Archive for September, 2008

More Jewish iPhone Apps

As a follow up to my recent article on iPhone Apps. Check out the following three new Apps that have recently been released:

Your Best Investment: Your Health!

Some analysts believe that during these turbulent economic times, your career is your biggest financial asset because it fuels all of your financial progress.

However, recently, CNN Money proposed that your health is actually your most important financial asset. Why? Because if you’re not in good health, your career is either worthless or likely very limited!

Indeed, God in his infinite wisdom told us this ever important tip thousands of years ago!

Deuteronomy 4:9 tells us, “Always be on guard for yourself and guard your soul exceedingly.” In essence, physical health contributes to spiritual health, and by keeping your body energized and maintaining a state of good health, you actively increase your spirituality!

Moreover, it is not by coincidence that Maimonides (1135-1204) dedicates an entire chapter to detailed guidance on proper diet, hygiene, exercise, sleep, and much more in his magnum opus The Mishnah Torah, which includes fourteen books that discuss topics ranging from Business Ethics to Jewish Holidays.

And yet, let’s be honest. If you are a stock broker, do you need to read the Wall Street Journal?

If you intend on “putting bread on the table” or “climbing the corporate ladder” it just might be a good idea!

But all the marketing and financial news you read should be implemented only after you have invested in your physical and spiritual health.

For more ideas like this check out, 5 Ways to Increase Your Spirituality: Ancient Wisdom to Enhance Your Daily Life.

Podcast #2: How to Put Your Rosh Back into Your Shana

Listen to an interactive and insightful class taught to Orthodox post high-school students at Bnot Torah/Sharfman’s Seminary in which participants utilized Hebrew Source Sheets to discover how we can unlock the true purpose of the prayer and symbolisms of Rosh Hashannah. (42:48 min)

 

iPray: Ancient Prayers and Modern Applications

In the latest issue of Jewish Life Magazine, a monthly periodical serving the Jewish community of Los Angeles, CA, my Torah and Technology column explores various iPhone Apps that can enhance your religious experience. Click here to view the article as it appeared in print or simply read below and enjoy!

Not a day goes by during which my wife and I do not thank the Almighty for our being able to soon enter our fourth year of living in Israel and having made Aliyah. Recently, we returned to Los Angeles and enjoyed some Southern California sun, as well as the opportunity to visit friends and family. And yet, while I possess many fond memories from this three-week trip, one question from my inquisitive eldest daughter Sima will forever remain entrenched in my mind.

While we were in LA, one afternoon we visited the famous Santa Monica Third Street Promenade. This particular environment allowed us the opportunity to enjoy the cool breeze of the Pacific Ocean, watch the ivy-topiary dinosaur fountains spray their constant stream of water (much to the delight of our children), and of course—shop! As we passed the beautifully designed Apple Retail Store, my daughter asked me, “Abba, why is there such a long line to go in there? Can we see what’s inside, too?” I quickly answered her that the people in line were waiting to buy a new cell phone, and we don’t need a new one because ours works just fine. Content with that answer, she continued to slowly walk and watch the entertainers along the street until we returned to our car. All things considered, while I was proud of her for noticing the line of about 100 people waiting to get past the security guard and enter the store—I was even further relieved that we were not amongst the many thousands of Americans across the country caught up in the hysteria to purchase the latest version of the iPhone. In fact, the public desire to purchase the iPhone 3G was initially so large, Apple added staff as well as opening its stores as early as 8:00 AM. In point of fact, Apple expects to continue to profit from this device to the tune of several hundreds of millions of dollars each year. But there’s more to this iPhone story.

Part of the draw of the iPhone (as well as the iPod Touch) is the fact that it’s not simply a traditional cell phone. Undeniably, consumers are drawn towards its sleek and trendy appearance, multi-touch interface, accelerometer, GPS, as well as the ability to customize your gizmo by visiting the iPhone App Store, where over 1000 applications are ready to download at the push of a button. Truth be told, as Nick Wingfield of The Wall Street Journal reports, Apple even leverages these applications into additional revenue. Furthermore, Wingfield reveals that there have already been 60 million downloads of applications, the majority of them free. But paid downloads are doing just fine, pulling in a whopping $30 million in revenues in only the first 30 days. What’s more, Eric A. Taub writes in The New York Times that six individuals purchased an application by an outside software developer in Germany called: “I Am Rich” for $999.99! While this application did not promise to resolve Global Warming or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it did allow one to feel cool that their iPhone displayed a red gem on the screen.

