For folks working in IT, one of the situations we find ourselves in these days is fixing, upgrading, refurbishing, or replacing the PC’s of our progenitors. The machines of our matriarch and patriarchs. The computers of creators. The Tech of our… well, you get the idea. But do we HAVE to? What I mean is, are we obligated by the bonds of family honor and respect, not to mention religious mandate, to make sure their desktop, laptop, tablet and pad are in tip-top shape? In this episode we’re going to explore the ramifications of the commandment to honor our parents and whether that means we have to support their aged Windows 95 systems. Listen or read the transcript below:
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
For folks working in IT. One of the situations we find ourselves in these days is fixing, upgrading, refurbishing, or replacing the PCs of our progenitors, the machines of our matriarchs and patriarchs, the computers of our creators, the tech of our… Well, you get the idea, but do we have to, what I mean is are we obligated by the bonds of family, honor and respect, not to mention religious mandate to make sure their desktop, laptop, tablet, and pad are in tiptop, shape. And this episode we’re going to explore the ramifications of the commandment to honor our parents and whether that means we have to support their aged windows 95 systems. I’m Leon Adato and the other voices you’re going to hear on this episode are my partners in podcasting crime. Josh Biggley.
Along with frequent guest, Al Rasheed.
and a new voice to the podcast. Kevin Sparenberg.
Hello and thanks for having me.
Thank you for being with us. And we’re going to kick off the show like we always do with uh, some shameless self promotion. So Kevin, being the Technically Religious newbie that you are, go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself.
Speaker 5 (01:56):
So my name is Kevin Sparenberg. I am the technical content manager for community at SolarWinds. I am found on pretty much all social platforms at a, @KMSigma, K M S I G M A. I have a blog at blog.kmsigma.com. I am officially a lapsed Catholic. Uh, my wife was the good Catholic and basically a Bible church Christian.
Very nice. Well, welcome again to the show. Al. Tell us, uh, what do you doin’ these days?
So my name is Al, and as you pointed out, I am a systems administrator for a federal contractor here in the Northern Virginia area. I’m pretty active on Twitter, so you can find me best there in terms of social media, Al _Rashid. Uh, there you’ll also find in my Twitter profile the URL for my blog and I am a practicing Muslim.
Very nice. Josh, what’s up with you these days?
Oh, well, lots of things. Lots of things. Josh Biggley, I’m an ops strategist at New Relic. You can find me like Kevin on almost every social media platform using Jbiggley. I do not have a blog and I am officially as of December, 2019, uh, an ex Mormon.
and I’m still not sure whether I say congratulations or, or something else for that.
There’s gotta be a hallmark card someplace.
Absolutely. So I’m in Cleveland, so American greetings probably has something for it, right? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And just rounding things up. Uh, I’m Leon Adato, I’m a head geek. Yes. That’s actually my job title, head geek at SolarWinds, which is neither solar nor wind because naming things is hard. You can find me on the Twitters as we say, just to trigger Kevin Townsend’s daughter, uh, on the twitters @LeonAdato I pontificate on all things technical and occasionally religious at adattosystems.com and identify as Orthodox Jewish and sometimes my rabbi lets me identify that way also. Yeah, before we dive into the show, um, just because we are, you know, in the world that we are in right now, I want to, I want to do a really honest check in how, how’s everyone doing?
Are we going to use the stabby to lottery scale?
I, you know what, let’s do that. Let’s, you know, you know, on a scale of one to five where five is I won the lottery and one is I’m feeling very stabby, how are you doing?
Uh, I’m, I’m hovering at a good like two, five, like I’m doing okay, but I’m not pleased. I’ve realized something that my wife has broken about me is I actually like seeing people in person and the level of isolation is just starting to kind of hit me slowly.
Oh, got it. Okay. Al, how about you?
uh, I, I didn’t win the lottery. I’d probably say between a three and a four. Um, things could obviously be worse. We hope they can get better sooner than later. Uh, the biggest challenge for me personally, or as a father I should say as a parent, is just trying to keep the kids occupied and engaged and remain positive while, you know, we’ve been stuck at home just like everybody else.
