It’s about 8 x 10, the size of a sheet of paper, only half an inch thick, and weighs less than a carton of milk. It won’t make you muffins or keep your slippers warm in the winter, but it will do pretty much anything else. Its followers are more passionate than most people are about their children, and people around the globe waited for months just to hold it in their hands. Ridiculed by millions, loved by more, it is none other than the mighty iPad.

This iPod on steroids is taking the world by storm. It sold over a million units in less than a month, and is now pushing two, all without the international market, for which the release date was last Friday! News reports are pouring in describing the mob scenes in London, Sydney, Tokyo, Montreal and other cities as the iPad hit the shelves, and immediately sold out.

The big kicker came last week, when Apple’s stock hit new highs, making it the most valuable tech company in the world, toppling Microsoft, the behemoth that supplies the operating systems for more than 90% of the world’s personal computers. The only publicly traded company in the world with a higher value is Exxon Mobil!

What can we learn from the success of Apple Inc. and its stable of sleek electronics to help push ourselves to new highs?

Good Apples don’t come cheap

Apple has always sold its products at a price point higher than the competition, which is why to date they haven’t captured even 10% of the personal computer market. Rather than throw together computers with cheap parts, operating systems that need two to three updates a day, and graphics that are less than crisp, Apple has taken the high road.

The pricey machines put out by Apple have higher reliability, provide better graphics and performance, and crash much less.

It isn’t cheap to build something that is lasting, and in the short term, you can generate more profits be taking the easier route, but in the end, consistently investing as much as you can into your development and character creates the product that takes home the gold.

You got to protect them Apples!

Viruses, viruses. You can’t live with them, you can’t live without them. They are running rampant through cyberspace, with some viruses commanding armies of hundreds of millions of Botnets (robot networks). It is assumed that roughly one quarter of the world’s computers are infected by viruses, and are slaves for massive command and control computers.

Usually these viruses just hit us with low level adware and spam, but occasionally they get vicious, wiping out entire computer networks, and tracking keystrokes to steal financial data. They can even conduct cyber-warfare, as we saw Russia use to effectively shut down Georgia in the summer of '08. With hundreds of thousands of advanced viruses being released yearly, it is becoming harder and harder to stay clean.

Apples rarely get viruses. Their software has enormous amounts of protection built in, and they constantly upgrade to thwart new security threats.

In Judaism, the ability to anticipate something harmful and to put up defenses to stop it is the bedrock of the mussar system of self development.

In the classic work on spiritual growth, The Path of the Just, the first trait focused on is watchfulness, carefully monitoring our activities to make sure we don’t have a character deficiency that is slowly dragging us down. And just as computers do a comprehensive scan each night, in addition to scanning in real time for viruses, The Path of the Just emphasizes daily spiritual accounting at two primary times, once at night to review our day and look for missteps we may have made, and one that is a constantly scanning in real time to keep the viruses out.

Give them Apples some Apps!

Whatever you want your iPad to be, it is. It can be a compass, a mirror, a comic book, a chemistry primer, a siddur, or even an electric harp. No matter who you are, there are apps (applications) on the iPad in your area of interest. With over 134,000 apps available, and a new one coming online every three minutes, the variety of things that little screen can be is astounding!

In Judaism we see the same concept. Many have wondered why God gave us so many mitzvot. Why did He not keep the Torah and mitzvot down to a minimum core so that it would be easier for us to keep it all? The commentators explain that God gave us so many commandments so that no matter who a person is, everyone will be able find mitzvot they connect with emotionally and spiritually. Some people are Shabbos Jews, some are Sukkot Jews, some are charity Jews, some are prayer Jews. They don’t exclude the other commandments; it is simply that those mitzvot perfectly match their personality, and doing them gives those people the inspiration to fulfill the rest of the mitzvos that much better.

When you have 613 apps, there is something there for everyone; we just need to find it, download it, and use it.

There’s much to learn from a company that stood on the verge of bankruptcy just 20 years ago, and is now the second largest in the world! We may not do 134,000 things at once, but if we just download the “Lessons of Apple Inc” app, we will definitely be upgrading our software!