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Remembering Steve Jobs

Remembering Steve Jobs

Jobs' wanted to better mankind with his gift. This spirit of creativity is central to Judaism.


News of the death of Apple’s founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, this morning spread across the Internet just as quickly as reviews of the brand new iPhone 4S. The man, who President Barack Obama called “among the greatest of American innovators - brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it,” was loved by the world.

I found myself saddened upon learning of his passing. It’s not just because of my addiction to my MacBook, iPhone and iPad – some of the revolutionary technology he designed in recent years. Jobs was inspiring. He possessed a passion, a drive, and a vision that is so rare to find today. And he inspired me in my life, as a rabbi.

In the early 1980’s, when I was still a toddler, Steve Jobs was revolutionizing the world with the Macintosh, one of the first commercially successful personal computers. With its design, size, easy to use graphical interface, and mouse, it changed the way we compute. Jobs had conquered the world.

But success was short lived. In 1985, Jobs was fired from Apple. He would later say that, “the heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” And it was precisely that resilience that allowed Jobs to get up, dust himself off, and start all over again. When he returned to Apple in 1996, he would resuscitate the company and introduce a series of products that would once again change the way we think about technology. The world was conquered, again.

We are charged with the responsibility of finding what is lacking in the world and contributing to perfect it.

Of all his accomplishments, I think Jobs’ will be remembered most for his creative genius. He was our generation’s Edison. He possessed a need to innovate, and share those innovations with the world. He wanted to better mankind with his gift. This spirit of creativity is central to Judaism. We are charged with the responsibility of finding what is lacking in the world and contributing to perfect it. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik wrote: “The peak of religious ethical perfection to which Judaism aspires is man as creator.”

When we create, we emulate our Creator and, according to Rabbi Soloveitchik,

become a partner with the Almighty in the continuation and perfection of His Creation. Just as the Almighty constantly refined and improved the realm of existence during the six days of creation, so must man complete that creation and transform the domain of chaos and void into a perfect and beautiful reality.

In giving us new ways to communicate, to share, and to think, Steve Jobs created a “beautiful reality.”

Jobs’ death comes during the Ten Days of Repentance, a time when the Jewish People engages in deep reflection and introspection. As individuals, we consider our mission in life and how to actualize our unique potential. We take a good look at who we are and who we can become. The life and legacy of Steve Jobs teaches us just what man can achieve.

October 6, 2011

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Visitor Comments: 7

(6) Wassim, October 19, 2011 5:22 PM

Apparently Syrian Muslim biological father!

Well, there you go, he wasn't born chosen, but somebody chose him to love, and that love created an impressive person. Therefore, I argue there is great potential and hope for people from the Middle East given the right environment. 2012 is going to be a good one I think. And congratulations on Shalit's return. Things are happening in MENA, at least that's better than stagnation. Shalom.

(5) G. Gold, October 12, 2011 1:39 PM

Well said Rachel.

I also wonder about the values of our society, that rewards these endeavors disproportionately.

(4) Anonymous, October 9, 2011 3:25 PM

It's Judaism, not Jobs

All the ideas you attribute to Steve Jobs that you say inspire you are actually JUDAISM. How sad that you didn't hear them from a RABBI! BTW, Jobs was a practicing BUDDHIST.

(3) Anonymous, October 9, 2011 7:02 AM

I agree with Rachel

I agree 100 percent with Rachel. Although I own and use an Apple computer both professionally and personally, I believe computers have stunted interpersonal relationships. And unless Steve Jobs' Last Will & Testament leaves a chunk of his $7 billion personal fortune to charity (or, giving him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he donated anonymously in his lifetime), the fact is that he did not give a significant portion of his wealth to charity. He was a genius, an innovator, a motivator, had drive - but as Rachel says, he will not be remembered for tzedaka or as a great humanitarian..

(2) Bill, Wyoming, October 7, 2011 7:49 AM

Modern Technology

Modern technology is a powerful tool. Like any tool, it can be used for good or for evil. While there is a lot of awful stuff on the web, there is also a ton of Torah. The choice, quite literally today, is in your hands.

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