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Noah, Steve Jobs and the Tower of Babel

October 31, 2011

Today, from start to finish, I want to talk to you about Steve Jobs … from the start of today’s Torah portion until its conclusion, for both contain an important lesson regarding Steve Jobs’ life and death and an important lesson for all of us to take to heart.

Our Torah portion this morning told the story of Noah and the flood. But before the story is told, our rabbis first discuss: how did Noah get his name, and what does it mean? The Torah tells us: “Zeh yinachameinu mimaseinu u’mei-itzvon yadainu … this one will bring us rest from our work and the toil of our hands.” Noach means, rest” and “comfort.” Why did he get this name? Because, according to our tradition, Noah was the creator of the first advancement in agricultural technology. It was Noah who invented the plow … the first great farming tool that made it easier for early mankind to abandon a nomadic existence and to till the soil, easing man’s physical workload. It provided mankind opportunities for rest and leisure and the comforts of life.

Steve Jobs followed in the footsteps of Noah. His technological creations changed the way in which we live. It is said that three apples changed the course of history: Adam’s apple, Newton’s apple … and Steve Jobs’ Apple! I use his computer and his phone, and well understand from personal experience how remarkable this man’s creations are. Genius is certainly a word appropriate for him. His technological advancements open the book of knowledge to billions around the world. That’s something we Jews should applaud. At the beginning of Genesis where God tells us, “Be fruitful and multiply … fill the earth and subdue it,” my teacher, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, says that means that it is a religious requirement to harness the forces of nature for the betterment of all mankind. READ MORE

PLUS: If you want to gain Jewish knowledge, here is a good place to start.  Although I don’t agree with many of the selections, they are all worth considering in The Huffington Post’s Jewish Books: 18 Essential Texts Every Jew Should Read

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