The Origin of Government In The Bible

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Thought this was a really interesting speech by the Rabbi Haim Ovadia in synagogue today.


The origin of government and the function/dysfunction of society and rule of law is rooted in the in beginnings of mankind as told in the Bible/Torah. 


Starting with Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden — This was pretty much anarchy with only one law at the time not to eat the apple from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. 


Then in Noah’s Generation – There was oligarchy with roaming gangs that took the women and committed wickedness. 


Followed by the Tower of Babel — This was communism with everyone united to build and have a common property, a great city and tower reaching to the heavens.


Subsequently Sodom & Gomorrah – This was capitalism with people looking after their own selves and cities, getting spoiled of their material goods, and committing all manner of vices. 


And only then in the time of Abraham – There arose democracy with G-d electing Abraham and the Israelites based on lovingkindness and charity. 


As we know from the Bible and can see in the chart above, only democracy resulted in blessings for all of mankind.  


Yes, the election in the bible was made by G-d, but the notion is one based on “elected” representatives that do good and are a light for the whole world–so no, dictators need not apply!


The Bible is truly a blueprint for us as to how we can live our lives as well as how we can govern the world effectively . 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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Tunnel From Egyptian Bondage

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On Passover, we celebrate G-d’s redemption of the Israelites and the great miracles he wrought in bringing them from slavery to freedom, giving them the sacred Torah, and taking them to the Holy Land of Israel. 


His mercy and kindness endures forever!


While many people think that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and the desert…


Little do most people know that there is also this miracle tunnel that many Israelites took when G-d took them out of Egyptian bondage and exile. 


It connected them from Egypt and straight to the IRT subway train, which took them to the shuttle that then got them to John F. Kennedy International Airport and on to El Al planes to the State of Israel.


In G-d’s world, there is no limitations of time and space…and He literally brought them on wings on eagles to live in Israel and worship at his holy Temple in Jerusalem. 


For 3,500 years, the Israelite Jewish people have inhabited the land of Israel–from their days and until ours, may Judah be saved and may Israel dwell securely, and let us bless and thank G-d, and say Amen!  😉


(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)

The Miraculous Mezuzah

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So there is a Jewish commandment to put a mezuzah on your doorposts. 


Reminiscent of ancient times when Jews were slaves in Egypt and G-d told the Israelites to put the blood of the Paschal lamb on the doorpost.


When they did this and the Angel of Death killed the firstborn in each home of the taskmaster Egyptians–he passed over the doorposts of the Israelites that had the blood on it as commanded by G-d.


So too these days, the Mezuzah has the holy prayer of the Shema Yisrael on it:

“Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One”.

And it is believed to be a symbol of G-d’s divine protection for the home. 


This week in Synagogue, Rabbi Haim Ovadia told some miraculous stories about the Mezuzah from when he was the Rabbi in Bogota, Columbia.


He told of how the cartels would raid the buildings where the people in the community lived.  The cops would be told not to respond to the calls for help for at least an hour.  But what was a miracle was that apartments with the mezuzahs were not harmed. Later, the people found out that the cartels, thank G-d left them alone, because they didn’t know what a mezuzah was and thought it was some sort of fancy alarm system!


Another story, was the boss who put mezuzahs on the offices at work, and what happened? The profitability of the business went up.  When they looked at why this happened, they realized that the boss would stop at the mezuzah to recite the Shema, and the workers thought the boss was there paying more attention to them and so productivity went way up. 


Finally, the last one was really funny.  They couldn’t easily get mezuzahs in Bogota, so when they heard someone was coming from a trip to Israel, they asked him to bring 5 mezuzahs for the home. When it arrived, they opened it up, but lo and behold, the parchment with the prayer inside was missing from them.  When they asked what happened to it–the person said, I already know how to put up a mezuzah on the doorpost with 2 nails and a hammer, so what do I need the instructions inside it for!


G-d is glorious and the holiness that he bestows on us with his commandments is amazing. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Dysfunction Is The Starting Point

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A very smart speech today in synagogue by Rabbi Haim Ovadia. 


He connected to this week’s reading from Genesis in the Torah.


It was a commentary about our forefathers and mothers and what the stories in the Bible teach us. 


As we know, these people while righteous and holy, were not perfect people or families. 


