The Kabbalah of Magazine Publishing: Determining Portals of Entry

smart lock

In our previous essay, we explained some of the fundamentals behind creating a weekly Kabbalah magazine. We mentioned there that while we can know the tone for this week’s headlines years in advance, the actual stories depend on what people feel to be the most compelling metaphors for that time. To say it another way, while we knew that this week, corresponding to the Torah portion of Shelach, was going to be about the desire to enter, survey and report on new terrains, we didn’t know that the Smart Lock was going to be announced this week. We also didn’t know that we were going to get back the Start Button on the upcoming free Windows 8.1 upgrade. What we did know is to expect these “entry” oriented headlines.

Before we go into a more in-depth treatise about the themes found in this Torah portion, its important to first answer the obvious question. Surely, there must be some stories that don’t have anything to do with “spying out” new terrains at all? For instance, what does “Safety regulators recommend licenses for self-driving cars” have to do with our discussion? We actually discussed self-driving cars a few months back. There we explained that the desire to sit in self-driving cars, represents the desire to feel like a “prince” or “president” (נשיא) that has mastered the ability for his mind to rule over his heart. Now each of the twelve spies were princes of their respective tribes, but only two of these twelve (Joshua and Caleb), were driving their cars or minds correctly. Sometimes the references are more subtle, but in every attractive story for the week, clear correspondences to the weekly Torah portion can be made.

Points of Entry

This Torah portion is again about scouting out a land, the land of Israel. Even though the land was promised to the Jewish people since Abraham, they were only now getting ready to actually enter. To conquer the land from the inhabiting nations, and settle the boundaries in all four directions.

It is no wonder then that while many of the technology articles this week are continuations of “old” themes, this is also a week to make our final estimations. Will we be using Google Glass or the Apple iWatch? Is Yahoo! really going to become more of an internet hub in the coming year or not? Will Twitter gain their momentum over Facebook, or will the tug of war continue well through the next twelve months? These are the questions media pundits began asking more seriously this week. This is the week of the year to focus more intently on any “point of entry” discussion that has held our interest over the last year.

Integration vs. Acknowledgement

In the previous entry, we spoke about integrating innovation. But in truth, the highest insights cannot be integrated at all, only acknowledged. This is because truly revelatory thoughts come from the inner essence of the soul’s highest level–the unknowable super-conscious head.

With this in mind, we can better appreciate what it means to enter a new land. More than integrating this new area into our experience, by entering we are actually revealing new levels of consciousness within ourselves. In any event, we brought this to explain the difference between the integration mentioned last time, and true innovation.

Embarking on the Journey

The Torah portion of Shelach has a number of different topics. Beginning with the sin of the spies, the portion then continues with the sin of the ma’apilim  (the group who decided to proceed alone and unauthorized, toward the land of Israel, after the sin of the spies). Then we have the portion about the wine jubilations, the special mitzvah given to Jewish woman regarding the separation of Challah, and then finally, the story of the wood gatherer and the section about the tzitzit. Just as the spies survey the land, the tzitzit are intended to reminded us to control our eyes from everything that we see.

Our focus in this essay is going to be on the first two accounts or sins of the Torah portion. These reflect two anticipatory stages and reactions before entering the land of Israel. While we will be mentioning some stories that made the headlines over the past few days and hours, we encourage you to think about the stories that you found interesting this week as well.

Two Extremes

According to Kabbalah and Chassidut, these two opening sins from our Torah portion reflect two opposite extremes in the psyche. There was some psychological imbalance to both the spies and the ma’apilim that caused them to act the way they did.

Starting with the opening sin of the spies, they were afraid to conquer and enter the land of Israel, for one of two main reasons. The first is that they were fearful of dealing with the physical dimension of reality; of laboring and toiling over the agricultural and other elements of life living in the land of Israel. The second is that they were fearful of the country’s inhabitants at the time. By being afraid, it was if they were saying that the inhabitants were stronger than even the Almighty. Both fears were caused by their lack of a true connection with Moses.

