Beautiful Virus, Huh?

So this is an image of the Tobacco Mosaic Virus.


Yeah, I never heard of it either. 


It is a virus that attacks and destroys tobacco and other plants. 


Viruses are ugly and evil in that they hurt and kill other living things


Yet in looking at this molecular image, I seriously hate to say it, but it is also beautiful in a way. 


The shape, color, complexity–the design and wisdom embedded in it–what can I say, but even this too is a miracle. 


Sure, it would be better in a mortal sense if there were no viruses to make us suffer and literally eat away at us. 


Yet, surely G-d has a plan even for these nasty virus molecules.  


Do they help us gain immunity to even worse diseases?


Do they help us to use ingenuity to discover, fight, and evolve to withstand their attacks and progress our society in larger ways?


Do they help us learn however horribly to turn to G-d, strengthen ourselves, and somehow try to cope with suffering and loss in life and death.


All sickness is unbelievably horrible and the suffering it causes is truly impossible to understand, and G-d should please, please have mercy on us. 


Yet, looking at this molecular image of even this virus, there is something comforting in the supreme intelligent design and creation of it all.  😉


(Source Andy’s photo of image by Visual Molecular Dynamics)

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Why Worry?

So I had an interesting conversation with a colleague, and they tell me their philosophy about worry, as follows:

Worrying is suffering twice!


I thought this was pretty smart. 


With worry, we suffer when we worry and then we suffer again if the thing we are worrying about actually comes to fruition. 


So in essence, we are doubling up on the suffering.


Yet, worry can be constructive if we use it to spur us to positive action such as in confronting and dealing with challenging situations. 


But when we worry just for the sake of worry because we can’t control our anxiety and moreover, it actually may paralyze us with fear, then this is obviously a bad thing. 


Do I worry?


Sure do, but like my dad, I use worry to try and think out-of-the-box, to plan, to problem-solve, to figure out coping mechanisms etc. 


Worry is suffering for sure. 


However, if we can channel the worry to positive impact, then the worry can be worth the pain it inflicts on us. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sadistic SOBs

So the scariest people in the world are the sadistic ones. 


They are the ones without empathy.


They get pleasure from hurting others. 


Yes, we all hurt other people sometimes.


But it’s different when we do it by accident or when we feel bad about our wrongful actions.


Sadistic people don’t just not feel bad or regret…


Instead, they actually savor watching others suffer and squirm. 


Other people’s pain and misfortune are what gives them their energy and happiness. 


Rather than working on themselves, they rather put down others. 

“I’m better, because your worse or because I kick your a*s!”


What types of people are these? 


They are not really human. 


They are lacking genes for empathy. 


They are lacking a holy soul. 


They are cold, calculated, and hateful. 


While it wonderful to see some people seek love and peace. 


It is disturbing to see those that run after hate and harm. 


Your loss is their gain. 


Your pain is their pleasure. 


Your tears are their springs.


Your cries are their laughter. 


Why did G-d put these sub-humans in this world?


Perhaps to test us humans. 


Can we maintain dignity, integrity, and humanity among the beasts of hell? 


We can, but like others that have gone before us, we bear the mark of fighting with the devil. 


The devils live among us, but we must still strive to be angels before man and G-d. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Everything Is 4 The Best

So it’s easy to get down on life when bad things happen. 


But it’s funny how when we just take a little perspective or in retrospect…


We realize that everything G-d does is really for our best!


It may not look and feel that way at the moment. 


But there comes an inner awakening about things when we see the bigger picture. 


And then we sort of nod our heads knowingly:

“Ah, that’s why that happened!”


There are many reasons, G-d may be directing something: 


– Opening new and better opportunities for us. 


– Teaching us important life lessons.


– Putting us someplace we need to be to help someone else. 


– Even saving us from some worse catastrophe. 


For G-d, there is no time or space–He supersedes all of these. 


He puts us where we need to be when we need to be for His bigger plan for our good. 


Also, when you think you have a problem, remember to look at what others may be going through.


Because there are problems and then there are problems!


As my dad used to say:

“The guy complained he had no shoes, until he saw the guy without any feet!”


Is your problem really so bad–maybe yes, maybe no.


Try for a second to think of others you know and what they are going through. 


Imagine for a moment–what does really bad look like, feels like. 


G-d works in what seems like mysterious ways.


But we can uncover the mystery and discover the holiness and grand plan of it all–if we just look beyond ourselves and towards the heavens.


Oh G-d, thank you for all that you do for us–your wisdom is glorious; your lessons are to teach me to be a better me; and your mercy endures forever. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Synagogue, To Laugh And To Cry

So I am learning that synagogue is more than a place to worship G-d.


It is a place of and for the people to express their full range of emotions. 


Frankly, I think it is a place for people to laugh and to cry. 


Rarely, a week goes by when not one or both of these emotions/actions happen. 


Yes, we cry out to G-d in supplication and also are joyous in his holy majesty and presence. 


But more than that, as a community, we come together to share of our week and ourselves with each other. 


One one hand, we laugh with each other at the funny and ridiculous things that happen to us and at the joy we feel for the blessings that G-d bestows on us daily. 


On the other, we cry on each other’s shoulders at the pain and loss that we (G-d forbid) at times must face and endure in the face of illness, evil, and tragedy.


Just today, both things happened in the synagogue and my heart was at one time uplifted with gladness and then at another greatly saddened with the hurt shared–occurrences of each in just a short span of time. 


Yes, we laugh and we cry together–alone, it is at once empty and at the other unbearable. 


We need to support each other; there is no other way that is not extreme madness. 


Put your arms around another to embrace them in great happiness and to let them cry mightily on your shoulder. 


Sharing with each other at our houses of worship–that is how we show G-d that we are bound to Him and to each others’ souls–all children of G-d trying to make it together to the next service. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Growing With The Challenge

Thought this was a good saying, and wanted to share it.

“A man grows with the greatness of his task.”


In Hebrew, there is a similar saying:

“Lefum Tzaara Agra.” (Which translates roughly too: “As the suffering, so to is the reward.”)

Adversity, hardships, challenges, pain, suffering–these all test our mettle.


Obviously, these are not fun, but in the end, we are forced to grow from these experiences. 


– What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. 


Sometimes though, they really can kill us. 


So, push yourself as far and as fast as you can, but also you better know your true limits. 


And we all have them, even when we think we’re invincible. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Iron Maiden Torture

Check this out. 

This is called an Iron Maiden.

It is from Nuremberg, Germany. 

This one is from Medieval times, but they were apparently still around even in the 19th century!

It has 14 spikes on the inside that were designed to pierce the eyes, throat, and heart. 

People placed for torture and death in the Iron Maiden sarcophagus would be completely mutilated. 

Is this one of the reasons that so many people suffer from claustrophobia?  

I remember seeing in a movie where someone was placed in a dungeon cell, but this one was carved into the rock wall horizontally. 

The prisoner would be forced to lie down in it with iron bars caged over the side vertically. 

S/he could not sit up, roll over, or move. 

Can you imagine the sheer terror and torture?

How people could be so evil and inflict such suffering on others and often for crimes like heresy is extremely hard to understand. 

Why in G-d’s name does anyone call it the “good ‘ol days?” 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)