January 5, 2017
Miketz, the Torah portion that was read last Shabbat, begins with a dream, and is followed moments later by an abrupt awakening; into the reality of impending famine. Pharaoh is not a particularly noteworthy leader. However, he is able to acknowledge his limitations. He does this by delegating management — in this case, of the Egyptian empire—to Joseph, who for all the imperfections in his family life, is clearly possessed of a Divine spark, and a deep wisdom that affords him a view into the future.
Pharaoh’s dream doesn’t only portend famine; it foretells also a period of abundance. We can learn from Joseph to see the purpose in both—times of scarcity, and times of abundant plenty—and to tap into our deeper wisdom and act with intelligence, so that we can aim to stay —despite external circumstances—in a place of abundance.
Gathering to bid farewell to me and to friend and colleague Batya Neppe
As Beresheet winds down, and we transition into Shemot a few weeks from now, it’s always with a pinch of sadness that I feel myself saying goodbye to a family story—not always a family without problems—but what’s clearly a series of family narratives in Genesis—as we enter into the wider world of nationhood that we emerge into during Exodus. I experience this latter book as perhaps less personal, but nonetheless a necessary step in growing out of our previous confines.
To borrow a phrase from Cisco management, it is with mixed emotions that I’m talking with you here today. On the one hand, I’m sad as I face leaving so many dear friends and fabulous colleagues of many years. At the same time, I realize that this is a necessary step; that only by blowing the dust off of skills, talents, aptitudes and abilities long dormant, do we really extend ourselves beyond merely surviving … only in doing so can we truly stay alive.
Passion? Excitement? Energy? Focus? It’s up to you!
I’ll share some personal examples that I believe could be informative for us all.
During recent weeks, I’ve done things that I’d only imagined doing over a period of decades.
- Attending professional networking events and startup gatherings; not just to passively sit back and watch slides and listen to lectures, but with the aim of approaching strangers, pitching them ideas, and really hearing their feedback.
- Participating in more general networking events like meetups sponsored by NBN. Some have asked, Why would you want to meet with Millennials, with people half your age? Well, one of them might be your next boss!
- Taking a good look at your resume; and if you haven’t got one, write one. Send it around for feedback to the people who scare you the most.
- Doing some pro-bono consulting, getting a sense of what running a business and managing clients is like.
Rabbi Nachman says “כל העולם כולו, גשר צר מאוד, והעיקר לא לפחד כלל”, that the whole world is a narrow bridge and the important thing is not to fear at all. I don’t fully agree. Fear is an emotion that all human beings share, and in fact, it’s part of our humanity. The important thing is not to allow that fear to take over and get the better of us. I hope we can all use it as a springboard to enable and inspire us to take proactive steps to prepare for any eventuality.
Yes, we’ve certainly been exposed to a lot of jargon and standard motivational phraseology these past several years at Cisco; and it can sometimes be a bit off-putting. But the important thing, I believe, is to ask what we can do to stay positive and true to ourselves.
Passion? Excitement? Engagement? Laser-focus? Well, that’s up to you. Because only you can decide what parts of yourselves you’ll bring to work. Though what I can say with near certainty is that the future direction for SPVSS won’t come from the top-down. Rather it will come from grass-roots efforts to chart a course for the business unit and making a convincing case to the leadership. Will Cisco succeed in selling subscription-based, cloud-hosted video and security products? I don’t know for certain, but I sure hope it does; and what I do know is that if it does work out, it will come down to extending ourselves beyond our comfort zones, taking some calculated risks, and reaching into the best parts of ourselves … in a word, being like Joseph.
Will you do it? I believe you will. And I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you what I believe sets you apart. Four words, all beginning with “I”.
Will you innovate?
Will you be inventive?
Will you improvise?
Of course you will! You’re Israeli!
… you know how to make things work. You’ve all done some great and courageous things in your lives, and there’s room for more.
The takeaway message here is that, like Joseph, you have the power to decide how to respond to circumstances. There’s the option to remain a prisoner. And there’s the option to reach into yourselves and find the resources that make you special, and that give you a sense of limitless freedom. What’s more—like we learned in Knowledge Sharing—you can collaborate to make those special qualities exponentially more powerful.
A parting gift for Batya
Folks, יהיה בסדר, it’s going to be good.
You’ll make it good.
That’s the NDS spirit. That’s you at your most real.
Thank you all, and God bless.
August 15, 2016
A short speech delivered to Har Hotzvim Toastmasters on August 10th, 2016.
I hope you’ll enjoy!