Thinking about these, some examples that come to mind about the many tests, challenges, and tragedies in their lives:


– Adam and Eve eating the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden


– Noah getting drunk and his son, Ham, seeing his nakedness and telling his brothers


– Abraham and Sarah’s doubting (i.e. laughing) that G-d would give them a child


– Isaac lying to Avimelech about Rivkah being his sister (similar to what Abraham said about Sarah)


 – Jacob buying the birthright and stealing the blessing from Esau


– Shimon and Levi killing the people of Shechem for Hamor raping their sister


– Joseph’s brothers being jealous of him and throwing him in the pit and selling him into slavery


– Judah sleeping with Tamer, the wife of his firstborn 


And so on. 


Rabbi Ovadia said we should keep 4 things in mind about the Biblical figures and families to learn for our own:


1) Context – There is a context to what we do. We all have histories that involve difficulties, challenges, illness, abuse, PTSD, and so on.  The things we do and how we react later in life are anchored in this context. 


2) Dysfunction – Every family (and I would add person, organization, and institution) is dysfunctional.  There is no perfection out there (except G-d). Functional would mean like a computer, we input-process-output towards a certain function.  However, as people, we are not automatons, but instead work out our dysfunction through our striving to love, have relationships, learn and grow. 


3) Responsibility – Whatever our challenges and dysfunctions, we are responsible for what we do–our actions.  We can’t just blame history or others.  Our role is to face up to our lot in life and take responsibility for what we do.  It our life and circumstances to make or break us. 


4) Communication – In dealing with life and it’s challenges, communication is key to dealing with things. I would argue that communication is just a part of many critical success factors like trust, determination, hard work, emotional intelligence, being giving, integrity, etc.  But certainly, communication is a key aspect in how we work out our issues with others and try to build function from inherent dysfunction. 


The honestly of the Bible in telling us the flaws of it’s heroes and heroines–our ancestors–is one of the things that make it such a source of wisdom for us as well as demonstrating the truthfulness of it being G-d given to us.


The bible doesn’t sugarcoat who we are and what we have to deal with–it is the Book of G-d that is a roadmap for us to learn from and do good with in our own lives. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Miracle Of The Red Sea

The Miracle Of The Red Sea

After being sick the last week with the flu and still on antibiotics, I ventured out today and took the girls hiking in Harpers Ferry.

It was just a little cold–um, maybe a lot cold–but we slogged through the trails anyway and had a great time.

The water falling off the cliffs was still freezing on the rocks underneath and it made for some nice pictures.

One interesting photo that I’ve attached was of the water that had a veneer of red over the top–first it looked like maybe it was a tarp, but up close, we saw it was just like a carpet of red algae over the water–it was pretty spectacular.

I couldn’t help thinking how perfect this is for Passover that begins on Monday evening, because it brought alive the image to me of G-d delivering the Israelites from servitude and splitting the real Red Sea for them to cross through to freedom.

While we didn’t attempt to cross this red water, it was an amazing natural sight to behold (thank you G-d). 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Leadership Cloud or Flood Coming?

Flood

I came across two very interesting and concerning studies on cloud computing–one from last year and the other from last month.

Here is a white paper by London-based Context Information Security (March 2011)

Context rented space from various cloud providers and tested their security.

Overall, it found that the cloud providers failed in 41% of the tests and that tests were prohibited in another 34% of the cases –leaving a pass rate of just 25%!

The major security issue was a failure to securely separate client nodes, resulting in the ability to “view data held on other service users’ disk and to extract data including usernames and passwords, client data, and database contents.”

The study found that “at least some of the unease felt about securing the Cloud is justified.”

Context recommends that clients moving to the cloud should:

1) Encrypt–“Use encryption on hard disks and network traffic between nodes.”

2) Firewall–“All networks that a node has access to…should be treated as hostile and should be protected by host-based firewalls.”

2) Harden–“Default nodes provisioned by the Cloud providers should not be trusted as being secure; clients should security harden these nodes themselves.”

I found another interesting post on “dirty disks” by Context (24 April 2012), which describes another cloud vulnerability that results in remnant client data being left behind, which then become vulnerable to others harvesting and exploiting this information.

In response to ongoing fears about the cloud, some are choosing to have separate air-gaped machines, even caged off, at their cloud providers facilities in order to physically separate their infrastructure and data–but if this is their way to currently secure the data, then is this really even cloud or maybe we should more accurately call it a faux cloud?

While Cloud Computing may hold tremendous cost-saving potential and efficiencies, we need to tread carefully, as the skies are not yet all clear from a security perspective with the cloud.

Clouds can lead the way–like for the Israelites traveling with G-d through the desert for 40 years or they can bring terrible destruction like when it rained for 40 days and nights in the Great Flood in the time of Noah.

The question for us is are we traveling on the cloud computing road to the promised land or is there a great destruction that awaits in a still immature and insecure cloud computing playing field?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to freefotouk)