Changing the Future by Learning From History

Written by Rabbi Stephen Baars on . Posted in Torah

The book of Genesis is the history of the world, in that it features the pained and unfortunately consistent story of brothers not getting along. It starts with Cain and Abel (“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9) and only ends when two brothers finally get the right answer: Yes.

Principles from the Parsha: May the Angel Bless the Children

Written by Joshua Z. Rokach on . Posted in Torah

This week’s parsha, Vayechi, opens with the story of Jacob in his last days. He summons his son, Joseph, the viceroy of Egypt, who promises to ensure his father’s burial in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron. Soon after, Jacob lies on his deathbed; Joseph comes to visit and brings his two sons to receive their grandfather’s final blessings. Placing his hands on their heads, the Patriarch obliges. “[Jacob] blessed Joseph, saying, ‘G-d before Whom walked my forefathers, Abraham and Isaac; G-d Who tended to me from the time I was born until today. May the angel who rescues me from all evil bless the children ... ’” (Genesis 48:15-16).

Batman on the Parsha

Written by Uncle Dovie on . Posted in Torah

In the end of last week’s Torah portion, we are left with a cliffhanger: How will the brothers, the sons of Israel, respond when Benjamin, their youngest brother, is suddenly seized on trumped-up charges? Will they abandon him? 

Star Trek on the Parsha

Written by Uncle Dovie on . Posted in Torah

One of the most fascinating television characters I grew up with was Mr. Spock, chief science officer of the Starship Enterprise. The product of a mixed marriage, a human mother and a Vulcan father, his Vulcan logical self struggles with his human emotional self. He once said, “Being split into two halves is no theory with me, doctor. I have a human half, you see, as well as an alien half ... submerged, constantly at war with each other. I survive because my intelligence wins out over both and makes them live together.”

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.

Life Or Existence?

Written by Rabbi Stephen Baars on . Posted in Torah

When does death occur? Is it when the brain ceases to function, or maybe when the heart fails to pump blood? While this question is important, consider this: Maybe life stops long before either of these two calamities. Long before the ambulance is called, someone could already be DOA.

Finding G-d in the Dark

Written by Editor on . Posted in Torah

In this week's Torah portion, Vayishlach, Jacob travels with his family back to the Land of Israel, away from his uncle Laban’s house, where he had worked as a shepherd for many years. After sending his family ahead, Jacob wanders alone:

Worry Makes the World Go Round

Written by By Rabbi Stephen Baars on . Posted in Torah

I was once told that Heinz doesn’t make its money from the ketchup you use, but rather the ketchup you don’t use. Making sure you have enough so that you won’t have to worry is what drives the world’s economy — but is it heading to a place where you really want to go?

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!”