May 11, 2016
מאת: דוד אדג’אש, בין יום השואה ויום הזיכרון, תשע”ו, 6 במאי 2016
אני זוכר כאשר הייתי בערך בן שלוש, אמא נתנה לי מרק אלף-בתי של אסם, כמובן בעברית, וסיפרה לי שזה מרק שבא מישראל. לא ידעתי אז המשמעות, אבל כן הבנתי שזה היה משהו מיוחד
אני שכחתי לכמה שנים את הייחודיות הזאת
אני זוכר כאשר הייתי בן שבע, פתחתי את הדלת והיה עיתון, ראיתי בדף הראשי תמונה של אסון נורא שקרה במקום רחוק. אמא סיפרה לי שמחבלים – היא קראה להם “גוורילות” – תקפו והרגו ישראלים. התברר לי אח”כ שזה היה הטבח במעלות
ואז התחברתי וזכרתי את המשמעות
March 19, 2016
When I compare how little enthusiasm I had during the weeks leading up to this year’s race, with the pure, unmitigated, and open-hearted joy I experienced during the actual run, I’m only reminded of how important it is to consciously and actively work to perform the heavy lifting needed to move beyond energy draining karmas (read: ambivalent moods) and, as the famous athletic shoe company instructs, just do it.
I found myself deeply moved by the masses of Am Yisrael–and our dear friends and supporters, many of whom came at no small expense, to participate–running in this year’s event. I was moved to tears several times seeing how many participants were running in memory of victims of war and terror, as well as those participating to raise awareness and funds for those whose lives have been impacted by war, illness, poverty, and various misfortune.
I was also quite overjoyed seeing my lovely and wonderful wife, Ilana Sobel, *** four different times (!!) *** during the course of the race!! Thank you, sweetheart, for tracking my route and turning out to cheer me on … and for the great photo of me chugging away at km 11.
As you may recall from my post following last year’s race, I really connect with my Dad’s memory during the Jerusalem run, especially when things happen that can’t be explained in any rational framework. Last night, a very dear overseas friend with whom I hadn’t been in touch in some months, contacted me asking what impressed me as a deeply mystical question, one that’s quite out of my league … but right up Dad’s ally. That I was able to provide an answer by scanning him a page of Dad’s Kabbalah Notebook left me with an immensely connected feeling, which augmented quite powerfully during the last 4 km today, when my physical energy is rather drained, and I’m running more on resources of the Spirit.
Thank you all, dear ones near and far, for reading my post. And biggest thank you to the Ultimate Timeless Experience and Eternal Companion for bringing about the Conditions of Life on Earth for this moment to happen.
ברוך אתה יהוה, אלוהינו מלך העולם, שהחיינו וקיימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה.
January 31, 2016
This morning, I did something that I do rather infrequently. That is, I responded to a research survey, this one being conducted by a tech comms professor at a college in New Mexico. The request was to list—in the respondent’s opinion—the most important trends, technologies, and theories impacting the tech comms field over the past five years (with a limit not to exceed ten items).
Having been mostly out of the field for the past almost three years, since transitioning to the financial side of the technology sector, I realized my response might be perceived as a bit presumptuous. Though once I got beyond that initial reluctance, and betting I’d have what to contribute, my thought process got itself into gear. Then, as I started putting together my list (some of which I realize—like outsourcing and apps—are no-brainers), it got me thinking more deeply about the issue of surviving in the brave new world of off-shoring, crowd-sourcing, and rapid paradigm shifts. Which led, in turn, to my evolving theory regarding ‘springboarding’ — or, radical flexibility—as a job survival and career development strategy.
So here are my top 10 items for what we should all be maintaining in our field of awareness as we courageously plow ahead into the ever-changing, but always essential, professional practice of sharing knowledge with those seeking answers.
- Off-shoring, meaning, expand and deepen training in order to keep US-based TC’s relevant in current market.
- Outsourcing, similar to above, though focused on “manpower” firms as the competition as opposed to overseas TC’s.
- Crowd-sourcing, meaning, forcing the question as to ‘why do I need in-house TC’s if the customer will anyway Google their questions’?
- Cloud-based documentation, meaning, ability to host documentation in a highly modular fashion where updates can be made on-the-fly and in a way that’s transparent to the customer or end-consumer.
- Video and animation. YouTube contains lots of real gems, offering ‘how-to’ instructions for everyday applications like Word and Excel, as well as for specialized and highly-specialized solutions. Screen-cam tools enable reasonably quick creation of animations and storyboards that have replaced more “traditional” text- and still image-based documentation. These skills are must-haves for today’s TC.
- Single-canvas presentation solutions (for example, Prezi), which have made fast-paced animations another need-to-have skill for TC’s. (I actually prefer to call these tools “infinite canvas” or “non-linear object path.”)
