From Mouth To Friendship

So it’s amazing how people are so willing to throw away friendship. 


They get angry about something having nothing even to do with you.


They say things they probably don’t even mean, and in turn you may say things you don’t even mean. 


Often you say things just to bring the other person to their senses. 


But sometimes they don’t come to their senses. 


They need to let out on someone and you’re the convenient scapegoat. 


Before you know it, they throw your friendship under a bus. 


Personally, I’m not one to make friends that easily or quickly–there needs to be some real chemistry and the building of trust–but then I am one who is an eternally loyal friend. 


Yet, I see others, they kiss and hug and say you’re like family, but then when they get angry, oh boy, you are gone like the wind. 


Maybe that’s not what real friendship is. 


To me, friendship surpasses dumb deeds and words and stupid fights, it’s about being there through thick and thin.


Take the false teeth out and put some permanent ones in–they last much longer. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Tongue-Tied Silence

Sometimes in life, people are left tongue-tied. 


Too shocked, shamed, confused, or abused to speak or perhaps to even know what to say anymore. 


Maybe in the face of some horrible things that happen in life, there really are no words.


Instead, the vacant or crazed look in the eyes says it all.


People go through a lot–some of it is inhumane.


Sometimes, only tears can even begin to express what they are feeling. 


I think one thing that is important to do, even when we’re not sure what to say, is to acknowledge that it is okay. 


Silence is often golden. 


Listen more, watch more, feel more, learn more, reflect more. 


Ask more questions. 


Usually, I’m told to ask at least 5 times (i’d say at least 3) to decompose to what is really going on underneath the superficial covers. 

“Tell me more.”
“What else?”
“Can you elaborate?”


Sometimes, people have difficulty getting in touch with their true feelings or accurately diagnosing what’s bothering them.  


It’s more than okay to be thoughtful, be deliberative. 


Words are often cheap, but they shouldn’t be. 


Our words should be truthful, meaningful, insightful, even righteous. 


Take all the time you need, your words are worth it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Power of Speech

I loved this magnet on this wonderful old Jewish ladies refrigerator who lives in our community.

“If you have nothing good to say…
Say nothing.”

I remember we used to talk about this saying in my house growing up too. 


It is a famous teaching from the holy Chofetz Chaim.


I remember as a bar-mitzvah boy, someone in our community in Riverdale, NY gave me a set of the Chofetz Chaim’s books.


And I enjoyed reading from them daily about always being careful with how you use your words:


– Not to hurt anyone.


– Not to speak bad about anyone (i.e. Lashon Hara)


– But rather to use words pointedly and always for the good. 


Kind words.


Gentle words.


Complimentary words.


Words of love and caring. 


Holy words. 


The Chofetz Chaim seemed to have an endless number of wonderful stories to demonstrate the power of speech and the importance of using it for the good. 


The old saying of “The pen is mightier than the sword,” can be used replacing the pen with the tongue and power of speech in general. 


Words can cut someone like a knife and even kill or words can create a tremendous healing when it’s full of love and caring for others. 


Actions speak louder than words, but words can speak and perform volumes in the eternal fight of good over evil. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

White Lie, Black Truth

No this is not another civil or human rights post, although I like writing those as well. 


Rather, this is about how we use our words to help and not hurt others. 

“White Lie, 

Black Truth”

Yes, we all know that it’s wrong to lie (it’s even in the 10 Commandments). 


Except, of course, when we need to tell a “white lie” in order to keep someone’s feelings from getting hurt.


For example, I may not like your new haircut, but when you ask me glowingly what I think, instead of telling you how it’s too short or whatever, I tell you, “Yeah, it looks great!”


Then, there is the “black truth.”


That’s when we swallow hard and tell the  truth to someone, even though it may hurt their feelings, it’s ultimately for their good. 


For example, your child may be going of course with their lives, and while you don’t want to hurt their feelings, you know you need to tell them the truth in order to help them course-correct.


