Monday, June 24, 2013

Parashat Pinchas - The Daughters of Zelophehad






This week we read the story of the daughters of Zelophehad. The portion begins as God instructs Moses and Eliazar to conduct a census of the people. God then instructs Moses to distribute portions of land to the descendents of each of the clans. Larger clans would acquire larger portions of land than smaller clans. But, the women were not included in this process. A man named Zelophehad had just died, and was survived only by daughters. Therefore, Zelophehad’s daughters, were not entitled to any land at all.
The 5 daughters come forth and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the chieftains and the whole assembly at the entrance of the tent of meeting.  They proclaimed that their father has died. The daughters tell the assembly that their father had no sons.
They plead to everyone present:

“Let not our father's name be lost to his clan just because he had no son! Give us a holding among our father’s kinsmen!” (27:4).


After the women make their plea, Moses takes the case in front of God. God tells Moses:

“the plea of Zelophehad’s daughters is just: that Moses should give them a hereditary holding among their father’s kinsmen and transfer their father’s share to them. (27:7)

Miraculously, God changes the law for all times and for all daughters. Zelophehad’s daughters make it possible for daughters to inherit land when there are no sons or brothers. This was a momentous achievement for women of this time.

And what a powerful lesson for us today. The daughters of Zelophehad should inspire us that we can shape our destiny, and we do have the ability to move mountains, and change laws...even ones that were handed down at Sinai.
May we all have the courage to take action when necessary in order to make change for the better.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Parashat Balak- The Power Of Words


 
This week we read Parashat Balak. It's all about Communication. In it, there's a donkey that talks and sees visions.  There's a non-Jewish prophet that speaks with our God. He is sent to bring curses on the Israelite people, but instead, he brings blessings.  This is a story of turning curses into blessings, and of learning how to use positive words to build a nation up, rather than tear them down. 

Balak, the King of Moab, saw that the Israelites were prospering well, and was starting to feel uneasy about them. Perhaps they would want to take over his space. So, he hired the Prophet Bilaam to curse the Jewish people--"Now, please go and curse for me this nation, for it is too mighty for me; perhaps I will prevail, smite them, and drive them from the land..." Bilaam takes the job, but, again and again, his curses are turned by God into blessings. It's as though every time he tries to curse the Israelites, beautiful words come out.  Words have so much power.....Some are like magic spells.


 Each time we speak, we have the opportunity to take advantage of this incredible gift...when we say "thankyou", "I love you", "No"...even when we respond to someone that is asking for charity. At that moment, are we worthy of that gift?
Maybe we should say a prayer before we opened our mouths, and prayed that we wouldn't cause any damage with our speech. Interesting.




This age of technology has brought words into our lives even more than ever before. Sometimes, our lives are so busy that our words just fly by without us even thinking about them. We tweet in 140. We post our life stories on Facebook, and we text in shorthand.  But, before we press that "Send" button or quickly say something, maybe we could try to stop...even for 1 second, and think of the damage that we could do with our words...or the blessing that we can bestow with it. It's our choice. And our power!








because it is literally an Earth-moving statement – to change your life. For more than a decade, technology has brought words into our lives more than ever before. No longer are words just what we hear, write or read – they have become what we create and how we interact with the world around us.
We all grew up believing the children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Yet, at a certain point, you realized that was completely untrue and that words could hurt, just as you learned Pluto was a planet but many years later find out it is just a ball of ice no longer classified as a planet. Words, my friends, change everything! Words have a dramatic effect on what we know, how we interact with people and the decisions we ultimately make. Words can influence us, inspire us or just as easily bring us to tears.
Words change our relationships, our demeanor, our entire system of beliefs, and even our businesses. Being a planet or not being a planet makes a major difference, just as the words “I love you” or “I hate you” have majorly different meanings behind them. Words have a powerful and undeniably overwhelming influence on us – for good and, at times, for bad. Think for a moment how words have changed your life:
Marry me!  It’s a girl! You have cancer. We lost him. You’re hired! You’re fired. We won! We lost. Guilty. Not guilty.

