Tears In Heaven

Tears in Heaven

People have called me to cry, and get guidance about this week’s massacre in Pittsburgh. I don’t have a clue about G-d and His ways, but if I had to imagine how things look in heaven, they might look something like this.


I am standing behind a white curtain, that is shielding an incredibly bright light. So bright, that while the curtain is blocking the direct impact, I can still feel the reverberations of the energy from behind that curtain. I can feel the heat of the light. It is so bright, it reminds me of the light of a welder. You know you aren’t supposed to look at it, but you also can’t help yourself.

It is so bright and inviting, yet at the same time, it feels that if I come any closer I will be absorbed by that light. So I stop.I hear sounds behind that curtain. The sounds are booming and subtle at the same time. It is the soft silhouette of something in the cacophony of the all the amperage.

I close my eyes trying to make out the sounds. As I pay close attention, it comes to me. It is the sound of crying. Even sobbing. Crying in heaven? This makes no sense. In heaven all is truth. All is real. Happiness and sadness are united in the face of truth. So I thought.

I hear a rushing sound amidst the noise. I want to investigate, but I feel something by my bare feet. It is liquid and it is coming from under the curtain. Instantly I understand. It is connected to the sobbing. These must be Gd’s tears, and He must be the one crying.

I don’t know protocol in these celestial realms, am I allowed to speak? May I ask questions? Can I explore what is evident around me? The last to question things in Heaven – The Angels that questioned Gd allowing the 10 Martyrs to be killed – were told to be quiet or the world would revert back to nothingness? Should I try?

Timidly at first, I call out from my side of the now fully pulsating curtain.
“G-d, is that You?”

“Yes, it is me.”

The sound is so much softer and gentler than I had ever imagined. I had always assumed that Gd’s voice would be a booming megaphone that would render me deaf if I ever heard it.

Emboldened by the softer tone, I pull all the courage I have inside me to speak more firmly.

“Gd, Sorry for the disrespect, but your voice is so gentle.”

“That is OK my son. Many people make that mistake. They confuse strength with noise. I don’t need to be loud to be powerful.”

Good point I think to myself. I do usually make that association.

“True strength needs no exterior signs to prove its power. It’s power is inherent and existential.”

Woah. That got deep real quickly. But I forge ahead.

“Can I ask some questions, now that we are talking already?” I continue.

“I am kinda busy here, but I will take just one question for now.”

OK, here goes.

“I am sitting here on earth, and I am trying to process what you allowed to happen in the Pittsburgh Massacre, and I just cannot make any sense of it! People are asking me questions, and I just don’t have answers. It is waking up old latent questions that we have pushed to the side for the longest of times, but now they are all back with a vengeance. Gd can you explain what is going on?”

I hear a deep deep sigh. One of those sighs that express a deep inner pain, a pain of bottled up frustrations that goes back many years even lifetimes.

“Was that you sighing Gd?”

“Yes” is the defeated reply I hear.

“One second” I continue, “I thought you are in charge of everything, if so why did you allow it to happen? Or worse, why did you cause it to happen? And if you could have stopped it, why didn’t you? And if you allowed it to happen, why are you sighing?”

“My son, I cannot explain this to you. You need to be Me to understand Me. I can tell you however, that I am with you and everyone else in their pain and sorrow. That bawling you heard earlier, was mine. Those tears you felt, they were mine. This incredible sadness I am enduring with all those victims and their families and those who suffered with them is intense.”

“I have my reasons, and perhaps at some later time I will be able to explain them to you. For now they are locked up in my personal treasury, destined to be My Divine secret.”

I feel frightened by the next words that are going to leave my mouth, but I feel like I may never get this opportunity again so I keep going.

“G-d, with the deepest respect for You and your unknowable ways, that answer is just not good enough for so many of us. We who have faith in You, who believe in You, who would die for Your holy name, are struggling. We need more info than ‘it is my secret for now.’”