But how are these iPhone facts relevant to us? As we enter the period approaching Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, Jews of varying degrees of religious observance are reminded that as the Chosen Nation we possess an eternal “iPhone” that requires no download or software; namely the ability to connect to Hashem through daily Tefillah as well as Brachot. And yet, let’s be honest—how many of us are guilty, myself included, of being in a rush, running to a meeting, catching a plane, and not having a Siddur or Bentscher handy? Instead, we mumble through our supplication to Hashem and move on with our day, while telling ourselves, “next time we’ll have better Kavvanah, don’t worry.”

Recently, however, two companies have released applications at the iPhone App Store that will forever help all Jews who do become iPhone users increase their daily Kavvanah and strengthen their relationship with our Creator— even on the go. New York natives Barry and Ronnie Shwartz founded RustyBrick.com and have developed a wonderful and user-friendly Siddur for the iPhone unlike any other prayer book you’ve ever seen. This application features Ashkenaz, Sefard, and Sefard Mizrachi versions of your weekday Siddur (obviously there is no Siddur for Shabbat or Yom Tov). Plus, users have access to the unique real-time Zemanim available, which are determined for you by the iPhone’s GPS. This will allow one to travel the country for business or pleasure and easily discover Sof Zeman Kriat Shemah or even tap into the Minyanim database that will help quickly find the nearest local Shul. This app comes complete with many more excellent features, such as a Jewish Calendar; and it will soon be updated to include a compass to help you always face Mizrach when davening.

Another application available at the iPhone App Store, KosherMe, caters to FFB’s to BT’s who are still learning how to read, translate, or even pronounce Hebrew but nonetheless want to be able to forever recite of the relevant Brachot wherever they may be. In fact, this Bentscher, designed by Dushan Wegner of KosherMe.com, neatly organizes the before and after blessings for a plethora of foods. In addition, this Bentscher provides the reader with the opportunity to say Tefilat HaDerech from your iPhone. However, one unique feature that I enjoyed most in my test of this application is the ability to easily switch between the various Bentscher modes such as: Interlinear, English, Transliterated, and Hebrew.

The lesson for us in all this technology may be that while new gadgets continue to encroach upon our daily lives, these two applications for the iPhone can help us forever remain focused on what’s truly important in life. In actuality, one’s iPhone may not always have perfect reception, but by looking inside our Siddur and Bentscher we can ensure that our Kavvanah and signal strength have full bars in all of our discussions with the Ultimate Reception Provider—Hashem.

Who Shall Live

The following video that I have embedded below, is produced by Rabbi N. Daniel Korobkin of Los Angeles, CA. The message of this clip is short but powerful and relevant to us all. To that end, as we inch closer and closer to Rosh HaShannah, I believe this video can help us focus in our prayer and communication with the Almighty. If you just have 5 minutes to spare, I would highly recommend viewing it prior to sitting down and praying in your High Holiday seat.

The Spiritual Message of the Beijing Olympics

Seemingly, the most celebrated athlete at the recently concluded Olympic Games is not the Chinese born Yao Ming, instead it’s a 23 year old American, by the name of Michael Phelps. The young swimming sensation has officially achieved the impossible, by moving past Mark Spitz, to become the greatest Olympian ever, and win 8 Olympic gold medals, while also breaking world records.

And yet, I believe that the person who carries the most inspirational of stories is not a young phenom.  In fact, she did not even win a gold medal at the Olympics!

Dara Torres, is a 41-year-old mom, and the first American swimmer to compete in five Olympics: 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, and 2008. What’s more, she began her comeback to the sport just a mere 6 months after giving birth to her daughter and beat out swimmers who were much younger in age. What’s more she came within 0.01 seconds of receiving a gold medal in the 50m competition.

