The Surprising Secret To Becoming Your Best

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “The Surprising Secret To Becoming Your Best.”

Even while we are each different and should become our best selves, we still all need to make sure we are driving towards good healthy goals.

There is no one-size-fits-all mold for us. Hashem has a destiny in mind for each of us, and we need to find out what that is and work to become it. As parents, we need to see our children for who they are and not who we may want them to be. Truly, it’s a blessing to be able to be ourselves! As long as we and they are doing good in the world and by our Creator, we are each and everyone on solid Jewish ground.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Plan Amidst The Pain

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “The Plan Amidst The Pain.”

In life, not only do we have to be determined and work hard, but G-d throws us curveballs and challenges all along the way that can often make us drop to our knees or throw our arms up in despair. However, we need to be faithful like Jacob and Joseph, knowing that it’s all a part of G-d’s plan and mission for us, and through these we learn and grow and become better versions of ourselves.

Moreover, if we but open our eyes to the miracle of our creation and our sustainment every moment of every day by Hashem, and remember that He put us all here for a purpose, then we can pay the daily price for what G-d puts in front of us and how we choose to handle it.We can do this knowing that it’s all really just a small price to pay in the end for so much that we gain in this world and that we will carry forward to the hereafter. In the end, nothing is free, but the price and the reason is always just what G-d wants it to be.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When Hypocrisy Leads To Abuse

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “When Hypocrisy Leads to Abuse.”

As many of you, I have been following the news about sexual abuse allegations against Rabbi Chaim Walder and have been horrified and disgusted that this renowned ultra-orthodox Children’s book author and therapist is now accused of abusing the same. Like community Rabbis (e.g. Rabbi Barry Freundel) or Jewish educators (e.g. Stanley Rosenfeld), this phenomenon of using a privileged position to take advantage of women and children is certainly, by this time, not new and remains a stain on the Jewish community, no different than that of the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts for the abuse by its priest and leaders on those that trusted them and the religious values and ideals they represent.

Truly, these horrible acts of hurting, abusing, and scarring for life women and children (including boys) are regrettably alal around us, whether with domestic violence, rape, sexual abuse, and human trafficking. But fortunately now they are at least “out of the closet” where rather than have the community deny the possibility that such evil exists or even circle the wagons to wholly protect the perpetrators (before fully investigating the facts), we now have greater recognition and are working towards accountability of these wrongs, and hopefully, far greater protection for people in the future.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

“Rock and Roll” With Chabad

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Rock and Roll With Chabad.”

People are often blocked from moving forward by uncertainty, indecision, insecurity, self-doubt, hesitancy, worry, and fear, yet one man, such as Jacob, can stand up and move that big rock off the well if he just sets his mind to it and tries!

The bottom line is that when people say it can’t be done or to wait because it will take an entire village of shepherds to simply move the rock from the well, instead we can see that even one determined person can “rock and roll,” make a difference, and start to make something special and meaningful happen.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Jewish Unity Is Strength

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Jewish Unity Is Strength.”

It didn’t matter what race or nationality the person who had been hit by the car was, she was a human being in pain and who needed the help of others. We Jews need to remember that this is life in a nutshell. Life can change in split instance for better or G-d forbid, for worse. We need one another. No man is an island. We can’t afford to play holier than thou with anyone else. Only G-d can judge who is really “religious” and who is wanting.

It brought to my mind the irony that with the Jewish people, we are a small minority in the world, and yet we often disagree, fight, and can be intolerant and neglectful of one another despite facing anti-Semitism and other crises. This is far from the ideal of demonstrating love and acceptance, unifying ourselves together, and becoming as strong and effective as a “light unto nations” that we could and should be.

We can have our personal and communal ideals and standards, but at the same time have empathy for the journey that people are on. Therefore, we should strive to treat each other with kindness and tolerance and put aside the lofty and phony airs of personal judgement and exclusivity. Because in the end, no one knows who is laying next on the street waiting for that ambulance to come.

(Credit Painting: Dannielle Blumenthal)

What’s Your Kindness

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “What’s Your Kindness.”

When we are happy, we are able to graciously and generously give to others, and when we give to others, we are able to be happy! All the other pursuits in life such as wealth, ego, good looks, and so on are nothing but vanities (like King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes), and in the end lead to nothing but loss and suffering. However, giving and the happiness and positive spiritual energy it creates endures.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

True Self Is Helping Others

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “True Self is Helping Others.”

The Rebbe’s message was that self-improvement was really about helping others! All the changes we commit to around the Jewish New Year and make in ourselves is not really about us, but rather about us being able to develop ourselves in order to “give it all away” to help others. Too often, people think in terms of self-help, self-improvement, where everything is sort of in terms, well, ourselves–my looks, my degrees, my career, my bank account, my family, and so on. However, people should not lose sight that everything that Hashem gives us is really for a higher spiritual purpose, for giving to others or “paying it forward.”

In this vein, we learn Torah not just for the sake of learning, but rather in order to actually do Mitzvot! Rabbi Kaplan explained that the Rebbe would make each and every person feel special and important. Why? Because by building up the individual, each could then go out and build up the world. And this is one of the reasons that I love and respect Chabad so much—from my experience, people like Rabbi Kaplan and Chabad in general, are all about living this life lesson from the Rebbe and giving, giving, and then giving some more in order to really improve the Jewish community globally and by extension the world.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

How Hashem Was Found

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “How Hashem Was Found.”

This disabled man was then charged with DUI and spent the next 8 1/2 years in prison. But the Rabbi of the prison helped him to find G-d in all this suffering and slowly he returned to his Jewish roots. Now, for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, commemorating the giving of the Torah to all the Jewish people, he was in synagogue, holding his prayer book and receiving the Ten Commandments with the rest of the congregants.

If this man who’s body was crushed, leg lost, and who spent so many years in prison could find the good and his way back to Hashem, then there is hope for all of us who can learn, grow, and turn our lives around as well. G-d is there in the darkness and in the light, and we have to find Him and believe.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)