- Documentation on-the-go, meaning docs — or any information —consumed via apps.
- Metrics, that is, the demand for TC departments, teams, and individual practitioners to prove their added value by demonstrating statistically how documentation products and services contribute to the bottom line.
- Agile methodology, which is a whole philosophy, but I’m referring specifically to having the customer or end-consumer play an essential role in the feedback loop that impacts the documentation that the software (or any product or service) provider delivers.
- DevOps, which is another whole philosophy, but I’m referring specifically to TC’s needing to keep up in an environment where continuous development and continuous integration rule the day.
In closing, I’ll add that perhaps the most important item, not included in the list above, is what I would call spring-boarding or perhaps “radical flexibility;” that is, the awareness that your professional practice is likely to change considerably in tone and in scope every two or so years, and could even become completely unrecognizable and in need of swap-out after three to five years.
Wishing us all much success as we go forward.
October 11, 2015
בראשית was your Grandfather Yitz’s favorite parsha. He taught that בריאת העולם, the Creation of the World, was the greatest act of Love that God ever performed … and continues to perform. What a wonderful thing that you both got to read Grandpa Yitz’s favorite parsha, and that you did it so beautifully.
We also know that the Creation of the World wasn’t only an act of Love, it was also a tremendous act of Will … of רצון, and that the Creation of Humans, which happened shortly after, was no less an act of Love and Will.
However, as Ne’eman pointed out in his D’var Torah, it didn’t take long before the Humans that God created weren’t exactly acting in sync with God’s Will, as their behavior both inside and outside Gan Eden would demonstrate.
Eating from the עץ הדעת was just the beginning. By the end of the parsha, sadly, Man has become consumed by evil … and God is preparing to destroy the world. And as Tzvi just discussed in his D’var Torah, society had collapsed and the moral structure of the world had fallen apart.
What can we learn from this story? The world’s very first story?
We have to wait a few months … or maybe a few thousand years … or perhaps a few billion years, to transition from בריאת העולם to מתן תורה, when we receive a set of commandments that we can apply toward Guiding Human Life on Earth.
But we’re still left with the question: How do we bring our own Will into alignment with God’s?
We have lots of great teachings — and teachers. Yet we live in a time when it’s not always entirely clear to us what we ought to be doing with ourselves, our time, our attention, and even our thoughts.
When do we go out and seek answers from our Sources? And when do we focus our attention inward and seek answers from within?
When do we look for guidance in the law, and when do we look into our own hearts?
Tzvi and Ne’eman, I think you’re both developing a toolbox to help you wrestle with these questions. I’d even say you’ve both been working on gathering those tools for a while already.
We hear a lot these days about the importance of making good choices. The news is filled every day with stories about people who made poor choices.
Yet how do we know whether the choices we’re making are the right ones?
In trying to answer this question, I wrote down a few ideas that I thought of today to help guide you.
- Choose good mentors.
- Choose friends and companions not for their popularity and status, but for their honesty, integrity, and decency; because they can help you become better people.
- Strive to do what’s right, not necessarily what’s popular.
- Be kind to Planet Earth … and to its people.
- Remember that people are never perfect. None of us will ever be. Be patient with people.
- And then, have patience, and even more patience.
- Remember that the easy answers are often not the right ones. Take time to really think!
- Most importantly … Keep adding to this list!
I love you boys. I’m happy for your accomplishments. And I’ll admit … I’m proud of you.
Thank you Ilana for making the impossible a reality.
Thank you Mom for your wisdom and love.
Thank you dear friends for your kind support, and for making our simcha so special.
May we all merit experiencing מעשה בראשית … constant creation and renewal … in every moment of our lives.
August 2, 2015
I’m disgusted, saddened, dismayed—and yes, angered – as much as anyone, by the violent events of this past weekend. I’m also quite frankly, disappointed and scared by the harsh reactions of decent, caring, and law-respecting people, some of them my friends, who are responding with – perhaps understandable – but misdirected rage at entire sectors of the Jewish population who do not condone, let alone endorse, the horrific acts perpetrated by a few warped and hateful individuals.
In particular, I get worried when people who, under more ordinary circumstances, are deep thinkers and clear-headed deliberators, make statements aligning themselves with proposed “solutions” that are at best simplistic and at worst fan the flames of alienation and suspicion. Can we experience our justified feelings of anger and disappointment without allowing ourselves to be manipulated?
I am very upset – though sadly, not surprised – that politicians are exploiting these events for their own gain. No, I’m not naïve enough to expect they’d do otherwise. But it does make me sad when an opportunity for unity and healing is turned into yet another forum for partisan rants and shouting into the echo chambers of our most base feelings and fears … our lowest common denominator of reactiveness.