Yeah. I think a lot of parents are in that same position where, you know, it’s, it’s week number four or five depending on what your region of the country has done and, and every rainy day activity that you had is done and you’re sort of scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to figure out what else are you going to do when summer is looming. Okay. Josh, how about you?
You know, this week I’m going to rate myself at about a four. Um, you know, I’ve, uh, I made some changes this past week. I started getting up earlier, forcing myself to get out of bed because, you know, it’s real easy to, uh, stay in bed until, you know, eight or 8:30 and then, you know, grab a quick shower and bring your breakfast to your desk. I don’t advise that it’s really bad for your, uh, you know, for your work life balance. Uh, and, uh, in case anyone forgets, I live on an Island. So a couple of weeks ago we actually shut down, um, all ports of entry. So you can’t cross the bridge, you can’t fly in. The only way you can get across as if you live here or you’re a deemed essential worker. And yes, we are turning people away at the border. So we’re really fortunate on PEI and that we have a 26, uh, confirmed cases of covid 19. Um, of that only three are active. We’ve had no deaths and no hospitalizations and no evidence of community transmission. So really good to live on an Island that we’re, we’re very fortunate up here. Um, I mean, our, our worst complaint is, uh, you know, Oh my goodness, I, I’m living a dog’s life. I’m getting up, I’m eating my, I’m taking a nap. I’m pooping and I’m going back to sleep,
or an infant. Right? Or is the order the order doesn’t matter. Oh no, I’m sorry. Between bed and pooping, it’s very important to get those in the right order. There’s a couple of places where orders are important. Okay. And I, for me and my family, we’re, we’re around a four. But, uh, as I mentioned before, we started recording Passover just finished. Um, and that was really taking a lot of our attention. And so with that finally, uh, you know, behind us, I think that this is going to be the first week that feels like not normal life because we were so focused on cleaning the house getting ready for an eight day holiday and things and being in an eight day holiday, you know, four days of which were offline. So you know that now we’re going to see what you know, what’s it really like.
Um, and I also want to take a minute, although I know that these episodes are timeless. Uh, it is April 19th, and I want to wish people who observe it a happy, uh, post Passover and counting of the Omer, a happy post-Easter and an upcoming, uh, Ramadan Mubarak. So, you know, we are not yet problem. So yeah, it’s, you know, some of us are trying to lose the weight that we gained and meanwhile, Al and, and his family are trying to bulk up in preparation for a month of fasting.
I think I’ve done enough bulking up in these last few weeks. So hopefully uh..
You’ve been training for this your whole life. I get it, I get it. With those things, things behind us. Um, I want to start off with what I’m calling talking 0.0 in this talk. And that is, uh, just to say upfront that while we are talking about parents, we are not necessarily talking about our parents unless we explicitly say, my mom or my dad did something.
We are using fictional examples. So mom, as you listen to this, I’m not talking about you unless I say I’m talking about you, so please don’t worry about it. Um, because we’re not really here to spread gossip or make our parents feel insulted or give them a reason to feel embarrassed in any way. So I want to put that up front. And the other thing I want to point out is that we know lots of people have parents who are incredibly tech savvy. You know, some of us are lucky enough to have parents who still know more about tech in it than we do. Um, I, I’ve seen on Twitter and other places where the inevitable joke about how to get your mom to use her iPhone is like, my mom teaches computer science classes and probably taught, you know, you and your parents both, you know, and that kind of thing.
So we know that there’s lots of parents who are very tech savvy. Um, we’re not playing on that old trope. What we want to focus on in this episode is the boundaries of sort of the filial obligation when it comes to us having skills that they don’t, we could be talking about plumbing or you know, car repair or dog training or whatever, but you know, we’re technically religious, so we’re going to focus on tech because #geeks. With those disclaimers out of the way, uh, the first talking point, I think because we’re in it, let’s go ahead and define our terms. What does it really mean to honor thy father and mother? What are we talking about when we say that?
I mean at this age or like when I was a kid.