In truth, we have seen a Jewish person, who became inspired by water, and decided right then and there to mount his spiritual comeback, despite being just one year younger than Torres. According to Jewish tradition, there was a simple Jew who worked for Ben Kalbah Savuah, one of the richest men in all of Jerusalem. Once, while shepherding his flocks, he gazed into a pool, and noticed a hollowed-out rock resting under a waterfall. He silently contemplated how a rock, one of Nature’s most dense substances, had been hollowed out. His curiosity got the best of him, as he decided to analyze this peculiar find. After some time, he noticed that water had, over a long period, drop after drop, caused a drastic change in the appearance of the rock. This event allowed him to reach the following conclusion:

“If a rock, though extremely hard, can be hollowed out by water, how much more so should it be possible for Torah, which is compared to water (in that is vital to the nourishment of the soul), to change my heart, which is certainly softer. I will begin to study it, and try to become a Jewish Sage!”

Despite being 40 years old, the shepherd began by learning how to read the Hebrew Alphabet. Ultimately, he went to Yeshiva and devoted himself to full-time Torah study for a whopping twelve years. As the years passed, the shepherd received Rabbinic Ordination, and became known to all as the famous Rabbi Akiva. He opened his own Yeshiva, and developed a following of 24,000 students.

There is a modern day expression developed by the shoe company Nike, that directs society to seize any moment of inspiration and well…”Just Do It!” As illustrated from the above two examples, God created human beings with the innate ability of free will, which by extension sets us apart from any other creature on God’s Green Earth. The fact that we have free will should remind us all that we have the power to always climb (or swim) to achieve accomplishments that seem at the surface physically impossible. Likewise, at a spiritual level each and every Jew has the ability to ascend spiritual realms and achieve everlasting meaning in their life-even if you may think that you are too old, or simply don’t have enough skills.

So the next time you feel a wave of inspiration I have 3 words for you: Just Do It!

Podcast #1 – Rosh HaShannah: A Quick Secret to Avoiding a Traffic Jam

Listen to this quick and refreshing version of The Rabbi Green Podcast and you’ll finally be able to make your New Year’s Resolution stick like honey! This episode will be enjoyed by both scholar and layperson alike. (6:37 min).

 

Welcome to RabbiMichaelGreen.com

Shalom! Welcome to RabbiMichaelGreen.com

Over the past couple of years, people around the world have asked me if I would entertain the idea of creating a website that would allow me to share free audio and speeches, photos and articles, a place to leave questions for me, and much more! This question continued to fester in my head, and has finally grown from an idea-into RabbiMichaelGreen.com.

And so, I’d like to say Shalom and welcome you to this site, and in particular the blog, which I hope you’ll enjoy. Parenthetically, I thought I’d share just a few ways that you can stay connected. In doing so, hopefully you’ll discover various ways to enjoy content from this site and get to know me better.

The Blog

At RabbiMichaelGreen.com/Blog you’ll find relevant posts, thoughts, and links.

There are a number of ways you can follow the blog:

  • Bookmark it – You can easily bookmark RabbiMichaelGreen.com or set the blog as your homepage so that every time you log on to the internet you can see the latest post.
  • RSS Feed – One of the most popular ways that people can follow what goes up on the blog or this site, is via a ‘news feed’ or a ‘RSS feed.’ This technology lets you subscribe to this site and be notified of updates. If you are interested in this option click on the word Post found in the top left hand corner.
  • Email Updates – If you don’t want to use RSS you can still get updates sent to you by subscribing to the feed via email. You can do this by clicking on the Via Email option in the top left hand corner.
  • Newsletter – You can also opt for an email newsletter which provides a short summary of each of the new posts going up on the blog, a recent Rabbi Green Podcast, as well as additional highlights, news, events, etc. etc. One can subscribe to this method by clicking on the word Newsletter, which is also found in the top left hand corner.
  • Social Bookmarking – The last way that people can keep track of the latest posts or podcast is via a variety of social bookmarking tools. You’ll notice at the bottom of every post on the blog that there’s a little button like the one below with the word ‘bookmark’ on it (this button isn’t on the front page of the blog – just individual posts). If you put your cursor over this button a little window opens up that allows you to bookmark the post on one of a variety of ‘bookmarking’ sites. Some of the more popular ones are Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon. In bookmarking posts you have a way of finding them later when you need them but you also spread the news about RabbiMichaelGreen.com a little and help the site continue to grow.

Anyways, that’s a summary of the some of the main ways that people can keep in touch with me. Finally, I’d be remiss if I don’t point out that I’d love to hear your feedback and look forward to your comments and questions and seeing you at a talk or Shabbaton in your area.


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