Yonatan Gordon
Yonatan Gordon

The Kabbalah of educational workshops

I mentioned to the staff at the 3D Factory in Jaffa that I would try and put some thoughts together related to their business model, so here goes!

The idea of educational events—scheduled to begin at the 3D Factory store in a few weeks—is conceptually somewhere in between the convention and at-home experience. Whereas we mentioned that conventions such as CES are all about connecting on a global scale, home based gadgets attempt to recreate this experience within the four walls of one’s own home.

So while the 3D printer will soon proliferate homes everywhere, the place and need for educational workshops only increases with time.


I wrote previously how my favorite part of BEA (Book Expo America) was the educational workshops held prior to the exhibits. But book publishing isn’t the only industry that makes use of educational events.

To abstract and universalize this conversation, what if I told you that an iPad is an educational event in miniature? What do I mean? While hours of work were poured into developing the iPad behind closed doors at Apple, arguably what the iPad is most known for are the millions of apps that were developed by programmers after the product was already rolled out.

As a programmer, the iPad, or any other open API device or open source program is viewed as a work-in-progress. Like a teacher that conveys his lengthy class dissertations, the main excitement comes from waiting and seeing what the students (in Apple’s case, the programmers) will come up with.

But until now, the interactive role between the producers of technology and the end-user has been limited. Unless you were the one that created the app that millions now use, or significantly improved Linux or some other open source program, for most of us, there was little opportunity for the end-user to become an end-giver.

That is until now.

Imagine that you actually pressed the print button, and watched your personal iPad being printed, granule by granule, right before your eyes? How would your interaction with this self-printed iPad change the way you viewed this device and technology as a whole?

I’ve written about the drive to turn technology invisible. In the tech world, they call it a seamless user interface. But instead of the Human Plus experience, whereby we become willing recipients of nanochips, mechanical exoskeletons and the like, let’s take a step back for a moment.

Imagine you could print whatever product you wanted (as mentioned in the previous article, this time is getting close). You pressed print and the additive printing process produces your request. While ostensibly, you are holding the same product, the same iPad, conceptually this self-printed version is a world apart from the store bought variety.

Here comes the fun part.

Now that it’s easier to envision this object as stuck together granules of powder, it also becomes easier to think about the concepts behind the product. Since the Macintosh was first introduced in 1984, the processing speed has gone from a tepid 8 Mhz to a staggering 3.4 Ghz (3,400 Mhz) in the latest G7 version. That’s 425 times as fast! Yet if you watch the video that was recently made public of Steve Jobs presenting the Mac at the first public gathering (the prior event was to Apple shareholders), if anything, people today seem less excited by processing speed than they did then. The way to explain this by drilling down to the point of attraction, the core reason why the public was attracted to the notion of speed to begin with.

In the past, it hasn’t been too easy to train the public from a dependency on the final product. But the opportunity inherent in 3D printing technology is that it allows the instructors of these workshops to end with take-home lessons about meaning, purpose, and what it means to be productive and do good deeds with alacrity.

At first the messages can be very basic. Especially for kids, the more stories that are brought to drill home the point the better. But over time, there are deep lessons to be learnt from these observations. For instance, the value of final letters of “you are worthy of acknowledgement” is equal to 425. Sometimes we are slow and sluggish because we don’t feel like our actions are worthy and meaningful. But while it took thirty years for Apple to reach 425 times the speed, they manages to inspire thousands immediately with only 8 Mhz. So too even our seemingly “small” efforts make a big difference.

As the 3D Factory also encourages people to design and print their own objects, each new and creative result is an opportunity to conceptualize the product back down to its finer elements. An opportunity to teach a lesson that may stay with each child for a lifetime.

Deconstruct, Reconstruct

But 3D printing isn’t the only thing that allows for this product deconstruct, greater reconstruct, process. As mentioned, I used to attend the education events of Book Expo America. While the attendees didn’t physically tear books into tiny pieces, the main topic in recent years has been the digitization of the book industry. To say it another way, in order to understand what a book is, what it’s “made out of,” the finest component or ingredient, the first step is to divide our preconceived notion of the book into smaller pieces and see what substance we are left with.

By subdividing our understanding of the book into smaller parts, people in the book industry are trying to achieve what science calls a “grand unified theory.” Some definition that holds true from print through digital, from traditional narratives down to transmedia storytelling full of interactive elements, and so on.

Counting Knowledge

Normally, when we think of counting phenomena in the Torah, we think of counting the number of verses, words, or at most, single letters. One of the differences between the revealed and concealed teachings of the Torah is that the revealed teachings usually do not go beyond the level of phenomena or meaning related to a single word. In other words, the analytical strength of the revealed tradition of interpreting the Torah, for the most part, stops at the level of a word. But, the concealed tradition resolves the Torah even further, delving into smaller and smaller quanta of the text.

One result of the additional resolving power of the inner dimension of the Torah is that there is a greater sensitivity to the fact that the smallest of the small counts just as much as the biggest of the big. The greater a person’s understanding for the finer details of their discipline, the greater the chance that “big” outcomes will occur.

While the first result or outcome from educational workshops is a heightened sense of wonder in the hearts and minds of the students, the next step is the art inherent in the act of deconstructing.

Connected Books

At a Book Expo America events about eight years ago, an executive at one of the big publishing houses lamented the amount of time people were spending on the internet. But instead of viewing technology and computer use as something that opposes knowledge, according to Chassidut, the rise of the internet age is an indication that the public is searching for greater connectivity, even down to the books we read. As taught in Kabbalah, and as mentioned at the beginning, nothing exists in isolation.

This is the first lesson from this article. The idea that educators can instill a greater sense of connectivity among all things by deconstructing and reconstructing them again into a greater unified state.

The second lesson we already mentioned. That in order to provide additional take home lessons, the core points of attraction behind each subject should be discussed in a way that each child can easily understand.

As explained above, real and lasting developments begin with the application. If you have questions about the implementation of the above as related to your specific industry, please email me at ysgordon [at] gmail.com.

For more examples on how to conceptualize and derive lessons from technology, please read “The Leap in Motion Concept” and the essays on Apple.

For the source in Kabbalah behind the resolving power of the inner dimension of the Torah, read: “The Unifications of the Emotive Sefirot.”

Photo courtesy of 3D Factory.

Read Start-Up Israel to keep your finger on the pulse of Israeli high-tech and innovation!

About the Author
Yonatan Gordon is a student of Harav Yitzchak Ginsburgh, and co-founder of InwardNews.com.
Related Topics
Related Posts