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S03E01: Tech In Religion 01

(image credit: CWWally: http://www.threadless.com/@cwwally)

“Tech In Religion” is a running series under the Technically Religious umbrella. In these episodes, we look at technology – be it a website, a phone app, or a gadget – that somehow deepens, strengthens, or improves our experience of or connection to our faith (our religious, moral, and/or ethical point of view). This is a tech review lovingly wrapped in a through-line about faith in general and our experience of faith in particular. The goal is to uncover and promote tech you (our audience) might not have heard about; or describe a use for tech you may know, but didn’t think of using in connection with your religious experiences.

Leon Adato is joined by Yechiel Kalmenson and Ben Keen, along with a voice new to Technically Religious listeners: Jason Carrier. Listen or read the transcript below:

intro (00:03):

(music)

leon (00:32):

Welcome to our podcast, where we talk about the interesting, frustrating and inspiring experiences we have as people with strongly held religious views working in corporate IT, we’re not here to preach or teach you our religion. We’re here to explore ways. We make our career as IT professionals mesh, or at least not conflict with our religious life. This is technically religious

Leon Adato (00:53):

Here on technically religious. We focus on how we work to make our religious lives compliment, or at least not conflict with our career in tech. But what about the way tech enhances our lives as people with a strong connection to our faith or lack thereof in our ongoing series Tech in Religion, we aim to do just that. In each episode, we’ll highlight technological innovations that enhance, strengthen, and deepen our connections to our religious, moral or ethical point of view. I’m Leon, Adato, and opining with me today on the tech that helps us in our religious observances are, Yechiel Kalmenson.

Yechiel Kalmenson (01:28):

Hello again.

Leon Adato (01:29):

And Ben Keen.

Ben Keen (01:30):

Hello, everybody.

Leon Adato (01:31):

And Jason Carrier.

Jason Carrier (01:33):

Hey, thanks for having me.

Leon Adato (01:34):

All right. As we are want to do here at technically religious, we begin every episode with a bout of shameless self promotion, where everyone here can talk about whatever they’re working on or whatever strikes your fancy. So Ben, how about you start us off? Who are you? What are you doing these days? And also it is required. Tell us your religious moral or ethical point of view.

Ben Keen (01:56):

Sure. Uh, my name is Ben Keen. I’m from, uh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I work for a large retailer as a senior systems administrator with a focus in monitoring, and monitoring, uh, engineering, uh, I’m on, the, uh, Instagrams and all that as the_Ben_Keen, you can also follow my, um, medical alert service dog at bolt_the_service_dog. Yes, that’s a lot of underscores,

Leon Adato (02:26):

But the fact that your dog has an Instagram is just

Ben Keen (02:28):

Absolutely, uh, more than Medical, uh, more followers, the better trying to get awareness out there for, uh, veterans and people that require, uh, the service of these medical service dogs, which is awesome. Um, from a faith-based, uh, point of view, I am, uh, I deem myself as a Christian. Um, more so a non-denominational Christian. I don’t say a Methodist or whatever, even though I grew up, um, as a preacher’s kid within the United Methodist church, I kind of, uh, take on, uh, the different views of different religions and combined to make for myself.

Leon Adato (03:00):

Wonderful. Well, welcome back to the show next up, uh, Jason, how about you go next.

Jason Carrier (03:06):

Sure thing. So I’m Jason carrier. I’m uh, currently a product manager at SolarWinds. Uh, I have a real strong, uh, networking technology background and, uh, I also do some freelance on the side. Uh, you can find me on Twitter at network_carrier, uh, or my website, uh, bhodi.net, uh, B H O D i.net. And I consider myself a Buddhist, but just love studying philosophy in general.

Leon Adato (03:29):

Nice. Okay. Yechiel tell us about yourself.

Yechiel Kalmenson (03:33):

So, uh, I’m your Yechiel Kalmenson, uh, journeying out of New Jersey. I’m a engineer at VMware, excuse me. Uh, engineer at VMware, you can find me online, on the Twitters at yechielk. Or at my blog at rabbionrails.io, Or you can, uh, read my week. You can subscribe to my weekly newsletter or buy the book at Torahandtech.dev.

Leon Adato (03:56):

And you consider yourself to be?

Yechiel Kalmenson (03:58):

An Orthodox Jew.