Well, I think now I think, I think kids, it’s a lot more cut and dried, but I think as an adult, that’s where, and especially again, because we’re gonna be talking about fixing our parents’ computer stuff and dealing with their needs as a user. And Al, you probably on the show have waxed the most eloquent about users. You know, users are always users. They are, they always have an opinion. But you’ve said a lot about whether their requirements are always valid and our parents are just as much a user as anyone else. Sometimes
how it can be a challenge, there is a fine line, especially as you just pointed out, one where adults, when we’re parents, when we’re husbands and or wives, um, you can’t always be there for them. You want to provide as much as possible, but sometimes being honest and blunt and saying politely, no, I can’t do it. It might sting a little bit at first, but if you build that solid relationship leading up until that point, both sides can get past it.
Sure, absolutely. I still want to, I still want to focus on what does honor your father and mother mean though as an adult, what does that come down to?
So I have an interesting perspective on this. Um, and it really is tied to my status as an ex-Mormon. Um, when I told my family and I was the first one to leave the Mormon church or the church that is currently using the term, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is their full name or LDS church, I called up my father and I said, Holy crap, did you know this stuff? And his response to me was, yeah, I did. My response is, why didn’t you tell me? And he said, I didn’t think it was important. And so when it comes to, yeah, right. So when it comes to honoring your father and your mother there, there is a, uh, a fine line and I think it comes, it’s or is best articulated in that moment you have as a parent, when you say something and you’re like, Holy crap, I am my parents.
You, you know, that intonation the words. You’re like, Oh my goodness, I have become, I have become my parents. Now that can be both a good thing and a bad thing. And honoring your parents is, for me is recognizing the things that are really powerful. Uh, one of my, I think one of my favorite LinkedIn posts that I’ve ever written is about my father and his level of honesty and the lengths to which he went in order to be seen as an honest and truthful man. Um, on the flip side, when we see things that our parents have done that are not in keeping with the things that we would want to honor moving beyond those things, as parents, as, as Al said, as husbands and wives as, uh, as members of community and doing good, to me that’s honoring the name and it’s something I always told my kids and I still tell them when they go out.
I said, remember the things you do reflect on us as a family. So just remember that when you’re out in the community and interacting with people and it doesn’t mean you can’t call BS, BS. That’s okay. You know, you can’t call in when you see stuff, say something. Right? It’s not, it’s not just for the department of Homeland Security. Quite literally. If you see something, say something and that’s okay, but you, you know, you need to remember our name. So for me, honor thy father and thy mother, do the things that your parents did awesome – continue to do and the things that your parents sucked at, be better at that than they were. And, and so doing, you honor the name that you carry.
One thing that I took from Joshua’s point is things do come full circle. So things that you saw as a kid, maybe you didn’t necessarily improve or you didn’t understand. But now here you are as a parent and you have to decide, do I honor my parents? Do I follow in their footsteps? How do I approach this?
I want to offer a perspective from, from the Jewish point of view that honor thy father and mother, um, comes down to some pretty cut and dry things. The bare minimum in Jewish thinking is that you have to make sure that your parents have food, clothes, and shelter. That that’s, that’s what honor means. Um, and as long as you’ve done that, then you have fulfilled your obligation as a child. Now, there’s, there’s ways to express that honor, um, that aren’t considered the bare minimum. You know, for example, when a parent enters the room, you should stand up. If you’re at a meal, you should, uh, pour, you know, a drink for them, pour water or whatever. Um, you don’t have to necessarily run to get your dad, scotch or your mom a scotch, but, uh, you should pour them a regular drink and things like that.
Those are, those are ways that you express it, but that’s not a requirement. That’s simply an outward expression of the idea of honoring your parents. But at no time does the Torah or Talmud say in either medieval French or Aramaic or Hebrew that you have to fix their iPad. You’re not required to. So again, when we talk about honoring your father and mother, there are some, there’s some fairly explicit boundaries. Um, honoring your father and mother also does not, in Jewish thinking, require you to take abuse or bad advice. If it my parent. And so I’m Orthodox observant. My parents aren’t. They never were. We became Orthodox just a few years ago. So if my, if my parents said to me, which they, they don’t, luckily we have a good relationship as far as that goes. They say, you know, you know what, I really need you to come over on Shabbat. I really need you to do these things and honor your parent comes before that. You can say no, you can say no, no, that’s not how this works. You can’t, you can’t leverage honor your father and mother for me to break other commandments. So you don’t have to do that or take abuse or what have you. So all of that also falls into it.
