G-d Protects Us – Happy 2018!

So I took this photo in a Jewelry store in Mamilla Mall in Jerusalem. 


All these beautiful hamsas!


Hamsas are traditional symbols of G-d’s protection and to ward off the evil. 


These were some very beautiful ones. 


Some say that it is symbolic of the hand of Miriam, Moses’ sister, raised in a protective stance over the people. 


Five fingers are like the five books of the Torah and a reminder to use all five of our senses in worshipping and praising G-d. 


Talking to someone yesterday about surviving in the face of some very difficult challenges, she said to me:

“Remember, just because the adversary is powerful, you are the David to the Goliath!”


With G-d’s help and blessings, even a little David can slay the giant evil Goliath. 


For the New Year of 2018 and forward, G-d should bless us and protect us, shine his face upon us and be gracious unto us, lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace!  


The L-rd is the ultimate strength and justice and in front of Him no evil will stand. 


Our faith may be tested, but from it, we will come out smarter, stronger, and better souls, as G-d teaches us to look always to the Heavens where all good emanates. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Beautiful Israel Architecture

Just wanted to share some of the beautiful architecture from Israel. 


Side by side…


The old and the new.


The proud and the natural.


The strong and the spiritual. 


Obviously, I’ve only had a chance to see a very little bit.


But everywhere just seems marvelous.


So much achieved, and still such great potential. 


A people who survived the genocidal Holocaust and faced down the devil himself, with G-d’s help have rebuilt their ancient homeland.


Miracles everywhere, I can attest to it with my own eyes and soul. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What Do You Do With Fear?

Thought this was a really good perspective on fear.


“You have two options:


Forget Everything And Run


Or


Face Everything And Rise”


It the old fight or flight!


– Running may be good when you can avoid a devastating fight and get yourself and your loved one to safety.


– But sometimes you don’t have that option and you have to “fight the good fight” and overcome the devils you face. 


Everyone is afraid of something(s) and/or somebodies. 


If someone isn’t afraid then they are brain dead!


Strengthen yourselves, ready yourselves, and pray. 


What do you fear and how will you face it? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

Invasion of Dinosaur

So what’s with the invasion of dinosaurs. 


First one is standing next to the checkout line in Whole Foods in Maryland.


Second one is actually on someone’s terrace overlooking the beach in Fort Lauderdale.


Third one is the real McCoy from the Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. 


Certainly, dinosaurs aren’t cute and cuddly–even the plush ones from Whole Foods–they’d eat you and I for dinner if they could!


So why do we gravitate to relics from the Ice Age past?


Perhaps, just like looking forward to Aliens from outer space, the dinosaurs represent an important historical link for us, and thus anchor us in a much larger perspective of time and space. 


In a way, it all points to the dichotomy between us as humans with great–almost endless–potential, and yet at the same time, how small we are relative to the enormous dinosaurs that roamed the earth of yesteryear as well as the distinct possibility of mighty extraterrestrials that we may someday (soon) encounter from outer space. 


From this context, I guess what’s really amazing is that we, as a people, are still here!


Despite our bad habits and unsustainable living, we continue to innovate our way out of own messes of greed, conflict, contagion, pollution, and resource depletion, and create a future far beyond what destroyed our predecessors or even what may come from current or potential future foes. 


Like the economy, we think we can grow ourselves out of all our troubles–and who knows, maybe we can if we can continue to stay at least one or two steps ahead of all the challenges and threats–but, at the back (or front) of our minds is what if we can’t or don’t?  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Always Be Prepared

Emergency Preparedness.jpeg

It was nice going to a local festival yesterday and seeing a table set up with brochures for the kids and families on Emergency Preparedness. 


Even when we’re having a good time, we need to have in mind the possibility that things can go very wrong.


These last couples of weeks with Hurricane Harvey and Irma, we saw again the destructive forces that Mother Nature can bring. 


And today being the 16th Anniversary since the terror attacks on 9/11 and the almost 3,000 murdered at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we are reminded of the necessity to always be ready for man-made/inflicted disasters as well. 


Now with Axis of Evil nations, North Korea and Iran, continuing to pose alarming threats to the West, the need for preparation and readiness to dangerous WMD–whether from an ICBM or a suitcase bomb–is ever present


Let’s just say until the final redemption when peace will reign on earth, we can never just rest securely on our laurels. 


Even on a sunny day, the clouds may be gathering to threaten us.  


So have a plan.  Be prepared.  You and your families lives across our beautiful and free nation depend on it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Ever Feel Like You’re Target Practice

Target.jpeg

Thought this was really spot on.


The knives get sharpened and readied. 


At some point, they come flying out of nowhere. 


Often, from all directions at the same time.  


When it rains, it pours. 


Some people latch on to the opportunity to try and make a kill. 


You do your best to duck this way and that and survive the onslaught.


Hopefully, you were adequately prepared. 


The big question is–can you hold unto your cheese? 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)