Pen for Hire

If you like my blog, then you want me to write your content. Contact me at

Popular Posts


Mafia World or Why I Used to Love America

I woke up in the middle of the night with a shocking realization. I realized that I am weird. This isn’t a new revelation. I have always been weird. But I suddenly realized that I was weird in ways that I didn’t feel comfortable with. Usually, being weird meant being socially unacceptable and either I moved, or my neighbors moved. But since my ego and I are not ready to part company, I realized that I needed to cope with this. I have some beliefs that are logical yet disturb me deeply.
I realized that I don’t like the police. As individuals, I like cops. Most of them are idealistic, service minded, professionals. They do a difficult job. But I realized that the mafia guy who came around demanding protection money actually offered a better service. If a gang of hoodlums came around, causing trouble, Antony and his buddies would show up and hurt them bad if they didn’t leave. I pay them so they would want to protect me, so that I could continue to pay. The cops would write a report or maybe sit at the corner store eating donuts. It’s not that the cops don’t want to protect me. Cops get paid by the government so they have no vested interest in helping me. They have a strong interest in listening to what the government tells them to do. When the government is a democracy, it means that the government is working for the people and the police are working for the people. Unfortunately, the United States is no longer a democracy. A recent study at Princeton and Northwestern University has declared the US an oligarchy. The government, the police, and the military, serve a new master; powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans
Another problem is that the police are required to protect everyone, including the criminals. They can’t beat them up, even when they catch them in the middle of a violent crime. I think it is a natural human instinct to punish criminals and having to play by such rules, and by going against their instincts, cops go a little crazy. That is unfortunate, but it is one of the things that makes America great.

So I am thinking that I would like someone, a face, a real person, that I can talk to, someone who has my interests at heart. I was hoping that America, in all of its greatness and glory, would provide that. I thought that if I voted for someone that it meant that he would represent me. I hope that if I paid taxes, the armed forces and the police would aim their weapons at the enemies of the common good, and fight to uphold our fine beliefs. Otherwise, I am paying taxes so that some rich person can afford an army and a police force, in which case I’d rather pay Guido and his boys. They’ll get the job done.


It helps to be a little crazy

I really wanted to get accepted into the Israeli army. I was thirty years old and could have gotten an exemption if I pushed a little, but I saw it as my duty. I fudged a few questions about my medical history and told everyone including the janitor at the draft office that I wanted to serve in the army. One of the last stages in the draft process was the psychological test. It was a long questionnaire, which challenged my new abilities at reading Hebrew. The questions were very simple, and it was obvious which answers would indicate an unstable personality, not to be trusted with an automatic weapon. There were a few questions which challenged me as a person trying to be in touch with my spiritual nature. “Do you feel there is an entity inside of you, telling you to do things you don’t want to do?” I circled ‘No’, trying not to think of my daily battles with my evil inclination. “Do you sometimes leave your body?” Well…on a good day I do manage to connect with an expanded vision of creation. I was starting to think that society might see the struggle to be religious as a form of insanity. On one question I couldn’t hold myself back. “Do you feel the world changes drastically from one day to the next?” I circled ‘Yes’. I handed in the exam to a young sergeant who had been trained to grade these tests, thereby qualifying him to judge my sanity. He marked off my answers as I sat across from him. When he got to the question about the world changing, he looked up. “Would you care to explain your answer?” I smiled and handed him my passport. He looked puzzled but opened it up. The picture showed a young man in a black t-shirt with long curly hair, a moustache, and dangling earrings, a biker. In front of him sat a man with a beard and yarmulke, a religious Jew. I smiled. He gave me a passing grade and approved my induction


Hot Day

I lay on the albino memory of a lawn as a wind from a foreign desert I’ve never seen cracks my lips and flings sharp sand into my eyes. My smile is blown from my face, flying out over the valley, dancing to the rhythm of finger-snapping flags. My body moves to a different song. The inner me straining to fly, sings the high notes as my body thumps out the bass line of my feet dragging my body along in my daily routine. I am nervous, afraid of lagging behind the beat, losing the rhythm as it dances on, or of singing a false note in the harmony I am trying to make of my life.
I roll over and breathe deeply, drawing in the yellow straw smell, mixing it with the deep earth in the crucible of my lungs,. I have pushed and prodded, run around, run towards, run away, run down, lost and found, meant and missed, and finally in this eternal moment of ‘where am I now’, I ask myself, is that really what brought me here, rolling around in the dust like the half-mad neighbor to be politely ignored?
I hear a whisper from the withered grass. It tries not to laugh but I hear it nonetheless. I have always been here, since now is always and a dot is a world only partially explored. I am not waiting, I am being.  A half-buried boulder tells me of its journey, panting between breaths, running at breakneck speed, racing to keep up with the centuries in their race against time.

