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(Im)Moral Relativism

November 4, 2015

This post might seem out-of-place from the usual writings you see here, but it’s really not.

To wake up every morning to news of another Jew being attacked, wounded, or murdered because they are a Jew is heartbreaking.  I cannot be silent and therefore I must do something.  This post is a little of that something.

While there is a raging debate over the causes of the recent terrorist attacks against Jews in Israel, there should be no debate that murdering people is ever acceptable. What should be automatically and universally accepted is, as the Sixth Commandment says, “Do Not Murder”.

There is no grievance that justifies murdering others. There is no justification for teaching people and children to dehumanize another, to believe they are heroes for murdering, and  to celebrate the death of their victims.  To attempt to justify the murdering, to create a moral equivalence, is immoral!

The western world has become an enabler to this terrorism, since groups like the PLO and Hamas have used terrorism to further their demands.  For too long, we have rewarded terrorism by giving it a voice and by acceding to the murderers demands.  This enabling has been exploited by the terrorists.  As a result, terrorism has metastasized worldwide.  The victims have been those murdered, their loved ones, those that live under the threat, and those taught to hate.  Peace has been postponed by this, while lives on both sides have been unnecessarily lost.

We must start fighting this rampage of stabbings, plowing cars into pedestrians, bombs, etc., by immediately condemning murder, teaching hate, and incitement by any and all means.  We must not accept any explanations or justifications for the murderers acts.  There must not be any equivocating, no “after all…..”, etc..  To do that is to give license, not condemnation.

The leaders who teach hate and unleash it when it suits them, must know that it will not be tolerated, and that there will be no gain to be had from it.  They must learn that there will be no discussions of their claimed grievances until such time that this murder, teaching, preaching, and incitement stops.

If this was done many years ago, at its beginnings, many lives would have been saved, and the possibility of peace would have been greatly enhanced.  It may already have been achieved.

It is taught that we fight the darkness with light.  To do this we must bring light to the darkness.  For too, too long we have allowed the darkness to come to the light.

Go Along to Get Along, or Not

September 3, 2015

In thinking of what you think about (see the previous post), think about this as well.  Do you think for yourself, or do you succumb to peer pressure?

You were given life for a purpose, with a purpose, on purpose.  You cannot find and fulfill that purpose without you being you. Your value to yourself and the rest of us, is the unique you. There is no one else like you and therefore no one else can fulfill your purpose.

You can’t be the unique you if you don’t think for yourself, or “if you go along to get along”.

So let me ask you this:

Which line…A, B, or C is most like the single line on the left?


asch (1951) line study of conformity

There is a famous psychological study, known as the Asch experiment.  This study shows how we are so influenced by the group that we agree even when they are clearly wrong and we know it.


In this study, there were groups of eight people, with each asked the same question as above, for each of a total of eighteen different line size comparisons in each group.  Seven of the eight participants in each group were shills.  When asked the question, each participant had to answer out loud.  The lone subject of the experiment always went last.  On twelve of the eighteen comparisons (the critical trials), the seven shills purposely gave the same and wrong answer.

Results:  On average, 32% of the lone subjects went along and conformed with the clearly incorrect majority on the critical trials.  Over the 12 critical trials about 75% of the lone subjects conformed at least once.

If you don’t think for yourself, if you succumb to “group think”, if you don’t question, then you can’t be you, and you can’t grow.  If we all behave that way, then the world we all wish for will never be and just remain a wish.

 “When everyone thinks alike, no one thinks very much.”   —   Walter Lippmann

 “He who sees the truth, let him proclaim it, without asking who is for it or who is against it.” – Henry George

Heart and Soul

Something(s) To Think About

August 13, 2015

If it’s true that

“You become what you think, even if you don’t think so.” – Dr. Morris Mandel

and it is.  Then think about what you think about.  For example:

1. Are your thoughts more about what you don’t have, or what you do have?

 “Life is great when we are grateful.” — Rabbi David Aaron

2. Are your thoughts more about where you have been, or where you are and want/need to go?

“Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.” – Emma Phillips

3.  Are your thoughts more about who might have hurt you, or who loves you?

“He who angers you conquers you.” – Elizabeth Kenny

4. Are your thoughts more about how you have been hurt, or how you can help someone else heal?

 “How can you expect a man who’s warm to understand one who’s cold?” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

5. Are your thoughts more about what you are getting, or what you can be giving?

“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

6. Are your thoughts more about errors/failures you have made, or what you learned from them and how to put that into action?

“Experience is the best teacher, and the worst experiences teach the best lessons.”Unknown

7. Are your thoughts more about worrying what might happen, or how to keep moving forward?

 “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” – Leo Buscaglia

 After you finish thinking about what you think about, think about what you mostly talk about.

What we think or talk about is where our focus is and it’s energy takes us.  It sets the direction of where you are going, or not going at all.  Are you going in the direction you want to?  Are you “climbing your mountain?”  Something to think about!

 “Our thoughts create our reality — where we put our focus is the direction we tend to go.” –  Peter McWilliams

Homework Assignment

Think about what other thoughts belong on this list and may be holding you back.


Heart and Soul


Worst Day Ever, Or Is It?

August 3, 2015

It’s been almost three months since I last posted anything here.  Oh, Thank you, I’ve missed you too (insert smiley face).

I’m finally breaking my silence, because this poem below is so touching and powerful that I would be remiss in not sharing it.

Chanie Gorkin, a sixteen year old girl, who follows in the tradition of Chabad Chassidism, was given a homework assignment to write a poem.  The subject was “The Worst Day Ever”.