Leon Adato (03:59):

Very good. Okay. And I had the fact that I had to prompt them on that is even better because I am Leon Adato. I am a head geek. Yes. That’s actually my job title at SolarWinds. Also, uh, you can find me on the Twitters, which I say just to horrify Keith Townsend’s daughter every time at Leon Adato. Uh, I also pontificate on things, both technical and religious at adattosystems.com and I to consider myself to be an Orthodox Jew. And every once in a while, my rabbi lets me say it out loud in public. So this episode is, this episode is a little different than some of the stuff that we do, because it’s really just a tech review that is cunningly disguised as a religious discussion. Um, we’re talking about the tech that helps enhance or deepen or strengthen our connection to our, whether it’s a faith or our moral point of view or ethical point of view, that kind of thing. So, um, really what we’re talking about are the things that help us to be full religious people in the world around us. And because we’re it, people it’s got to have a tech angle to it. So um, Jason, I’m going to pick on you first. What are some things that you use in the process of your day or faith that helped make it better?

Jason Carrier (05:12):

Yeah, that’s a great question. Um, so in, in Buddhism for people that aren’t aware, there’s this concept of the three jewels, so a Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, it’s like the three places that you can kind of seek refuge when you’re having issues or, you know, just struggling with something. So, uh, Buddha’s kind of the teacher Dharma is the teaching and then Sangha is the community, your, your kind of spiritual group. Um, so, uh, the technology that I use, uh, uh, for, for, uh, kind of, uh, connecting with myself, uh, I’m a big fan of a guided meditation. And when I’m doing that, I really like having, uh, something that sort of like noise canceling headphones. So it sort of closes out the outside world and, uh, during guided meditations, I’ve really found that I appreciate the ones that are using, uh, binaural beats. Is that something you’re familiar with? I have not tell us about it. Yeah. So, uh, binaural beats is like different frequencies that sort of affect your psychological state in interesting ways. And when you combine that with guided meditation and using, uh, you know, noise canceling headphones, you can kind of almost, uh, force yourself into a certain, um, emotional state, uh, just by listening to these tones. And, you know, since Buddhism is really focused on that and, uh, kind of, uh, getting that inner sense of peace and calm and that kind of thing, I find it really helpful.

Leon Adato (06:27):

Nice. Do you have a particular brand? We are not sponsored by anybody, so we can say whatever the hell we want to do you have a particular brand that you, uh, you like or you’ve discovered?

Jason Carrier (06:38):

Um, so Sennheiser speakers work really well, but I tend to buy the Bose ones cause I’m a little pampered, I guess.

Leon Adato (06:48):

Okay. All right. Say, you know, put it out there. It’s good. Okay. Fantastic. Anything else? oh.

Jason Carrier (06:52):

I’m a fan of Radical candor if you couldn’t tell? Yeah,

Leon Adato (06:55):

Yeah, no, I like it. So, uh, anything else for the review this, this time?

Jason Carrier (07:00):

Um, let’s see. I also really, uh, find that, uh, just having the internet in general is something, I can’t imagine how difficult it would be as someone who’s trying to practice Buddhism in America, if the internet didn’t exist, you know, because getting access to Vedic writings and then getting the translations to those would not be possible if it weren’t for the internet.

Leon Adato (07:19):

I, I’m thinking back to the Dr. Strange movie where he says, I speak fluent, Google translate. So that’s, that’s immediately the quote that comes to mind. Um, yes, it’s amazing how people were religious before, you know, the internet was invented, like how did they do that? So, but, but yeah, no, no, it, it has opened up a lot of avenues and a lot of access for a lot of folks as far as that goes. All right. Um, anything else?

Jason Carrier (07:45):

Um, that would be the, the biggest one, I guess the last thing I would just mention is, uh, with, with connecting to people, I found that, that, social media is extremely helpful. Um, I kind of expand, personally, I expand the, the concept of sangha to, to include whoever I decide rather than just my Buddhist community. It’s whoever I decide fits in that bucket, but that’s just, uh, my personal practice, I guess.

Ben Keen (08:07):

That could be a dangerous game. My friend.

Jason Carrier (08:10):

Aha. It keeps things interesting. That’s for sure.

Leon Adato (08:12):

Right. Okay, awesome. So, uh, Yechiel, uh, you’re, you’re up? What, what kinds of stuff do you have that help you out?

Yechiel Kalmenson (08:18):

Sure. So, um, the number one app that I never leave anywhere without, um, is of course the app that controls the giant space laser.

Jason Carrier (08:30):

That had to come up. Absolutely had to come up.