I roll onto my back, grasping at handfuls of dry grass to keep from falling off the world, dizzy from the effort as I stare down into the depths of the sky above. Can I feel the mountain swell beneath me as the waves of rock fold over the land? Where am I in this eternal moment of reality? Creation and destruction are two heartbeats  in the body of god. And yet here I stand, clapping the dust from my palms, feeling my hands brush twigs from my clothes. I tell myself that the jittery feeling in my knees is the extra cup of coffee I drank this morning. I close my eyes, to just one more moment of strangeness in an already peculiar day. I strain to listen. One note, one instrument in an orchestra as large as the world, playing a song as long as time.


Be me friend

I am not a nice person. I have more rough edges than simple geometry can explain. I wrote a sweet book, but I am not sweet. I do, however, in the depths of my grouchy heart, believe that the world is a rough place that demands average people to pull out from their inner depths the best they can offer. And sometimes even more than that. And I have witnessed people who do that. I sound like the old men in every generation who sit in their rocking chairs and complain that the world today is not as good as the world they grew up in. But it is true. The world is so much harder, so much faster, and thanks to technology, our ability to do damage has grown exponentially. The atom bomb is a water pistol compared to what we can do now, physically and spiritually, to destroy our world.  I have also seen a movement, a small movement but it could easily spread like wildfire, individuals who have pushed back the boundaries of good that a person can do in his lifetime. It is a good thing to adopt an orphan. There are people who have made their hearts so big with love that they can adopt dozens of children. The young people of this generation will be faced with challenges that my generation created. But even though we created these problems, my generation cannot educate you or prepare you to cope with them. Our education is a failure because it can only show you how to become part of the system that created these problems. I beg of you, put aside the expensive toys we built for you. They glitter so nicely but they distract you from your real mission. There are a thousand ways to chat, but I never took the time to sit with you and talk, to really connect. There are a million songs on your device, more if you are wireless, but which one is the song that you and I wrote one night when we were jamming by the campfire, drinking beer, and crying on each others’ shoulder. A thousand million words float around the internet, but which ones tell me what is in your heart. And I have time to read more than 140 letters, so please take your time and tell me all of what your heart needs to say. There are billions of emails each day, but when did you write a letter to someone you love so they can hold a piece of paper that you touched and made warm with your hand, perhaps spotted with tears? My generation has deforested continents. For this I could never apologize but, when was the last time you planted a tree? We should have taught that in school. It is a problem you are facing and we didn’t prepare you for it. We went out to the stars, but our oceans are dying and we know nothing about them. The maps you see with the ocean floor so proudly displayed are lies. That cartographers made them up so they wouldn’t look stupid. Honestly, that is true. But we know a lot about the moon and Venus. They are dead planets, yet we can map them, though no friends will stroll their barren faces. At least not in our lifetimes. And because we spend so much time looking so far away for far-away answers, people may not last long enough to ever get there. Yes, our planet will be dead soon also unless you learn more about the ocean, about forests, and about your neighbor. Or the person sitting next to you right now. We never invested money in learning about nature unless we were sure to get our investment back in profits, and now nature is disappearing. I need you to not make a profit. I need you to ask questions that don’t have answers in the back of the book. I need a hug, and not the kind I can get on Facebook. I need you to believe in goodness, and then I need you to go there. Tell me what I can do to help you do that.


So, What is Prayer?