I mean, I feel like I honored my father when I told him to get an iPad. Right? And so my dad, my dad is a tinkerer. Uh, he, he is, uh, he tinkers and all sorts of things. Um, and he loves to tinker with technology. And I, I got tired of, I got tired of him having a broken computer. And finally one day I said, dad, you gotta buy an iPad. You’re killing me. You gotta buy an Apple. Uh, and uh, and he has, and that is the one thing that is consistently the iPad just works. And you know, bless my parents, their, uh, my, you know, my mom is a [cough cough] years old and my dad is in his mid sixties. And um, I mean they, they’re both pretty good with their technology, right? They’ve got the whole, you know, hold it with one hand and you know, press with one finger thing, you know, they’re, they’re not texting, you know, like my kids text. But it’s cool. Right. But so my question for us then ultimately is how far do we have to go with, with fixing?
Well, I think it’s a little bit of what everyone said, but for me it’s been, I don’t want to say it’s been a struggle, but it’s been a, it’s been an ever-changing line. So obviously when I’m young, when I’m five, 10 years old, it’s listening to obey near practically everything they tell me. But it’s when I transitioned into adulthood, you know, and maybe some of that’s being a teen is you, you stop listening or you fight back or whatever. And then when you finally get in to be an adult. And I think there’s, there’s kind of a, I can honor and respect my parents more now that they honor and respect me as an adult. And that’s probably not the way it always should have been. But that’s been the ultimate end of it. And I think you’re right. I think there’s, there’s, there’s the mid bar there is, and I think you mentioned, you know, uh, you know, making sure they have food and shelter and if that’s the absolute bare minimum, great, but does that mean I take the time to still call them out on their birthdays? Do I still check on them every so often? And those are things that I do because I enjoy being as part of them. I don’t do it as an obligation. If I was obligated to do it, I probably wouldn’t do it too much teenage rebellion stored up.
You’re not the boss of me.
There’s a lot of that. Uh, but I think there is, and I’ve become friends with my parents, which is good, which means if, and when I do have to tell them no, that’s not a good idea. They acknowledge it.
So I think ultimately the question that I have is how far does this honor thy father and thy mother go when it comes to tech support? Look, I love my parents. I don’t always agree with them, but I’m not their tech support. Right. I have fixed their computer, I have fixed their printers. I have helped my mom with Excel formulas, uh, because she worked well into her sixties and was still doing, you know, reasonably complex Excel formulas, at least for, uh, someone who works in a administration and education. But like I said, I, I came to this point and I said, mom and dad, you just need to buy an iPad because I am tired of fixing your technology. Um, just, just don’t touch that crap anymore because, I mean, I live across the country now. They live in Ontario and I live way out here on the East coast and I can’t roll down to your house.
And fix your stuff for you anymore. I mean, sometimes I think it means, uh, love me and saying no. Like I’m not going to keep that antiquated, whatever. And I know we’re, we’re geeks, you know, #geeks as Leon you said earlier. So we’re talking about computers and not, you know, phones and you know, that old flip phone that your dad had, like those things. But, uh, it also means there are some things that we need to tell the parents to just let go of. Right. You know, classic cars. You should let go of them and they should come to me.
Subtle. You’re good at subtle, Josh.
Your inheritance, nah, I’m just joking.
you know, a old coin collections, uh, any, uh, bearer bonds of… I’m sorry. No, sorry. Sorry, mom and dad. There comes a point in time where we just need to say to our parents, okay, Hey, you know, I’m just, it’s time. It’s time to put that piece of technology to bed.
Yeah. But it’s weird for me though because my father taught me computing like originally. So to then me have to turn around and tell my dad, yeah, uh no, I’m sorry you don’t actually know what you’re doing right now. And it’s, it’s not an all things, there’s always like an edge case kind of thing. But being able to like be have that conversation with them was like, no, I’m sorry. That’s not how operating operating systems work anymore. No, I’m sorry. That’s not the way bioses work anymore. No, you can’t look for your dip switches. They aren’t there anymore and there’s a conversation needs to be had there that my father has been thankfully very gracious about, but he could have taken an alternate viewpoint of, you know, you’re my child and how dare you. Thankfully he hasn’t done that, but I’ve also been able to, how do I say this nicely? I’ve been able to pawn off kind of desktop support on him than he does himself. Like he supports himself and my mother and when it’s network level stuff, that’s when I have to get involved.
