After the roller-coaster week that we’ve just gone through, I feel the need to post a Good News Friday installment to ease our ragged nerves! 🙂
First, a sign from the Heavens! A solar eclipse took place a couple of hours ago, around midday Israel time, although it was barely felt since only 6-8% of the sun was covered. I went down to our carpark with my very own highly sophisticated, state of the art “eclipse projector”: 2 pieces of paper. 😀
Actually, I had 2 pieces of paper: one with a pinhole cut through it, and another piece of paper held underneath to view the sun’s eclipse. At its height the eclipse resembled the Apple logo (an apple with a bite taken out) but it was so small it was hard to detect unless you were looking for it – which I was. There are those who think this is a bad sign for the nations and/or Israel, and those who think it is good. Similarly a “blood moon” – a full eclipse of the moon, when it appears reddish and blood-like – is to take place on Seder night in 2 weeks’ time, and there are similar omens or good forecasts. The Times of Israel has a good round-up of the varying religious opinions. I received the picture accompanying this item from my brother. (No, he did not travel to space himself!)
From the heights of the Heavens to the depths of the earth, here is a beautiful, bittersweet story about a man who needed a minyan to say Kaddish for his late wife. An Israeli website heard about his dilemma and posted the story on Facebook. The result: Beautiful Israel in all its glory. The cemetery was flooded with people who came to help the bereaved man mark his wife’s yahrzeit.
מי כעמך ישראל! Who are like Your people Israel!
And now, in another 180° shift from the sublime to the material, you could hardly find something more earthly than car maintenance! A new Israeli app, Engie, has been designed to take the stress out of fixing your car:
Have you ever suspected, like most of us do, that you might be overcharged by your car repair shop? A new car maintenance app that detects car problems – and the exact cost to repair them – could save car owners hundreds of dollars. Engie, a smartphone application launched in Israel last year, is hoping to disrupt an industry that has barely changed over the past century: auto repair shops.
The app is connected to the on-board car computer, and sends the owner notifications about issues and problems. The owner can then get price quotes from mechanics in his or her area. After identifying the problem, the application invites nearby auto repair shops to bid for the repair job. CEO Yarden Gross tells NoCamels that Engie’s app can detect 60-70 percent of auto problems. Ultimately, Engie founders want to create an empowered driving community, one that would shop around for the best price through their app.
Launched in December 2014, six weeks later the app had over 17,000 users. Engie’s service, which works with a bluetooth-enabled, on-board diagnostics device (which is separate from the app), interprets the codes from the car computer to inform the driver about everything from engine problems to maintenance updates to their true gas mileage. Engie provides users with the device for free, charging $5 for the shipping.
I think this is absolutely brilliant! Unless you know something about car maintenance, or have an excellent garage and a good relationship with the mechanics you can never be sure you aren’t being ripped off, or simply not getting a good repair job. Judging by the huge and rapid success this app has received it is going to prove highly popular. I might even get one myself. Kol hakavod to CEO Yarden Gross and his colleagues Gal Aharon and Alon Hendelman. May they continue growing from strength to strength.
Returning to this post’s starting point: the moon and the Heavens – tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the 1st of the month of Nissan, which according to the Torah is “the first of the months”:
הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים, רִאשׁוֹן הוּא לָכֶם לְחָדְשֵׁי הַשָּׁנָה“
“This month shall be for you the head of the months, the first of the months of the year for you”. (Exodus, 12:2)
We will read this chapter as an extra Torah portion in shul tomorrow as it marks the beginning of our preparations for Pesach (Passover) in 2 weeks’ time. As the first of all the months it is also a Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) of sorts, one of 4 in the Jewish calendar. The 1st of Nissan is the Rosh Hashana for Kings, the day from which the years of their reign are counted. How appropriate then that this week marks the beginning of a new “reign” – even if it is the same Prime Minister (or “King” in Biblical terms). The news of the victory of Binyamin Netanyahu, the Likud and the Right in the Israeli Elections is of course excellent, but much hard work lies ahead for all of us.
On this Rosh Hashana for Kings, may Hashem grant that our new government be formed without delay, may it be populated with wise and generous souls, may Hashem grant them the wisdom and the courage to make the right decisions for the country and the people of Israel, and may He help us to heal the rifts in our society.
On that hopeful note, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov.