More Daring than a Prison Break

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “More Daring Than A Prison Break.”

Unlike the Jews that came as refugees from the horrors of the concentration camps and expelled from a multitude of the Arab nations, the Palestinians have been supported all this time by the Arab League, the United Nations, and the West capitulating to Arab oil dependence and ongoing fight against an encroaching Russia in the Middle East. There is no question that the Palestinians have squandered billions of dollars in aid, spent decades engrossed in terror, maintained unrealistic goals to “have it all,” and passed over many chances for achieving their people’s autonomy. If only their efforts at building tunnels to escape from prison as well as to get into Israel and attack, murder, and kidnap innocents would be channeled instead toward building solid institutions to advance the governing of their people, educating and growing prosperity, and living in freedom and peace, side-by-side with their neighbor, Israel.

While I am sure that there are many good Palestinians who are deserving of autonomy and opportunity, unfortunately, their corrupt leaders and terrorists have been brainwashed by radical Islam and have used the Palestinian people as political pawns leaving many still languishing in refugee camps today. In stark contrast, the Jewish freedom fighters, who also endured incredible hardships, focused their efforts towards their independence, and even those taken prisoner managed to escape again and again until they made their way back to Israel to celebrate the achievement of the independence of their people. Like many things in life, setting the right goal is half the battle, and a goal of life and freedom is a much more compelling vision and driving force than ever hate and terror will be.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Last Kiss Goodnight

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “The Last Kiss Goodnight.”

Certainly, every human being has the desire to live and goes about fighting for life. It’s part of our genetic makeup and our very survival instinct. Yet, we all know that the cycle of life brings us from the beginnings of infancy to growth, the maturity of adulthood, then decline, old age and ultimately death itself. Truly, we all know the end from the very beginning, and with that we can achieve a greater awareness that what’s good in living isn’t the materialism and chasing the next “high,” but rather the ability to choose to do good and to be on a higher spiritual plane.

Life is choice and having control over how we respond to life’s circumstances. Death is simply observing and being. Therefore, even if we merit being in the Divine presence in the afterlife, we still can’t actively help anyone, like those we love, any longer. This is why we want to merit life where we can continue to work on ourselves and help others. Thus, despite all the pain and suffering associated with life, it is more than offset by the opportunity to learn, grow, and transform our very essence in a purification process of our souls.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

G-d Doesn’t Ask Us

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “G-d Doesn’t Ask Us.”

Truly, in whatever situations we find ourselves in life, and the pain and suffering that we may have to endure, we really don’t have a choice of our circumstance, but only in how we choose to respond to it. In life, G-d puts us right where he wants us and in situations that are personalized and best for us, whether it feels that way at the moment or not. G-d tries us, and we have to respond with the “right” thoughts, words, and deeds—always remaining a mensch and choosing holiness and righteousness, no matter how difficult it may be. That’s our ultimate challenge, to find holiness even in the depths of despair.

Everyone is confronted with levels of pain and suffering, as I heard said that: “there aren’t enough people for all the pain in the world!” The challenge is to resist hopelessness and the loss of one’s integrity, and nevertheless to choose to do good. As we approach Rosh Hashanah, we have the opportunity to do teshuva and to try to influence G-d’s decree for us for the new year, but in the end, G-d is the ultimate Judge. He doesn’t ask us; He tells us what will be for us. Of course, we have the opportunity to answer G-d’s call to us and the responsibility to choose righteousness even in a distressed world and in trying times. In essence, the underlying test of it all is not only to survive the challenges we must face, but also to emerge from them as better people with purified souls.
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Paradoxically Jewish

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Paradoxically Jewish.”