Yechiel Kalmenson (08:32):

Obviously can’t leave home without it.

Leon Adato (08:36):

Right. Well mostly because then you wouldn’t know where not to go, I mean.

Yechiel Kalmenson (08:40):

Well, duh. Yeah. You know, it’s really mess up your day when you end up in the middle of the forest fire, just because, you know, you forgot to,.

Leon Adato (08:47):

You forgot. Right. You know, and it’s, it’s kind of awkward when it’s like, you know, your father-in-law who said, Oh, you were going There, my bad, my bad. Yeah, no. I get it.

Yechiel Kalmenson (08:56):

Um, but Yeah, so on serious note. Um, yeah. And of course in Judaism we do where the people of the book, um, we do a lot, a lot of learning, um, and I’m on a number of daily schedules, you know? Um, I have, for example, every day, um, Jews go through the Torah on an annual cycle every week we read another portion. So, um, everyday I try to read like a seventh of that portion called an Aliyah. Um, so I got, I finished the Torah portion of the week by the week. Um, there’s also, um, for example, the books of the Rambam by Maimonides I’m on an annual cycle to finish through them. Um, I try to finish through Psalms, the Tehillim, um, on a monthly cycle. So, and my commute is obviously, uh, well back when we had commutes in the olden days. Um, so that was like the natural time to, to get these things done. Um,

Leon Adato (09:53):

That’s true.

Yechiel Kalmenson (09:53):

And then like in the olden days that would involve taking like six, seven books at least. But now of course I have it on my smartphone. Um, I have an app that keeps a number of those schedules for me. And then those that aren’t, for example, the Psalms is on its own its own app just because I like having it has another functionality so yeah, I have a number of apps that, uh, keep, keep my schedules for me and help me go through them on my commute, which is a great use of my time. Um, another thing is, you know, Jews have a lot of, uh, things around the calendar. Uh, there’s Jewish holidays, Jewish observances. So I have a Hebrew calendar on my phone. It’s called HeabCal,

Leon Adato (10:39):

Yup.

Yechiel Kalmenson (10:39):

And it’s great, It integrates with Google calendar. So I set that as my default app in any, as my default calendar and any appointment, I have anything, you know, I just enter it there and I automatically can see if it falls out, you know, if the company, uh, holiday party will conveniently fall out on Hanukkah and then I don’t have to go,

Leon Adato (10:58):

Which we’ve talked about in a past episode. I wouldn’t. Yeah. How to avoid the company Christmas party. Yeah. Tips and tricks.

Yechiel Kalmenson (11:06):

Yep. Um, so that’s for Jewish counter in addition, um, also like on a day to day, um, there’s a lot of things that, um, depend on the time of day, for example, different prayers have to be set at different times. So I have an app called My Zmanim, which means in Hebrew my times, um, which lists the Halachic times, depending on your location, uh, depending on where it’s, when the sunrise sunset is in your location, it’ll tell you, for example, when is the latest time to do the morning prayer, or when you can start doing the afternoon prayer, et cetera.

Leon Adato (11:36):

Right.

Yechiel Kalmenson (11:38):

And last but not least is, um, my compass, which I do not use for camping because I haven’t been camping in two decades at least. Um, but Jews face, uh, Jerusalem when they, when we pray. So, um, in America, we generally, in the olden days, we used to just generally approximate it to East, um, which is generally the direction of Jerusalem, but now I’m the, you know, every smartphone can have a compass app and have a special Halachic compasses show you precisely where Jerusalem is. So that is very convenient and very cool as well.

Leon Adato (12:15):

Right. And, and just to, to clarify it, because it’ll give you the choice of like, what, what direction is East or what direction is the shortest path allowing for the curvature of the earth towards Jerusalem?

Ben Keen (12:27):

wait the earth, wait wait, Earth is curved. Wait, what?

Leon Adato (12:30):

Yeah, yeah. Sorry. Uh, just a little bit of news in case you missed it Ben

Yechiel Kalmenson (12:35):

Yeah, Jews believe the earth is round. One of the weird quirks We have

Leon Adato (12:39):

One of our stranger, well, it’s also how we

Yechiel Kalmenson (12:42):

Make our calculations for the space laser easier. So,

Leon Adato (12:44):

Thank you, Oh, you got there just before I did. Right. Um,

Yechiel Kalmenson (12:48):

Sorry.

