Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Make Your Life a Sanctuary for G-d.”In short, everything we do in life should be great, but not for our greatness. Everything that we do should be done with passion and determination, but not for our sakes. We are only here by the loving grace of G-d and for as long as He wills it. In our time here, we need to act in a way that means something beyond our finite, selfish mortal selves and instead be selfless for the purpose of our Creator.
If you lived your life for G-d, for good, and for a greater purpose, then your inner spiritual legacy will live on beyond your years and even your name. If you build a sanctuary for G-d, it will have holiness and permanence not only in this world but, more importantly, in the next.
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.
Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Can Love Be Blind?”As long as in this material world, the body hides the soul of the person, then love can never be fully blind because people cannot see the true brightness of the soul inside or realize the primacy of people’s spiritual inner selves without getting distracted by the physical aspects of the person, including attraction (which as we all know fades over time) and, of course, class, race, and ethnicity. Yes, physical/chemical attraction is an important part of intimate relationships, but at the end of the day, it’s what’s inside that counts, not only in this world, but for our eternal being and purpose.
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.
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/)
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)
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!
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.