The Origin of Government In The Bible

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Thought this was a really interesting speech by the Rabbi Haim Ovadia in synagogue today.


The origin of government and the function/dysfunction of society and rule of law is rooted in the in beginnings of mankind as told in the Bible/Torah. 


Starting with Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden — This was pretty much anarchy with only one law at the time not to eat the apple from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. 


Then in Noah’s Generation – There was oligarchy with roaming gangs that took the women and committed wickedness. 


Followed by the Tower of Babel — This was communism with everyone united to build and have a common property, a great city and tower reaching to the heavens.


Subsequently Sodom & Gomorrah – This was capitalism with people looking after their own selves and cities, getting spoiled of their material goods, and committing all manner of vices. 


And only then in the time of Abraham – There arose democracy with G-d electing Abraham and the Israelites based on lovingkindness and charity. 


As we know from the Bible and can see in the chart above, only democracy resulted in blessings for all of mankind.  


Yes, the election in the bible was made by G-d, but the notion is one based on “elected” representatives that do good and are a light for the whole world–so no, dictators need not apply!


The Bible is truly a blueprint for us as to how we can live our lives as well as how we can govern the world effectively . 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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613 Everywhere

So many times, I have written about the holy mystical number of 613 (the number of commandments in the Torah) and variations/transpositions on these numbers (316, 163, etc.).



My wife and I continue to see 613 all the time and everywhere!



Prices, receipts, license plates, accounts balances, stock price changes, lottery winnings, bar codes, time of day, wait times, schedules, number of email, rows in a spreadsheet, road numbers, social media views, etc. etc. etc.



– I have questioned myself over and over whether I am seeing it because I am sensitized to it or simply even looking for it at this point. 



The answer is a definite no!



Here’s a recent example, of the change in the stock price for Teva Pharmaceuticals (above)–it’s exactly -.0613!



But this isn’t a one time event or a fluke.  



As we all know stock prices fluctuate every moment on the marketplace. Yet, when I check at completely different and random times, it is up or down by a variation of 613!



Other times, I’ll check multiple stocks… and they will simultaneously be moving or priced at variations again of 613–at the exact same moment, I repeat, different stocks priced at the exact same moment.  



Here’s another non-financial example:

I did a post a few weeks ago on the critical importance of emergency preparedness. 



Look at how many views it got on LinkedIn…exactly 163!



This happens everywhere and all the time!



Here’s a third example:

A license plate. 



Here’s a fourth example:

Can you see the code on the package…613!



A fifth example:

A tracking code on a shipment. 



A sixth example: 

A bar code on a bottle of Life Water.



A seventh example:

A label on some spinach!



An eighth example:

A construction site.



An ninth example:

A public solicitation for the Department of Energy.



A tenth example:

The winning pot for Powerball. 



Hey, I am not superstitious and I am not OCD–seriously. 



But this happens all the time.



I cannot help but think that G-d is sending us an important message.



From a personal level, my wife and I have both tried to take the messages seriously and to continue to improve our lives–albeit we know, we are far from perfect human beings. 



However, we also feel compelled to share this message more broadly.



There is a lot going on in the world, and could this mean something bigger and more consequential to a lot more people?



Please, please, please, G-d have mercy on your children…we are but flesh and blood…and we desire to do good. 



(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Thou Shalt Not

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Interesting speech by the Rabbi today in synagogue. 


What stood out to me was when he talked about the Ten Commandments, particularly the 2nd set of five. 


And how some people hear what they want to hear. 


All of the 2nd five start with “Thou shalt not,”  but there are those people that only hear the part that comes after those words. 


So for example: Thou shalt not kill…steal…commit adultery…lie…desire.


But not everyone listens to the “Thou shalt not” and instead they just hear–selectively:


– Kill

– Steal

– Commit adultery

– Lie

– Desire


If you take out the “Thou shalt nots,” you are left with a list of terrible and evil deeds.


How convenient for those who are looking for the upper hand and pleasures in life–get rich quick, get and maintain power, take whatever and whomever you want and when you want it–no matter who it belongs to or how they feel.


Like the good angel and bad angel sitting over our shoulders and one says don’t do the bad thing and the other encourages us to do!


Who you going to listen to? 


Not everyone seems to care–they live for today and forget about tomorrow. 


Yet every misdeed leaves a tarnish on our soul, while every good deed adds a merit. 


And if there is no justice in the end then who the hell wants to be in such a world anyway. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Knowable and Unknowable

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So as we all do, I often come across challenging and perplexing issues or problems in life. 


And my nature is to try to understand them, solve them, fix them–is it survival or the challenge or both?


But then we come across some things that are just beyond our [mere mortal] understanding or ability to simply fix them. 


I remember as a youngster learning in Yeshiva about when it says in the Bible that G-d hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he continued to refuse to let the Jews go from their enslavement in Egypt.


And the classic mind-bending question is how could G-d harden his heart if Pharaoh retained free will which we all have to choose good or evil.


Did G-d harden his heart or did he have free will–which is it?  And if G-d hardened his heart, then how could Pharaoh and the Egyptians be punished for something they didn’t fully control? 