It may not seem intentional, but it has been. At the core, a large “organization of words” shift has taken place right in front of us. As a result, words have forever changed our lives and will continue to change our lives as never before. For the majority of us, not a single day goes by when we fail to interact and create relationships with words. Take Google, for example. Google is a company with a focus on classifying and organizing words. It is a very simple focus, really: to be better than any other entity at organizing words. Now, they may say they organize information, including documents, videos, photos, maps and more. But at the core, they are all words. A document may have many words, but they are always organized in a theme, and a theme can generally be focused to a sentence or title, and a title to a primary subject or word. The same goes for videos, photos, maps and more.
Imagine you are in a doctor’s office and you are told, “you have cancer.”
A single word “cancer” just changed your life and the lives of everyone close to you. Clearly, you listen to what your doctor says, but then you go to a place you know you can get a lot of answers – a search. You may do this when you get home to your computer or tablet or immediately on your mobile phone. But nonetheless, you begin to create and interact with the words by typing a few into the search box: “what is cancer” “cancer treatments” “cancer cures” “cancer survival.” Cancer comes in many forms, so perhaps your search is more specific: “what is triple negative breast cancer” “triple negative breast cancer treatments.” As you type, the words interact with you, providing answers to your questions. As a result, you learn of clinical trials as a treatment option, so you again leverage the interaction with words: “clinical trials for triple negative breast cancer,” and you find a powerful option that gives you another word – hope. Then and there, words and our relationship to them cross over into something that changes our life once again – twice in the same day, perhaps.
The meaning and value of words have become largely dependent on real-time demand, and therefore, the perceived value is determined solely by the epicenter of time and need. In other words, it’s determined when a moment in time crosses paths with a particular individual’s needs and the two interact. In the new economy, words also have an economic value. Therefore, a search for “cancer” is infinitely important and invaluable for the person that was just diagnosed, while the words “free shipping” may be most important and valuable for someone about to buy a “42inch 3D TV,” and both words have monetary value to some third party (i.e. a research institute or Sony) as well as the provider (i.e. Google or Amazon).
Services like Twitter have also focused on words (very few, in fact, given the 140 character limit), defining trends via hashtags (a word following a # – i.e. #cancer). That said, words transcend both search and Twitter. Words have become the key to everyday life. In our vehicles, many of us use words to get assistance, either via a service such as OnStar (I need help, my car won’t start) or via GPS (and don’t turn left when told to turn right, or the next word to leave your mouth may well be S%*T).
On eCommerce websites, such as Amazon.com, FatCork.com, BestBuy.com or even ColonialCandle.com, words change our experience: Free shipping, We recommend, One Click Checkout, Out of stock, Pre Order, etc. The way we interpret the end result of each of those seemingly simple words changes our present and future behaviors in real time. In fact, free shipping is still considered one of the top triggers to purchase.
In the media industry, search – both paid search and organic (SEO) – is a huge segment of the industry developed around and focused on the use of words. Words have implications in both paid search and SEO. One of the biggest factors includes relevancy: how relevant are the words searched – to the text ad copy – to the words on the landing page – to the words on the website? They are all interconnected. Words have interconnected us with technology.
- See more at: http://www.askingsmarterquestions.com/words-have-the-power-to-change-our-lives/#sthash.oc1jQXHL.dpuf
because it is literally an Earth-moving statement – to change your life. For more than a decade, technology has brought words into our lives more than ever before. No longer are words just what we hear, write or read – they have become what we create and how we interact with the world around us.
We all grew up believing the children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Yet, at a certain point, you realized that was completely untrue and that words could hurt, just as you learned Pluto was a planet but many years later find out it is just a ball of ice no longer classified as a planet. Words, my friends, change everything! Words have a dramatic effect on what we know, how we interact with people and the decisions we ultimately make. Words can influence us, inspire us or just as easily bring us to tears.
Words change our relationships, our demeanor, our entire system of beliefs, and even our businesses. Being a planet or not being a planet makes a major difference, just as the words “I love you” or “I hate you” have majorly different meanings behind them. Words have a powerful and undeniably overwhelming influence on us – for good and, at times, for bad. Think for a moment how words have changed your life:
Marry me!  It’s a girl! You have cancer. We lost him. You’re hired! You’re fired. We won! We lost. Guilty. Not guilty.