Telling lies or truth can be hurtful to people, but a white lie isn’t really bad, because it’s used to protect someone’s feeling, the black truth, is also not so dark and foreboding, because there are times when you need to get past the superficial, be real with someone, and tell them the hard truth in order to help them in a very practical sense. 


That’s one of life’s most difficult lessons, that not everything is black or white. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Meaning of Silence

Silence.jpeg

Is silence a good thing or a bad thing–what does it really mean?


On the plus or neutral side:


Silence can mean modesty and humility–you withhold speaking out of turn or having a big mouth; you recognize that you don’t know everything and what you do know is not intended to put down or shame others. 


Silence can means secrets and privacy–you don’t say everything; you treat information properly based on need to know and propriety of sharing. 


Silence can mean good situational judgement–that you know prudently when to let others have their say, or when your opinion isn’t really welcome, or when it’s best to just stay below the radar. 


Silence can mean you simply don’t know–and it’s something you need to listen and learn more about rather than speak; it’s why we’re told that we have two ears and one mouth.


Silence can mean that maybe you don’t care about something–why get fired up or “waste your breath” on it when it’s just not your thing.


When can it be a negative:


There was a sign in the local school window that silence means (wrongful) acceptance; that is also something I learned in in the Talmud in yeshiva; if you see something wrong and don’t say or do something, you are (partially) responsible.


Silence can mean fear–perhaps you don’t accept something, but you’re afraid to speak truth or morality to power; you sit silently cowering, when you should stand up tall and speak out. 


Silence may also mean shame–you’ve done something wrong or don’t want others to know something that could make you look bad or put you in jeopardy. 


Silence can mean you are hiding something–it can be that you don’t trust or aren’t trustful; silence at a time when you need to answer or respond can result in suspicion about why you are “holding back,” instead of being forthcoming and truthful.


When to talk and when to remain silent? 


Certainly, “you have the right to remain silent.”


We need to use words with care and intent–to always seek to help and not to hurt. 


Words are so potent–the mouth is perhaps the strongest part of the human body, just like the pen is mightier than the sword. 


That’s why I pray that G-d put the “right words” in my mouth–to be constructive, positive, effective and impactful–to do good as much as possible with words and with silence. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Taking It Back

Taking It Back.jpeg

So I was watching Baahubali, the highest grossing movie in India, ever. 


Enjoyed the Bollywood action and pageantry and am looking forward to the sequel coming out this week.


There was one line in the movie, spoken between swordsmen that stood out to me:


“Spoken words and spilled blood can never be taken back.”


Mean and harsh word can cut like a knife and hurting someone with words or deeds, can never really be taken back. 


Sure, we can ask for forgiveness and try to make amends.


But it’s like once you let the genie out the bottle, you can never really put her and keep her back in. 


A veteran recently fought to have a VA hospital in Florida put the picture of the President up instead of the blank frame on the wall they had (some nonsensical notion of resistance indicating “not my president”)–the veteran said about trying to right this wrong:

“It’s like trying to put 5 pounds of baloney back in a bag that only holds 2 pounds.”


People are doing bad things and saying bad these things these days that can’t be just taken back. 


Family, friends, and colleagues–are fighting it out and splitting up.


Each side tells themselves and the other that their cause is right and noble.  


But how much of it is really just brainwashing, hyperbole, and politicking?


While our values as individuals and as a nation should never be put at stake, maybe we could get more done and better by working together than spilling blood–friend and friend, neighbor and neighbor. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

How-To Book Craze

How To Take Photos

I took this photo of a person reading a how to take great photos book.


Sort of ironic, funny, no?


You can read about it or do it. 


I’m one of those people who learn more by actually doing. 


Ok, I’m not the greatest photographer in the world (by a really long shot).


But for me it’s more about the idea I’m trying to convey than the pure artistic value per se. 


Anyway, in the vein of words being cheap, “Reading is fundamental,” but doing is absolutely fundamental. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)