Teaching Our Children To Be Good Jews

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Teaching Our Children To Be Good Jews.”

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)

Overcoming The Inquisitor

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Overcoming The Inquisitor.”

While anti-Semitism and persecution for being Jews is horrible and should never happen, in a sort of obscene and ironic way, it ends up making us stronger as Jews. In short, testing our faith, ends up solidifying our faith!

No one likes adversity, suffering, or persecution, and G-d only knows that we as Jews have known our deeply painful share. Yet whether from Egyptian slavery to the Inquisition, the Holocaust, and more, it’s our test as Jews to survive, and to learn and grow from it our faith in Hashem.

Yes, these things are far easier said than done, but when we face these terrible events, we must try with all our might to overcome them, heroically and faithfully.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Stop The Excuses

Change is hard, but often necessary.

As they say, “adapt or die.” 

Of course, you can change when you stop:

  1. Procrastinating
  2. Being lazy
  3. Accepting the status quo
  4. Making excuses 

Take control of your life: change yourself before life bites back at you (and maybe hard).

We’ve got to slay our own demons not only outside, but inside. 😉

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Trust Beyond Faith

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “A Trust Beyond Faith.”

When we have faith in G-d, it generally means that we believe that He created us and that He is the Master of the Universe. However, faith does not necessarily imply trust. Trust in G-d means that we believe that He not only created us, but that He sustains us and that there is Divine Providence in this world. When we trust in G-d, we believe that G-d is close to us and has a personal relationship with each and every one of us, and actually to everything in the world.

We all need to leave our egos at the door! No matter how strong or smart that we think we are, even the little grass above us (or above our graves) is greater than us. Certainly, G-d Almighty who is our creator and our sustainer, all-knowing and all-powerful, He is over us and watches over us in better times as well as those that are perhaps more challenging, but always we trust, for the good!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Strong and Knowledgeable

If you know your own strength and what you can do…

Then you also know what you can’t do.

While our dreams and imagination can be “the sky’s the limit,”

The reality is we are human and we have to learn, grow, and make progress incrementally.

Still it’s a fight every day to get stronger as people and as souls. 😉

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

True Meaning of Torah Observant

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “True Meaning of Torah Observant.”The key is that everyone (Jew and Gentile) has an opportunity to do good or the opposite. We are all G-d’s children, and He loves all of us, and wants us all to learn and grow as human beings with the spirit of G-d breathed into us (Genesis 2:7). The Jews have a special mission to try and live by following the commandments in the Torah, as a good example to others. This is similar to the Kohanim and Leviim who had a special role within the Jewish people as the Temple priests and as the musicians and singers that accompanied them. No one is inherently better than anyone else. We all just have our roles, and we a need to do them the best we can or learn to be better as we go along. Like we start the cycle of reading the Torah again with every Simchat Torah, so too the New Year is an opportunity to “up our game” and another chance to raise the “standard of living” according to G-d’s will.


(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)

What Children Learn

Excellent poem by Dorothy Nolte:

What children experience at home is what they learn to become. 

Sure people can change their thinking and actions.

But any negative voices of the past may still echo in theirs heads. 

That is until people tell them “hush, be quiet!”

And they replace old voices and experiences with new thinking about themselves and what they are capable of positively doing with their lives and in their relationships with others. 

We all need to know what we value about ourselves and our lives and then make sure that we do those things. 

So at the end of days, we can answer for our lives in an affirmative way! 😉

(Credit Photo: Etsy)

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)