The other extreme was the sin of the ma’apilim right after the sin of the spies. The Almighty decreed that they would not enter the land for 40 years, and a portion of the people decided that now they were going to pursue the other extreme. Instead of not wanting to engage the physical dimension of reality, they now wanted to enter the land by force, even though God was not now with them. This is called “pushing the end,” and it comes out of an impulsive nature. The exact opposite of the lethargic nature of the spies.

Portal of Consciousness

For the continuation of this entry, we will explain in some detail one story from this week, then briefly mention others. The one we have selected is again about Yahoo!, and is entitled “Marissa Mayer Is Bringing Back the Internet Portal. Here’s Why” (published May 28th on Wired.com).

Once upon a time, the idea of agglomerating lots of functionality in one website seemed like an obsolete throwback, a vain attempt to carry forward the glory days of the online portal in the late 1990s. Portals had their time and place, but it was in the past, the thinking went, during a transitory period when it was expensive to build the most basic interactive website. That financial barrier gave well-capitalized internet companies the opportunity to dominate many verticals at once.

…There is a real elegance to the idea of focused companies with clear missions and simple products. It is similarly attractive to imagine we can improve our complicated lives in this complex world by stitching together highly specialized apps that do one thing and do it well.

In our previous article about Yahoo, we mentioned that one of the intentions behind Yahoo! acquiring Tumblr was to become more of a “superconnector” site. We explained that similar to Eve who is the mother of all life, the great search has begun to find that one site that can be termed the “mother” of all the millions of “children” sites on the internet. But as we are explaining stories now through the lens of the weekly Torah portion, we can now add a new leg to the “mother of all sites” journey.

Searching for the Mother Site

At the end of the episode of the spies, Joshua and Caleb said the following to the assembled crowd: “The land is very very good. If (אם) God wants, He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey.” (Numbers 14:7-8).

Why didn’t they say that “God will surely bring us to this land”? Why did they make it conditional, “If God wants…”? The answer is something very nice in psychology. They were holding on so that all their words would be heard; so that they wouldn’t be stopped in the middle. If they would have said things for certain, then the people would have wanted to kill them in the middle. There is an important lesson here. If you are afraid that people will stop you mid-sentence, say something conditionally, so that they don’t anticipate all of what you are about to say. Maybe they will think it’s just conjecture or something similar.

What does “if” mean here? The whole concept of conditionality is related to the mindset of a mother, because “if” in Hebrew is spelled the same as “mother” (אם). Whereas the father mindset is certain, the woman was given an additional measure of understanding. What does this extra measure provide? More than the father, the mother knows how to say things in a conditional, uncertain way, so that she will be heard all the way through. But if you say things in a certain manner, it is more difficult to get people to listen fully.

In our previous Yahoo! article, we said that the mother principle relates also to a greater willingness to think counter-intuitively (the initials of the term for this, איפכא מסתברא, also spells mother, אם). Now we are adding that not only should this “mother” site be reached counter-intuitively, it also shouldn’t openly proclaim to have all the answers.

In this Wired.com article, this seems to be the biggest problem the author has with portal sites. Now that the internet is so open and diverse, does it make sense anymore that one site should have all the answers?

What we gain from our analysis then is both yes and no. Ultimately, it makes sense that one site will eventually have all the answers, or at least point you to where they can be found. But it is also correct to say that this “mother” site itself should present itself as something conditional. Although it may very well have all the answers, if they were to say that outright, they may lose their ability to generate interest long-term interest in their site.

Other Technology Articles of Interest

Instantly Boost Conversion Rates By Sharing Your Business’ Location: Instead of points of interest, locations actually represent destinations. Listing a location then is similar to travelling toward a pre-designated land or area. This is of course what this Torah portion is all about.

Windows 8.1 Start button shown in leaked screenshots: One of many “point of entry” related articles this week.

Here’s Your Smart Lock of the Future, Today: and another one.

Israel-based Cortica raises $1.5M from Mail.Ru to fund its Image2Text visual search technology: Scouting out the land means properly interpreting and analyzing the images that we see.

Why Apple will enter (and dominate) the wearable technology market: The very title alone caught our attention (especially “enter and dominate”), but as we said, this is the week to make final assessments about stories that have been floating around for some time already.

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