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)

A Reason For Everything

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “A Reason For Everything.”

Reincarnation actually makes so much sense, especially when you see that G-d can and does bring people back to the world when they still have life lessons to learn and growth to be achieved. It’s part of our preparation and our soul’s purification process to go back to Hashem.

Obviously, we are not G-d, and don’t have the time and event perspective of Hashem who was, is, and will be. However, if we understand that G-d has a plan, everything is connected, and there is a reason for everything, then we can go through life inspired to do the right thing ourselves even when we are challenged by our circumstances.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

I Know He Exists

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “I Know He Exists.”

G-d, who is infinitely compassionate, did the most compassionate thing, which was to create us and give us the ability to be compassionate on others. The way we bring Hashem to reside with us is to transform the world (tikkun olam) “to make it a place that G-d can call home.” We do this by performing acts of loving kindness, making the mundane holy, and manifesting G-d’s divine providence. In essence, it’s not enough for us to know G-d exists, but we need to be a light unto the nations to reveal G-d’s unity, sanctity, and ongoing relationship with his creations to everyone in the world.

Like the story of the priest from the Holocaust, we don’t believe G-d exists, but rather, we know He exists. And when we perform our mission in this world by doing good deeds and manifesting G-d’s oneness and divine providence then we make this a place where G-d wants to reside with us in this world as well as in the world to come.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mastering Cheerfulness

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Mastering Cheerfulness.” 

During Covid-19, it is easy to get down about all the people getting sick (many dying) and for the rest of us the intense feelings of isolation. However, during this time (and particularly this week of Thanksgiving), I am learning the importance of staying positive and appreciating all G-d’s blessings that we do have. More broadly, I am coming to understand that inside a person, G-d exists amidst love, kindness and cheerfulness: these are elements that nourish the flame of our soul and wherein G-d happily coexists with us. It makes a lot of sense that when we are angry, jealous, or sad, the holy Shechinah (presence of G-d) cannot fully reside inside us. Because G-d Himself is gracious, kind, and loving and created us from this, so His spirit within us (our soul) flourishes amidst these feelings, but diminishes within us like a flame without oxygen when we distance ourselves emotionally and spiritually.

Just like one candlelight extinguishes the darkness around it, so also the light that we nurture within ourselves can extinguish the darkness that we occasionally feel inside.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)