Jew: A noun rather than an adjective. Many of the appellations attached to “Jew” seem to serve very little purpose other than dividing our people. A Jew is a Jew is a Jew. It’s rather simple even for the extreme literalists among us.
4,748 days. 13 years. Sounds like a very long time. For me it’s a milestone. 4,748 days since I last chose to systematically disassemble my life by snorting white powder up my nose and tearing my life apart one line at a time. 4,748 drug-free days. I repeat the number with a sense of awe, eyes full of tears, and a heart of gratitude.
Social media can be a wonderful tool for informing, encouraging, educating, and so on. It can also be a tool of destruction. Far too often stories which have no basis in reality or truth are posted and the emotional response of those who read the posting spread it like wildfire and the damage to an individual’s reputation or a company’s brand is immeasurable and permanent.
Look at this report card. Are you really that stupid?”
“As much money as we’ve spent on your eyes you better never take those glasses off.”
“Stop being a sissy. Fight back when someone pushes you.”
“I wish you’d never been born.”
“We are paying for you to learn classic piano stop playing that n—-r music. What is wrong with you?”
And the list goes on and on. Each word spoken from what should have been a nurturing parent instead acted as a sword piercing deeply into the heart of a small boy.
This past week I was introduced to the Rap stylings of Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr. a/k/a B.o.B. I am not a fan of most Rap offerings as many of them incite violence, hatred, degrade women, and are rife with filthy lyrics. I don’t know much about Simmons but what I know is enough to cause anger to rise up within me and illicit a strong response to Simmons’ adding his own brand of ignorance to Holocaust denier David Irving’s outlandish claims.
As part my life experience there have been some hard-earned lessons in the area of addiction. Lessons learned through heartache tend to stick around for a long time and will either spur one to change their life in a positive manner or continue along the destructive path until they crash and burn. I took the latter road and it wasn’t much fun.
One of the most challenging aspects of keeping a beautiful lawn and garden is watering. I don’t know about you but I cannot stand it when the hose gets a kink in it. My first inclination, though I am getting better, is to yank, snatch, and flail the hose around somehow hoping magic will occur and the hose will unkink via this process. Rarely does it happen that way.
It is very easy to become discouraged when we fail to view things in a panoramic way. The failures of yesteryear, coupled with the colossal blowing of it today, can be overwhelming causing our minds to play tricks on us. It is easy to think we may never get it right. Ever been there?
In the Federal Bureau of Prisons, inmates are allowed to utilize a highly monitored email system called Corrlinks to communicate with family and friends. I currently correspond with around 30 Jewish inmates around the country through Corrlinks.
On our journey we face many inexplicable situations which leave us with more questions than answers. There are days the anxiety of what disaster will occur is overwhelming. For the faint at heart, reality is difficult. For the strong of heart, it is equally daunting at times.
This past Friday I had a phone conference with my lawyers. One is in California and the other in Boston. I have consented to be the class representative in a class action lawsuit against Hewlett-Packard for warranty fraud.
It has been a brutal winter thus far and the trees give evidence of the continued cold, heavy winds, snow and rain by their empty branches and darkened color. Yet before we despair there are also signs the trees have dug deep, held on, and will soon regenerate and bear leaves, flowers and fruits.
I realize the mere mention of the name, Bernie Madoff, stirs emotions and arouses suspicions. Be it so! As I’ve shared before, I reached out to Madoff where he is currently incarcerated. I did not expect to nor did I receive a response from him. Some things are rather predictable. His lack of a response would fall into that category.
Recently one of our fellow Jews, Alan Dershowitz, has been the subject of scurrilous and unfounded allegations of sexual impropriety. Some Jews have spoken out in his defense, some have chosen the lower road of siding with his accusers and others have remained silent.
This morning I had a very odd conversation with a financial administrator at the hospital where I receive most of my health care. As I have previously shared I have paid medical expenses in excess of my annual salary this year and borrowed money from the bank on top of it to take care of life-sustaining health care procedures and treatments. It’s the way things are and I am grateful to have had the ability to pay thus far though it is a struggle.
Though a Sefer Torah is composed of hundreds of thousands of individual letters, each set apart from the other, they equal one Torah. The Torah is only kosher and complete when not a single letter is missing thus making the Torah whole.
This morning I received a text message from a friend of mine. He needed to talk. He has struggled along some of the same lines as I have. It is my desire to encourage him. I was going through my morning ablutions when I received his message. I tried to think on what I could say to him to encourage him. I was taking my sleep shirt off when I saw the patchwork of scars on my stomach and chest from multiple surgeries, a couple of which have kept me alive. My mind went to the time when Samuel named a rock Ebenezer, meaning “Rock or stone of help.” The rock was to remind people that “hither by Thy help I’ve come.” Is that not ever true for me? My Ebenezer is a not a rock, rather it is my body. G-d has shown His faithfulness to me in more ways than just health, however, my scars are very poignant, visual reminders.
The news of the killings in a Temple in Jerusalem shook the Jewish world to the core. Our experience with being victims of hate crimes is sadly nothing new. The depths to which those who hate us are willing to descend seem bottomless. The hatred of the Jews seems to be without logic, basis, or limits. There are other peoples who are hated, but it seems none as virulently as the Jews.
There are many points of view concerning the method through which the planet on which we live came into existence. Many believe in the Creator, which, depending on their particular belief structure is defined by many names and character traits. Others believe the world came into being through a big bang. Others still believe in some form of intelligent design. There are so many arguments that keeping up with them boggles the mind. To break down the belief structures even more creates more room for disagreement. There are those who believe in a literal Biblical view of a young earth. Others believe something similar but with a longer time frame and the list goes on. I suppose there are many who would say, what does it really matter? Who cares?
I often ask for advice or wisdom from a rabbi or other people I consider to be wise, noble, and spiritual. Recently I called upon a rabbi to inquire as to how I should respond to a certain situation. His response was, “What would the command to “be holy” bid you to do in the situation?” Ouch! Oy vey and oy vey again!