                So what is prayer? I have a personal theory. My path to where I am now spiritually wandered through transcendental meditation. It was great, and I sometimes revisit that wonderful place. But as I got older, transcending the world didn’t work for me. My life was high impact and escape to serenity didn’t seem to be the answer. When I started doing Hitboddedut as described by Rebbe Nachman, I felt that approach was more suited to me but it left me constantly in conflict with God. I have learned to be okay with that. I believe that God created the world because he was lonely. First he created a space where he seemed not to be, and that created space for an other. He made us in his image, creating us with his hands, putting his breath of life in us. By giving us the torah he made us partners in creation. Raising our hands at the condition of something that seems bad, saying it is God’s will, is not an option. We are active and equal partners and are accountable for everything that happens in the world. So let’s say someone gets very sick. We pray for him to get better. What does that mean? We are asking God to change his mind. We are saying ‘God, I know it is your will that this person is sick. I know that from your perspective. It is a good thing. From where you sit, it is the best, kindest, most beautiful thing. But, God, you required me to connect with you. You made me a partner. From where I sit, from the perspective of flesh and blood, in the temporal plane, he is suffering. I am sad because he is suffering. I will accept whatever you decide is best. But you MUST take my feelings into account because you brought me into existence and made me as I am.” Prayer, for me, is frequently an argument. Like Tevye said (and us dairy farmers have to stick together), “Lord who made the lion and the lamb, you decreed, I should be what I am. But, would it spoil some vast eternal plan?” I think that by showing God the human perspective, he becomes a better God. And a closer friend.


Where is God?

Prayer is a meeting of place, time, and the individual. It is referred to in Hasidut as Ashan (smoke) which is an acronym for olam (world, place), sha’ah (hour, time), and nefesh (soul, person). In my last blog I discussed how I experience finding myself in time. But the concept of place is strange when talking about prayer. Just as prayer is non-time bound or timeless, it can also be done anywhere and has a nowhere aspect to it. After all, you can connect with God anywhere because he is everywhere. I said before that I thought prayer was timeless, so we should be praying all the time. Also, if we are praying all the time, anywhere we are go , we are there to discover the aspect of God hidden in that place, that can only be revealed through the once-in-an-eternity occurrence of us being there at that specific time. There is an unfortunate aspect of modern life and Google earth. We have forgotten and become disconnected with the experience of place. Virtual reality is grammatically incorrect; there is no virtue in it at all. My birthday is a special day and celebrating it a day later is not the same. A holiday is a special day and blowing the shofar on Sukkot does nothing. In the same manner, places have their own special identity and effect. And we connect to them in a unique way. It is an unfortunate inherent flaw in the very concept of the United States. America is not a homeland, except to the Native Americans and Eskimos. Even the Spanish Speakers in Central and South America do not have a family, genetic, connection to the land. World War One rearranged the world map, messing with the concept of nationality.  I feel that was one of the reasons for establishing the League of Nations after that war; to try to make sense out of something that had been eternally clear and self-evident, and was now an indecipherable mess. A person used to be defined by where he was. Now, the concept of place is not understood. Most people believe that every place is like the other. Not only is that incorrect, but I feel that to believe so is evil. It isn’t wrong, because there is some truth to that statement. It is correct, but evil. I am fascinated by Las Vegas. It is remarkable that they built Las Vegas to look like anywhere and everywhere. You might have thought the Eifel Tower was special to Paris, but no. It can be anywhere. Even in the middle of the Nevada desert. Same for the Sphinx, and the Statue of Liberty. You might have thought that you were in a desert except for the spectacular displays of water. It is all a massive deception. I could be wrong, but I think that prayer is a point of truth in our daily life. Truth is what you want to build your life around. In order to do that we have to have a clear and undisguised concept of who we are and where we stand in creation. The unique experience of reality of when we are, where we are, and who we are. Every place is unique. Who we are when we stand on that space is unique. The Gemara in Brachot says that if you are praying outside of Israel, you should direct your heart towards Israel, if you are in Israel you should direct your heart towards Jerusalem, in Jerusalem toward the Temple mount, on the Temple mount towards the Holy of Holies, in the Holy of holies towards the seat of mercy. The Gemara could have given one direction for all. It is clear that your essential self and your prayer are a product of where you are. A Jew outside of Israel is essentially different than a Jew in Israel, and his prayers are necessarily different. Coming physically closer to the Holy of Holies raises your spiritual consciousness. After Adam sinned, the first question God asks him is “Where are you?” It is a strange question, given the circumstances.

When you turn to talk to God, the first question you need to ask is ‘Where am I?’