That Smug Face, Evil Haman

That Smug Face, Evil Haman.

Reclining back with legs crossed.

Know-it-all, interrupting others rudely.

Abusive, hurtful words.

Violent, loud, aggressive actions.

Narcissist, my way or the highway.

For their power and desires only.

They believe that might makes right.

In every generation, they rise to perpetuate suffering on others.

But G-d stands supreme.

He will evoke his judgment and rain His fiery wrath on the oppressive, evil, and haughty.

And He will restore good over evil in the world.

His faithful will praise His holy name forever.

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It’s For Us

I love this saying from one of my colleagues:

“G-d doesn’t do it to us. 
He does it for us!”

Instead of asking with anger and resentment “why me?” — perhaps we can try to see the larger picture and be grateful for all the blessings and opportunities that G-d does give us. 

While certainly there is pain and suffering in this world, there is also the chance to learn, grow, and become stronger and better people. 

We are here to hopefully leave the world a better place than before we got here. 

The perspective that the challenges and obstacles are not meant to really harm us, but to help us is not an easy pill to swallow.

But maybe it really is the enlightened view of faith that we all need to fight on and overcome. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Among All The Apples

This was an interesting photo moment at Whole Foods–this Valentine’s Day huggy bear sitting among all the apples. 


Sort of how I felt after synagogue today and at other times. 


I’ve learned the importance as my father had so often tried to teach me of going to synagogue.


Yes, the prayer and service to Hashem.


But also the community. 


We all need people. 


None of us is an island. 


At synagogue, aside from the opportunity to speak and be close with G-d, I appreciate the hearty calls of “Shabbat Shalom,” the embracing handshakes, hugs and occasional kisses, the chance to see and kiss the holy Torah, and being among friends.


Like the apples, we’re all sort of the same, yet unique, and we stand together. 


As apples, we all have our glowing and shiny outsides, a sweet inner core, and also plenty of juicy meat. 


People too put on their best clothes, shoes, and do themselves to look their best going to synagogue, and inside they are there to express their goodness with G-d and the community.


Also though, you hear plenty of the heartbreaking stories about what is happening to them as families and individuals. 


Sure, there are the lovely smachot (happy occasions) in their and our lives to celebrate, but there is also plenty of adversity and challenges faced daily. 


One member passed away this week, another is getting cancer treatments, and someone got hit by a car crossing the street and is in the hospital with literally 79 screws holding their ribs together!


Then there are those out looking for work, others suffering from bad marriages or getting divorced, someone with a sick child that needs lifelong care, and someone who even got robbed this week.


Yes, shiny on the outside and with the sweetness of souls and hearts, and yet everyone has their baskets of challenges to deal with. 


For someone like me, I literally feel it inside for people–it’s like I can almost imagine what it must be like to be in their shoes. 


Obviously, I can’t–no one really can–but I imagine myself and ask myself OMG what in the world would I do–and of course, I have no real idea. 


Synagogue is I guess the most perfect place to experience all this–since we are before G-d, asking for his blessings and mercy, and with others, we bond to who are all in the same boat paddling and trying to survive and live a full and meaningful life. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Adversity Is Not What You Think

This TEDx video is truly WOW!


Definitely worth watching in full.  


So many takeaways from this that I want to remember.


– Three things can happen in life:


1. What you hope will happen


2. What you fear will happen


3. What actually happens


– There is not always a tomorrow!


Think if you were paralyzed from the neck down, what would you wish you had done differently, and go do it.


– See adversity as a gift:


1. It is harsh and ruthless.


2. It shows up unannounced.


3. It doesn’t care what you want.


4. It doesn’t give a darn how you feel.


5. It doesn’t take no for an answer.


6. It hates your weakness.


7. It is your best teacher.


8. It is the most honest person you will ever encounter.


9. It forces you to up your game.


10. It knows your true potential even if you don’t.


11. It offers you no other choice, so the choice is simple.


12. At the end of the day, we are only as strong as the adversity we overcome!


13. It will recede, but the lessons will always remain.


14. It will strengthen you to endure your next battle, stronger and wiser than before.


15. How we overcome adversity is by facing it head on. (If you try to avoid it, it can crush you; and if you try to go around it, you will never avoid it’s grasp.)


My absolute congratulations and gratitude to Marcus Aurelius Anderson on this magnificent and brilliant talk and lessons for all of us!


And thank you Minna Blumenthal for sharing this wisdom with me!