I think a lot of us who grew up at a certain point in time as far as the computer age, our parents, the first, uh, people who taught us computer because they bought them in the very early eighties, uh, my dad went out and got an Atari 400 computer and you know, there was a word processor and things like that. I was a better typist, but, uh, you know, he was the one who had the computer and he was the one who had the cash. So when it was time to get the 800 and then the 1600, he got it. And he was the one who got deep into it as a hobbyist. You know, and this is partly why we’re having this, this episode is that I’ve spent, I’m now on hour number 40, upgrading my dad’s piece, windows seven PC, and it’s taken 40 hours because, uh, it’s, it’s a little older. It’s okay. He got one of the most overpowered computers you could get about four years ago. It’s no longer overpowered, but it’s still powerful.
But the components are all custom components that he paid someone to put together. Um, he got a, you know, super duper graphics card because, uh, Microsoft publisher needed it to create a PDF. And yeah, Kevin, to your point, like he keeps talking about dip switches and things like that. There aren’t dip switches anymore. So I’ve been working for 40 hours to upgrade this and Windows seven simply won’t upgrade. So I bought a SSD drive and I’m going to put windows 10 on the SSD drive, but I can’t because he won’t let me redo everything because he needs to get a replacement for his beloved paint shop pro.
and an in place upgrade, which goes for that age is not really a good idea.
Yeah. And, and I, I give him credit because he grudgingly let me replace Outlook express a couple of months ago. Thunderbird. Yeah. Thunderbird. Thunderbird. Yeah.
So the point is, is that, um, they, some of us have parents who might have been better than us at tech at one time because they were hobbyists. Um, but they’re not anymore. And the thing that saved me was the fact that my dad is, was a hobbyist when it came to technology. He didn’t have a whole lot of ego tied up in it. I think that if it had been something closer to his area of expertise, if, you know, if I had gone into music and we had had, I’d had strong opinions about, you know, the music scene or things like that, he might have felt a little bit more strongly. Who knows? He might’ve been more gracious about it. I don’t know. Um, but it, thankfully being able to honor my dad means being able to tell him the hard truth and trust that I’m going to say this. He’ll be adult enough to accept that hard truth. I think if I told him there is no replacement for Paint Shop Pro, which he’s used exactly zero times in the last two years, um, he probably would be disappointed, but he, he deal with it.
Yeah. If I could, I’m actually in a unique situation. Um, both of my parents have never been in the tech growing up. Did they buy tech equipment for me? Laptops, desktop computers, yes. But they never themselves got into tech or had an interest in tech. Up until about maybe 12 years ago, I bought my mother a desktopm, set up a modern, this one, their spare bedrooms at the house, connected it to their, you know, uh, wifi connection and whatnot and she had no use for it. She couldn’t acclimate to it. She found it hard. She found that a challenge and the time I spent, to your point, Leon, trying to assist her over the phone, trying to guide her on how to do simple tasks, it became kind of cumbersome and I didn’t see this going any further or it becoming a learning experience. Um, my brother who happens to live about 20 minutes away from my parents, I live about an hour away.
He is my default tech guy when I can’t get through to them on the phone. What I’ve done, what I’ve done is share everything with my brother via Google shared document in terms of how their network is set up at home, what their passwords are, what their usernames are, but they still found it cumbersome, more so my mother, about six or seven years ago or whenever the iPad was introduced, it seems like ages ago, these days, while we’re sitting at home for weeks, I’ve gave my, I bought my mother and iPad and she’s adjusted to it flawlessly. It’s been a piece of cake, requires no maintenance. I don’t have to struggle with her over the phone for hours at a time. And most recently during this covid shutdown or however you want to describe it, my, my kids and I, including my wife, we will call my parents on my mother’s iPhone and have a FaceTime call because it makes them so happy they get to see the kids and vice versa.