Stabbing gay people is not a tenet of religious Judaism, in any of the forms it manifests, Orthodox or otherwise. Burning Arab families asleep in their homes is no way a part of Zionism, or any expression of Jewish nationalism that has withstood the test of time. That individuals somehow associated with these groups have done so is tragic. Though let’s remember, this is a fringe, not a reflection of the vast majority.
The perpetrators of these acts should be apprehended, brought to justice, and prevented from roaming free to cause further harm. The injured should be healed, the mourners comforted, and the communities assured that their safety is vitally important and a priority for the majority of decent folks … across the various divides.
I ask that we reflect quietly before jumping to make general condemnations. That we seek to understand before making ourselves understood. That we fix what’s broken within ourselves before suggesting or imposing solutions upon our fellows.
This is very hard work, exacerbated by our collective feeling of brokenness right now. Speaking for myself, listening compassionately when I’m upset is admittedly not my strongest suit. But I frankly don’t see any other way to help bridge the rifts that are gaping wide open within ourselves, our families, our communities, and our society.
I would like to make myself available to anyone who would like an opportunity to be heard without judgement, categorization, or interruption. Or to just pray together if you find that helpful. I would like to ask that others do the same … if you feel you can.
These are rough times for the Nation of Israel — and Planet Earth – right now. And there are likely to be some difficult days ahead. Let’s be good to one another. If we’re not, no one else will.
March 28, 2015
Here’s a slightly annotated version of what I texted Ilana shortly after I completed the route:
“Finished (the 21K). Felt fantastic. Euphoric. Said shechechianu (שהחיינו) at finish line. Endorphin rush toward end was beyond anything I’d ever experienced. Was in tears most of the last 2.5 kilometers. Felt Dad’s presence so powerfully. Wow. Now I know why I did it. Felt like I just got up from Shiva and gave birth to my authentic self. Love you.”
My newly discovered “secret” to success: running—or any sport based around individual endurance—isn’t about you against yourself; it’s you with yourself. Because open-hearted kindness to yourself will get you so much farther than you ego ever will.
Be good to each other, everyone. Life’s too short for getting caught up in the BS.
Shabbat Shalom / Peace
January 4, 2015
We’ve come a long way …
Here’s an infomercial from the August 1959 edition of Good Housekeeping.
Actually, from what’s described, the training program sounds pretty rigorous.
September 1, 2014
ויפח בעפיו נשמת החיים, והיה לאדם נפש חיה
And God breathed life into man, and gave him a living soul.
This is not a eulogy. This is an affirmation of a life lived fully and abundantly.
For Dad, this is not an end. This is a transition. Yes, we are all very sad. It’s not easy to say goodbye, especially to a man who exuded such a profound sense of love, warmth, and kindness, not only to his family and friends, but to all Human Beings, and really to all living creatures.
For Dad, yesterday marked the beginning of a transition from the physical world – a place of constraint and limitation – to the dimension of pure Spirit, an abode of uninhibited connection with the Oneness of the Source; what Dad referred to so comfortably and often quite casually as Adonai – his Eternal Friend.
These past decades have seen Dad venturing out on a courageous path to pursue Universal Truth, taking him beyond the realm of convention and established dogmas and doctrines, as he strove to achieve a constant and always-available connection with God. He achieved this so beautifully and creatively through a unique blend of Jewish mysticism with enduring truths gleaned from various and diverse sources that stood the test of time, and expressed themselves by the imperative to trust God and show kindness and care to all Humans.
This meant evolving and cultivating a way of being, feeling, and living, fueled by Divine Energy that Dad was able to experience and share in this world – at times quite powerfully, at times subtly, often intuitively, and most importantly, expressed through Chessed … pure, undiluted, loving kindness and respect for Life in all its wondrous manifestations.
It was one of Dad’s core teachings that the body is a vehicle in which the soul rides during its journey on this planet. When that ride is over, and the body – the external shell — is cast aside, the soul can then experience the limitless freedom of reconnection with its Source; where no obstacles stand in the path of fully communing with God in all the ways our Human faculties could ever attain.
יהוה נתן, יהוה לקח, יהיה שם יהוה מבורך
The Lord gives, the Lord takes, blessed is the name of the Lord.
May all of us – inspired by the beautiful soul that is Yitz – merit to achieve the tender patience, the gentle kindness, the warm generosity, the sincere menschlikeit, the big-hearted readiness to forgive, the receptivity to the deepest human needs, and the enduring courage to pursue Truth.
Bless you Yitz for being a light-holder and for being an example of one who truly lives and teaches others to live.
Bless you Dad on your continuing journey. Go with God. We know that for you, there’s no other way.
We love you.