Quoting: Duplicate Spiritual Greatness

It can take a long time until something is invented. But once one person has already broken through the creative barrier, others can easily follow suit and produce the same results. For example, it took many years until someone invented the first railroad train. But after one person invented it, many others built similar railroad trains. It doesn’t take a genius to model the work of a genius!

The same principle applies to spiritual growth. There were people in previous generations who reached great heights. They were innovators in the field of Jewish metaphysics. Since we now have them as models, the knowledge of how to reach spiritual greatness is available to all of us.

Today, think of five great people you have met or read about. What qualities do you most respect in each one? As you reflect on these qualities, consider how you would apply these same attributes to yourself.

-Sources: see Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz – Daas Chochmah Umussar, vol. 2, p.40

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Quoting: View Challenges as Elevating

When you are faced with a challenge, you have many choices of how to view it. Some ways can cause more pain than necessary.

For example, your spouse might push your buttons more than anyone else. But you can look at this challenge as a vote of confidence from your Creator. You can say to yourself, “G-d believes in me. He believes that I can face this challenge and grow from it. If He believes that I can handle it, then I’m confident that He gave me the intelligence and emotional strength to deal with this.”

Be the best person you can be. The more difficult the situation, the better person you become by acting in an elevated way. Our purpose in this world is to keep growing and developing our character. Without challenges… our growth is limited.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book entitled “Marriage” – ArtScroll Publications, 1998, Chapter One, p.55

Senegalia and the Gods

fairy

Photo credit: Ingrid Endel

If Senegalia were human, she would look like an eleven-year-old girl, but even though she was the youngest in her family, she was over three-hundred-years old.

That’s not as long as it seems, since for the first one-hundred-and-fifty years after emerging from her pupa stage, she fluttered about the nest, and later, the verdant wooded high-canopy with the other overly curious and somewhat clumsy adolescents, a collection of fireflies, each glowing some shade of amber, sapphire, emerald, or ruby, no larger than three-year-old children, cavorting nude, for clothing was a human concern, and existing in a state both being careless and carefree.

For Senegalia, she believed her life was one of eternal play with the other nestlings, gossamer wings fluttering as fast as invisibility, racing around the feusha blooms, dodging errant moonbeams, their overarching background of earth tones and the deep greens of a mythical rain forest, competing to be the fastest, the most acrobatic, and certainly majestically fearless fliers. Of course, the grown-ups were always watching them, secure in the knowledge that they were all safe in the fantasy pocket universe, nestled in a depression of local timespace right next to the larger quantum reality of their greatest enemy, humans.

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Today, I Visited My Grave

shadows

© Sue Vincent

Seventeen-year-old Keisha Davis had been in this world twice before. The first time was, from her frame of reference, two years ago, and the alternate reality resembled her world of about 1910, except arcane technology combined with steam power, enabled fantastic machines to be created, including improbable cyborgs, submarines, and even zeppelins which could fly to the edge of space.

The second time was last year, two days after her sixteenth birthday, but in this world, twenty years had passed, and now Tony Stark-like inventions were running on oil and diesel. Three-year-old Leah and nine-year-old Josiah, the children of her other reality mentors Isaiah and Eralia Covington, had grown to be twenty-three and twenty-nine respectively.

Three months ago, she had turned seventeen, and yesterday, he once again mysteriously materialized in the alternate realm, only now, another twenty years had passed, and the environment was reminiscent of the 1950s. They had the internet, Facebook, YouTube, as well as rocketships to Mars and Moon bases, all driven by transistors and

nuclear power. Leah, her mother’s name had been Leah, was now forty-three. She only had one son, a teenager called Josiah, named after her brother. Keisha’s older brother was also named Josiah.

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Quoting: Reapply Old Ideas

My father’s teacher, who was known as the Chofetz Chaim, used to say: “There is a popular expression that ‘Every fool is wise in respect to himself.’ My experience has shown that many wise people act like fools with respect to themselves.”

