Archive for May, 2010

A Jewish Perspective on iPhone & iPad Apps

Rav Shimshon Pincus zt”l, was a legendary and prolific Rabbi. Unfortunately his life was cut short due to a tragic car accident. In one of his many Seforim that were published posthumously, he cites the opinion of the Zohar, who believed hundreds of years ago, that in today’s day an age we would see a lot of “wisdom” being introduced into the world. To that end, Rabbi Pincus says (see the Hebrew to the right) that he doesn’t know if the intent of the Zohar was in reference to the technological revolution that we see in front of our eyes (frankly if one buys a new computer,  within a year or so, your model can become seemingly obsolete!). Nonetheless, he states that you can’t ignore the reality of how much “wisdom” and invention has appeared in such a short period of time.

Nowadays, Apple, headed by Steve Jobs, is even greater than Microsoft (see here) when it comes inventions.The company is known for many innovative items that have and continue to influence our society (see here). Their latest product, the iPad, is taking the world by storm! Any person in the tech-industry will tell you that one of the greatest aspects to the success of both the iPhone and the iPad is the Apps (see here). These Apps, short for Applications, allow the device to function in many different ways. The Apps are typically developed by a third-party developer or company and are available for download. One particular App caught my eye…

You see, according to our Sages (Talmud Chagigah, 12a; Bereishis Rabbah 41:3), Adam had the ability to see from one end of the world to the other! When he sinned, he, along with his descendants, lost this unique power.

Many years later, thanks to Brian Meehan, the co-founder of the App, Knocking Live Video, society can now come one step closer to an “Adamesque Experience!” Mr. Meehan is known as the one who convinced Steve Jobs to approve streaming video Apps. In so doing, we can all use this technology to see from one end of the world to the other!

Now here comes the tough part! There’s a lot of “wisdom” out there. It can be used for good (see here) or it can be corrupted for improper or immodest intentions. As we live in a time that we have access to such wisdom, and by extenion, are able to even taste somewhat of an Edenic reality, it behooves us to use our Apps responsibly. May the Almighty give us the strength to utilize these tools to only move in a positive direction!

60 Minutes, 22 Minutes, 2 Minutes. No Minutes Left?

We live in unprecedented times! With a click of a button you can communicate with practically anyone in the world, transfer funds seemingly instantaneously, and purchase items ranging from diapers to wine all on the internet. And so, gone are the days when the average American could dedicate sixty solid minutes to a sole television news magazine such as CBS’: 60 Minutes. While it still broadcasts into American homes each week, they have had to “spice it up” with additions to the staff such as CNN’s Anderson Cooper or Katie Couric (who really rose to fame on another network!). In all honesty, I don’t watch 60 Minutes, what with living in Jerusalem, not having a television and all, but I do enjoy hearing it in Podcast format. All you have to do is simply download it from iTunes (here) and you can enjoy the famous tick, tick, tick, that starts the show, as well as the vast array of topics that they cover on a weekly basis.

While on the topic of time, I always found it funny that one of the busiest places in the world is know as: Times Square. Here you will see New Yorkers and tourists who appear constantly busy. The hustle and bustle along with the lights is exhilarating to say the least. And yet, one could get soo consumed that a person could loose the importance of time, in the very area that is called, Times Square! Indeed, I’ve hear many people suggest that it’s because of the hectic scene in Manhattan, and more specifically, Times Square, that New York is known as: “The City that Never Sleeps!”

On that note, I believe it’s without coincidence that in such a city there’s a radio station, WINS (1010 kHz), known on-air as “Ten-Ten Wins” that is arguably world famous for their slogan, “You give us twenty-minutes minutes, we’ll give you the world!” Indeed, millions of commuters and listeners tune in each year to this very station to get a quick dose of news, traffic, and weather, in just twenty-two minutes.

Why you might ask?

Truthfully, they want/need to be informed, but for many people that’s all the time they have to spare in their busy chaotic life that they lead on a daily basis.

While many New Yorkers tune in to WINS to hear the latest events as they commute to work every morning, there are millions of Americans across the country who watch NBC’s Today Show to become updated with all the latest happenings across the country. People view this program as they get dressed for work, eat their breakfast, and so on and so forth. And yet, perhaps emblematic of our ever bustling society, the Today Show has just recently introduced: Today in Two Minutes.

And frankly I get it!

In a day in age in which there are many different mediums to advertise on, you need to constantly reach your consumer and target audience. The Today Show doesn’t want to become a “thing of the past!” And so, if they can retain or reel in an additional age demographic by introducing this short new feature…then as we say…Kol HaKavod!

That said, I think it’s important that every person still have some minutes left in their day that they can call: ME TIME! I encourage everyone to set aside even just two minutes that will enable you to learn, grow, and continue to improve and refine your inner-self! It’s important to not get soo wrapped up and consumed by the world we live in. Unfortunately we all know people who if they would take the time to look up from their Blackberry, they might see how much they’ve alienated everyone else around them.  Moreover, they may even realize that the person they have hurt the most by constantly consuming media or the like, is the person that they know as: Me, Myself, and I!

And so, a great book I’d like to recommend is: Positive Word Power. As a Husband, Father, Educator, and Jew, there are days where I’m left gasping for air. There are days where I need to ask myself, “where did my ‘ME TIME’ go?” This book is perfect to read by yourself or along with a partner (I read it with my wife!). Through daily lessons, it succinctly allows one to focus on the power of speech and positivity, which in today’s world, can erode rather quickly.