Leon Adato (12:48):

Uh no, that’s okay. And, uh, I will also say that HeabCal.com, which is the website that goes along with the heat Cal app is one of the first things I usually introduced to my non-Jewish friends when they’re trying to figure out, like, can Leon work on this day? Or what? Like, what is it? It’s a really accessible website that gives you a chance to understand, like when is sunset and, and what days matter, and things like that. It’s, it’s a pretty cool one. Um, all right. Uh, from our panel of experts, any questions or clarifications or anything you want to ask?

Ben Keen (13:24):

Not so much a question, but just, just one thing I would like to point out. Um, you know, Yechiel made an interesting comment about when we used to commute to work. You know, and obviously, you know, over the last year, uh, we’ve had to really augmentate how we, uh, how we do do things.

Leon Adato (13:46):

Uh huh.

Ben Keen (13:46):

And the one thing that I found interesting for myself anyway, is trying to find a new time to, to have that, whether it’s meditation or time to read or time to listen, because you’re right, like, you know, the commute 40 minutes, put a podcast on, drive down the road, get to your office. You’re good. Uh, my commute now is 10 stairs.

Leon Adato (14:07):

Right.

Ben Keen (14:07):

From, you know, from my ground floor to my second floor. Not, not a good time, you know, not a lot of podcast listening time. So I think it’s interesting how we’ve really started to take this new, uh, way of doing business and how, and finding our time for that. So the one question I would like to pose to Yechiel then is, you know, when, when is your time now? Like, you know, you lost your commute. So now when, when is your time, how are you making that work with everything?

Yechiel Kalmenson (14:33):

Yeah, so that was challenging. Um, in the beginning, I did indeed, um, fall, fall behind on a lot of my study schedules, um, before I managed to get back on the train, so to speak. Um, eventually I just, you know, work things out, you know, I’ve found other times that, you know, I rearranged my schedule and like now I do most of them, for example, in the evening, right after I finished putting the kids to bed. Um, some of it, I moved for example, to right after my morning prayers. So I’ll just take a little longer on the prayers and I’ll do my Tehillim, my Psalms at that time, for example. Um, but yeah, but you did bring an interesting point. Um, and that I used to my commute time was usually my unwind time. You know, I would finish work at 5, and I would get home at 6.

Yechiel Kalmenson (15:16):

And that hour was, you know, I didn’t realize how crucial it was for my, wellbeing to, uh, unwind between the craziness of work and the craziness of supper and bedtime and, you know, putting the kids to sleep. So eventually I came up with an agreement with my wife where, um, I do take, I like about a half an hour after work, which I call my commute time. I just, you know, stay my office just wasting time doing whatever it is. And I still come home about a half an hour earlier than I used to in the pre days. So it works for everyone,

Leon Adato (15:51):

Right? I have heard lots of folks talk about that particular aspect. You know, that the, that the drive to work, the, the commute to work was a way where they were mentally ramping up, getting ready for the day running through their, You know, this is what I’m going to do today, or this is what I’m going to, you know, or just, you know, not everybody loves their job and just, you know, building up the, you know, the strength of the resolve that they need to get through whatever they’re getting through. And then the same thing in the re, in the opposite, coming back. And, uh, one of the com, one of the comments that we got when we wrote a work from home guide at SolarWinds was, to still take your commute, to get up in the morning, get dressed, walk out the door, whether it was walk around the block, or walk up and down the street, or whatever it is, but leave to go to work and come back in the house.

Leon Adato (16:44):

But now you’re at work. And at the end of the day to do the same thing in reverse that when you’ve, when you’re done, you get up and you leave the house, you know, you leave the apartment house, you know, et cetera, and you go home. And then when you come home, that is, that is your transition. And I’ve heard from people that even though it is completely a trick that you’re completely like, we, our brains are not, we’re not stupid. We know we’re not really leaving and we’re not, but somehow that, that transitional aspect really does have an effect on us. Um, And it’s,

Yechiel Kalmenson (17:21):

To be fair, our brains are stupid.

Leon Adato (17:24):

They’re still a little meat sacks that can be fooled sometimes. That’s true. So,

Ben Keen (17:29):

And I think, and I think a lot of that sorry to cut you off Leon, but I think a lot of that does circle around tech, you know, because as technical professionals or any, really any professional, but I’ll speak from the tech, side of the house. Cause that’s what I’ve been living for the last 20, some years of my life. You know, it’s hard for me to turn things off. You know, we All we always carry these little pocket sized computers around, they call phones nowadays that we get emails and IMS and whatever, um,

Leon Adato (17:59):

yeah.

