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Eikev // 7/30/20 // 21 Menachem-Av 5781

Welcome to your weekly newsletter bringing you tech related Torah and Torah related tech. Torah && Tech is brought to you by two Torah techies, @rabbigreenberg && @yechielk. Shabbat Shalom and Good Shabbos!

We Don't Live to Work

Charles Vogl in his book, The Art of Community, highlights the idea that communities serve two important functions for people:

  • Belonging
  • Contributing
A community gives us a place to belong with people that we know care about us. It lets us feel like we matter.

A community also provides us a place to meaningfully contribute. We can exercise our creativity, problem-solving, and desire to give back in the context of community.

Employers in tech often leverage those two aspects to their benefit, and in ways that are not always to your benefit as a member of the team. Whether it is through unique branding, laptop stickers, fun apparel, etc. a company can create a story that draws you in and cultivates matterness for you.

Our jobs in tech also regularly provide us with ample opportunities to flex our creative and problem-solving muscles in contributing to the work. Yes, the work can be tedious and mind-numbing at times, but it can also be challenging and can push us to really think and apply ourselves.

These two factors can lead us to adopt a total approach to our workplaces. We live, eat, breathe, sleep our jobs every moment of every day.

We enclothe ourselves in their branding. We stretch our minds to solve their business problems.

Is this the way we should we living?

The Torah in this week's portion of Eikev comes at us with a profound idea:

 כִּ֠י לֹ֣א עַל־הַלֶּ֤חֶם לְבַדּוֹ֙ יִחְיֶ֣ה הָֽאָדָ֔ם כִּ֛י עַל־כׇּל־מוֹצָ֥א פִֽי־יְהֹוָ֖ה יִחְיֶ֥ה הָאָדָֽם׃
... Man does not live on bread alone, but that man may live on anything that the LORD decrees.

- Deuteronomy 8:3

The medieval commentator Ibn Ezra comments that the Torah mentions bread specifically because it is something people are always eating. It is something we are always consumed with. Bread, specifically, is the embodiment of livelihood and of working. In Genesis 3:19, God punishes the first man, Adam, with working for bread, specifically, as he is banished from the Garden of Eden.

In other words, we can understand the exhortation in the Torah of "man does not live by bread alone" as "people do not live by what they do for work alone."

What then do we live for?

In the context of the Torah, it is to follow God and to live elevated lives. The Torah provides the blueprint for how to accomplish that.

Within your own personal life, the Torah is challenging you to carve out time that does not belong to your work. To seek meaning beyond what provides you with your daily "bread".

There are many folks out there, including your employer, that will maximize their ability to provide you with belonging and contribution opportunities to maximize the value they gain from your work. This is not always bad intentioned. They are doing what is in their best interests. You, though, must also do what is in your best interest. 
Shabbat Shalom,

Yechiel && Ben
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