All in all, whether you have sixty minutes, twenty-two minutes, two minutes, or think that you have NO TIME, make it a point to learn this book for your ME TIME. I assure you will only see positive results!

Can you recommend some other book or action that although read or performed quickly can impact your entire day? I’d love to hear from you in the Comments Section below.

Photo courtesy of Leo Reynolds

A Mussar Message from Steve Nash!

As a child, I was a resilient follower of my local sports teams. Frankly, that was an easy task as I grew up in Los Angeles, during an era in which the Dodgers won the World Series and the Lakers…have they ever been bad? Anyways, as time went on my interests began to wane. Nowadays, I would say that when I do tune in to sports I like to follow a different angle. Truth be told, YC noted my current interest in professional sports in this recent Tweet. That said, I’d be remiss to not mention how I’ve been inspired by the playing and preservance of the 36 year-old Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns. Nash, a two time regular season MVP, (finally) led his team to the Western Conference Championships. However, from my prospective, win or loose, he has shown that he has a true love for the game, and by extension, a seemingly innate desire to act as a playmaker and win the NBA Title. In the previous round, in which his team defeated the San Antonio Spurs, Steve Nash was clobbered so badly that one of his eyes was swollen shut! Nonetheless, after withstanding a couple of stitches he quickly headed back out to the floor to resume his role as Point Guard and Captain of his team. Furthermore, as if he enjoyed these altercations, in the current series against the Lakers, he has already been besieged with a broken nose.

So let’s get this straight.

Standing at only a bit over 6 feet tall (see here) he may seem like a giant to us common-folk. However, in the National Basketball Association, he’s really a small guy, who because of his scrawniness, could get unintentionally bruised up, banged up, and so on and so forth. Additionally, he is playing in a league with speedy young men. And yet, despite his “old” age, the wear and tear on his body and his height, the guy is a hoops machine! He just keeps on shooting and winning regardless of what’s stitched or broken.

Likewise, hats off to Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks, who played after seven teeth got knocked out. Guess what? His team is now in the Stanley Cup Finals!

Reading about the stories of Steve Nash and Duncan Keith, reminds me that as human beings, we can live a life in which obstacles are placed in our way. Moreover, at times, things are broken one after another seemingly so frequently, that all we may want to do is curl up into the fetal position and cry! And frankly, if we did so, it wouldn’t be wrong. If Nash or Keith would have taken the rest of the night off they had every reason to not play. After all, it’s not within reason to compete at the highest level with one eye or several missing teeth! That said, they kept their “eye(s) on the prize” and didn’t let anything sway or distract them. The best thing to do in life is to remember the wise words of Bill Copeland who famously remarked, “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.”

As such, I implore everyone to have a goal in life. If you don’t yet know what your goal is, I suggest you take some time TODAY to define your goal. Define your goal for the next six months, for the next year, for the next five years, and certainly set a lifetime goal! In so doing, you will help ensure that despite any bumps or bruises in your personal road, you will know where the basket or net is to keep on shooting. It may take a bit longer to reach than you anticipated; or you may have to try a different method or approach to reach your goal.  That said, if you pick yourself up, instead of looking for self pity, and keep on entering and shooting in the game called life, you will constantly move in a positive direction.

For another perspective on sports see this recent article by Dr. William Kolbrenner.

Life Lessons from 13 Year Old Jordan Romero

There are many great things that have come with the comforts of contemporary society. That said, there is a side effect that sweeps across children, tweens, teenagers, and even young adults. Namely, people are increasingly coddled. Indeed, in 2008 Newsweek Magazine dedicated an entire article entitled: How to Cope When Your Adult Kids Move Back Home! What’s more, there is even a television program that follows this phenomenon. The show is called,  Bank of Mom and Dad and features parents attempting to help their children cope with the financial reality of living as an “adult.” Unfortunately, many of the “kids” have gone wildly astray and are besieged with credit card debt and a lifestyle that they never could have ever afforded!

With that said, it is well known that a boy celebrates his Bar Mitzvah at the ripe young age of 13 years old. To many people new or familiar to Judaism, this age at first glance may seem a bit young for a boy to be considered “a MAN in the Eyes of G-d!” I have heard many a person comment that this age is simply too young for society, let alone the Almighty, to place adult like expectations upon such young shoulders.

And so, I was relieved to read that in today’s day and age, there are still some kids who put there mind to a gargantuan task, aim to perform and achieve their mission! In so doing, they show us all that at the (what we consider young) age of thirteen, you can after all achieve a lot more than one would think…as long as you put your mind to it and follow through with your aspirations!

A recent instance of the above mentioned can be found in the story of Jordan Romero. Let’s be honest. Most adults would not dare to venture near Mount Everest…let alone climb to the top of this legendary mountain. And yet, that is exactly what thirteen-year-old, Jordan Romero, hailing from sunny California accomplished. He set out to become the youngest person ever to scale Mount Everest! Upon reaching the top he called home to let his mother know that he was at the peak of the world’s highest mountain. I’m certain that his mother was beaming knowing that her son had performed what many would think is simply impossible! To read more about Jordan’s story see here.

All in all, I think it’s a great story of Chizuk and motivation for anyone age 1-120. It reminds us that we can achieve the impossible! Even if we are a small start-up company we can achieve success. Even if we aren’t the smartest kid in the class or let alone in the entire Yeshiva we can climb to our own individual heights and maximize our unique potential as a Jew as well as a human being. And so, the next time you are up against a big challenge and you think that you are just this “little nothing” remember the story of young Jordan Romero, who reminds us all that little kids can achieve big things!

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