Ben Keen (18:00):

On them, you know, and what I, what I struggled with initially was trying to find time for myself, you know, whether it’s to do faith-based activities, like read something or do whatever, or if it was just a simply breathe, you know, just kinda, you know, and, um, and I told my friends, like, you know, one of the things my wife and I were fortunate to do over the last few months, we actually bought our, we bought our first house together.

Ben Keen (18:30):

Hey, Ooh. Um, so.

Leon Adato (18:32):

Mazel Tov!

Ben Keen (18:33):

Yeah. Thank you. So the office I’m sitting in now is my dedicated office space. This is my domain, you know, and this is where, this is like my little happy space. My wife can decorate the rest of the house, do whatever she pretty much wants within reason. Um, but this is my little happy corner. And I told her like, you know, like this is where I’m comfortable. And, you know, I know it’s not very techie, but at the same time, like when I’m going to do work, whether it’s for my 9 to 5 paid job, or some of my, uh, you know, accidental techie, things that I find, you know, I think every person in tech finds themselves in amongst friends or an organization that we become their go to IT person. Right. Um, I don’t do any of that outside of this room.

Ben Keen (19:23):

Like I won’t take conference calls. I won’t do this podcast outside of this room because this is my tech space. So I think it’s really important for people to understand, you know, how you make those adjustments. And, you know, especially for someone that follows a very strict counter, like with my faith, I don’t have, I don’t have a set calendar. I dont have to pray by this time on this day, you know, like it’s.

Leon Adato (19:49):

Right.

Ben Keen (19:49):

For me, it’s wherever I am. I can pray right now. Like it doesn’t really matter. Um, but it’s interesting to hear how, how Yechiel has been going through that with his pretty stringent, uh, calendar and dates.

Leon Adato (20:05):

So it is, and again, part of this whole episode is the, you know, how we adapt things and also how we use, how we use technology to enhance that. Um, so I wanna, I want to continue with the Orthodox Jewish, uh, parade of tech. Uh, I have not been given access to the giant space laser, uh, yet, uh, my rabbi.

Yechiel Kalmenson (20:29):

You haven’t been showing up to the meetings, obviously.

Leon Adato (20:30):

Well, no, my rabbi told me that it’s the whole Sephardi thing. He’s just very uncomfortable with, uh,

Yechiel Kalmenson (20:36):

You’re right, you’re right.

Leon Adato (20:36):

People who eat kitniout, having access to this space. Like this is a whole bunch of inside baseball jokes that like, you know, a 10th of the, of the listeners may get. So anyway, um, there are a couple of, of technical, uh, items that I did want to bring up for this episode. The first one is actually low tech. Um, one of the challenges that people in Judaism have, especially people who are maybe new to, uh, you know, deeper level of observance, is that before you eat anything, you have to say a blessing.

Leon Adato (21:07):

You know, the idea that if you don’t say a blessing, you’re, you know, you’re stealing from the King that you’re, you’ve, you snuck into the garden and you’ve grabbed this and you haven’t said, thank you. So you want to say that, thank you. And there’s a thank you that you say, but there’s a blessing you say before you eat in a blessing, you say after you eat, but it depends on what kind of food it is. Is it bread? Is it bread like, but not really bread? Is it something that came from a tree? Is it something that came from the ground? Is it something that came from a repeatedly flowering bush? And so on and so on and so forth? There’s a whole bunch of things. Like you’d think that bananas would be the tree blessing, but it’s not because banana trees are actually bushes.

Leon Adato (21:42):

They’re just really tall ones. So you have to say the bush, so it can get a little bit weird. And then sushi is the is the really the Widowmaker, like no one knows what blessing to say before sushi, because it’s just everything. So anyway, there is, uh, a phone number, that you can text with the name of your food, and they will text you back. It’s an automated system with the blessing you say, before you eat, and the blessing you say after it. So it’s just a text system. You don’t have to have the internet in your pocket. You don’t have to, you just text. And, and it was something that obviously came up before smartphones were really a thing. Um, but I’m just, I’m tickled by it because it’s such a, it is such a fundamental activity in a Jewish day, right? We eat. So we say blessings for the stuff that we eat, but it’s also a point of deep confusion. You know, what do you say when you eat one piece of pizza, versus two pieces of pizza versus whatever, like these are the arguments and the debates that we have, and this text system arose to try to fill that gap.

