Mount Meron and Hating The “Baseless”

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Mount Meron and Hating The ‘Baseless.'”

We are all reeling from the devastating deaths of 45 Jews on Lag B’Omer at Mount Meron (and many others critically injured) from a stampede during the bonfire celebration near the grave of the holy Kabbalist, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Last night, we were glued to the new as the body count kept going up. I couldn’t help thinking to myself that this is something that happens in the masses of people that gather in India or Saudi Arabia, not in the tiny State of Israel. But lo’ and behold, tragedy can strike anywhere, anytime. Life is completely tenuous!

So can we draw conclusions that in those days there was baseless hate and so too in our times. I think, while we don’t know G-d’s ways, certainly from experience and observation, we do know that there is not only baseless hate, but also plenty of “hate the baseless”.  And what I mean by that is that one type of Jew thinks they are better than another whose beliefs, faith, and observance we denigrate and deem baseless, without support and they without real merit…We are forever driven towards a “Better than thou” attitude and lifestyle. To the religious catcalls of “get out of our neighborhood slut” or the throwing of Shabbat rocks at passing cars. This all has got to stop!
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Comfy Legs

Those legs look comfy in the chair. 

Cross, uncross, cross. 

Of course, the dress pants and shoes aren’t so comfortable. 

Do clothes really make the wo/man?

Here, there’s no real clothes or should I say person to speak of. 

Clothes is better than a fig leaf for Adam and Eve.

Much of clothing is just “look your best” and try to “feel good” vanity.

The soul is what really makes the person.  😉

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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)

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)

The Sound of Silence

Thought this was pretty smart. 

To listen, you’ve got to shut your mouth and be quiet. 

“Listen” and “Silent” have the exact same letters. 

Now will you be silent and listen to other people?  😉

(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Making Things Right When There Is Still Time

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Making Things Right When There Is Still Time.”

Over the years, I heard bits and pieces about him, including that he was ill, and I tried through my other friends to reach out to him. Somehow, it never worked, and more time wore on. Recently again, when another old friend lost their parent, I read something that reminded me that I still had unfinished business with my friend that I had hurt. So now was as good a time as any to reach out.

Somehow hurting someone never really goes away. Those feelings are sort of immortalized in time. The hurt is tangible and become concrete in the genetic fabric of our souls. My soul told me that it was time to try to correct for a mistake I made. You never know how much time is left, and it is important to try to make things right.
(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mastering Cheerfulness

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Mastering Cheerfulness.” 

During Covid-19, it is easy to get down about all the people getting sick (many dying) and for the rest of us the intense feelings of isolation. However, during this time (and particularly this week of Thanksgiving), I am learning the importance of staying positive and appreciating all G-d’s blessings that we do have. More broadly, I am coming to understand that inside a person, G-d exists amidst love, kindness and cheerfulness: these are elements that nourish the flame of our soul and wherein G-d happily coexists with us. It makes a lot of sense that when we are angry, jealous, or sad, the holy Shechinah (presence of G-d) cannot fully reside inside us. Because G-d Himself is gracious, kind, and loving and created us from this, so His spirit within us (our soul) flourishes amidst these feelings, but diminishes within us like a flame without oxygen when we distance ourselves emotionally and spiritually.

Just like one candlelight extinguishes the darkness around it, so also the light that we nurture within ourselves can extinguish the darkness that we occasionally feel inside.

(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)