Thursday, August 7, 2014

Parashat VaEtchanan- A Land Flowing With Milk and Honey


V’shamata Yisrael v’shamarta la’asot asher yitav l’kha va’asher tirbun m’od ka’asher diber Adonai Elohei avotekha lakh eretz zavat chalav ud’vash.
And listen Israel, and observe to do it, so that it will be good for you and that you will increase greatly, just as the Adonai, the God of your ancestors said to you- a land flowing with milk and honey. (D’varim 6:3)
There was a commercial a while ago about happy cows. It was for the Canadian dairy industry. Happy cows produce more milk. This past March, CBC News displayed this headline, “Pampered cows help Ontario dairy farm boost production.” A farm in Smith Falls gave its cows waterbeds, oscillating grooming brushes, and pedicures. But it seems that, no matter what we do here, Israeli cows give more milk, almost 10% more than cows in the US, the next on the list, and 50% more than Germany. It comes down to technology. Israeli cows live in air-conditioned barns, and wear electronic tags and pedometers to constantly update handlers about their status. At any given moment, handlers know how the cow is chewing her cud, if she is agitated or frisky, or ailing in any way. Recently, Afimilk, on Kibbutz Afikim in the lower Galilee, began adapting its technology for goats.
But it’s not just real milk. It’s about abundance. Abundance comes from desire, determination, faith, and a sense of fearlessness. It comes from a willingness to stretch our minds. The Nobel Prize was established in 1895, 119 years ago. Since then 850 prizes have been awarded to individuals. That’s an average of 7.1 per year. In 66 years, Israelis have been awarded 12 Nobel Prizes. Out of the entire world, Israel averages 5.5 Nobel Prizes per year of its existence.
So what’s the Israeli advantage? Using technology and innovation for tikkun olam, to make the world a better place. Israel is THE Start-up Nation. If you look at mappedinIsrael.com, a site of Israel’s tech ecosystem, you will see 1147 start-ups, 111 technology and idea incubators, 60 investors, and 95 community and development services centres. Innovation and adaptation blankets Israel.
Parashat B’chukotai prophesies “And you, I will scatter among the nations, at the point of My drawn sword, leaving your country desolate and your cities in ruins” (Leviticus 26:33). When Israel returned, the land would again flow with milk and honey. It would blossom with abundance. It has not been an easy summer. How can we but focus on the sirens and the death? And yet, coming out of Israel is hope and promise, humour and caring. In the midst of hate, we sing of peace. Just for a moment, imagine what we could, what we will do when this peace becomes a reality.