“I know my son, and that is why I was crying. Not only for the fact that I am watching my children in pain. They are MY children. Which parent wants their child to be in pain? None. That includes Me. When you hurt, I hurt. When you cry, I cry. When you are struggling, I am struggling.”

“What makes me cry even more is that I cannot explain Myself to you. That is even more painful to Me. If I could just tell you My reasons, My ways, you would have some measure of comfort. Unfortunately, you don’t have My knowledge, My perspective, and therefore I simply cannot tell you much more.”

“Please, please My son, believe me when I tell you I am right there with you hurting real badly.”

I think I have run out of time with G-d. I fear pressing my luck any further. Besides, He already made it clear that he will not – cannot – explain any more.

As I prepare to thank Him for at least sharing His time with me. I hear a gentle whoosh as the curtains settle for but the briefest of moments.

“My son” G-d says to me, “Can I give you a hug?”

Taken quite aback, I wonder what that would feel like, and after our discussion, why He would even want to.

“Of course” I say. I close my eyes, as I await His Divine hug. It is hard to explain what happened next.

I felt this serene warmth envelop my entire being. I felt a sudden lightness of existence. I felt peace at my core. I felt like musical notes coming out of an instrument. I can’t make complete sense out of it all.

It felt like my unanswered questions, while they remained unanswered, were suddenly validated. They were honored and respected. They were taken in by Gd Himself. I felt a kinship with Him at the same time that I felt like he truly understood the depths of my despair of not understanding Him.

I felt that despite my inability to reconcile His words with my earthly reality, and the reality of those who had an actual loss of a loved one, we would remain in this relationship.

It felt like this is what a Divine hug must be.

We are looking past each other, at each other’s backs, yet we are in an embrace.


blog 4/52

Picture verywellhealth.com

The Day I Won The Lottery – A Short

The day I won the lottery – A Short

I think back to that fateful day. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The numbers on the screen and the numbers on my ticket matched? I bought the ticket as an afterthought. Everyone was swept up on the lotto mania, so I figured why not.

Now, I wonder if this was even a blessing at all. Did I win or did I lose?

I recall my first reaction. Should I tell anyone? Should I keep this a secret? Do I take the lump sum payout, or do I get a bunch of money for life. How do ensure that my life stays normal. I’ve read those stories of people who won the lottery and had their whole lives fall apart. I knew that that wasn’t going to be me.

Someone had mentioned a few days earlier, about the number of lottery winners that commit suicide, and how it was really a curse. I remember laughing out loud and saying, “ G-d, please curse me with a lottery win”.

Now I wonder which of my prayers were actually answered. The curse or the win.

In consultation with my wife, and then accountant, we decided on the lump sum payout. We were now millionaires. We wouldn’t need to work another day in our lives. We had enough money to pay for all that we needed, wanted, and much much more. Our children would not have to worry for anything, as we could now afford all the things we had only previously dreamed of.

I remember going into the car dealership and picking out matching vehicles, loaded with all the options for my wife and myself.

I remember calling all the schools and giving them my credit card and telling them to pay off all the tuitions balances.

I remember paying off the mortgage and private loans I had outstanding.

Life was good. Or so I thought.

My door suddenly became a popular place as the poor, and fundraisers in the community now knew my address. I was excited to be able to write checks to each of them.

I remember arranging a five star family trip to Israel, staying at the best hotels and eating at the best restaurants. Ordering Kosher room service, splurging again and again, because I could.

Life was good. Or so I thought.

About 4 months later, things started to change.

My job started to hold very little luster. I got tired of doing what I do. I didn’t need the money. I could hire others to do the work that I do. My passion and drive were really suffering. I found myself sleeping in later and later each day.

I found the newly hired nanny, clocking more and more hours as she greeted the kids when they awoke so the “boss” could sleep.

When I did wake up, I’d make a few calls to see what was happening, but everything was already taken care of. The new employee I hired, had already addressed everything that used to be on my to do list.