It may not seem intentional, but it has been. At the core, a large “organization of words” shift has taken place right in front of us. As a result, words have forever changed our lives and will continue to change our lives as never before. For the majority of us, not a single day goes by when we fail to interact and create relationships with words. Take Google, for example. Google is a company with a focus on classifying and organizing words. It is a very simple focus, really: to be better than any other entity at organizing words. Now, they may say they organize information, including documents, videos, photos, maps and more. But at the core, they are all words. A document may have many words, but they are always organized in a theme, and a theme can generally be focused to a sentence or title, and a title to a primary subject or word. The same goes for videos, photos, maps and more.
Imagine you are in a doctor’s office and you are told, “you have cancer.”
A single word “cancer” just changed your life and the lives of everyone close to you. Clearly, you listen to what your doctor says, but then you go to a place you know you can get a lot of answers – a search. You may do this when you get home to your computer or tablet or immediately on your mobile phone. But nonetheless, you begin to create and interact with the words by typing a few into the search box: “what is cancer” “cancer treatments” “cancer cures” “cancer survival.” Cancer comes in many forms, so perhaps your search is more specific: “what is triple negative breast cancer” “triple negative breast cancer treatments.” As you type, the words interact with you, providing answers to your questions. As a result, you learn of clinical trials as a treatment option, so you again leverage the interaction with words: “clinical trials for triple negative breast cancer,” and you find a powerful option that gives you another word – hope. Then and there, words and our relationship to them cross over into something that changes our life once again – twice in the same day, perhaps.
The meaning and value of words have become largely dependent on real-time demand, and therefore, the perceived value is determined solely by the epicenter of time and need. In other words, it’s determined when a moment in time crosses paths with a particular individual’s needs and the two interact. In the new economy, words also have an economic value. Therefore, a search for “cancer” is infinitely important and invaluable for the person that was just diagnosed, while the words “free shipping” may be most important and valuable for someone about to buy a “42inch 3D TV,” and both words have monetary value to some third party (i.e. a research institute or Sony) as well as the provider (i.e. Google or Amazon).
Services like Twitter have also focused on words (very few, in fact, given the 140 character limit), defining trends via hashtags (a word following a # – i.e. #cancer). That said, words transcend both search and Twitter. Words have become the key to everyday life. In our vehicles, many of us use words to get assistance, either via a service such as OnStar (I need help, my car won’t start) or via GPS (and don’t turn left when told to turn right, or the next word to leave your mouth may well be S%*T).
On eCommerce websites, such as Amazon.com, FatCork.com, BestBuy.com or even ColonialCandle.com, words change our experience: Free shipping, We recommend, One Click Checkout, Out of stock, Pre Order, etc. The way we interpret the end result of each of those seemingly simple words changes our present and future behaviors in real time. In fact, free shipping is still considered one of the top triggers to purchase.
In the media industry, search – both paid search and organic (SEO) – is a huge segment of the industry developed around and focused on the use of words. Words have implications in both paid search and SEO. One of the biggest factors includes relevancy: how relevant are the words searched – to the text ad copy – to the words on the landing page – to the words on the website? They are all interconnected. Words have interconnected us with technology.
- See more at: http://www.askingsmarterquestions.com/words-have-the-power-to-change-our-lives/#sthash.oc1jQXHL.dpuf
because it is literally an Earth-moving statement – to change your life. For more than a decade, technology has brought words into our lives more than ever before. No longer are words just what we hear, write or read – they have become what we create and how we interact with the world around us.
We all grew up believing the children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Yet, at a certain point, you realized that was completely untrue and that words could hurt, just as you learned Pluto was a planet but many years later find out it is just a ball of ice no longer classified as a planet. Words, my friends, change everything! Words have a dramatic effect on what we know, how we interact with people and the decisions we ultimately make. Words can influence us, inspire us or just as easily bring us to tears.
Words change our relationships, our demeanor, our entire system of beliefs, and even our businesses. Being a planet or not being a planet makes a major difference, just as the words “I love you” or “I hate you” have majorly different meanings behind them. Words have a powerful and undeniably overwhelming influence on us – for good and, at times, for bad. Think for a moment how words have changed your life:
Marry me!  It’s a girl! You have cancer. We lost him. You’re hired! You’re fired. We won! We lost. Guilty. Not guilty.

