Know Before Whom You Are Standing

So many synagogues have this important saying at the top of the Holy Ark where the Torahs are kept in front of the shul.


It says, translated into English:


“Know before who you are standing (i.e. G-d).”


The idea is to remember when you are in the holy place of worship that you are standing and praying before G-d and should conduct yourself appropriately and with respect and reverence. 


While certainly there are times when people forget themselves in the synagogue and say or do something not completely appropriate (e.g. socializing, talking, or even telling jokes to their neighbors during the service), usually it is not intended to be disrespectful, but rather to be friendly with their neighbors and community. 


However, this past Shabbat I witnessed behavior in the synagogue (name withheld)  that was truly a chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d). 


Out of respect for the Rabbi (and Rabbabite), I will neither mention their names or go into the details about what happened except to say that it involved the politics surrounding the end of the Rabbi’s 3-year term and the inability for him and the board to come to terms on a new agreement (even though one had  apparently been signed and reneged on). 


This did not belong in the synagogue on the holy Shabbat, period. 


Those embracing and kissing the Rabbi in his support and going against the President and the board that is elected to represent the congregation was disgraceful. 


Further, while I support the Rabbi saying his farewells, demanding to speak without the permission of the President and the board, and even before the President gave his regular announcements was inexcusable. 


And when the fighting between the Rabbi and President brought yelling and fighting to the congregants, this should have been a sign for that behavior to immediately cease. 


The desecration of the “peace” of the Shabbat with the politics, money, and contract issues and the ensuing fighting (almost civil war between those supporting the Rabbi and those the President and the board) before the Holy Ark filled with the Torahs was reprehensible. 


For the spiritual leadership to behave in such a crude and disrespectful fashion was a mark of utter disgrace in the synagogue before G-d. 


I have never seen anything like this before and hope never to have to witness anything so irreverent again. 


This was a most traumatic event for the community and I hope we will recover in time and have a complete healing. 


Moreover, I pray that G-d forgives the behavior that happened and has mercy on this congregation because things got out of control and I think they forgot before whom they were standing.  😉


(Source Photo and not of the synagogue under discussion: Andy Blumenthal)

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Never Forget # Never Again

Please see my new article in Times of Israel


As much as we have to remember the horrors of the Holocaust and how so-called, human beings can descend into the depth of evilness inflicting hell against their fellow man, it is most critical to ensure it never happens again. 


But remembering can be extremely painful, especially for the next generation that perhaps wants to forget all the terrible tragedy and for everything to be seemingly “normal” again. 


But in the ageless war of good over evil, we must continuously fight to defend a peaceful and secure future for us and our children. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Breaking The Cycle Of Trauma

Thought these are some beautiful sentiments about breaking the cycle of trauma in our lives: 

“Hurt people hurt people.

That’s how pain patterns get passed on, generation after generation after generation.

Break the chain today.

Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness. 

Greet grimaces with smiles.

Forgive and forget about finding fault.

Love is the weapon of the future.”

– Yehuda Berg, The Kabbalah Center

This is powerful–it should only be that we can have a complete healing, betterment, and a renewal of peace for all. 


One other thing that I heard that was so plain and simple, yet so smart was that:

Our job in this world is to do the most good that we can do!

Thank you to Minna Blumenthal for sharing all this.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Should We Care What Others Think?

fishbowl

So I was talking with someone and they were telling me how self conscious they feel about what others think of them.


They said when they were in school, they were picked on, bullied, labeled, and made to feel different and excluded.


Whether it was their hair that was different or their lunchbox that got taken and hidden from them, the other kids were relentless. 


Now in life, they are still dealing with all those feelings.


Do they look right? 


Are they educated enough?


Is their profession something others will admire them for?


And on and on. 


And at a certain point, I said, “Isn’t it more important what you think about yourself than what others think about you?”


And they said, “Sure, but I still feel like I have to live up to other people’s standards. I don’t want them to think bad about me or talk behind my back!”


I understand this way of thinking is based on trauma from the past and feelings of inadequacy and not fitting in. 


And we can spend our whole lives chasing this illusive acceptance from others. 


Or we can decide to pursue we what believe in and love, and to find healing in the good we do, rather than the nods or winks from others that we receive. 


If we are trying to live up to somebody else’s arbitrary standards of perfection, cool, or being in the in-crowd, we may never be good enough.


Instead, if we pursue what we know is right from our moral compass and our heart and soul, and always do our best, we will attain the satisfaction that comes with healthy self-development and maturation. 


Seeking unconditional acceptance and love can definitely leave you feeling frustrated, self-hating, and even quite alone. 


But accepting yourself, developing yourself, and giving to G-d and to others will always leave you feeling fulfilled. 


Forget living as if your in the fishbowl, and strive for the Superbowl of achievement through incremental progress and goal attainment in your life. 

Start with making yourself proud and the others will come around. And if for some reason they don’t, it’s truly their deficiency and loss and not yours!


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Amazing Will

Prosthesis

So this is amazing Will. 


He is a veteran who was disabled and is missing a leg. 


But that doesn’t stop him from going to the track with his beautiful son to play ball and do some laps. 


In a few short moments he switches between his regular walking prothesis and the carbon fiber running blades for playing and working out. 


All I could say to Will was how amazing he is. 


And he is amazing Will for what he can do despite any disabilities–he turns his disabilities into abilities!


And he is amazing Will not just because of his name and his service to his country and his devotion to his family, but because of his willpower.


Will is determined to succeed no matter what. 


Not to compare, but I thought to myself what excuse do I have with my titanium hips.


Get the heck around the track for another dozen Andy!


And I did, and I am losing weight and getting back to myself. 


I think the lose of both my completely dear parents the last couple of years was more than traumatic for me. 


But they would want me to heal and to be me again.  


I know they are watching and I want to make them proud. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From Flat Tires To Wounded Warriors

Totally awesome new technology breakthrough for treating hemorraging patients from the battlefield to the obstetrics ward.

Popular Science reports how a pocket-size syringe filled with sponges can stop bleeding in seconds.

Instead of having to apply wads of gauze and apply pressure”that doesn’t always work…[and] medic must pull out all the gauze and start over again,” the injection of sponges into the wound “boosts survival and spares injured soldiers from additional pain.”

This same technology developed by RevMedx for the military is being adapted for postpartum hemmorages, and I would imagine could eventually be used in other serious bleeding cases whether caused by accident, trauma, in surgery, or other medical necessity.

The sponges are about 1-centimeter circles and are coated with a blood-clotting, antimicrobial substance.

Once injected, the sponges expand to about 20 times their size to fill the wound, apply enough pressure to stop the bleending, and clings to moist surfaces, so they aren’t forced out by gushing blood.

The sponges have X-shaped markers on each that are visible on an x-ray image to ensure none are left inside.

The solution is sterile, biocompatible and in the future may be biodegradable so they don’t have to be removed from the body.

And to think that the inspiration was Fix-a-Flat foam for emergency tire repair. 😉