Avraham Avinu: Forefather of the Blockchain

Written by Jeremy Epstein on . Posted in Torah

If you have had a conversation with me in the past 18 months, you know that I pretty much have a one-track mind. Yep, all I think about is Bitcoin and the technology that underlies it, the blockchain.

Just like email or a browser is an application that uses the Internet, Bitcoin is an application that uses a blockchain. And just like the Internet has spawned millions of apps, blockchains will (and are) spawning an entire new set of apps. Now, I realize that the concept of a blockchain is not easy to comprehend; on the surface, it represents a pretty significant paradigm shift. But it’s really not.

Parenting Made Easy

Written by Rabbi Stephen Baars on . Posted in Torah

Mount Everest blindfolded, a three-minute mile, a Mars landing — they are all a piece of cake compared to raising emotionally healthy children.

Yet, going against conventional wisdom and everything you heard on Sesame Street, this week’s Torah portion drops the proverbial bomb about parenting: There is nothing quite like unhealthy environments to help raise healthy children.

Knowing There is Only One G-d Makes All the Difference

Written by Rabbi Stephen Baars on . Posted in Torah

There is an old joke about a little Jewish boy who comes home from public school proclaiming his newfound knowledge about three gods. Upon hearing the news, his father hollers in indignation, “There are not three gods. There is only one G-d, and we don’t believe in Him!”

Ten Days to Reflect

Written by Rabbi Stephen Baars on . Posted in Torah

Every person will, at some point in his life, take an accounting. He will not only ask whether he achieved his goals, but also if he achieved the right goals.

Was it worth all that effort? Could I have achieved more? If only I had thought it through... You don’t have to be old to ask these questions. The older you are, though, the harder these questions are to face, and the more frequently they rise to your consciousness. The High Holidays train us to think through and face these questions now, as opposed to in the future; to take the pain of “now,” rather than the anguish of “then,” because pain is passing, but the results are permanent.

Principles From the Parsha: Yes, You Can

Written by Joshua Z. Rokach on . Posted in Torah

We read in this week’s parsha, Nitzavim:

“For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not too hard for you, and it is not distant. It is not in heaven, that you should say: ‘Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say: ‘Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it?’” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).

Principles From the Parsha: Justice, the Jewish Way

Written by Joshua Z. Rokach on . Posted in Torah

In this week’s parsha, Shoftim, we find the ringing command that reverberates through the ages: “Justice, justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). The admonition carries a special meaning for us as Jews. Indeed, the verse repeats the word “justice” twice for emphasis. Moreover, we see from the laws of weights and measures in next week’s parsha how scrupulously we must pursue justice.

Principles From the Parsha: Behaving Like G-d’s Children

Written by Joshua Z. Rokach on . Posted in Torah

During Yom Kippur services, we read about the rituals the High Priest performed in the Temple. After its destruction, the job of preparing for and conducting the Yom Kippur atonement service falls on us. Neither the Torah nor the Talmud instructs us exactly how to approach G-d, but in the Mussaf service on Rosh Hashanah we explicitly ask G-d to treat us “like children” to Him. We approach G-d similarly on Yom Kippur, the culmination of the Ten Days of Repentance.

Going All-In This Elul

Written by Rabbi Steven Suson on . Posted in Torah

A group of more than 20 of my family members recently got together in Las Vegas to celebrate the 60th birthday of my dear aunt. While there, I found myself in the poker room at a hotel on the Strip. As I sat, I noticed I completed the “minyan” of 10 adult poker players at our table.

The Greatest Venture Capitalist

Written by Rabbi Stephen Baars on . Posted in Torah

I used to have a class with a very successful venture capitalist. One time, I started our weekly session and instead of opening the Torah to discuss a relevant issue, I asked him if he would fund my new business.

How to Have an Argument

Written by Rabbi Stephen Baars on . Posted in Torah

“Many pens have been broken and seas of ink consumed to describe things that never happened.” — Maimonides

Our sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, so in order to bring about an eclipse, the moon has to be placed 400 times closer to Earth.