actually choose to take their best shot, rather than wait for us to hit them or continue to feel disrespected, subjected, inferior, and hopeless.


To someone on the radical fringes or the mental edge, maybe–just maybe–they will do the unthinkable and surprise us.


What good will our fire and fury counterstrike do us, when our cities are in ruin and our people dead and dying en masse. 


Revenge isn’t so sweet when your family, homeland, and virtually everything you know and held dear is gone.


The only real military strategy is to be able to defend ourselves and AVOID getting a homeland catastrophe!


We need massive investment and expertise in missile defense, bio defense, cyber defense, quantum computing, and expansive hardening of our critical infrastructure.


Unfortunately, as naysayers to the threats abound, we are no where near where we need to be in protecting the homeland.


If one person falls from the high wire and smashes their head, what good is it that the other person falls and suffers similarly or worse. 


The point is not to fall, not to get hurt, not to die, not to have our country and way of life destroyed.


Deterrence does not guarantee this security to the country–especially when dealing with no shortage of radicalized nuts out there. 


Only a genuine defense that can STOP and counter the threats BEFORE a devastating attack happens and hits us is a strategy worth pursuing …and THEN you can punch the other person squarely in their devil’s face!


Without an adequate defensive strategy, get ready, because every high flying act eventually falls to the ground and hits their head hard. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Conflict – Resolution or Escalation

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So I thought this was interesting on the cause of conflict. 


There are four main parts:


1) Deprivation – You believe that someone is depriving you of something you need or want. This could be something physical like money, or an object or it could be inanimate such as love or respect. The feeling of deprivation is anchored in a real or perceived feeling or being deprived of access to resources or the imbalance who has those resources. 


2) Name – You identify the person you feel is causing you this deprivation. 


3) Blame – You blame them for their role in causing you harm. 


4) Claim – You justify the accusation by anchoring it in a claim that the other person has violated some social norm such as taking something that doesn’t belong to them or violating an agreement you have with them and so on. 


As the conflict comes to a head, it is clear that people are feeling hurt, that there is a desire to correct the situation, and that you are going to confront the (perceived) culprit and make your case on why what they are doing is wrong and how it should be resolved. 


If you have the wrong person in the cross-hairs, your justification is weak or you’re not telling the whole story (i.e. maybe you played a part or harmed the other person too), or the person just won’t give you a fair hearing and sincerely work with you to resolve it, then the conflict may escalate from here.  


Usually, it’s best to listen, empathize, negotiate, compromise, try to be reasonable, and resolve the situation at the earliest point possible.


If there is a greater conflict or risk to either party involved, then heels may get dug in and all avenues to resolving it can be open including legal and even all out war. 


Conflict is no game, but in some cases it may be unavoidable–and then the ramifications can be earth shattering. 


What to do when you’re in a conflict situation? Think before you act, and then think again. 


Ultimately, peace is one of the greatest of blessings. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Baiting With North Korea and Taiwan

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OMG, I can’t listen to this politically correct nonsense for the masses on North Korean anymore. 


Yes, North Korea is a nuclear threat and they are ramping up the ante. 


And we are still technically at war with the North Koreans. 


But all the in-the-box ideas for stopping the North Korean threat is wasting everyone’s time and efforts. 


Today in the Wall Street Journal, we had everything from telling China that we’ll recognize the Axis of evil North Korean regime and sign a peace treaty with them in return for limiting the North Korean missile program and having inspections (because those worked so well in the past or with Iran) or we put the “squeeze” on China by threatening to remove their 328,547 Chinese students from American universities. 


Listen, it’s time to face facts:


China will not give up support for North Korea against us, until we would agree to give up support for Taiwan against them. 


Is that really so hard to understand?


No China will not be sanctioned by us or threatened by us economically or militarily–they are a superpower in their own right!


And we cannot expect to ask or force China to stop supporting North Korea, just because we don’t like it–in fact, that is exactly the point. 


We don’t like it, and that’s what China wants in order to push us out of supporting an independent and democratic Taiwan.


So now we are at the root of the choice here for America.


Either America is willing to negotiate with China for real and in effect compromise our values for democracy and freedom in the world or we can deal with North Korea on our own. 


And dealing with North Korea on our own–without destroying much of South Korea and even Japan in the process–probably means just one (or two) big bangs. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Don’t Defeat ISIS

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Why are we trying to defeat ISIS?


Yesterday, they gave Axis of Evil Iran some payback. 


Iran, the #1 global sponsor of terrorism, got terrorized.


In a brazen attack on Iran’s parliament and shrine, ISIS attacked these hardened targets.


Now, while all terrorism is terrible and should be condemned, isn’t there an old saying:


“Fight fire with fire.”


In this case, sadly but maybe the truth is the only way to fully defeat terrorism is by:


The only way to win the war on terror is to let terror fight terror!


No, we should not resort to such barbarism!


But as the world allegedly did in the Iran-Iraq war (and so many other conflicts), we armed both sides and let them go at it.


Similarly here, let ISIS and Iran’s terrorists duke it out until they are both gone for good or hopefully they come to their senses and stop the madness once and for all!


Civilians are innocent and should never be targets, but the terrorists killing the terrorists is fair game.


Sure, carrots are preferable to a stick, but have any of the carrots worked at all or are we not at a global terrorism all time high after 16 years fighting the war on terror since 9/11.


Why wait until ISIS and/or Iran hits us again and again with terror wave after terror wave or eventually with unfathomable weapons of mass destruction?


Devil kill devil–and let peace and sanity reign supreme for the rest of the civilized world. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Strategy, Strategery, Stratego

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Like the all knowing eye…


Strategy is our way of trying to forge a coherent path ahead. 


Of course, as humans, we are imperfect and don’t know what we don’t know. 


But whether we call it strategy, strategery, or stratego, the goal is to have a method to our madness. 


We can’t just rely on luck, gut, intuition, or subjective whim to get us wherever. 


Having no strategy is brainless following or aimless wandering. 


Strategy means your thinking ahead what you want to achieve and then at least trying your best to accomplish something. 


Ample course corrections allowed and encouraged, as needed. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)