Just My Imagination

These folks make some beautiful music together. 


Sit back and enjoy!


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

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Hashem Has A Plan

Sometimes things in life can look very dark. 


In every generation, “they come against us.”


But the Holy One Blessed Be He watches over his children. 


He neither slumbers nor sleeps. 


When the wicked arise in arrogance and evil to hurt us, we must turn to the One Above.


“I will not fear, because G-d is with me.”


Only He directs the course of the world.


Only He determines who will succeed and who will fail. 


The evildoers plot their sinister ways.


But G-d sees and hears, and will disturb their evil intentions.


G-d, my soul crieth out to you in the times of my trouble and affliction.


My mouth begs you for your mercy and your just and swift hand. 


Please G-d intervene and thwart the evil plans of those that hate you and your children and seek them harm. 


L-rd arise. L-rd arise. 


L-rd save us. L-rd save us. 


L-rd make us successful.  L-rd make us successful. 


Vanguish our enemies and let your faithful servants prevail. 


Make G-d turn his fiery and his sword on the enemies of His children.


May He exact ultimate vengeance and bring great discomfort, torment, and travail upon those with evil intentions and doings.


L-rd hear my cries, and swoop down from your Heavenly palace and save your people.


And the evil will be eradicated and the L-rd will bring final justice. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mazel Tov On Jerusalem

Today, Jerusalem has been recognized as the capital of Israel–Mazel tov!


– 70 years after President Truman instructed the State Department to support the U.N. partition plan.


– 50 years since the Six Day War in which Jerusalem was reunified.


– 22 years after the Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed for relocating the U.S. Embassy to the capital, Jerusalem.


Everyone has been patient and waited a long time for this.


As President Trump stated, we are recognizing the reality, the obvious, and “it is the right thing to do!”


Yes, Israel is a sovereign nation with the right to determine their own capital as every nation does. 


And Jerusalem is that capital today as it has been historically from the times of the Bible. 


We are blessed to be witnessing in our time the miraculous fulfillment of G-d’s promise for the quintessential return of the Israelites to the Promised Land, and toward the ultimate redemption.


From the ashes of the Holocaust, G-d has resurrected and brought us alive again.


Many that I have spoken with today express genuine fear about the ramifications of this announcement of recognition. 


But as President Trump displayed today, we must all go forward together courageously and in celebration. 


The State of Israel is blooming from its agricultural fields to the incredible medical and technological innovations that are helping people throughout the world.


We must never forget that it is only with G-d’s blessing and under his watchful eye.


May we all pray for peace and security, and let their not be war or terrorism anymore! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via White House)

Trendy – Shoes and Bag In One

I thought this was a very creative ladies bag.


It combines two things that many love–shoes and bags!


No, you’re not putting your shoes in the bag.


And you’re definitely not wearing your bag on your feet (that’s another blog on innovation).


In this case, the shoes (and legs) are the design on the bag itself and make up the shoulder straps to carry it. 


Creative and fun thinking, right?


Also, I like the design of bold colors of the red and white sneakers and the blue jeans on the black bag. 


This is both functional and cool, and I like the trend of “mixing it up.”


The straps are the legs and shoes–pretty smart! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Crumbs Are For The Birds, Not The Workers

Since the days of slavery, workers have had very little in terms of rights or protections. 


The rich and powerful capitalist employers hold all the cards.


Like this poster says:

“Which Shall It Be?
Duke: ‘If you demand your rights, no more crumbs from my table.’
Working Man: ‘Give me my rights and keep your crumbs.'”

The capitalist owners enjoy being able to give “trickle-down economics” to the average working man. 


Basically, it’s just crumbs from the rich man’s table. 


And if you don’t like it, and you want rights, protections, and more…tough luck, and no more crumbs for you!


But the little guy who breaks his back to earn his daily bread, wants his dignity and respect more than the crumbs from the “capitalist pig” taking advantage of him.


Trickle-down is bullshit!


Crumbs aren’t going to raise the standard of living for the working class. 


We need living wages, social and income equality, and workers rights and protections to keep the little guy from being bulldozed by the rich and powerful. 


Certainly, there are many rich and powerful people that are good and generous, but not everyone is that that way. 


And we can’t have mistreatment of people by those wielding a whip over them.


Yes, workers need to perform and conduct themselves professionally–that is their job.


But workers shouldn’t be taken advantage of with poor wages, little to no benefits, and miserable working conditions (including bullying, harassment, and hostile work environments). 


Remember that in life tables can get turned and the rich and powerful can become the poor and the weak.  


Therefore, pay and treat your workers as you would want to be paid and treated. 


No one is so big as to be untouchable by G-d. 


Money and power will not save anyone from illness, accidents, disasters, and misfortune.


The only thing that does save people is good deeds, kind words, compassion, faith, and prayer. 


Crumbs are for the birds, dignity and respect are for the people!


(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)

Sexual Acting Out

There is now a seemingly endless slate of sexual harassment allegations against some of the biggest shots from Hollywood to Washington, D.C. 


From the longest-serving Congressmen to the biggest star of morning television news, it seems that no one is sacrosanct.


Is it just that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”?


Or maybe it’s more broadly to be stated, as the Rabbi noted on Shabbat, that: 

“G-d created man perfectly imperfect!”

Men and women are created with sexual urges to procreate, bond emotionally and physically, and enjoy each other. 


Men tend to be the stronger than women and are able to have children into old age, and perhaps, it can be said, have the bigger “urge to merge.


Sure, there are women who are normally sexually active, and also those who are perhaps hypersexual (nympomaniac, “cougars,” etc.) and who commit sexual abuse too.


In fact, it was interesting that Wikipedia actually breaks rape down into 4 gender on gender categories:


– Rape of females by males

– Rape of females by females

– Rape of males by females

– Rape of males by males


Issues with physical intimacy and sexual harassment and violence span both sexes, however, it is also clear that:

“Rape affects women disproportionately, with the majority of people convicted being men.”


In the U.S., the statistics show gross levels of sexual violence to women:


– 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetime (vs 1 in 71 men).


– 91% of victims of rape and sexual assault are female.


Also, particularly disturbing is the number of girls and boys targeted:


– 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before age 18. 


What type of society have we created, where women and children are not generally safe?


It’s interesting to me in Judaism that there is a recognition of sexual impulse, and that some Hasidim actually wear a “gartel” belt when praying to physically and spiritually separate the upper half of the body with the head and heart, from the lower half with the more animal instincts.


In short, the head and heart need to control the animal part of people. 


Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be happening in so many cases. 


Stunned from the outpouring of sexual allegations nearly everyday now, I said to my wife: 

“What is wrong with these people? They have it all: position, power, and wealth; and yet, they throw it all away –including their integrity and reputations–for a five minute lay in the hay!”


Is the animal instinct too strong for the person to control? That just isn’t going to cut it.


As a functioning society, it’s got be completely unacceptable for people to act out sexually or otherwise violently hurt their neighbors. 


It’s time for social reform and for the animals to be controlled by the people. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)