Appreciating the Importance of “Bein Adam Lechaveiro”
Adapted from Rabbi Braun’s sermon in 5769
Every year, Parshat Mishpatim provides us with an opportunity to focus on the importance of being honest, ethical and appreciating the need to treat our fellow Jews and all human beings with the respect that they deserve. Every year, I try to take advantage of the opportunity.
That message could not be more relevant today – as Jewish Philanthropy reels in the wake of Madoff and Israeli politicians continue to disappoint on that score. Natan Sharansky often reminds us that: he is the only Israeli politician who was in jail before he came to office.
This year, I would like to approach the topic by debunking a very common misconception regarding one of the most famous and quoted phrases in the Torah: Naaseh Venishma. Continue reading
What Brings You to Judaism?
Adapted from Rabbi Braun’s sermon in 5769
Any time that a potential convert comes into a Rabbi’s office one of the first things that you want to know is, what brought you here? Why are you interested in Judaism? What is it that you find appealing?
I have had that conversation numerous times and I think that it has helped me make sense of the first Midrash on this week’s parsha.
The first verse tells how Yitro heard about all of the things that Hashem did for the Jews. The second verse then describes how Yitro picks himself up and takes Moshe’s wife and children to join the Jewish people.
The Midrash asks a very famous question: “What did Yitro hear that made him come?” Although many answers are given to this question the classic Midrash offers 3 possibilities:
- Yitro heard about the victory over Amalek, which is the story immediately preceding this in the Torah.
- Yitro heard about the splitting of the sea.
- Yitro heard about Matan torah.
I always assumed that this was an argument about what convinces people that Judaism is correct? Is it the fact that Jewish history has demonstrated that we have survived against all odds, Amalek or yam suf, or is it the beauty and depth of the Torah- or Matan torah. Continue reading
Israeli maker of GlucoTrack believes its noninvasive meter will encourage people with Type 2 diabetes to check glucose levels more often.
People with diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance are advised to spot-check their blood-glucose levels several times daily to reduce the risk of serious complications. That’s a lot of finger-pricking, considering that about 700 million people fall into one of those categories.
The Israeli company Integrity Applications put more than a decade into developing GlucoTrack, described as the first truly noninvasive system for self-monitoring glucose levels.
Instead of drawing blood, you clip the GlucoTrack sensor to your earlobe. A patented combination of ultrasonic, electromagnetic and thermal technologies works with a proprietary algorithm to measure physiological parameters correlated with glucose level.
Read the full story by Abigail Klein Leichman
Adapted from Rabbi Braun’s sermon in 5768
On August 24th 2003 much of the northeast was affected by a blackout. I was in the museum of Natural history at the time with Ariel in a room that had windows. As we moved toward the exit we had to pass through some of their great hall rooms in the middle of the building which were pitch black. The subways had stopped and so we walked home. At night things became more difficult without electricity. The fridge and freezer remained closed. We had no lights save a few flashlights and candles.
It was certainly inconvenient and in the summer uncomfortable without the air but not unmanageable. Continue reading
The latest edition of the Global Cleantech 100 has been published and Israel’s BreezoMeter, Kaiima, TaKaDu, and Netafim are among the companies picked by Cleantech Group as poised to make significant market impact within a five- to 10-year timeframe.
This year, 9,900 distinct companies from 77 countries were nominated for the eighth edition of the Global Cleantech 100 list, featuring companies best positioned to solve tomorrow’s clean technology challenges.
An 86-member expert panel narrowed down the finalized list of 100 companies from 17 countries.
“These companies represent the most innovative and promising ideas in cleantech and that are best positioned to solve tomorrow’s clean technology challenges,” says Cleantech Group, the creator of the annual list.
The Israeli companies on the list include: BreezoMeter, a leading global air quality analytics provider; Kaiima, an agro-biotech startup company that increases crop productivity by using Clean Genome Multiplication (CGM) technology; TaKaDu, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that provides water utilities with water infrastructure monitoring; and Netafim, the global leader in smart drip and micro-irrigation solutions.
Read the full article by Viva Sarah Press of ISRAEL21c
The Opressed, the Exodus, and MLK Day
Adapted from Rabbi Braun’s sermon in 5770
The Great Jewish thinker Abraham Joshua Heschel, who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 often used Exodus imagery and language to describe the battle to end racism and discrimination in America. This morning I will try and explain why that language is indeed appropriate.
At the very beginning of our Parsha God tells Moshe why he is going to redeem the Jews.
3. And I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name The Lord was I not known to them.
4. And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojourning, in which they sojourned.
5. And I have also heard the groaning of the people of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in slavery; and I have remembered my covenant.
The crucial question to understanding God’s motivation is the relationship between verse 4 describing the covenant and verse 5 recording that God has heard the groaning of the Jews. Continue reading
Shifra & Puah & the Capacity for Regular People to do Great Things
Adapted from Rabbi Braun’s sermon in 5773
There is a book entitled All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten. I have never read it but if I were to write a Jewish version the title would be, everything I learned in Chumash in kindergarten needs to be relearned.
We are told things as truth and it skews our perspectives into adulthood and prevents us from fully appreciating the text of the Torah.
Take the identities of the two heroic midwives who disobeyed Pharoah’s direct request to kill the Jewish children on the birthing stools.
The Torah identifies them as Shifrah and Puah but every kindergartener knows that they are really Miriam and Yocheved, Moshe’s mother and sister. Continue reading
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The Ability to Forgive
Adapted from Rabbi Braun’s sermon in 5766
Why is forgiveness so difficult for us to offer and receive?
It goes against every natural instinct in our lives. When we have been hurt, our natural reaction is to fight back – retaliate – hold a grudge – gain revenge. To let that go requires true bravery.
“Forgiveness is divine” because in God there is no ego, no desire of vengeance to quench, no hurt to alleviate.
For human beings to forgive they must overcome their ego and their desire for vengeance.
That ability is one of the signs of greatness that we see in Joseph, one of the reasons that he is labeled by our sages as Yosef Hatzadik, Joseph the righteous.
I think that it emerges from the Torah’s description of Yosef’s conduct towards his brother during the last section of text. Continue reading