While Israel and the Jews are filled with paradoxes from our forefather Abraham to the modern State of Israel, we are a people who try to wear these paradoxes well. We relish our commonalties even as we are proud of our differences and uniqueness. We argue and fight with each to try to get to “the truth of the matter,” and we negotiate, compromise, threaten and cajole to that sometimes elusive end. Paradox is just another word for our survival against all odds and our determination to overcome the blind hate, anti-Semitism, and scapegoating of Jews throughout history. We Jews are individually broken, but together, we are a beautiful, paradoxical mosaic—a little meshuggah (crazy) and with an unfortunate dose of PTSD, but fundamentally good in intent and deed—working to fulfill our optimism, hope, and mission to usher in the universality of G-d in the world and of betterment for humankind.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

No Talking To A Terrorist

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “No Talking To A Terrorist.”

The fact of the matter is that when a terrorist who hates you and wants to kill you talks, they are telling you that homicidal action is soon forthcoming. It starts with words of disdain, loathing, threats, and hostility, but make no mistake, that those words end in terror and death. Terrorists, like the radical Iranian mullahs are not someone you can sit down with for tea, have a nice conversation, and work out a meaningful or binding diplomatic agreement. Unfortunately, the only thing that a murderous, racist terrorist understands is a punch in the nose! Accordingly, no amount of talking with Iran is going to lead to them ceasing their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction to use against the Jewish State and the United States. In their own very distorted “religious” minds, the irrational Iranian mullahs hate us and want us dead, period. To them, we are the scorned infidels, and they are the holy jihadists on a mission of murder. As much as we want peace with all our neighbors, in this case, a military response is not only necessary, but required.

The Jewish people have learned very well the hard and painful lessons from tyrannical madmen who have sought to destroy us over the centuries. The Holocaust is seared into our present-day consciousness like the tattooed numbers were into their victim’s flesh. We have learned to never let our guard down, to expect the unexpected, and to fight like hell when we have to. I am confident that with G-d’s help, Israel and the United States will not wait until it’s too late or stand by for a genocide to happen again! What Iran “says,” it means, but what Israel “does,” it expertly succeeds at.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Peace In The Home, Always

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Peace In The Home, Always.”

If the husband and wife—with Hashem’s help as the third partner—create a peaceful, loving, caring, and harmonious home then they can have the likes of Shabbat all week long.

I realized why we say the blessing for the food before we eat and bless G-d for the land after we eat: before we eat, we don’t know how it will taste or whether it will sit well with us in our stomachs, but we imagine when we are hungry that all the good-looking food and drink will be great and so we bless G-d based on the perception of the coming food. However, after we eat, we make the blessing for the source of the food (the land, the food chain, and over wives for preparing it) for the sake of Shalom Bayit, because whether the meal was so good or not so good, we say thanks to Hashem and to our wives, because that contributes to Shabbat and peace in the home, always!

(Source Photo: Pixabay)

If G-d Wouldn’t Let Moshe In, Who Am I?

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “If G-d Wouldn’t Let Moshe In, Who Am I?”

Sure, we may not fully understand G-d’s decision on not letting Moshe into the land of Israel (or decisions that affect our lives today), still we can affirm our faith that G-d is a just and merciful Judge.

In the end, none of us are the level of Moshe Rabbeinu, and if G-d didn’t let him in, well who are we? This is a frightening thought to me. Yet at the same time, I believe that if we as the Jewish people collectively put our heartfelt yearnings and prayers together to be able to go and settle the land of Israel then perhaps G-d will answer us in the affirmative!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

We Are All Disabled

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “We Are All Disabled.”

And what happens to us after creation? Life happens, and people suffer from the happenstance and the often harsh “nurture” of this world. Whether from disease, accidents, or hurt inflicted on us from others — intentional or not — we all have “disabilities” and as difficult as it is to live with it, there is no shame in it!

Disabilities are an opportunity, however painful and humiliating for us to learn and grow and for others to be able to demonstrate love, compassion, and kindness to us…There is no running or hiding from disability, it is part of our mortal world. But from the scars and suffering of life, we must create healing. From disability, it is our job to turn it into ability, capability, and mobility!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)