Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Parashat Ki Teitzei- Caring Is Sharing

Lo t’ta’eiv Adomi ki achikha hu lo-t’ta’eiv Mitzri ki-geir ha’yiyta v’artzo.
You shall not hate an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not hate an Egyptian because you were a stranger in his land. (D’varim 23:8)
When we think of the hardships the Israelites, and later the Jews, have had to endure throughout our existence, it is a wonder that, as a people, we are generally optimists. There’s a poignant scene towards the end of Fiddler on the Roof where someone says to the Rabbi, “Rabbi, we’ve been waiting for the Messiah our whole lives. Wouldn’t now be a good time for him to come?” The Rabbi answers, “We’ll just have to wait for him someplace else.” It’s a scene the Jews have repeated over and over since Jacob went down to Egypt. With this scene playing out so many times throughout history, we could be a very bitter people. We could be isolationist and angry, frustrated and hate-filled. We’re not. As a people, Jews have been more accepting, more understanding than any other group. In times of need and crisis, we have provided help to nations around the world, nations that were not always our friends. As well, Israel exports research and technology around the globe. Here are just some of those exports:
  • Medical technology- The PillCam is a swallowable pill-sized camera used to detect and visualize GI tract disorders, not to mention the advances in surgical tools and techniques.
  • Irrigation technology- Drip irrigation and micro-irrigation was pioneered in Israel to save water through measured and precise crop irrigation, which prevented much unnecessary moisture loss through evaporation.
  • Alternative Energy- Whether geothermal, wind, or solar, Israel leads in the development and manufacture of alternative energy power plants and materials, for example the Pythagoras solar window.
  • Agricultural advances- Whether it’s milking technology that makes Israel a leader in milk production or the development of the cherry tomato, farmers and researchers from around the world use Israel’s advancements to reach new markets and improve those they already have.
  • Transportation Systems- MobileEye, an early warning system now in use in vehicles to prevent collisions. MobileEye works with GM, BMW, and Volvo, just to name a few. TourEngine reduces fuel consumption and emissions through thermal management improving combustion and hybrid engines.
  • Computer technology- Need I say more than the Intel Chip. What about flash drives?
Companies and communities have innovation centres in Israel. Israeli universities welcome thousands of international students every year. Many come from Arab and African nations to study environmental, irrigational, and agricultural sciences to bring home.
As a nation, it would be easy to focus on ourselves, to be unconcerned with what happens in other countries. However, Israel has always been focused beyond our borders and beyond our own. Rashi explains the inclusion of the Egyptians in D’varim 23:8 by separating the leaders from their people. It’s not easy to do. It’s much easier to refer to “them” no matter who “them” might be. It’s much easier to identify people with their leadership. However, the Torah doesn’t let us take the easy way out. We must look beyond the simple to do what’s right. Rashi teaches that while the Pharaohs inflicted slavery upon the Israelites, the Egyptian people welcomed them as guests. We remember that and pay it forward by welcoming all and sharing the technology and advancements that will help to make our world a better place for all of us.