In short, I think it’s healthy for us as human beings to ask questions, even the most difficult questions of why. We need to make sense of our world and the context in which we live. Questions like: Why do good people at times experience horrible loss and suffering? Why do atheists and sinners often seem to excel and succeed (my wife says, perhaps they sold their soul to the devil!)?
While asking why to search for G-d and try to understand His ways is human, at the same time, we as mere mortal human beings can not ever fully know G-d’s ways or His plan for us. In short, Mendel, the Chabad rabbi, said today, don’t get fixated on the why. Instead focus on what you can do to make the world better. Actions speak louder than words.
Never more than today are we living lives of total excess. This week, we saw a Mercedes-Benz 1995 car sell for a record-breaking $142 million. Last month in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, authorities seized a Russian oligarch’s $793 million mega yacht. And this last year, Morgan Stanley predicted that Elon Musk may eventually become the world’s first trillionaire.
In a world where marketing, sales, advertising, branding, and the media all seek to convince us that life is essentially about “things,” self-satisfaction, the next high, and happiness, we can easily forget how transient and valueless all that really is. Inside each of us though there is a deeper, true voice that seeks a life of real meaning, purpose and immortality, where faith, compassion, giving, and self-sacrifice is the true measure of our character and the ultimate gauge of life success.(Source Photo: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/smiley-emoticon-greed-822993/)
Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Playing The Odds.”The stranger told me: Precisely fifty years ago, the doctor told me the exact same thing about having a one in a hundred chance of paralysis if they operated. So, what did I do? I went to see the Rabbi (Avigdor Miller) and ask his advice, and the Rabbi says to me: “A Jew doesn’t take odds like that!”
I thought to myself while Jews don’t take those wild odds (1 in a 100 of paralysis), why do they play the odds with their souls by pretending to be religious on the outside, but on the inside and away from human eyes doing evil? Surely, we all know that G-d sees everything and that a faithful judgment awaits us all. And it all made sense not to play the odds not only with our physical health, but also with our spiritual wellbeing.
Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “The Real Unthinkable Option.”Listen, we are forever in a battle of good and evil in this world. We have to rise to the occasion to stand by our faith in G-d and ensure that good prevails. Easier said than done, because of course, fighting to defeat wrongdoing and evil is not only a battle that takes places within our own souls, but with those that have already sold their souls to the devil for money, power, honor, and every worldly gratification. So, the battles and wars ahead are scary indeed, but we have to choose the right side, silence our own inner conflict and turmoil, and put our fears aide.
What happened to genuine faith in G-d, belief in the holy Torah, our duty to abide by the 613 commandments, and generally doing right in this world by our fellow man and before G-d Almighty? Maybe I’m being too literal here but being a “good Jew” has got to mean something important. We are keeping alive the tradition of our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, spanning back thousands of years to our Forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to G-d delivering us from Egyptian servitude, and His giving to us the Torah on Mount Sinai, and to His bringing us to Israel, the Land of Milk and Honey, and keeping us from being wiped away by one great empire after another. Being a Jew means being part of an important important and yes, “chosen” for a special mission of being a “light unto the nations” and that means action on our part: thinking, saying, and doing what’s right all the time!
We are tested daily to do what’s right, even when it’s not convenient, easy, enjoyable, or popular. What is a Jew? We need to really ask ourselves that question. It’s not trivial and neither should the answer be. Our lives in this world and the next are depending on how we live up to the high bar that is set for us each and every day of our lives that Hashem mercifully grants to us.(Photo: My dear parents Fred and Gerda Blumenthal at my Bar Mitzvah)
As countries, responsible and rogue, pursue ever increasing and deadlier nuclear weapons (as well as deadly biological and chemical weapons), the chances grow for a unilateral bilateral, or multilateral exchange to take place. Whether from a brutal tyrant wanting to grow their base of corrupt power to a rampaging megalomaniac bent of world domination, a paranoid schizophrenic leader who feels that his “back is up against the wall,” or a radical theocratic crackhead convinced that G-d is on their side and wants them to kill all the infidels, we are inching ever closer to the day when nukes or other weapons of mass destruction will be out of the silo, port container, or suitcase.
When it comes to Russia’s real world military fighting doctrine, no one and nothing is safe until their objectives are met, even if that means World War III, as Russia’s foreign minister has stated. Russia is already formidable and the largest country in the world with 11% of the world’s landmass, and that is almost double that of the next largest country. Further, with a solidifying partnership of superpower countries Russia-China, coupled with alliances with authoritarian regimes of Iran and North Korea, an extremely dangerous Axis of Evil is developing that may soon threaten global stability and peace. Many are starting to question whether we are now entering the times of Gog and Magog, the devastating “end of times” war as prophesied in Ezekiel (38-39) before the coming of the Messiah and the Third Temple. Indeed, the term “Rosh” as in Gog’s Chief Prince has been compared to “Rus” for Russia or I would say to “Rasha” (wicked, evil one). Further, Russia is coming directly from “the far north” of Israel, and Iran is compared to “Persia” in the war of Gog and Magog. Strangely enough, the timing is coming now, the week of Purim, with the U.S. desiring to finalize the end of sanctions on Iran and rejoin the grossly ineffective Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) paving the way for Iran and their radical mullahs to go nuclear in the future.