Facebook IPO: Going Public within Ourselves

By Yonatan Gordon

While the world of communications was abuzz with news of Facebook’s IPO last Friday, May 18th, the Jewish world was celebrating their own “going public” day: the 41st day of the Omer or Jewish Communication Day (26 Iyar 5772).

From the second day of Passover through to Shavuot we count the Omer. It took seven weeks to reach Mount Sinai from Egypt. More than a remembrance, though, our counting each year also has vast Kabbalistic significance. Each week corresponds to one of the seven emotive sefirot (from loving-kindness to foundation). Then within each week, each day is further subdivided by these same seven until forty-nine different combinations are made. The 41st day of the Omer then is the foundation within foundation (Yesod within Yesod) day of the year–Jewish Communication Day.

The IPO of Communication

In Jewish thought, communication is related to connectivity. To communicate means to connect with others in order to impart something positive and beneficial. Rather than a self-absorbed act, Jewish interpersonal interaction is about fostering growth and encouraging lasting relationships.

The Hebrew word for connection is hitkashroot (התקשרות ), a word also associated with the sefirah of knowledge. Jewish communication entails connecting all of one’s mental energies and concentrating them to answer another person’s inquiries. Knowledge is the power in the mind that corresponds to the sefirah of foundation in the heart, and so the term hitkashroot is also used in Kabbalah with regard to the special power of the sefirah of foundation to connect to (or “know“) external reality.

The sefirah of foundation then is the starting point of any IPO. Where one’s inner motivations begin to manifest in the marketplace together with the public at large. In particular, the sefirah of foundation also means to connect to a tzadik (such as Joseph, the archetypal “foundation” figure). As we will see, it is the tzadikim themselves that go public for the benefit of the future shareholders.

Chassidic Shareholders

To find a tzadik to invest in, that tzadik first needs to be known in the marketplace. There were many great tzadikim, especially in the times of the Baal Shem Tov, that were hidden. One of the main reasons that a hidden tzadik went public was to benefit those potential disciples in need of a leader.

The Jewish approach to becoming a shareholder is to become so connected to the tzadik so as to become one of inner crew. This is what is meant when it is said of Moshe Rabbeinu that he had people who were called “Moshe’s men” (אנשי משה ).

If there are disciples that know of the tzadik’s greatness while he is still hidden to others, when the tzadik does decide to go public, these disciples may indeed become very wealthy in merit of their once private connection.

Public Valuation

Before going public, a tzadik makes an estimation based on empathy. It is the needs of the people to connect with him that awakens in his the desire to make himself known. Grammatically, the word connection (hitkashroot) is in the reflective form. The “going out” of the tzadik by means of communicating and connecting with others is a process of continually coming back to himself. Going out in order to benefit the public but coming back in order to return to a deeper place in his soul. For the consummate tzadik totally devoted to the needs of the community, his valuation keeps on ascending by virtue of his increased selflessness.

This is the deeper reason why stock valuation is so volatile. The moment we think the price to go one way, it many times goes the other. So too a tzadik never feels himself content with his accomplishments. Even if his “earnings” this quarter show that he has amassed a great deal of accomplishments, if not coupled with a corresponding degree of selflessness, then those acts have lost the ability to increase the valuation of the tzadik. As with physics, one cannot both both the position and velocity of an object simultaneously. So too, the tzadik or company needs to show that they are still moving forward, no matter what the projections indicate.

Public Admission

While businesses that go public incur increased disclosure of financial and business information, when tzadikim go public they are judged by virtue of their facial expression. Expressing yourself outwardly gives people a sense of who you are. A facial expression for instance is sometimes much more candid than a verbal expression. In Kabbalah, the sefirah of kingdom is also called the revealed world (עלמא דאתגליא ), so this is where the tzadik is revealing himself. This is the place where the tzadik most reveals his true intentions, their love for his disciples, and the public at large.

Public Faces

In a deeper sense, when a tzadik goes public, it is his face that has gone public. The widespread public excitement last Friday reflects our inner motivation and belief in the power of positive expression by means of the face. Like the hidden tzadik who has made himself known to the world, each of us has the ability to reveal our innermost potentials to the world. The 41st day of the Omer–Jewish Communication Day–is our time to connect with these public tzadikim, and to remember, that we are all a nation of tzadikim. One day we too will go public.

Related Articles:

Facebook: Shrinking the Universe by 4.74 Degrees of Separation

Facebook: The Great Search for New Faces

(photo credit: cnet.com)

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