Madness and The Soul

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Madness and The Soul.”

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.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Help The Handicapped

Seeing this wheelchair was a reminder to me to:

  • Always try to help the handicapped. 

Life is tough on everybody, but when you have a disability, it can be even harder. 

It doesn’t take much to see or ask if there is anything you can do to help someone. 

Just the gesture alone can go a long way to making people feel valued, cared about, and that they are not alone out there. 

We all need help sometimes, so why not help others?  😉

(Credit Photo: Dossy Blumenthal)

People of Ukraine

It hit me today—with all the news about Russia preparing to invade Ukraine and devastate its people, unprovoked, there is nobody talking about the people of Ukraine. 

Our leaders and news media are so misguided and focused on the geopolitics of the thing, all they talk about is what the U.S. and EU will do in terms of some measly sanctions.

But they have completely forgotten the innocent people there—44 million of them—who face death and occupation. 

Where is our leadership????

Where are the speeches about the innocent people?  About freedom?  About democracy?  About human rights?  

Where is the United Nations????

They are supposed to safeguard and maintain peace and security around the globe.

Where are the outspoken liberals who call out occupation, apartheid, and human rights abuses????

Not a word from anyone. 

It’s incredible how prejudiced, biased, discriminatory and corrupt all these people can be. They can be brainwashed, bribed, and bought to speak out for those when it will somehow fit their agenda or benefit them!

But when the Russian or Chinese powerful aggressors are at the doorstep of Ukraine or Hong Kong/Taiwan—where is anybody to speak out?

Last night, I imagined the people of Ukraine sitting in fear, in worry about what will happen to them, their families, their homes. 

Do the world leaders care anything about the lives of real people—men, women, and children—or only about how any conflict makes them look, and how they are polling, and the next election?

Morality and conscience–is it on life support or dead in this narcissist world of the powerful and elite. 😉

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What’s Your Kindness

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “What’s Your Kindness.”

When we are happy, we are able to graciously and generously give to others, and when we give to others, we are able to be happy! All the other pursuits in life such as wealth, ego, good looks, and so on are nothing but vanities (like King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes), and in the end lead to nothing but loss and suffering. However, giving and the happiness and positive spiritual energy it creates endures.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Love Your Family As The Stranger

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Love Your Family As The Stranger.”

When it comes to strangers, it’s almost easier to put on a face, act all proper, and do what’s right because they aren’t our family, thus Avraham could run to help the strangers. Yet, when it comes to our own families, we don’t feel it necessary to keep up pretenses. We sometimes say and do things to family that we would likely never say to or do in front of strangers, like Avraham telling Hagar and Ishmael to get out! We may even betray and hurt the ones we love, like when Avraham said Sarah was his sister putting her at jeopardy with Avimelekh. Further, we “sacrifice” our children and spouses by putting our work (sometimes 24/7), social media, and our own brand and needs first, and don’t adequately pay attention to what’s really going on with our families, their needs, aspirations, and troubles; for example, Avraham was going to sacrifice Isaac, his and Sarah’s only child and “the son of her old age.” We take for granted and even advantage of our families, because we can. And some at the further bad end of the spectrum, “go home and kick the dog!” Yes, the pictures that everyone posts on Facebook and Instagram are what people want you to see and think about them (their personal brand): that everything’s all rosy and they have the perfect lives and families, but I venture to guess that often, it’s far from the reality of what goes on “behind closed doors.”

All of us need to pay attention and do what’s right not only when we want to look good in front of others, but knowing that even in our own homes, G-d is watching what we do and how we treat each other.


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

He Who Saves A Life

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “He Who Saves A Life.”

We all know the Jewish dictum of “He who save a life, saves the world.” In Judaism, every single life is invaluable, and hence we are even allowed to violate the holy Shabbat for the preservation of human life (“Pikuach Nefesh“). Similarly, when it came to a prisoner exchange for IDF Sargent first Class, Gilad Shalit, who had been held by Hamas terrorists for five years (2006-2011), Israel exchanged1,027 Palestinians in a prisoner exchange for Shalit. Life is truly sacred to the Jewish people.

This week, I had the opportunity to meet and hear from members of Israel Air Force’s Elite Search and Rescue, Unit 669, at Magen David Synagogue in Rockville, Maryland. There I was reminded of the brave Israeli soldiers who not only defend the holy land and people of Israel, but also who are there to search for missing soldiers and rescue them and civilians “regardless of location or conditions” when faced with war, terrorism, or other disaster. Soldiers from unit 669 go into every possible dangerous situation, and under fire, to save lives at whatever cost to themselves.
(Source Photo: Flikr)

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)

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)

We Are All Disabled

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “We Are All Disabled.”

And what happens to us after creation? Life happens, and people suffer from the happenstance and the often harsh “nurture” of this world. Whether from disease, accidents, or hurt inflicted on us from others — intentional or not — we all have “disabilities” and as difficult as it is to live with it, there is no shame in it!

Disabilities are an opportunity, however painful and humiliating for us to learn and grow and for others to be able to demonstrate love, compassion, and kindness to us…There is no running or hiding from disability, it is part of our mortal world. But from the scars and suffering of life, we must create healing. From disability, it is our job to turn it into ability, capability, and mobility!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)