Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Managed Growth in Avodas HaShem

The G"ra is reported to have made detailed investigation of the first eight chapters of M'silas Yesharim and not found a single extra word.  I don't believe that meant that the G"ra found that the first word of the ninth chapter was extra; rather that the G"ra felt that was enough checking to be confident that the rest of the sefer followed suit.  As, in fact, R' Avigodor Miller, z"tzl, notes in his introduction to the Feldheim edition.  One has a right/responsibility to analyze and understand the precise wording of each topic presented.

A topic that comes up several times in various guises is that one cannot make progress in avodas HaShem without careful analysis of one's current position: one needs to be changed, what needs to be strengthened.  The mashal used is one of a businessman.  One must take stock of the current situation, do an inventory from time to time.  Look at the profit centers and look for places that are causing losses.  When changes are required, the changes themselves need to be managed, but their deployment also needs to be managed.

Chazal tell us that while there is no Torah among the nations, there certainly is chochma.  I work at a company that provides and online service, servicing tens of thousands of transactions daily.  The transaction are not simple and we have demanding customers.  We need to add new features, improve response time, and fix existing bugs.  That sounds a lot like the way M'silas Yesharim describes our life in this world.  We are online businesses whose product is Kiddush HaShem.  We have to respond to changing conditions, upgrade our service, and fix existing issues.  I decided, therefore, to ask our VP of change management how she manages changes to the production system.  She has the responsibility at the end of the day to say go or no go.  A no go/revert decision risks losing customers because we can't keep up with their demands.  A decision to proceed risks bringing the system crashing down due to unforeseen interactions in are complex product offering.

She told me three things that made a big impression and I believe are directly applicable to growth in avodas HaShem.  First, one needs to know the players as well as the product.  For the business, that means the knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the developers and managers.  For avodas HaShem, that means knowing yourself and your midos.  Me sitting in beis medrash learning is one player.  Me at work is another player.  Me at home with my wife is yet another player.  We each fulfill many roles; some we do well, some need improvement.  You need to know yourself; your strengths and weaknesses.

Second, never make a decision based on a "gut feeling".  Gut feelings are useful in directing investigations and searching for strategies.  At the end of the day, however, the decisions need to be based on a weighing of all the relevant factors and coming to a logical decision.  That's another reason you need to know yourself (your players).  You can feel when you are confident and when you are making it up as you go along.  Either way, your gut tells you where you need to do more research.  Do the research, then make a decision.

Finally, one must act.  Indecision is worse than a bad decision.  The yeitzer hara loves to keep throwing hypotheticals at you until are paralyzed into inaction.  Speaking from personal experience; inaction is always wrong, action is only usually wrong.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…