I was finding it more and more difficult to find meaning in my days. I caught up on lots of reading that I had pushed off for years. I wrote articles, which it seemed everyone suddenly wanted to publish. Did I suddenly become a great writer or did they just want my contributions to their newspapers to continue?

Doubt started to creep in all areas of my life. Did people want to talk to me for the wise advice that I dispensed or was it because they thought I’d be able to help them and they didn’t want to burn bridges with me.

Fast forward a few months. Life at home was now unbearable. My children were not talking to me anymore. Gone were the days of a quick pickup basket ball game, or a game of Uno on Shabbat. They have retreated to their rooms and lives. They have all the latest gadgets, and phones, things didn’t exist in our world previously. We used to have strict limits on everything, but the “new me” didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Including my children.

They seemed to have friends whom they were hanging out with more and more often. Was it my imagination or were those friends of the less positive influence than I usually cared for. I should have stepped in, but I just wanted them to be happy. I can only wonder what they were doing with all that time spent together. Why they didn’t want to talk to us anymore, or spend any time with us? It was all so confusing.

My wife couldn’t understand my lack of drive. Where did the motivated, energetic guy she knew for so many years go? Why did I stop going to gym she wanted to know. She was right, I did put on nearly 50 pounds. Eating out every night will do that.

My imperfect life of just 10 months ago, where we struggled for all that we had, was looking more and more desirable. I thought that this lotto win would relieve my stress and worries, instead it increased them.

Oh sure, I can pay all my bills easily now, but I also have many more bills. Particularly the therapy bills. Each child is seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist to deal with all their newfound issues. Why is everyone so sad and miserable.  I too am seeing a therapist to try to make sense of my life. Was am I so unhappy?

We no longer sit down as a family to dinner. We actually don’t do anything together anymore. If the kids show up at home, they make a beeline for their bedroom in our new palatial home. Or they are there to pick up some clothing or an Amazon package they ordered with their new credit cards I gave them. I just wanted to make them all happy. I just wanted to give them all the things I didn’t have growing up.

Where did it all go wrong?

It seems that the only people who still like me are the beggars and fundraisers who get checks from my new charitable foundation my accountant had me set up.

My life is worse now than it ever has been.

My marriage is worse than it ever has been.

My relationship with my kids is worse than it ever has been.

My health worse than it ever has been.

My happiness is non-existent.

Gosh, I thought this was going to be good thing.

I prayed to G-d to “curse” me with a lotto win.

It seems he heard my prayers.

A curse it really is.



Blog 3/52

Picture sfweekly.com

The right to advise

The Right to Advise.

When may I have an opinion, and when must I stand down?

In the line of work that I am, I often find myself in a situation where I am dispensing some form of advice or another.

The problem is, I am often far from perfect, even in the very areas where I am waxing eloquent. Hence my question, when do I lose my right to advise? Must I be a perfect parent before giving parenting advice? Am I required to have a better than average marriage to give marital advice? Must I know that whole Torah to teach it?

I wouldn’t give advice on building codes or construction as I am eminently unqualified to offer an opinion. How far does that extend? I am no coach yet, I often give advice to my kids about how to shoot a basketball or throw a ball. Should I be holding my tongue or do I have permission to speak?

A number of years ago, I called into the Dennis Prager Show, on his “open lines Friday” where you can ask any question. I asked him, how he was comfortable giving weekly advice on his “male female hour” when he himself was on his third marriage?

He gave a short, but to the point response. Who better to give advice then someone who has been there, done that. Failed and picked up again. Learned from his mistakes and now has more experience then someone who “stuck it out” in a bad marriage, or never experienced challenge in their marriage.

He made a good point. I think that point is true and consistent with Jewish thought.

On matters of emotion, day to day life, and spirit, you need simply to have common sense, and genuine empathy. If you do, you are giving your best, based on your experience and your dedication to the recipient not in question. You don’t have to be perfect to share your perspective, you need simply to be working on yourself.