One explanation is that by facing the punishing plagues, Pharoah was losing his free will to decide what to do with the Israelites, so by hardening his heart, G-d was actually restoring his free will to choose once again…interesting. 


Of course in life, there is also the philosophical dimensions of so many seeming contradictions such as the cliche about what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.


Which wins out if one is unstoppable and the other is unmovable?


No, I don’t think these are just riddles, but the testing of the abilities of our human minds to understand further and further into the mysteries of G-d, creation, and the universe. 


So what do we do in life when confronted by things that are seemingly or really beyond our human capacities? 


– We ponder these weighty matters and sometimes we get frustrated and rip our little-left hair out or laugh at ourselves as to why we can’t just get it.


– We look to understand the deeper spiritual meanings of these challenges in the context of our earthly lives. 


– We try to solve and fix what we can within the confines of our spaghetti brain matter and flesh and bone bodies. 


– At the end of the day, we acknowledge our human limitations, and look to the Heavens for answers or at least for Divine guidance and protection along the way.


While we cannot understand everything or always reach our destination that we set for ourselves that should never prevent us from trying our hardest and going as far as we can on our journeys–and letting the next person, and the next person pick up the torch and carry it forward. 


In the Jewish prayers, we say that the matters of the earth are for our exploration and striving, but the ultimate secrets of the Heaven are for G-d alone. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mine and Yours

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In synagogue today, we read from Pirkei Avot (“Ethics of Our Fathers”).


And I talked with my friends at lunch about one passage from this timeless wisdom.


There are 4 types of people:


1) “Average Joe”

What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours in yours. 


Someone described this as “his and her–separate–accounts.”


2) Stupid

What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours in mine. 


Ah, this is just someone whose plain old confused.


3) Wicked

What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine.  


One guy described his ex-wife this way.


4) Righteous 


What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is yours.  


We all agreed this is the meaning of life–to be kind and giving to others.


What type of person are you? And what type of person do you want to be?  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Tunnel From Egyptian Bondage

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On Passover, we celebrate G-d’s redemption of the Israelites and the great miracles he wrought in bringing them from slavery to freedom, giving them the sacred Torah, and taking them to the Holy Land of Israel. 


His mercy and kindness endures forever!


While many people think that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and the desert…


Little do most people know that there is also this miracle tunnel that many Israelites took when G-d took them out of Egyptian bondage and exile. 


It connected them from Egypt and straight to the IRT subway train, which took them to the shuttle that then got them to John F. Kennedy International Airport and on to El Al planes to the State of Israel.


In G-d’s world, there is no limitations of time and space…and He literally brought them on wings on eagles to live in Israel and worship at his holy Temple in Jerusalem. 


For 3,500 years, the Israelite Jewish people have inhabited the land of Israel–from their days and until ours, may Judah be saved and may Israel dwell securely, and let us bless and thank G-d, and say Amen!  😉


(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)

Kosher Trust Or Not

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Here’s the big controversy in our synagogue this week. 


The Rabbi is having a Purim open house and he invited everyone to bring a pot luck.


Only home-made food, no purchased food please!”


In Jewish circles, this is the opposite of what you’d expect, where checking the kosher labels and symbols is critical to ensuring the food has followed the strict kosher dietary laws and can be eaten. 


Yet as pointed out, kashrut has been made into a whole commercial business these days…does it still reflect the intent?


The Rabbi explained in services today, in a very well received way, that we need to get back to respecting and trusting each other. 


That these values are essential to being truly religious people.


It was a wonderful speech in that it evoked unconditional acceptance and respect for everyone. 


As we know, no one is so perfect, even though the goal of course is to be as perfect as we can be. 


So two things:


1) I really like the notion of treating people well and putting that high on the priorities as we are all G-d’s creatures.


2) I myself am kosher, but not fanatically so, therefore, I personally appreciated the acceptance and love in the community. 


Yet, after I got home, and thinking about this some more, and despite my own failings religiously and otherwise, I asked myself, “Am I really comfortable eating from a parve and meat community pot luck?”


And even as I ask this question, I am sort of squirming at the idea of just eating anyone’s food–and not knowing anything about it. 


How am I doing due diligence in even trying to keep kosher like that?


While maybe I’m not the most kosher of everyone, it certainly is important to me to at least try (to some extent), but I ask myself can this be considered really even trying–when some people aren’t religious, may not have a strong religious education, and perhaps some may not even be (fully) Jewish?


Sure, someone can even have the best intentions and try to bring kosher food, yet it’s certainly possible that the food may not be kosher. 


Perhaps, in prior times, it was an issue of more or less kosher, but these days, it can be an issue of kosher or not kosher at all. 


This is a very difficult issue–because we can’t put people up against the law–we must by necessity respect both. 


So yes, I love the idea of respecting everyone and that’s a given assuming they are good, decent people, but trust is not something you just have, it’s something you earn, by…being trustful!


I’m not one to preach religion to anyone…I struggle myself with the laws and in trying to do what’s right in the commandments between man and G-d. 


And while I am ready to accept all good and loving people, I am perhaps not ready to just trust them without knowing that the trust is dutiful. 


Love thy neighbor as thyself is paramount, but also we have a duty to G-d to try to fulfill his commandments the best we can. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)