In the hands of heaven

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “In The Hands of Heaven.”

From Passover, we learn the Egyptians didn’t earn the riches, but built their wealth on the backs of the starving people of the world and of course that includes their Israelite slaves. As the Egyptians gloated on their arrogance, power and wealth, eventually the Master of the World showed them who is really boss. All the money, materialism, fancy titles, and honors are all just fleeting. In Hashem resides the glory and He has the say over who gets what and when.

G-d can redeem 600,000 men, women and children, and a large mixed multitude of people with them and very many flocks and cattle in the Exodus and to Him, it’s just another day on the throne of Heaven. In our own times, we have experienced a miraculous redemption from the death camps of Europe, and have returned like the Israelites to the Promised Land of Israel. G-d decides then and now what the plan is and how it unfolds, and everything we have is by G-d’s grace, and these are Seder lessons worthy of celebrating.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sheep No More

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, Sheep No More

In thinking about sacrifices as animal substitution for consequences to man, we can also reverse this logic to explore what sacrifices can teach us about consequences to man in their relationship to the Jewish people. In this particular case, I am thinking about Jewish responses to those who desire to be our friends and want to build kind and productive relationships with us or the opposite, to our enemies, who seek to persecute, attack us, and make the Jews their korban, victims.

In short, traditional korbanot in the Temple can teach us not only about how animals can substitute for people in our sacrifices to G-d for thanksgiving, communion, and acknowledging of consequences and teshuva (repentance) for our wrongdoing, but also how the Jewish people can relate to the nations of the world in everything from full peace, positive engagement, acts of guilt and sin against us, and even full-fledged war. Sacrifices teach us that while peace is always the desired state and fiery war a last resort in our self-defense and preservation, we know that after thousands of years of anti-Semitism, persecution, and Holocaust, we are no longer the sacrificial lamb on anyone’s Temple altar.
(Source Photo: Pixabay Free Image)

Fiery Star of David

Sharing this beautiful Magen David (Star of David). 

Saw it on Facebook and thought it’s really dazzling!

Man, we’re on fire  and in a good way–rebirth after the horrors of the Holocaust, redemption to and flourishing of the Promised Land of Israel, and what looks like many more incredible things to come.

Hence, my reading of the three stars: our past, present, and future. 

G-d’s plan for the world is happening, and it’s hopefully very bright indeed.  😉

Preparing for The Third Temple

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Preparing for the Third Temple.”

In essence, the Jewish Temples have been not only physically buried over, but also the site has been historically Islamicized despite the Temple Mount’s intrinsic holiness to all three major religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism). In short, this is a very sensitive issue that is likely anchored in facets of intolerance and religious rivalry, as well as pretenses of superiority and dominance, rather than ultimately on the shared connection we have through both our genetic and spiritual lineage as Abraham’s decedents.

We absolutely want to have a peaceful and productive coexistence with all people, but just as Israel has risen from the Valley of Dry Bones, so too the day is coming soon when the Jewish Temple will be rebuilt in shinning glory and we can worship G-d just as we did in times before. What will be special about the 3rd Temple is that it will not only be for the Jewish people, but for all the world’s people to come together harmoniously to recognize and worship the one true and faithful G-d of us all. 😉

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Never About Luck

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “It’s Never About Luck.”

Today is Purim, when we celebrate the Jewish victory over the evil Haman and his conspiracy to annihilate the Jews in the Persian Empire. Haman drew a lottery to determine what he thought was a fortuitous day, the 13th of Adar, to murder the Jewish people and pursued this plot through a decree by King Achashverosh. But as we know, G-d made miracles through Queen Esther and her uncle Mordechai, and Haman and his ten sons ended hanging by the noose that he built for Mordechai. 

This has been my personal experience as well, as I can see both now and in 20/20 hindsight that there is a definite Divine method and not just a world of random chance and madness.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Power of Love

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “The Power of Love.”

When we act up and fight with each other, then in the end, we will really only end up hurting ourselves.

Tomorrow can be better than today and yesterday, if we learn to live in peace and brotherhood with each other, and understand that hurting another is really only hurting ourselves in the end. G-d’s holiness dwells among us only when we stop the silly bickering and infighting, and love each other, and Him, with all our heart and soul.
(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)

Success, Israeli Cuisine Style

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, Success, “Israeli Cuisine Style.”

This notion of success and failure in life makes you think about not only the imperative to be successful in our lives, but also to question what does that success even mean and look like? Is success really the goal or is the journey with its growing pains and lesson learned the real goal towards purifying our souls?

When we read the Ten Commandments, we are reminded of what the foundational elements of success in life actually are all about: How did we treat others (were we compassionate and giving)? Did we behave as Mensch’s in our lives? Did we try our best to do the “right thing” by our fellow man and by G-d? If you can answer in the positive to these latter questions then maybe you have achieved real success, regardless of what any culinary chef or life maven would tell you!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Faith and Fight in Defense of Israel

 Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, called “Faith and Fight in Defense of Israel.”

From Amalek to Iran, Israel can never be caught off-guard again and this means both operationally as well as from mistaken assumptions and thinking. Operationally, we need to always have the best technology, intelligence, planning, and training, as well as continually test those with Red Teaming to simulate enemy attacks and our readiness to counter with winning defensive and offensive operations. Moreover, we need to be on our guard in our thinking, as former Prime Minister Ehud Barak says in his book, My Country, My Life, that when he became head of Aman (Defense Intelligence), he sought to address the problem of misperceptions, overconfidence, and groupthink by strengthening “a unit whose sole function was to play devil’s advocate.” They would begin “with the opposite conclusion, and through a competing analysis of data and logical argument, try to prove it.”

Just as when we left Egyptian servitude, we defeated Amalek through a combination of our faith and fight, so too we will be successful in defeating those that threaten the modern State of Israel. Like Moses we all must turn to Hashem, and like Joshua, the Israel Defense Forces must stand ready to defeat all our enemies, as many times as it takes, to achieve a secure and lasting peace.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Let Go of the Ego and Follow G-d

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Let Go of the Ego and Follow G-d.”

As we know, Pharaoh refused to let the Jews go from Egypt, whether because G-d hardened his heart for some of the plagues or he just couldn’t bear to see his Jewish slaves free through the final knock-out rounds. Through ten plagues that destroyed Egypt and much of their people, including their first born males in the tenth plague, Pharaoh is intransigent and suffers the terrible consequences….Aside from Pharaoh, perhaps the second most stubborn individual in the Torah is Bilam, who was asked by Balak, the king of Moav, to curse the Jews….even though each and every time, G-d instead blessed them.


In both cases, it is clear that no individual, whether a king or a prophet, can go against that which G-d has decreed!

The lesson is clear: it is best to try to see what direction G-d is leading us forward in and to follow Him all the way, not only because that is the path of least resistance, but because that is what we are meant to do and where we are meant to go in our lives.

(Credit Photo: Minna Meles)