Sean Maloney in 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Though not what one might term a “Jewish Scholar,” Sean Maloney is a remarkable man. Leaving aside his meteoric career with Intel, he has also survived – and recovered from – a catastrophic stroke that pulled the plug on a large part of his left frontal lobe.
He offers three lessons that ring so Talmudic that they should be offered here:
- Pick the one thing that has the biggest impact. Don’t squander a minute.
- Fight for what you believe in. Never stop listening.
- Laugh, because you don’t know how long it is going to last.
I cannot imagine Akiva or Hillel (or even Shammai) arguing with any of those.
Forgive the Rabbis. They Know Not What They Sell.
Rabbi Hayim Herring suggests that regardless of denomination, too many U.S. Jewish congregations think that they are in the business of selling “memberships,” or, worse, seats at the High Holy Days. Herring, who in fairness is talking his book, says that what they should be selling is a complete Jewish ecosystem.
Having spent the past decade loosely affiliated with Chabad of Beijing, I can tell you that this is precisely what Rabbi Shimon, Rabbi Mendy, Rabbi Nosson, and their families have done. Even better, they have done so in cooperation with (rather than in opposition to) the reformed/conservative community of Kehillat Beijing.
I once likened Chabad’s role as being similar to an artificial reef on a sandy sea bottom. Their job is to create just enough to incite the development of a Jewish ecosystem where before there had been little, or in some cases, none. I’ve seen this approach work brilliantly on the far frontiers of the diaspora, but R. Herring reminds us that the same lessons apply even in the heartland of international Judaism.
Interesting quote from the first volume of Rabbi. Joseph Telushkin’s magisterial A Code of Jewish Ethics:
The Midrash teaches that if a person wishes to become a priest (Kohen) or a Levite, he cannot do so, since these roles are passed down by heredity from father to child. But any person, Jew and non-Jew alike, can become a tzaddik, a righteous person (Midrash Psalms).
O, Hashem. If it is your will that I shall never be a Get Tzedek, make me instead a goyische tzaddik.