My dear father, Fred Blumenthal (ZT”L), like many from his generation, used to read Reader’s Digest. I remember that there was a section called “Points to Ponder,” which I thought was a good title for things that can have a deeper and more profound meaning in our lives. So in this vein, I’d like to share a variety of thoughts that may give you pause to ponder as well.
Let’s face it, even for those in society who are proponents of pornography, not everyone would admit it if they had an addiction like that. A porn addiction invokes all sorts of social fears and anxieties about “perverts, rapists, and sexual offenders.” In fact, in a Youtube video, The Blessing of Porn Addiction, featuring Beny Schonfeld, as he walks into a recovery meeting, he describes fearing the other people he will meet there and asks, “Is that who I am?”
People in our communities are going through all sorts of problems and addictions. Beny’s message is not to suffer in silence: “If you feel ashamed about what you’re doing, speak up and ask for help.”
Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Facing Hardship, Finding Humility.” Like Celine Dion, no matter how much fame, fortune, or power any of us amass in our lifetimes, none of these things make an iota of difference in the time of G-d’s eternal judgment of us. The only thing that matters and carries on are our good deeds!
When we are young and vibrant and the world seems so small in a way, we can tend to think we are invincible, but as we get older and more mature, we learn that everything we do in life that strays from the Almighty’s path for us has a price to be paid and a humbling before our Maker.
Whereas normally the soul guides and directs the body, in the case of mental illness, the soul becomes imprisoned in the body and mind that is sick. When this happens, a person reverts to their wholly animalistic nature, and hence, what we are seeing is like a car without a driver, accelerating and careening dangerously until, usually, a horrible accident and end.
Circumcision reminds me of Abraham, our forefather, who was tested and told to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac, to G-d. It is truly counter-intuitive for a parent to hurt or sacrifice their child. Yet, this is exactly how G-d tested Abraham before the angel of G-d told him not to raise his hand to Isaac, and instead Abraham then offered to G-d a ram that was caught in the thicket. However, when it comes to circumcision, we are also tested and actually are commanded to surgically remove the male child’s foreskin and as the baby cries out, every parent, no matter how faithful and religiously devoted, winces and feels deeply inside for their child’s pain, even if it is only momentary and soothed by a sip of kosher Kedem Concord Grape wine.
The rite of the circumcision is an incredible transcendental religious experience, where our very faith is tested and we go against our own physical instincts to protect the child, no matter what, and instead we submit ourselves to G-d Almighty, the Master of the Universe to perform the circumcision, because He told us to. Whether there are medical benefits or not, G-d commands, and we obey. We are His people, and his thoughts and plans are infinitely greater than ours. At the circumcision, in an act of complete faith, we graciously give over our male children and ourselves—in body, mind, and soul to G-d. We renounce our desires, our gratification, our very instincts, and put ourselves in G-d’s merciful hands. In that moment of selfless giving, we fulfill our covenant of generations with G-d and we affirm our holiness as individuals and as a nation.