It may not seem intentional, but it has been. At the core, a large “organization of words” shift has taken place right in front of us. As a result, words have forever changed our lives and will continue to change our lives as never before. For the majority of us, not a single day goes by when we fail to interact and create relationships with words. Take Google, for example. Google is a company with a focus on classifying and organizing words. It is a very simple focus, really: to be better than any other entity at organizing words. Now, they may say they organize information, including documents, videos, photos, maps and more. But at the core, they are all words. A document may have many words, but they are always organized in a theme, and a theme can generally be focused to a sentence or title, and a title to a primary subject or word. The same goes for videos, photos, maps and more.
Imagine you are in a doctor’s office and you are told, “you have cancer.”
A single word “cancer” just changed your life and the lives of everyone close to you. Clearly, you listen to what your doctor says, but then you go to a place you know you can get a lot of answers – a search. You may do this when you get home to your computer or tablet or immediately on your mobile phone. But nonetheless, you begin to create and interact with the words by typing a few into the search box: “what is cancer” “cancer treatments” “cancer cures” “cancer survival.” Cancer comes in many forms, so perhaps your search is more specific: “what is triple negative breast cancer” “triple negative breast cancer treatments.” As you type, the words interact with you, providing answers to your questions. As a result, you learn of clinical trials as a treatment option, so you again leverage the interaction with words: “clinical trials for triple negative breast cancer,” and you find a powerful option that gives you another word – hope. Then and there, words and our relationship to them cross over into something that changes our life once again – twice in the same day, perhaps.
The meaning and value of words have become largely dependent on real-time demand, and therefore, the perceived value is determined solely by the epicenter of time and need. In other words, it’s determined when a moment in time crosses paths with a particular individual’s needs and the two interact. In the new economy, words also have an economic value. Therefore, a search for “cancer” is infinitely important and invaluable for the person that was just diagnosed, while the words “free shipping” may be most important and valuable for someone about to buy a “42inch 3D TV,” and both words have monetary value to some third party (i.e. a research institute or Sony) as well as the provider (i.e. Google or Amazon).
Services like Twitter have also focused on words (very few, in fact, given the 140 character limit), defining trends via hashtags (a word following a # – i.e. #cancer). That said, words transcend both search and Twitter. Words have become the key to everyday life. In our vehicles, many of us use words to get assistance, either via a service such as OnStar (I need help, my car won’t start) or via GPS (and don’t turn left when told to turn right, or the next word to leave your mouth may well be S%*T).
On eCommerce websites, such as Amazon.com, FatCork.com, BestBuy.com or even ColonialCandle.com, words change our experience: Free shipping, We recommend, One Click Checkout, Out of stock, Pre Order, etc. The way we interpret the end result of each of those seemingly simple words changes our present and future behaviors in real time. In fact, free shipping is still considered one of the top triggers to purchase.
In the media industry, search – both paid search and organic (SEO) – is a huge segment of the industry developed around and focused on the use of words. Words have implications in both paid search and SEO. One of the biggest factors includes relevancy: how relevant are the words searched – to the text ad copy – to the words on the landing page – to the words on the website? They are all interconnected. Words have interconnected us with technology.
- See more at: http://www.askingsmarterquestions.com/words-have-the-power-to-change-our-lives/#sthash.oc1jQXHL.dpuf