Jason Carrier (22:48):

I’m curious how that would work on the other side. So is there a per, a person over there that’s just waiting for these texts to come in and, you know, they have like a little prayer book and they’re, you know, uh, figuring this out or is there a big database of all the different food items that have the prayers next to it?

Leon Adato (23:02):

That’s it, it’s, it is absolutely a technical system where it’s a database and they’re looking for keywords, and various misspellings, pizza with one Z, and so on. Um, because sometimes it’s little kids, right? Like they’re trying to do that. So, um, it’s a whole database and then there’s just, you know, the answers the answers are known. So it’s not that hard. It’s just that some people, again, sushi is the really hard one, but, you know, there’s that, so that’s the first one. And I just, again, I’m just tickled by it because it’s so old and it’s so old school, as far as it goes, the next one up is, um, safaria.org, which is another website. There’s an app for it also, but this has pretty much every single religious text in that, you know, if you’re Jewish, you would probably be interested in seeing most of the time with translations.

Leon Adato (23:52):

It’s got the old Testament it’s got, uh, Psalms, it’s got, you know, uh, the, all the Prophets it’s got commentaries, it’s got, um, just a ton of stuff. And if you, if you get a login, which is free, but you can actually annotate it yourself to say, well, what about this? What about that? And you can actually bring your own notes into it as you’re learning it, or, you know, going through it or have your question about it. So Safaria, again, the translations make it really useful. And the other thing is that it is copy paste able. So when you’re having a discussion with somebody and someone says, well, where did you read that? Half the time the hard part is, well, I have it on a book on a shelf, and I don’t know how to give it to you now, like, do I take a picture with my phone and send it to you?

Leon Adato (24:37):

What do I do? But you can actually copy paste it and put it in an email or put it in a teams message, or whatever, and have your discussion or your conversation or your interaction that way. So it’s really useful. It’s a not-for-profit organization that started up a few years ago and it’s just gone gangbusters. So I really, I really am enjoying it. And the last one is, um, the com, the organization, the, the publisher called ArtScroll, um, also known as rabbi scroll. Arthur scroll, sorry. Another inside joke. Anyway, um, ArtScroll, uh, has an app specifically for the Talmud and for not a lot of money, you can get an entire tractate of Talmud. Um, there’s a bunch of them. I don’t remember. 36 37. I don’t know. It’s, I’m sure Yechiel knows, but there’s a number of tractate, tractates of Talmud, and you can get one.

Leon Adato (25:33):

And what it does is it will translate it for you. It will highlight, uh, which parts of the, of the thing you’re reading are questions, which are answers, which are rebuttals, which are because, sometimes the hardest part of Talmud is understanding whether someone is arguing, or just clarifying, or asking a question or debating, like, what are you, what are you saying here? That is where you get lost down the rabbit hole, and this uses some color coding. Uh, it will also for those people who don’t read Hebrew so well, it will add vowels. Uh, I know that doesn’t sound like something, but Hebrew is not typically written with vowels. So those of us who are new learners for Hebrew find ourselves stuck half the time, because I don’t know what this is doing, because it’s just, again, No vowels. So I’m really lost. Um, it’ll add those things.

Leon Adato (26:24):

And the Talmud is a very non-linear text there’s comments that refer to something that’s three books ahead, or five books behind, or a half comment from a app, appendix that was over here. It’s all interconnected. And the app makes those as hyperlinks so that if you read something and it’s, it’s referring to something, 4 books behind you tap it, and it will take you 4 books behind. So you can see what that reference is before you keep going. So it’s a really, really useful app. And, um, you know, as you build your library of, of things that you’ve purchased, it just becomes even that much more useful. So those are, those are the three that I wanted to bring out, uh, for at least this episode of our conversation. And I will, once again, open it up. Any questions or comments about those?

Yechiel Kalmenson (27:19):

I will just add that I’m a huge fan of Safari as well. Um, like I think it revolutionized the way, um, it pretty much put a whole Jewish library in your pocket, and it’s just amazing. Like, my dad works in a publishing, like a, in a publishing house and his job is to add the footnotes, um, like Talmudic texts. A lot of times, like Jewish text. A lot of times I like reference passages from the Talmud, from the Bible, from Chasidic texts or whatever. So he’s been doing this work like since, before I was born. So like way pre-internet, I have no idea how he did it. He’s a genius. Um, but, um, but yeah, but app, an app, like Safaria pretty much, you know, in my head that’s, you know, my dad in an app, cause like whenever I had a question about a text or something, I knew I could always call him. And like, unfortunately now I don’t call him as often. So

