Friday, October 19, 2012

Making Less Do More:


Engineering is the art of make less do more. ~ a self realization

If one thinks about it, every inventive idea devised by an engineer boils down to make less do more. This is true whether the engineer is electrical, mechanical, packing, civil, etc.

Along with this insight, came to mind a reminder that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was a ship engineer by secular profession. This was quite unusual considering that historically it was more common for Rabbinical figures to be secularly engaged in the healing arts. Certainly, this choice of profession was no coincidence, especially, for a person who was constantly cognizant of the integration between the physical and the spiritual, the secular and the holy. He definitely took his ship engineering skills with him into his Rabbinical career, in order to engineer the spiritual journeys of so many.

The question is what’s the contribution of engineering skills to spiritual life and development? The whole thrust of make less do more means that in every act the ratio of spiritual to physical increases. For example, yesterday’s computers were bulky lumbering behemoths compared to today’s computers. They had more physical content and were less adept at handling the more spiritual electromagnetic flows of energy, which are at the heart of a computer’s ability to process. In the relative sense of the term “spiritual”, it can be said that today’s computers are more “spiritual” and less “physical” than yesterday’s computers were. This is making less do more  - in the sense of less and less physical “vessels” being able to handle more and more spiritual “lights”.

This is a movement towards Oneness, as greater quality is teased out of what’s physical to accommodate a greater revelation of what’s spiritual. When it comes to the physical serving as a vessel to channel the spiritual, very often more quantity interferes, but, higher quality provides an unhindered sensitively, so finely tuned that it picks up on surprising nuances in the original revelation. This is referred to in Jewish mysticism as “a little bit that holds a lot”.

This notion figures prominently in the Biblical story of the Noah. Relatively speaking the ark was a small ship. Today, there are ships which are a lot larger. Yet, a representative couple of every species of aerial and terrestrial wildlife occupied the second story of this structure and survived a whole year. This space should have been much too small for them to be sardined together, let alone to live.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explained that the ark was filled by a divine light, which turned the ark into the Holy Temple of its time.  It is known that when the Holy Temple was located in Jerusalem there was a suspension of the normative laws of space to allow hoards of worshippers the necessary room to prostrate themselves on the Day of Atonement. The same suspension of normative space happened in the ark, giving each creature comfortable room. Truly less did more and a little held a lot in an act of divine engineering.

Living in a generation that needed to tease higher quality out of a lower quantity (of Jews), the Lubavitcher Rebbe also needed to be an engineer and do more with less. Hence, he never stopped engineering his ships through the flood waters of our times.


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