And I think that as, as IT pros, there’s a couple of, there’s a couple of lessons there. First of all, um, for every user, and this is both in corporate settings as well as in home settings, finding the, the form that works for the, for the application. And when I say application, I don’t mean the program but I mean the use case, that not every use case is a desktop computer and not ever use cases, a laptop and not ever use cases, a ruggedized strapped to your wrist, Borg style computing device. But some use cases are one of those things. And figuring out the correct use case is as necessary for our family members as it is for, you know, the corporate environment. You know, trying to figure out whether this is a cloud based app or if this is better as a microservice or this is better as a on premises, you know, legacy, uh, application running on Cobalt.
Right? Absolutely. Yeah. And when I set up, if I could go back real quick, when I set up her wifi network at home, I created a simple SS ID. I tried to create, not necessarily a complex password, but kind of in between. That became a challenge. Trying to explain to them upper case, lower case, special character. even after I printed out everything for them as well and stuck it on the refrigerator so they can see it for themselves. And it just got to the point where, you know what, here’s your password. It’s ABCD, one, two, three, four, five, whatever and everything works fine. No, nobody heard that. There’ll be those where they live either, but it just, it’s a fine balance. You want to accommodate them, you want to create a comfort level for them. So they accept technology, but you don’t want to be their full time geek squad employees.
Right. And that was the other piece I wanted to point out is that again, as IT professionals, we have to recognize when the job is bigger than just us. Uh, my brother works in desktop support very much like you, Al. Um, when I can’t get there or it’s just something that, you know, I’ve, I’ve tried, I’ve tried to have, the conversation wasn’t working. It’s like Aaron, Aaron, can you please, please Aaron? So, you know, it was like you are going to owe me a steak for this. Okay, fine. I will buy you a steak for this. Yeah. Um, so, so knowing when you need to call in other members of the team and sharing documentation, absolute 100% sharing the documentation, all good things. Um, I do want to point out sort of one of those, on the other hand things where we say that, you know, the, our responsibility is IT pros doesn’t necessarily require us to support our parents in their tech. Uh, Jessica, uh, I hope I’m saying her name right. Jessica Hische, um, has a very famous webpage. ShouldIworkforfree.com that you’ll find in the show notes and one of the very few yes, Workflows in should I work for free? Is, is it your mother? So just as a counterpoint, should you do it, you know, 32 hours of labor and you can’t make a flyer for my garage sale.
They can see me, but no, but.
This reminds me, this reminds me of my, my neighbor who is well into her eighties, and every year around Christmas time, she calls me up and says, Josh, can you come upgrade my computer? And the very first time she called, I thought, Oh my goodness, what does she want from me? And what she wanted was for me to install the new antivirus for her. Um, and you know, and just make little tweaks, you know, she uses it for email and, uh, every year she sends me home with, you know, a box of chocolates or something else. It’s, you know, you usually take it right into the hall… Hook them up by the, yeah. Actually hooked me by the belly. Right? It’s more of the thing. Um, and it’s, you know, it’s a, a great symbiotic relationship that we have.
It’s usually an hour long, uh, engagement, but it, it, it brings to my mind who, because my parents don’t live near me, who else should we honor? Is it just our father and mother? I know that in Christianity there’s a, uh, a creed, uh, that’s in the King James version, um, of the New Testament in Matthew 25 verses 40 and 45 says, “verily I say unto you, in as much as you have done it on to one of the least of these, my bretheren you’ve done it unto me.” And then in verse 45, “Verily, I say unto you in as much as you did it, not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” So, you know, if we do it to one of the people that we should honor, then we know we’ve done it to God. And if you don’t do it because of whatever reason, you’ve also not done it unto God. And I’m just wondering in the other religious observances, uh, of our guests, like what do you do, right? Like is, is there an equivalent to the, you know, in as much as you have done it unto the least of these.
So in Islam, one of the five pillars is zakat. It’s a duty to perform by all Muslims. Um, but it’s more on the religious side. It’s, I don’t know how to, I’ll try my best to be delicate with this approach. It’s, it’s about giving back, giving back to the poor, to the needy, to the less fortunate. I don’t know how to make this, this comparison when it comes to providing IT or tech support. Like I said, just drawing the line and saying, when is enough enough? I’ve gone above and beyond, There’s not much else I can do. Um, so on and so forth.
