Measuring Success Like G-d

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Measuring Success Like G-d.”

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/)

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)

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)

The Plan Amidst The Pain

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “The Plan Amidst The Pain.”

In life, not only do we have to be determined and work hard, but G-d throws us curveballs and challenges all along the way that can often make us drop to our knees or throw our arms up in despair. However, we need to be faithful like Jacob and Joseph, knowing that it’s all a part of G-d’s plan and mission for us, and through these we learn and grow and become better versions of ourselves.

Moreover, if we but open our eyes to the miracle of our creation and our sustainment every moment of every day by Hashem, and remember that He put us all here for a purpose, then we can pay the daily price for what G-d puts in front of us and how we choose to handle it.We can do this knowing that it’s all really just a small price to pay in the end for so much that we gain in this world and that we will carry forward to the hereafter. In the end, nothing is free, but the price and the reason is always just what G-d wants it to be.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

WTF Is It?

Art but what the heck:

Do these thingamajigs represent people standing tall and with arms raised high?

Are you supposed to hang things off of it like jewelry?

Can you place on it reminder notes or small pictures using push pins?

Then again maybe it’s a toy for a child or even a pet?

In the end, all I can say is WFT is it?

Perhaps that’s what the meaning of art is!  😉

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

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)

Let Go of the Ego and Follow G-d

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Let Go of the Ego and Follow G-d.”

As we know, Pharaoh refused to let the Jews go from Egypt, whether because G-d hardened his heart for some of the plagues or he just couldn’t bear to see his Jewish slaves free through the final knock-out rounds. Through ten plagues that destroyed Egypt and much of their people, including their first born males in the tenth plague, Pharaoh is intransigent and suffers the terrible consequences….Aside from Pharaoh, perhaps the second most stubborn individual in the Torah is Bilam, who was asked by Balak, the king of Moav, to curse the Jews….even though each and every time, G-d instead blessed them.


In both cases, it is clear that no individual, whether a king or a prophet, can go against that which G-d has decreed!

The lesson is clear: it is best to try to see what direction G-d is leading us forward in and to follow Him all the way, not only because that is the path of least resistance, but because that is what we are meant to do and where we are meant to go in our lives.

(Credit Photo: Minna Meles)

I Know He Exists

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “I Know He Exists.”

G-d, who is infinitely compassionate, did the most compassionate thing, which was to create us and give us the ability to be compassionate on others. The way we bring Hashem to reside with us is to transform the world (tikkun olam) “to make it a place that G-d can call home.” We do this by performing acts of loving kindness, making the mundane holy, and manifesting G-d’s divine providence. In essence, it’s not enough for us to know G-d exists, but we need to be a light unto the nations to reveal G-d’s unity, sanctity, and ongoing relationship with his creations to everyone in the world.

Like the story of the priest from the Holocaust, we don’t believe G-d exists, but rather, we know He exists. And when we perform our mission in this world by doing good deeds and manifesting G-d’s oneness and divine providence then we make this a place where G-d wants to reside with us in this world as well as in the world to come.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Elections: Perfecting Our Imperfections

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “The Elections: Perfecting Our Imperfections.”

Clearly, from the President on down to each and every one of us, we can be certain that none of us is perfect. However, G-d put us here, precisely, to have the opportunity to repair our imperfections. In this earthly world, our soul is tested, and we thereby have the opportunity to come out stronger and better because of it. The challenges in this world provide the “purification by fire” that our souls need to elevate themselves from past mistakes or imperfections. In essence, G-d in his ultimate benevolence — of love, kindness, and giving — bestows on us, His children, the chance to learn and grow and to realize our potential!

In short, while our elections leave us a lot to be desired in terms of the candidates for the highest office of this great land, we can see from the presidential candidates on down to the citizens of this country and to those around the world that there is both shortcomings and the potential for becoming the people that G-d knows we can really be. 😉

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)