Leon Adato (28:18):

You call him about personal things. Now you ask how he is not just, it’s actually nicer. Cause this is like What! You can only call me when you don’t remember a text now it’s like, no, I only call you because I, you know, yeah, it’s, there’s especially in Judaism, but I think a lot of Faiths there is the comment, not the myth, but the comment about somebody who’s memorized all of the Bible or all of this or all of that. And I think in this day and age we lose sight of what an achievement and, and also how normal, both what an achievement and how normal it was that people who had committed a set of texts to memory, weren’t doing it as a parlor trick. They weren’t doing it just to show off they were doing it because they wanted that text in their back pocket with them. And that was the only way to have it. So the, you know, and so they did that. And, and now

Yechiel Kalmenson (29:15):

I would say similar to how like the earlier, like the creators of Linux and the web and everything built, all these things with, like, they actually had to memorize, you know, programming syntax and things like that. And, you know, and knowing three languages was a huge deal because that meant you had to memorize three reference books, the size of

Leon Adato (29:34):

Right. Exactly. They actually knew how re, regular expressions worked. Like that’s.

Yechiel Kalmenson (29:38):

yeah,

Leon Adato (29:39):

That’s magic to me. I just,

Ben Keen (29:41):

Well ,I mean, if it’s, if It speaks to anything of the time we live in, now, people can quote movies like that.

Leon Adato (29:49):

Uh huh.

Ben Keen (29:51):

You know, but then people, don’t people, some people, and this is not a knock against them, but when you ask them, what is, you know, in the Christian faith, what is John 3:16 say.

Leon Adato (30:00):

Uh huh.

Ben Keen (30:00):

You know, if you look at any sort of like major league sports program, mainly baseball, you’ll see people with the signs saying John 3:16.

Leon Adato (30:13):

Uh huh.

Ben Keen (30:13):

And I don’t, you know, some people are like, what does that mean? Meanwhile, they can quote Verbatim, you know, episodes one through nine of star Wars,

Leon Adato (30:22):

Right!

Ben Keen (30:22):

Which, um, I’m with them on that. Right. You know, like I’m cool with that. But, you know, I think it really speaks to, um, the trend of, you know, what do we take, you know, because we have all these apps and websites and stuff like that.

Ben Keen (30:35):

Great tech, I think that’s people have become less lenient or less yeah. Less relying on their own memory. You know, plus, you know, nowadays we have in a text-based let’s face it. We have what? At least 13 passwords to know, just to log in the work, right. Because you’ve got two factor authentication, you’ve got biometrics, you know, all this stuff and you change one password and it changes everything across the board. So, you know, for me, it’s a struggle sometimes like the doomsday for me is when my admin account, my personal account and my operations account all expire on the same day.

Ben Keen (31:15):

And they’re all, they all, they all have different password complexities of like, you know, well, this password has to be at least like 12 characters. This one has at least be 25, you know, 14 different, special characters in this one, you know, it’s just crazy. So when we pause and really think, you know, think about it in how much tech has pushed us to be remembrance of what does that say? You know, and break out the Google Fu you know, it’s one of those things, especially at, you know, as parents in tech and, uh, those of us that are strong in our religion, we want to teach our children, our religious faith, you know, whatever it is. And so now having these fancy little computers, we call phones in our pocket. You know, if my kids ask me, well, Hey dad, what does this mean? Right. Well, let’s find out together. Right. You know, it’s no longer just, you know, dad regurgitating something that his Sunday school teacher may or may not told him while whipping his hand with a ruler.

Leon Adato (32:11):

Right.

Ben Keen (32:12):

Type of scenario.

Leon Adato (32:13):

Right. I, uh, Yeah, it does. Again, I think the technology really has the opportunity to enhance our, um, our experience of our faith or, you know, our ethical or moral point of view. I think it has a chance to, um, Ben, as you say, like, instead of just regurgitating our half remembered and half misremembered, thing, you know, we can, we can offer accurate information, whether it’s to our kids or to coworkers or whatever. And when somebody says, well, I just don’t understand, like, what does that mean? You can offer almost an impartial source, like here, read this, and if you have questions, we can talk about it, but you know, you don’t just have to take my word for it also. Um, and I think that that really raises the level of discourse in a lot of ways. So, um, all right. So this was a good start to this ongoing, uh, series that we’re going to be doing. Um, I’m going to drive it to the lightening round. Does anybody have any final words before we close it out?