And I think it’s, it’s analogous to the Jewish concept of tsadaka, which people, uh, translate inaccurately as charity. But the concept of charity is that I’m doing this out of the goodness of my heart to give. And that’s not what tsadaka and I think in Islam, you know, zakat also the, the, the, the commandment or the, the deed of tsadaka benefits me, the giver. It doesn’t benefit the, the receiver. In fact, the highest, the best form of tsadaka is where I’m giving and I don’t know who’s getting, and the person who’s getting doesn’t know that I gave, it’s completely anonymous because it’s not about giving and feeling some sense of largess it’s to build, to cultivate the personal ethic of being a giving person. So I’m not sure that that zakat or tsadaka in, in Judaism necessarily. What I will say does, does match up is the idea of um, protecting or not afflicting the stranger among you, the widow, the orphan, the disenfranchise, which is mentioned in some people say 36 times, other people count up to 46 times in, in Torah or Old Testament that there’s a mention of, you know, protect or do not afflict or take care of, again, the widow, the orphan, the disenfranchise, the stranger among you. And I think that that’s more analogous. And that is if you, if you’re going numerically, it’s a much more important commandment to observe. Um, and so taking care of people around you in your community who can’t do for themselves. Now again, Al, to your point, there’s gotta be a line. There has to be a line at which I’ve given, but I can’t give anymore. I can’t be required to keep giving even though there are those who aren’t. You know, if I was going to do free tech support for everyone in the community, I’d never, I’d never sleep
well, nor would you. Nor could you pay your bills. Let’s be frank. There is a, it’s not about finances or it’s not a financial game. You’re doing it because you’re doing it out of the kindness of your heart. But eventually there are times where it’s taken advantage of and you just have to say, I can’t, I’m done. I can’t do much more for you.
No, it’s, it’s funny though because I think, and this is tying back specifically to my parents is that, uh, for a number of years it was kind of, it was never mentioned. It was never spoken directly, but it was an, uh, in kind trade. So I would help my, my father and my mother with their computers, with their local network, with their wifi, whatever it was. And in exchange, my father would help me keep the cars running or teach me some stuff about how to do home repair and maintenance, you know, whether it’s some plumbing or some electrical. And I think that when I mentioned earlier that kind of, there was a tipping point for me when, when my parents saw me as an adult that we could actually have this communication. Uh, almost like friends where my father saw that I was in need, that I as an individual, a member of his community, member of his family needed help with, you know, electrical or plumbing or mostly dry wall. Let’s be serious. I can do the other two. Dry walls, I’m horrible at it. But, but my parents weren’t able to do the computer side of it, including like building a machine from scratch, which my father literally hadn’t done since about 85. I think it was a PS1 at the time. And I said, this is cool. Well let’s order parts. And we built it together. So it was, you know, it was, he was honoring me as a son by including me in that project, just as I was doing the same. And each of us, it was a net gain for both of us. And I think that goes to the giving for the sake of giving is, is really about the giver. It’s not about the recipient.
There’s one time where giving old technology is. Okay. Uh, and, and here’s, here’s the example about 18 years ago and I know because my wife was pregnant with our youngest child who is now 17, uh, my father-in-law who would often travel to Jamaica, found a school in St. Anne’s Parish that he decided we needed to build a computer lab for. They, you know, they had, they had literally nothing. Uh, so not only were we going to, uh, build a computer lab, but we are also going to have to kind of refurbish this you rundown building, um, and put in desks and computers. Like the whole thing. And knowing that I, you know, was in the industry, I was tasked with designing and you know, helping to source. And so we ended up sourcing, I don’t gee almost 20 years ago, I’m going to say, uh, 20 machines.
We prepped them all, you know, packed it all into this big shipping container and shipped it down in Jamaica. And if you know anything about the wonderful Island of Jamaica, it is beautiful and everything operates at about Oh one eighth time. So what we thought was going to be, uh, you know, this quick. Hey, drop things off and then we’ll fly down and we’ll spend a week and you know, bigger thing. It took many, many months. What did we send them? Man, we did not send them the most cutting edge technology. We sent them the most simple technology that had been battle tested that we knew that was sitting on the desks in a hot, un-air conditioned room. It was going to keep running. It was the same technology, but at the time I used in a, an automotive plant, right? These machines that, you know, how do you fix them?
