Tag Archives: G-d

“#Prayer” What G-d Looks for on Twitter and the Spirituality of Computing

IMG_0146When I go to conferences for lawyers or technology, I tend to be pretty visible.  I’m the guy with the big white knitted yarmulke, strings hanging from my belt (they’re called “tzitzis” and are a commandment from the Torah to wear to remind you of your obligations to G-d), and a smile.  That being said, I don’t do a lot of blogging on here about my religion or my views on G-d.  Not to say these aren’t important to me, they are the bedrock of my life, but this blog has always had posts about Apple computers or websites and the like.  Then it occurred to me: this digital thing we do is really VERY spiritual.

At it’s essence, all digital code is a series of 1’s or 0’s.  The infinite number of sequences manifest in various digital permutations such as images, applications, and functions that we know as computing (for any computer scientist out there that can correct my simplified understanding of how digital code works, please leave your comments below).  Jewish thought tells us that entire world is made up of varying degrees of G-d either revealing or concealing Himself.  Therefore, everything in existence is either a 1 (revelation) or 0 (concealment) of G-d.  At it’s core, computing mimics this axiom.  So it is fair to say that computing is a tool that allows us to better understand how G-d operates His universe (for any Torah scholars out there that can correct my simplified understanding of how G-d reveals and conceals Himself … you know the rest).

This is an idea I have been thinking about for sometime now, but it was only recently that I felt compelled to put it on this blog.  See I got to thinking: one of our most powerful messaging mediums today is Twitter.  Are people using Twitter to pray?

I put in a “#prayer” and was surprised to see that the answer to my question was, sort of.  There were definitely prayers on there, some pleas for good health, others for no more marital problems, some praying for money to get married with links to sites to donate money.  But there was a lot of other stuff on there too.  Church groups were using the #prayer sign to announce prayer groups or church functions.  Others used it to talk about Veteran’s Day (which is today by the way – Happy Veteran’s Day!) and sometimes, #prayer hashtag was just added to a post having nothing to do with prayer at all, leading me to ask does  adding the #prayer hashtag to your tweet count as a prayer in itself? There’s even an article about sending Tweets to the Kotel (Wailing Wall).  All of this lead me to the conclusion that people are using Twitter for spiritual activities just like they use it for anything else.

The whole thing reminds me of that scene in Bruce Almighty where he corals all the prayers he’s receiving into a giant email list and then just hits Reply All to answer them.  Are we expecting the same thing to happen with our Twitter prayers?  According to the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, a person’s personal prayer to G-d, in their own language without any formality, is one of the most powerful ways to build faith and connect with the Almighty.  Perhaps Twitter then really is an answer to the need people feel for prayer, especially prayer they want to share with others.  I guess a private blog written to G-d on a daily basis would be more akin to what Rebbe Nachman was talking about.

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Connected: using social media tools to recast yourself

mintz familyIt has been over 14-days since I last posted, a violation of the blogger’s code (never go more than 10-days without a post).  No, I am not turning in my blogger card just yet.  In fact, there have been some significant changes in my life over the last few weeks, some of which can be attributed directly to this blog.  Let me go back to the beginning.

My family and I have dreamed of making aliyah (moving to Israel and assuming dual citizenship) for some time now.  It has been put off for this reason or that, but this was the year we decided that we were going to do it.  Our son had just been born in January and our daughter was rapidly approaching the two-year mark.  They say that when you have kids a move like this is easier when they are still young, and so we thought now made the most sense.  We began the process and things started to take shape.

We would leave in August.  I took a trip at the end of 2008 to check things out and narrow down neighborhoods, which we did.  There was one variable that still remained, a job, but I was hopeful that I could remain with my company, which was a multi-national tech giant.  Based on everyones’ advice, I held off on saying anything to them.  It was my plan to wait until June 2009, present my boss with a business proposal for how everything could work, and hope for the best.  Life has a funny way of surprising us, as I found out that G-d had better plans for me.

My company had launched Martindale Hubbell Connected (limited Beta version)  in 2008; I only found out about it late in the year, but became very interested in this global network for legal professionals.  It was basically “Linkedin for lawyers,” and I immediately saw a use-case for this network to enhance many of the things I was working on in academic content development.  Disucssions begain with MHC developers and product planners to realize the potential of this network for law students.  We built a lot of sample content and wrote a lot of proposals, which (along with this technology blog) started to turn heads and recast me as a technology insider. 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago: I called a friend in MH to talk about functionality for one of my projects.  We really wanted to have some good stuff  ready for when MH actively promoted the network to law students at end of the summer (it opened up to non-lawyers, including law students last week). 

“The community manager position recently opened up,” my friend told me.

“Interesting,” I said.

She thought for a moment and then said, “you know … you’d be perfect for it.”  I told her that the position sounded great, and if I saw it posted I would definitely check it out.  In my head, though, I knew about my plan to tell my boss about Israel in a few weeks.  The plan was important, and I didn’t know if I wanted to risk going for something new.

A few days later, she called me.  “Can you come to NY next week?  Some people want to meet you.”  Basically, she had told some of the higher ups about me, and they were excited about the prospect of an attorney, who loves technology, and who already worked for the company filling the position.  At this point, I knew I had to bring my boss into the mix and tell him what was going on with this potential opportunity.

“It sounds right up your alley,” he said.  “Meet with them, find out more information, and see if it’s for you.”  It was advice like this that made him one of the best bosses I had ever had.  I went to the informal interview that same week and after speaking to a VP and a head of marketing, I really started to get excited about the possibilities here.  They seemed mutually intersted, but I made sure to mention that I wanted to be officially “home-based” b/c we had dreams of moving to Israel “one day.”  This fact did not seem to trouble them as the position was “home based” and it didn’t really matter where that home was as long as I could perform the job.

They called me in for a series of three, back-to-back interviews with other stakeholders, and within the hour the VP came back to me and made an offer.  I only had one more hurdle to clear and that was clarifying what I had meant by “one-day” moving to Israel.  I told her that we were planning for that day to be in August of this year.  She did a bit of a double take, but then said (much to my relief), “it doesn’t change my mind.  You are perfect for the role, and we are willing to work with you.” 

 This was like a dream come true.  The job promised to be everything I had wanted out of my professional life right now:  working in the professional networking and media space, staying on top of technology trends, engaging with members, building out content, and constantly working to develop the site.  I accepted the job, and called my old boss to tell him the news.

“Congratulations,” he said.

“There’s something else I need to tell you though,” I said.  “I was waiting until June to discuss this with you, but with the news of this new position breaking soon, you are probably going to hear it anyway.”  He listened as I told him that me and the family were making aliyah.

“Mazel tov!” he said.  “That’s wonderful! … and they are okay with you working from Israel?”  I told him that they were.  “That’s really amazing, Mike,” he said, “because I am not sure that arrangement would have been okay in our part of the organization.”  I thanked my old boss and told him how grateful I was for this opportunity and for all of the work we had done together.  That is when I had the stunning realization: my plan, the one I had been depending on for these last 8-months, would not have worked; G-d’s plan was much different, much better, and had materialized without much effort on my part.

I guess that is the point of this post (besides being an apology to my four or so readers that I have not posted in a while): regardless of what you believe, it is axiomatic that despite our best plans things sometimes have a funny way of working out differently than we expected.  The telling point is whether I can accept change and be grateful for whatever comes.  Of course this is a much easier proposition when it is something like the above situation, which worked out better than I had planned in the first place.  Still, this is what I am taking away from the experience and hope to have lots to write about in the days, weeks, years to come.  Welcome to the new chapter of my life.

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