Ben Keen (33:14):

One final word from me is simply, you know, leveraged to tech con. We were just talking about, if you have questions, whether it’s your own faith or, you know, if you have questions about exactly what, w, what does Jason mean when he says, he says he’s a Buddhist, or what does that mean?

Leon Adato (33:28):

Uh huh.

Ben Keen (33:28):

You know, is he, is he rubbing like the belly of some little fat guy squatting, or what is, you know, now you have the ability to leverage that tech and figure out exactly what Jason’s faith is, because that might help you learn more about your coworkers. And, you know, when you can know something more about your coworker, that can, when you start talking about team projects, because let’s face it, even though we’re all working from home, we’re still doing team projects. You can collaborate a lot easier because you understanding, you know, if I try to collaborate with you, Leon, you’re like, ah, that’s, that’s a bad day. And that’s, here’s why, you know, it’s, it’s the Sabbath or whatever, um, observation it is within, within a Jewish calendar, at least now I know professionally, don’t schedule any meetings with Leon.

Leon Adato (34:13):

Right.

Ben Keen (34:13):

You know, and I think that’s one thing that we all ought to remember that the tech isn’t just to learn our faith, but it’s to help us learn about other people’s faith.

Leon Adato (34:19):

So you’re saying that LMG T F Y is for, uh, faith as well as, you know, how do I log into this? I like it exactly a hundred percent. Any other final words?

Yechiel Kalmenson (34:32):

Um, yeah, I this was, it was an interesting discussion. Um, and I find that often when we, the topic comes up of like, you know, technology that helps us with our religious practices. Um, and I’ve gotten questions from both sides of the spectrum, you know, both from like old timer, religious folks who are like, you know, how can you use technology to, for such sacred things in both from, you know, the secular perspective, like this is tech, you know, why are you bringing your religion into this? Um, so one of my favorite passages in the Talmud, it says that the world actually, when God created the world, he wasn’t planning on putting gold in it, but then he decided to put gold. Um, so because he knew that the Jews would be building a temple for him in the desert, and they would be using gold to make the temple. So there, that’s why he put golden to the world. In other words, the only reason why we have something as beautiful as gold in the world was because God wanted the Jews to, to serve him in the desert. And I think that can be that lesson could be taken for pretty much anything in the world. You know, especially all these advances that we

Yechiel Kalmenson (35:38):

Have these days, where from God’s point of view, the only reason why he put them in the world where he put the potential for these things in the world is so that we can all serve him in our way, serve him and make the world a better place, help each other and help make the world better.

Jason Carrier (35:55):

I was actually gonna make a similar point to what you just made. There is a, just because something is new doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an intrinsic value and provide a new way for seeing the old. So, uh, I’ve learned a ton of about my own religion and the history of it through Wikipedia, you know, uh, the, that you can learn a ton using the internet. And so there’s definitely intrinsic value to, to that. Uh, you don’t need to necessarily do it the way that it was being done 2000 years ago, to get that, that benefit in your life, you know?

Leon Adato (36:25):

Right. Uh, and, uh, my, my final word will be as long as we don’t lose sight of the fact that the old way is also still valid, that, that the new, the new way is certainly novel because that’s what the word novel and new mean. But also, um, and it can be engaging because of its novelty, but at the same time, we can’t lose sight. We can’t think that the, the new and novel way is somehow better than the old way. It’s merely a different way to interact with it. I think that a lot of people fall into the trap of thinking that we don’t need this old way anymore because we have this new that no, no, no. The, the old thing exists still exists for an equally valid reason that hasn’t gone away simply because you have, uh, the new one. And, you know, that’s not me saying that, you know, as a 30 year it person, I’m not saying, you know, Hey, you got the huh, these new fangled things. They’re not as good. No, I’m not. I’m not saying that. What I’m saying though, is that both are equally valid and both have their, their uses. All right. This has been an amazing conversation. I want, I appreciate everyone taking time out of their evening to show up. Um, thank you so much for being here.

Yechiel Kalmenson (37:41):

Thanks for having us.

Jason Carrier (37:43):

Yeah. Thanks for putting this together. Leon.

Ben Keen (37:44):

Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for putting this together and thanks for having us Leon, I appreciate it.

Leon Adato (37:49):

Thanks for making time for us this week, to hear more of technically religious visit our website, technically religious.com, where you can find our other episodes, leave us ideas for future discussions and connect us on social media.

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