Many important concepts for living sound quite simple and obvious. Think of an idea that you dismissed as not being for you because you felt that you had already mastered it or, just the opposite, it was too difficult for you. Now find a way that you can apply that idea.

With the next idea that you come across today, ask yourself, “How can I apply this?”

-See Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Gateway to Happiness,” p.20

Quoting: The Most Satisfying Pleasure

When it comes to matters pertaining to this world, it is never possible to be completely satisfied. If you seek only physical pleasures, regardless of how much you do have, you will always be lacking.

But when you make it your main ambition to serve the Almighty, you will feel a sense of wholeness. The pleasure of serving the Almighty is so intense that it is above any other pleasures. Hence when you attain this, you are missing nothing.

Sources: see Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev – Kedushas Levi, Parshas Tetzaveh; Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s “Consulting the Wise”

Rest in Peace Stan “the Man” Lee

This is the final page of the main story of the Fantastic Four’s third annual issue, dated 1965. It was written by Stan Lee (1922-2018), drawn by Jack Kirby (1917-1994), inked by Vince Colletta (1923-1991), and lettered by Artie Simek (1916-1975).

You can read about the plot points at marvel.wikia.com. Scroll down for more.

FF3

From the final page of the main story in the 1965 Fantastic Four annual issue 3

In the early days of their collaboration on the Fantastic Four, Stan and Jack used to humorously inject themselves in a few of the stories. In the final panels, the Fantastic Four creators attempt to “crash” Reed and Sue’s wedding and are shown the door by no less than Nick Fury, the head of SHIELD.

I tried to think of an iconic image worthy of commemorating Stan Lee’s passing yesterday, and this is what I came up with. Really, no single comic book cover, image, or anything else can completely capture his legacy.

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What Lies Beneath the Icy Depths of Pellucidar?

arctic depths

katatonia82/iStock

It wasn’t his fault that Eduardo Phillips suffered from that damned ictus, or whatever the doctor called it, and died. Yes, they’d been arguing by the kitchen’s coffee machine, having randomly encountered each other, but Joshua had never laid a hand on him, not that he didn’t want to at times. The paleontologist was incorrigible, insisting that some form of humanoid had actually lived and thrived in the depths of Sorth 662 B’s primary ocean, called “Pellucidar” by Roxanne Sims, the team’s marine biologist and resident romantic, sometime within the past 10,000 years.

At the height of their raging, mutual diatribe, Phillips dropped his Styrofoam cup of tepid Sumatra, clutched at the sides of his head with both hands, an expression of profound anguish on his toffee-colored face, and then collapsed into a heap on the floor, his salt-and-pepper hair soaking up a pool of what one of the Marines called “Java.” Captain Marcus Fink and most of the rest of the team had already been running into the galley in response to their shouting match, and were just in time to see 28-year-old Josh Munoz, astro-geologist, and the youngest member of the expedition under the planet’s north, arctic wastes, standing over the elder scientist, his fists and teeth both clenched, staring at a corpse at his feet.

Doctor Beth Holloway, 61 years old, through as active and intellectually keen as someone half that age, pronounced Phillips dead on the spot. Fink and Patrick Simmons, the Gunny Sergeant heading the small complement of Marines attached to their operation, icily escorted Munoz to his quarters, disabled his comm, and locked off the door mechanism after leaving.

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Veteran’s Day Commemorated

small flag

© James Pyles

Perhaps I’m obsessed, but as I was getting ready for work this morning, I found this tiny American flag my granddaughter had in her hand when my son brought his children over for dinner last night. At age three, she doesn’t understand the symbolism and meaning yet, but her Dad served in the Marine Corps., and her Great-Grandpa (my Dad) served in the Air Force, and I understand.

We, as Americans, cannot fully appreciate the freedoms we have, including the freedom to protest, and to disrespect all that the flag stands for, without honoring the men and women who fought (and those who died) to establish and preserve those freedoms. Even Colin Kaepernick and those who idolize him owe their freedom to kneel during our National Anthem to military men and women.