(Maybe) Stop Complaining

So this past Shabbat, there was a wonderful guest speaker at Aish, Rav Gav(riel) Friedman. 


He was a very lively speaker and with a lot of worthy teachings for his lucky audience. 


One thing he said that really stuck with me is about people that complain. 


People have hard lives!


As he said, “I don’t know what each of you has been through.”


But one thing that can help us cope with our challenges is our perspective.  


And then he said the following:

We need to be glad that we have something to complain about!


Huh, what does that mean?


Well, think about it…


– If you complain about your spouse, thank G-d that you are married (and have a life partner) to complain about. 


– If you complain about your job, thank G-d that you have a job (and income) that you can complain about. 


– If you complain about your food, thank G-d that you have food to eat (and sustenance for your body) to complain about.


And so on and so forth. 


Whatever we complain about, think about what you actually have (the big picture) and what you are complaining about (usually the little picture). 


Really, we have so much to be grateful for that we can easily just forget or take for granted. 


So next time your complaining, THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE that you are complaining about–you might stop yourself from complaining.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

An Early Death

So I received an email last night from the teacher of my Ulpan class. 


She was passing along a message from a wonderful man in class letting her and us know some terrible news.


His son suddenly and unexpectedly died at just 28-years old this past week. 


He wrote about how tragedy like this impacts a person and family, and that obviously he didn’t know when he would be coming back to class. 


The message from this man who had just prematurely lost his son in the prime of his life really hit me. 


Life is so tenuous–where everything truly hangs in the balance by a thin thread. 


You can think you are building a fortress of success where no one and nothing can touch you, hurt you.


But life has its own catapults, battering rams, siege towers, and explosive moments in store.


You can’t really plan for these things, and you are never ready when they happen. 


Having to bury a child is not the normal way of the wold, and the pain of this is unimaginable. 


A child is the culmination of all our efforts and represents the future, even while we are the past. 


I am so sorry for what happened to my friend from class and I wish him my sincerest condolences and that no one should have to go through such tragedy any more. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Video Of Video

We went to the art galleries in Rockville Town Center today. 


They had this video called “Neighbor” by Kanat Akar. 


It’s about the life of a 13-year old refugee boy from Alleppo, Syria who migrated to Anakara, Turkey. 


The video is eerie and hypnotic as it walks you through the eyes of this little boy and the misery of his life. 


While to me it represents the dark side of life, there is so much to be explored and felt from it. 


You can’t watch this without feeling like you are there on this dirty, squalor of a road to nowhere, but wanting desperately to know where it ends.  😉


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

Not Caring or Worse

It’s interesting…


There are a lot of good people out there, but there are probably more in your orbit that simply don’t care or worse. 


You can have this problem or that. 


If they even “give you the time of day,” people will nod, tell you how sorry they are, and probably relate some of their own misery.


The good people try to see if and how they may be able to help. 


The others really don’t want to know, certainly don’t care, and just see you as baggage in the way. 


But everyone has their problems!  


If only people could look with compassion on each other. 


We all struggle with our demons in this world.  


Of course, we can’t let troubles get in the way of our doing what we need to do. 


But people can make all the difference in just providing a compassionate ear and being willing to open themselves up to understanding others and helping each other or making reasonable accommodations so people can help themselves. 


Listen, we all have our day–wouldn’t it be nice to be that person who is kind and generous to others and have others treat us that way too. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Respecting Native Americans

So I don’t know what went down with the students from Catholic Covington High School and the Native Americans in the video that was widely circulated the other day.


People claiming all sorts of racism and hate, and others saying nothing happened–usually the truth is somewhere in between. 


In light of this, I wanted to share this awesome painting, and say we should absolutely respect the Native Americans and do everything we can to help them. 


These are the indigenous people that were here long before we ever were, and let’s just say that they suffered and lost a lot when the first Europeans arrived on these shores. 


We are all G-d’s children, and no one acting with integrity and peacefully should ever be mistreated or disrespected, no one! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Slavery Touches Us All

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Without Slavery and Genocide.”

Coming out of the museum, my daughter asked how anyone could actually do something like this to another human being. I had no answer to this…just like I have none to the Holocaust or any of the other incredibly cruel, sick, and wicked things that people do to each other. 


Hopefully we can all have a brighter future without slavery and without genocide.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Transcending Suffering and Impermanence

There is a buddhist philosophy that life is all about loss and suffering. 


The Budha says:

Life is suffering.


Why? Because life is impermanence–whatever we gain, eventually, we must lose. 


– Riches, power, people, health, even our memories perhaps. 


In a sense, this is like the saying from “War of the Roses”:

There is no winning, only degrees of losing. 


However, there is one exception to the impermanence and loss in life:


The only thing that is permanent is our good deeds, and with this we can achieve an everlasting good name for ourselves.


In Judaism, we teach:

A good name is better than fine oil.


Hence, this is the permanence that we strive for in life and in death.  


If we can attain a good name through purity of soul then in a sense, we can transcend life’s suffering and impermanence.  


By becoming non-attached to all of life’s temporary things, and instead focusing on perfecting ourselves, we can free ourselves from suffering and from this world, and then we can go on in everlasting-peace to the afterlife. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)