Speaker 7 (36:40):
You pick them up and you drop them and then the problem goes away, right? Like those are the kinds of machines that you want. So sometimes it is, it is okay to give technology that is fit for the purpose of is, you know, it’s needed for in the case of these kids and this, uh, in the school at St. Anne’s Parish, um, you know, they had these machines and I mean, I ended up sending my best friend out in my place because I couldn’t go. And so he got a trip to Jamaica and I got a, a, a new child.
Okay. Any final thoughts before we wrap this up?
I want to, I just point out that across every, every belief, you know, and at the table today, we all come from a very different backgrounds and we didn’t talk about, you know, Hinduism or Buddhism or any of the other isms that are of religious observance, but every one of them has this idea of giving because it is good to give, but also in giving because it is the honorable thing to do, you know, and you know, Christianity talks about giving a 10%, uh, you know, um, you know, Islam talks about, you know, two and a half percent. There’s sure we can argue about the semantics of it, but the, the gist of it is you give, because it’s an honorable thing to do. And, and I kind of think of it as this, I do a lot of what I do now, I’ve been in the IT industry for 20 years because I’m paying it forward. There are, you know, yeah, my dad was, my dad worked in sales. He wasn’t a technical, a tech geek, but there are lots of people within technology. Uh, John Foster, I don’t know, John, if you’re ever going to listen to this episode, but he was the guy who said to me in my very first IT job, Hey, I’ll hire you even though he had no reason in the world to hire me. He is the reason that I am still in IT today and that I did not go back to school to be a lawyer. I don’t know if I should thank him or curse him,, but I’ll definitely thank you. Okay. Okay, perfect. Definitely. But it’s because of people like him that I’m successful. So honoring him by helping others, by giving to others. Uh, I think that that’s very much something that we need to see continue in the industry and probably see more of in the industry that generosity, that pay it forward mentality.
Absolutely. It’s good karma. You never wanted to come back and bite you in the rear end. And we do tend to see it more often than not in it. Uh, when you do good things good things come back to you and the same rules or the same philosophy should apply in our lives as well.
Yeah. I was just thinking that this seems so much like kind of where I came to be about five or six years ago actually about the time I started this job was that I realized that I like sharing knowledge that I like helping people out. It’s a for a while I was, I was the bad it guy where I liked to hoard knowledge and I like to be the person who can answer the questions and then I realized that’s, that’s a one way street to loneliness and to basically self isolation and instead being able to actually say, you know what, let’s come together. Let’s talk about these things. Let’s bring it all about. And being able to share that information, whether it’s, you know, enough information with my parents to be able to do their stuff, enough information with my aunts and uncles when they’re ready to buy a new machine. Let’s not talk about scope creep when we actually support our parents because you know, their brothers and sisters will get in on that if, if we can’t, if they can, they will. Uh, so there’s a little limited you need to put there. But just being able to share stuff and being able to, as Josh mentioned, pay it forward. It’s, if I’m able to help any one person do their job or help support their people a little better today than they were able to do yesterday, for me, that’s a win.
I like it. I’m going to play, I’m just going to be a little bit of a counterpoint here and remind people that especially in what’s going on in the world today, the opportunities to volunteer, the opportunity to share, the opportunities to um, give that support, whether it’s to your immediate parents or parent-like-neighbors or people who are of the same generation or Kevin, to your point to aunt Sally and uncle Bob and all that stuff. You know, the opportunities are many and that, um, you know, you also have to take care of yourself. That you have to balance the desire to, to give and the desire to share with um, your ability to give tomorrow. That, uh, to put it in terms of again, the concept of tsadakah, a great rabbi from the middle ages was asked, is it better to give 2, Oh, I’m going to put it in dollar terms. Is it better to give $200 once or $1 200 separate times? And he said unequivocably, it’s better to give $1 200 separate times because after giving $1 200 times, you have built up the habit of giving. And you also have put limits. You’ve built up the of not giving. You’re not required to give everything you have. And by giving $1 200 times, you know how to stop. And that’s just knowing how to stop is just as important as knowing how to start. So please, for those people who are listening, if you’re thinking, wow, maybe I should do this thing, whatever this thing is, you know, to help out, just remember that knowing when to start is good. Knowing when to stop. Also important.
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