Normally I wouldn’t do an update for a book of some 250 pages; I’d just finish and write a review. But this one has actually inspired some Torah thoughts, though it is in fact an economics/business book. My Torah thoughts are too tangential to make the final review, so I thought I’d share them now. What better time than these High Holy Days?
The title of this book is Need, Speed, and Greed
, and it is about how innovation is not only what drives the economy, it will save it. Many people might say that that’s so obvious a point, there’s no need for a book to explain it, but this author is describing all kinds of innovation going on right now, especially in the emerging economies of China, India, and Brazil. He also argues that not all innovation is necessarily good. He defines “good” by whether or not the innovation adds value to the economy.
The section on “Need,” which is what I’m up to now, explains this very well. As one medical researcher advises his students, it is better to innovate in order to solve a problem at hand than to invent something new and cool and then try and figure out how to make people want to use it. In other words, when inventing, put NEED first.
Believe it or not, this reminded me of a story from that great Hasidic Rebbe, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, who said that he learned the meaning of love from two drunks sitting together in the gutter.
“I love you so much, my dear friend!” declared one.
“I love you even more,” exclaimed the other.
“Oh yeah?” said the first. “If you love me, then tell me right now: what is hurting me?”
That, said the great Rebbe, is the meaning of love. To Iove someone is to know what hurts them, what they are lacking, what they need
. An even higher level of love, therefore, would be to actually do something to relieve that need. As the Jewish saying goes, “your ticket to the Next World is to improve someone else’s lot in this one.”
May Hashem bless us with the wisdom and ability to see our friends’ needs and take care of them and for our friends to receive the same so that they can help us with our needs. How much better the world would then be! Gmar chasima tova to all!