Solely In Black and White: Thoughts on Steve Jobs’ Demise and Yom Kippur

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thoughts on Steve Jobs’ Demise and Yom Kippur


To some, the departure of Steve Jobs was jarring. A revolutionary iconic legend was taken from humanity. But one thing he was not, at least it is unknown as pointed out in the NYTimes, was a known philanthropist. There are many thoughts and opinions that have been written about Jobs. His work and ideas are undeniably innovative, but what can we learn from his passing? 

Being that is right before Yom Kippur the first thought that crossed my mind was that nothing is set in stone. Life, and by extension happiness, is dependent on so many factors; many of which we take for granted every single day and many of which aren’t within our control. We rely on the status quo and take a laissez-faire attitude towards almost every aspect of our lives. We know deep-down inside ourselves, however, that such beliefs are but a mere fallacy. Furthermore, this specific knowledge is the underlying mechanism of our greatest fears. The what-ifs that plague us all; yet, for some those what-ifs become their realities… 

The other thought I had was something along the lines of power. It is often believed or said that people of power: either through money, fame, intelligence, or influence can control their destiny. That being assumed, one would be able to classify Jobs as an individual of immense power. I suppose the same could be said (in another context) for the other “greats” amongst our own who were taken this year as well. Regardless, power or greatness is of little importance when it is decided who is to live and who is to die. Or more simply, one can’t outrun death. By deduction, if the most powerful amongst us can’t stave off death, nor does their power necessarily go with them onto the next world, what does that mean for us who aren’t? 

If there is any solace in this piece of dreary prose it is that the world is a somewhat brighter place than how I make it sound. G-d wants us to live and succeed; to be happy and content. 

It is often asked why Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment, comes before Yom Kipper, the Day of Atonement. Logically, one should be pure of sin and then judged as all inequity will be voided before judgment. While there is a myriad of answers to this classic question, the one which often cited and one which resonates with me, is that one can’t attain forgiveness from another if they do not have a relationship. Thus, the purpose of Rosh Hashanah, and by extension the days preceding and succeeding it, are for us to realize our relationship with G-d and to become closer to him. Similarly, the way we become closer to G-d is realizing how dependent we are on him and how much we need him, avenu malkenu, as our father and master. 

On a final note, it often said that attaining a complete teshuva is a very arduous task. That is undeniably true. However, doing a small yet meaningful act to show that one desires to become closer to G-d is a very valuable tool in getting a Gmar Din. 

May we all be zocha to have Gmar Chasima Tova!

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