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.  😉

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)

The End of Times

I am looking for a good book on the Jewish view of the End of Times.

  • Who fights who?
  • What happens and how does the fighting finally end?
  • Who will live and who will die?
  • Who from the dead will be resurrected?
  • What occurs in practical terms when the Mashiach arrives?
  • What does G-d’s revelation to the whole world look and feel like?
  • Where is Israel at each step in unfolding of the redemption?
  • How does the 3rd Temple actually get built?
  • Is world peace not only possible, but also enduring? 

Wow, would love to read a layman’s book like this.  
Can anyone recommend anything really good?  😉
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Teach Your Children Well

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Teach Your Children Well.”

I am grateful to write that I had my first grandchild, a wonderful baby boy, thank G-d. Now, as with all children, comes the next very exciting part which is, please G-d, to raise and teach him to live a good life of Torah, family, hopes and dreams.

We teach our children, even as we learn along the way ourselves. Two critical things we have from Hashem to help us on this journey: we have the Torah as our holy guidebook, and we have our soul and conscience as our inner voice exhorting us, right from wrong. These are the tools that we go forward with to try and perfect ourselves and the world, and to teach our children to do the same.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

My Wonderful Opa

Remembering my wonderful Opa (grandfather) at Chanukah time. 

He was the President of Congregation Ramath Orah on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in NYC. 

I used to be so proud of him standing up at the bimah (podium) and giving the Shabbat announcements every week and everything he did to care for the synagogue and community.

Also, I loved to go up and sit next to him by Ark where the holy Torahs are kept. 

He was an exceptional human being, as was his son, my father (and my father’s siblings, my Uncle Sid and Aunt Ruth). 

Good to the core people!  People of faith and family!

I miss my Opa and Oma (grandmother) as well as my dear parents very much. 

Like the Chanukah Menorah, they were the light of my upbringing and set me on a path to go forward with my own family. 

Chanukah is a time of miracles and I feel that I have seen them not only in our history, but in our lives today!  😉