Suicide Back To Go

So I spoke to someone who tried to commit suicide.


This is what they told me:


“When you try to commit suicide, there is no light; there is no Heaven; there is only darkness.”


Basically, even though they were desperate and tried to kill themselves, their experience was not one of finding relief, but rather of going to Hell!


So while I really don’t know anything, this is what I imagine happens when you try to commit suicide. 


Yes, there is no light–there is only darkness. 


Yes, there is no Heaven.


But I don’t believe you go to Hell for being desperate, depressed, alone, and feeling like you have no other way out. 


Instead, what I believe is that you “Go back to GO and you do not collect $200.”


In other words, you have to start the Game of Life all over again. 


Since you didn’t complete your tests, trials, challenges, and mission…you go back to the beginning. 


You have to relive your life and go through it all over again. 


Who is to say, whether it is a better life or not. 


Presumably, whatever lessons you were supposed to learn the first time around, you still have to complete those lessons. 


So I would think you have to relive a lot of the same. 


I don’t know about you, but one of the things I hate worst when things go wrong is to have to go back and redo what I’ve already done. 


It seems so fruitless, such a waste of time and effort. 


How is that for frustrating–working just to redo what you already did. 


Perhaps that is quite the measured “punishment” for those who end their life prematurely–before G-d says it’s time. 


While we frequently say things about wishing to be young again or do it all over again–I think rarely does someone mean having to go thru the same pain points again. 


I assume it’s nice to live again, but it’s got to be a value-add life–not just a do-over!


So in my mind, while someone on the edge may not have a real choice in what they are doing and in making a decision to take their life–it’s probably not a purely rational moment in time–I do think that in so taking their life, they are not doing themselves any favors in the end. 


Because, suicide isn’t game over, but rather the game begins all over–from the beginning again. 😉


(Note: I am not talking about assisted suicide here for someone who is at the end of life and in absolute pain and suffering and it is truly time to go–I am sure that is perfectly okay). 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Failing Forward

There were 2 inspirational student speakers today at my daughter’s graduation from American University.


One spoke about how he got sick soon after starting college with a serious vascular disease, but despite numerous hopsitalizations, treatments, and falling behind his peers, he persevered and was graduating today and in very good spirits. 


Another women spoke about her many failures leading up to the success today of her graduation. She described how her father used to ask her: 

“What did you fail at this week?”


Why?


Because even though we don’t like to admit it, most people have many, many more failures in life than successes.  


Even Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb is said to have failed 1,000 times before getting it right.


This women explained how failure is actually something to celebrate–does that sound crazy?.


But it’s really not, and here’s why?

“To fail is to learn.
To learn is to grow.
To fail is to grow forward.”

Now, I had heard about failing up, but never failing forward. 


Many who fail still manage to advance themselves in the process. 


But failing forward is different. 


It’s not taking advantage of the failure, but legitimately learning from the experience so that you can grow yourself, and advance yourself, by becoming a smarter, stronger, and more capable person from it. 


Sure, it hurts to fail. 


Who would normally want to celebrate failure?


But if we understand life as a journey and not a specific destination, then we enjoy every blessed moment that we have to become better today and tomorrow than we were yesterday. 


In this case, failure is not the opposite of success, but rather is part and parcel of achieving it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

White Lie, Black Truth

No this is not another civil or human rights post, although I like writing those as well. 


Rather, this is about how we use our words to help and not hurt others. 

“White Lie, 

Black Truth”

Yes, we all know that it’s wrong to lie (it’s even in the 10 Commandments). 


Except, of course, when we need to tell a “white lie” in order to keep someone’s feelings from getting hurt.


For example, I may not like your new haircut, but when you ask me glowingly what I think, instead of telling you how it’s too short or whatever, I tell you, “Yeah, it looks great!”


Then, there is the “black truth.”


That’s when we swallow hard and tell the  truth to someone, even though it may hurt their feelings, it’s ultimately for their good. 


For example, your child may be going of course with their lives, and while you don’t want to hurt their feelings, you know you need to tell them the truth in order to help them course-correct.


Telling lies or truth can be hurtful to people, but a white lie isn’t really bad, because it’s used to protect someone’s feeling, the black truth, is also not so dark and foreboding, because there are times when you need to get past the superficial, be real with someone, and tell them the hard truth in order to help them in a very practical sense. 


That’s one of life’s most difficult lessons, that not everything is black or white. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)