because it is literally an Earth-moving statement – to change your life. For more than a decade, technology has brought words into our lives more than ever before. No longer are words just what we hear, write or read – they have become what we create and how we interact with the world around us.
We all grew up believing the children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Yet, at a certain point, you realized that was completely untrue and that words could hurt, just as you learned Pluto was a planet but many years later find out it is just a ball of ice no longer classified as a planet. Words, my friends, change everything! Words have a dramatic effect on what we know, how we interact with people and the decisions we ultimately make. Words can influence us, inspire us or just as easily bring us to tears.
Words change our relationships, our demeanor, our entire system of beliefs, and even our businesses. Being a planet or not being a planet makes a major difference, just as the words “I love you” or “I hate you” have majorly different meanings behind them. Words have a powerful and undeniably overwhelming influence on us – for good and, at times, for bad. Think for a moment how words have changed your life:
Marry me!  It’s a girl! You have cancer. We lost him. You’re hired! You’re fired. We won! We lost. Guilty. Not guilty.

It may not seem intentional, but it has been. At the core, a large “organization of words” shift has taken place right in front of us. As a result, words have forever changed our lives and will continue to change our lives as never before. For the majority of us, not a single day goes by when we fail to interact and create relationships with words. Take Google, for example. Google is a company with a focus on classifying and organizing words. It is a very simple focus, really: to be better than any other entity at organizing words. Now, they may say they organize information, including documents, videos, photos, maps and more. But at the core, they are all words. A document may have many words, but they are always organized in a theme, and a theme can generally be focused to a sentence or title, and a title to a primary subject or word. The same goes for videos, photos, maps and more.
Imagine you are in a doctor’s office and you are told, “you have cancer.”
A single word “cancer” just changed your life and the lives of everyone close to you. Clearly, you listen to what your doctor says, but then you go to a place you know you can get a lot of answers – a search. You may do this when you get home to your computer or tablet or immediately on your mobile phone. But nonetheless, you begin to create and interact with the words by typing a few into the search box: “what is cancer” “cancer treatments” “cancer cures” “cancer survival.” Cancer comes in many forms, so perhaps your search is more specific: “what is triple negative breast cancer” “triple negative breast cancer treatments.” As you type, the words interact with you, providing answers to your questions. As a result, you learn of clinical trials as a treatment option, so you again leverage the interaction with words: “clinical trials for triple negative breast cancer,” and you find a powerful option that gives you another word – hope. Then and there, words and our relationship to them cross over into something that changes our life once again – twice in the same day, perhaps.
The meaning and value of words have become largely dependent on real-time demand, and therefore, the perceived value is determined solely by the epicenter of time and need. In other words, it’s determined when a moment in time crosses paths with a particular individual’s needs and the two interact. In the new economy, words also have an economic value. Therefore, a search for “cancer” is infinitely important and invaluable for the person that was just diagnosed, while the words “free shipping” may be most important and valuable for someone about to buy a “42inch 3D TV,” and both words have monetary value to some third party (i.e. a research institute or Sony) as well as the provider (i.e. Google or Amazon).
Services like Twitter have also focused on words (very few, in fact, given the 140 character limit), defining trends via hashtags (a word following a # – i.e. #cancer). That said, words transcend both search and Twitter. Words have become the key to everyday life. In our vehicles, many of us use words to get assistance, either via a service such as OnStar (I need help, my car won’t start) or via GPS (and don’t turn left when told to turn right, or the next word to leave your mouth may well be S%*T).
On eCommerce websites, such as Amazon.com, FatCork.com, BestBuy.com or even ColonialCandle.com, words change our experience: Free shipping, We recommend, One Click Checkout, Out of stock, Pre Order, etc. The way we interpret the end result of each of those seemingly simple words changes our present and future behaviors in real time. In fact, free shipping is still considered one of the top triggers to purchase.
In the media industry, search – both paid search and organic (SEO) – is a huge segment of the industry developed around and focused on the use of words. Words have implications in both paid search and SEO. One of the biggest factors includes relevancy: how relevant are the words searched – to the text ad copy – to the words on the landing page – to the words on the website? They are all interconnected. Words have interconnected us with technology.
- See more at: http://www.askingsmarterquestions.com/words-have-the-power-to-change-our-lives/#sthash.oc1jQXHL.dpuf

Monday, June 10, 2013

Parashat Chukkat - Do You Really Need That Stick?