On matters of medicine, finance, life and death and that like, you should be qualified and not bloviate. As there can be serious financial and and even life and death repercussions, so you need to differ to the experts.

Pragmatically, if we waited until we were fit to parent and lead before having children or reaching beyond ourselves to do something new and great, the world would be empty and have no professionals.

In summation. I think the question is based on a false premise. It’s not about having a right to advise, rather a privilege to do so. When seen in that light, it can be done even if you are still working out your own details.

Picture: architectoncoffee.com

Blog 2/52

A Blog about a blog

A blog about a blog

It seems like everyone has their own blog these days. I suppose in the age of social media and decreasing attention spans, everyone is doing whatever they can to feel relevant in a world, where interpersonal connections are decreasing and we are becoming more and more socially isolated.  These days it seems, you need to go to extremes to be seen, heard or matter. Social media is actually making us less social.

That’s why we post things to Facebook and Instagram; Things that just a few years ago, we would have been mortified to have shown the world. There must be a better way to “be out there” without exposing that which ought to be hidden. On the flip side, there is much that is artificially hidden, that ought to be out there.I don’t know if the aforementioned is part of my inspiration, but I am sure it plays a role, as well as other contributing factors to this new blog that I’ve launched.

Gd gives everyone talents and tests. Strengths and weaknesses. They are given to us to use, and not to abuse. Sometimes not using your talent is a form of abuse. It is abuse in the form of neglect. Neglecting the world of an opportunity to hear another side of things, since you won’t share.

I believe I was given some variation of talent to write. I come from a line of writers and authors, but other than the occasional pithy one liner, or the weekly Torah inspiration, I really don’t write my own deep personal thoughts.

Thoughts that come to me at random times, and percolate in my head, and that I want to share with the world. Thoughts that might be deep, and even Jewish and Gd related but don’t have a specific connection to a Torah portion, or an upcoming holiday.

Thoughts on life, emotions, personalities or persons. Thoughts on technology, policy, nature or traffic. Random thoughts and musings, that don’t always have a specific place where they belong.

There are so many “good” reasons not to share. Life is busy, I don’t have time to write. I have other responsibilities, and this is not a priority. (Or my personal favorite, if I have time to write, it should be for my weekly column, or a large online publication where thousands will see it. Who wants to hear my personal thoughts?)

One online publication, where I often have submitted articles printed told me that they are going in a specific direction, and they need my articles to fit specific “topic format”  and word count (and various other restrictions) going forward.

I told them that I write on inspiration, not to fill a specific need. I have a need to get a thought out, and at times it can be done in a couple hundred words, but other times it may require a whole Megillah. He replied, “well, you should not deprive the world of your words. You should start a blog.”

Which brings us to today. A blog about a blog.

My younger cousin, Ms. Etti Krinsky recently concluded a year long project, to write 52 blogs in 52 weeks, as part of a writing project that she assigned herself. ThisPrivateDiary.com. Worth reading. I watched and waited weekly for her weekly dose.

Some were funny. Some were deep.

Some were random. Some were sweet.

Some were poems, some would rhyme.

Some made me think, some just helped pass time.

Regardless, her dedication and commitment to seeing this project through, inspired me to emulate her effort, and take swing at it myself.

So here goes:

Now you know reasons

You know my why’s

I hope they will be meaningful

And not bring you sighs.


I will try to be vulnerable

To share what’s on my mind

To be honest and earnest

And deliver on time.


I hope you enjoy these,

And find them thought provoking and fun,

And this brings us to the conclusion

Of blog number one.

(MY RULES: I will try to write one a week. My family will come first. I may reuse old stuff that I’ve written before, but I commit to it being mine. I may not do 52 blogs in 52 different weeks, but by the end of the year, I hope to have posted 52 times on these pages. I can assure you they will be random, with no apparent consistent theme. They will likely be filled with grammar and other mistakes, I will chalk that up to poetic license or laziness, your call. I hope you will join me on this journey. Your feedback will always be welcomed.)

Wish me luck.

Picture jbklutse.com