She decided to infuse hers with some Chassidic philosophy.  One part is the idea of “Head over Heart”, meaning that one has the power of their intellect to govern their emotions.  The other part is the concept of finding some good in everything.

This speaks to the power of attitude.  How you see and respond to everything that comes your way can either keep you climbing your mountain or keep you stuck.  Your attitude is like your personal light switch.  You can either turn the light on, or leave it dark.  Your attitude…..Your choice..

 “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one’s own way”. – Dr. Viktor Frankl from “Man’s Search for Meaning”

Here is what she wrote.  There is a surprise twist

Worst Day Ever

By Chanie Gorkin

Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don’t try to convince me that
There’s something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Even if
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don’t last.
And it’s not true that
It’s all in the mind and heart
True happiness can be attained
Only if one’s surroundings are good
It’s not true that good exists
I’m sure you can agree that
The reality
My attitude
It’s all beyond my control
And you’ll never in a million years hear me say
Today was a very good day

Now read it from bottom to top, the other way,
And see what I really feel about my day.

The full story can be read by clicking here 

Heart and Soul

Smiling Forward

April 13, 2015

In my last post “Oh My Papa”, I told of the man my Father was, his strength, attitude, and approach to life on the occasion of his having just passed.

Since then I have been taking trips down memory lane.  Some of that was done through viewing old pictures I found in going through his home.

In looking at some of the old pictures I was profoundly struck by something in particular that I wish to share.  It is a lesson for all people, on dealing with life’s struggles.

I saw pictures of my parents and some relatives, all Holocaust survivors, in a displaced persons camp in Italy, where my parents met after the war, and some pictures of them soon after they arrived in America.

What struck me, was that in all of those pictures, they were smiling and looked happy.  If one didn’t know their story, one would not have been able to guess what they had just experienced.  To most of us, it is unimaginable to be smiling having just endured the unendurable and unimaginable.

What I saw in those pictures and learned from watching my Parents, was that they and all Holocaust survivors carry the weight of their past suffering with them all of the time, yet they are strong enough to continue to move forward.  To move forward to a better life.  They came to America and other places and built lives.  They got married, had children, served the community, gave charity, and made a living.

They were able to do this because consciously or un, they believed that their life had a purpose and meaning.  They had faith and hope.  If they didn’t, they probably wouldn’t have survived in the first place.

This is a powerful lesson and reminder for all.

P.S. This Thursday, April 16, 2015 is Yom HaShoah, the annual Holocaust Remembrance day

P.P.S. This strength, faith, and hope is what Dr. Viktor Frankl witnessed when he was in Auschwitz and wrote about in his book “Man’s Search For Meaning”.


“Oh! My Papa”*

March 12, 2015

Sam Fox, My Father, A Holocaust Survivor

1929 – 2015

I wish to share with you some of the many lessons I was privileged to learn from my Father.

When asked by my Brother, “What is the secret to a successful and happy life?”, despite having experienced the Holocaust, in which he lost his parents and five siblings….despite then sitting in a wheelchair because of a paralyzing stroke….. despite that his wife, my Mother, was dying in the other room…..He said

“In life some people have it easy and make it hard and some people have it hard and make it easy” 

The value of charity

“When I first came to America I had nothing, yet I always gave to charity. When I did, it always made me feel rich.” – from an acceptance speech upon receiving an award 

The value of the pursuit of good

“The pursuit of the good is the noblest of character builders and one of the sources of true gratification”.  There are other things in life besides self-interest.  Personal involvement in others challenges, in community affairs are the greatest sources of personal achievement and success.  Too many people refuse to understand what it means to be involved and to help others.  They are truly missing something.  There is nothing as gratifying and self-fulfilling as helping others.  Why don’t you try it?  If you do, I can assure you that you will arrive at a similar conclusion.  Try it, you will like it”. – from another acceptance speech upon receiving an award 

These were just some of his words.  The valuable lessons learned by all who had the privilege of knowing him, came from watching him turn those words into deeds.

*Listen to Eddie Fisher’s beautiful song


Striking Out

February 26, 2015

Words are indeed powerful.

 “Words should be weighed, not counted.” –  A Jewish Saying*

We know of and should constantly be aware of, the impact that the words we say to and about others can have.  It’s also very important to consider the impact of the words we say to ourselves and about ourselves .  Our Inner Speak (see the Inner Speak series here).

What do you say to yourself when you strike out in your social life, or strike out in your dating, or strike out in a job search, or….

Do you say to yourself things like “I’m a loser”, or “I’m no good”, or…….   If you do that, then you will continue to strike out.  This approach becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

If you say to yourself, “I’m better than this”, or “I can and will do better, or…..   Then you are on your way to getting many hits.

Saying to yourself “What’s wrong with me” (a negative) is different than saying “Am I doing something wrong” (a positive).

“You become what you think, even if you don’t think so.” – Dr. Morris Mandel

The next step to improve your chances of getting a hit, is looking to see if you are indeed doing something wrong and if so, what you might be doing wrong.  Just like a batter in baseball who is having a bad hitting streak, he would ask himself and/or a coach to look at his stance, his swing, or is it just that he’s swinging at bad pitches.  Then once identified, correcting and improving it.

Always asking if you are doing something wrong when you’re not getting the results you want is a positive.  You are saying to yourself that you can, want to, and will improve.

Believe in yourself and your possibilities.  If you don’t, no one else will.  If you don’t, why should they?

You cannot climb your mountain by keeping or pushing yourself down.

  Heart and Soul

*see the “Words should be weighed, not counted” series here.

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