“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘You and your brother Aaron take the rod and assemble the community, and before their very eyes order the rock to yield its water. Thus you shall produce water for them from the rock and provide drink for the congregation and their beasts."  Numbers 20:7-8



This week we read Parashat Chukkat, which describes the Israelites’ hardship in the wilderness, the announcement that Moses will not enter the Land, and the deaths of Miriam and Aaron. 


We read about the famous story of “striking the rock,” that terrible decree on Moses, who was supposed to speak to the rock when the people cry out for water. Instead, he struck it with his staff, and was told that he will never see the Promised Land.

So, what did Moses do that was so bad that would have warranted such a harsh punishment? It’s pretty clear that Moses was supposed to speak to the rock, not just whack it with a stick. If Moses had spoken to the rock rather than striking it to draw out the water, the Israelites might have witnessed quite a miracle...possibly even more than the 10 plagues or the parting of the Red Sea. It would have shown the great power of God. And, that's what Moses was supposed to do...to show how great God was.

So when you want to draw something out of someone, how do you get their ideas and learn about their hopes, and visions? How do you communicate with them? Are you involved in an open dialogue or do you find yourself raising a stick to strike? 

We all find ourselves in a difficult position, one time or another, of wanting to raise that stick. The key is, knowing when to put that stick down, and taking a step back, and perhaps miracles can actually happen.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Parashat Korach - How Far Is Too Far






This is quite a week of rebellion of Moses' authority. The Children of Israel haven't been content. There's been a lot of unrest and arguing within the community.  They've been complaining about everything, even the food. God is getting impatient with the Israelites, and Moses had to really build them up, so God wouldn't punish them. But, in this week's Parashat, complaining reaches an all-time high.



Korach, who is a cousin of Moses and Aaron, along with Datan and Abiram, challenged the leadership ability of Moses and Aaron, in front of the entire Community of Israel.

"They combined against Moses and Aaron and said to them, 'You have gone too far! For all the community are holy, all of them and Adonai is in their midst, Why then do you raise yourselves above Adonai's congregation?' (Num.16:3)"



Korach convinced 250 others who also want a piece of the action, but Korach seems to have forgotten something really important. Yes, the entire community is holy. He got that right. But, what Korach seems to have forgotten is that Moses and Aaron were elevated to their positions by God. They didn't select themselves.
Moses wasn't a politician. He was a pretty modest guy. He had no ambition to fight for political survival and, frankly, would walk away from it all if God would allow it.
Politics seems to bring out the worst in people. And that's what happened here.

Korach and his Cronies bitterly divided the Israelites. They set family against family and tribe against tribe. They weakened the community, instead of helping to build them up. And perhaps that's why Korach received the punishment that he got. God opens the earth, and swallows up the rebels and their families. Complete bedlam breaks out, and the people turn on Moses and Aaron: "You two have brought death upon the Lord's people!"  Before the day is over, 14,000 have died from a plague. (or a Divine Plague, that is)

Wow.....Korach was certainly a menace. But, Moses allowed this tragedy to continue. Korach certainly provoked the Revolution, but shouldn't Moses have tried to be the leader, and respect another's point of view? Maybe Moses could have actually gotten Korach to work beyond his rage. Can you imagine....Moses and Korach working closely together? Imagine that!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

"Princesses: Long Island" Aren't We Better Than This?




Could T.V. stoop any lower? Tonight is the debut of a new reality show called “Princesses: Long Island” (Just what we need….another reality show) This one features a group of spoiled Long Island women, all in their 20’s , all Jewish. I’m already offended.
All I needed to hear was a voice from the commercial screeching, “Manishevitttzzz”!... and. I was sick to my stomach.


The stereotyping keeps coming. And this is just in the coming attractions. Looks like we’re in for lots of crying, whining, pining for husbands, trying on wedding dresses (just in case), fighting with each other, and, of course…shopping.  Looks like we’re in for a stereotyped-packed train wreck that will take us through Old Brookville, Great Neck Estates, and, of course, the Roosevelt Field Mall.
But, I guess people will have to watch and judge for themselves.
I just know, that we’re worth more than this.