Friday, February 5, 2021

The Life of Day One

It's been some time since the word Amazon is no longer immediately associated with being the largest rainforest in the world. It's been just about 25 years since Jeff Bezos started selling books online from his garage. Today, the word Amazon reflects dominance in the marketplace that arguably no other company in the world can claim. There is practically no industry or area of life in that Amazon does not have a significant role. Mr. Bezos also has a net worth of nearly cool 200 billion dollars. For these reasons and more, it was more than newsworthy this week when Bezos announced his retirement from the position of CEO. He is now transitioning to the role of Executive Chairman. In the letter released to his employees informing them of this big news, he concluded his statement with the following words. "It remains Day 1." That seems like a bizarre way to conclude a special announcement. What kind of code word was that? Day 1 is a fundamental philosophy that has guided Amazon from a small garage to becoming one of the world's most dominant companies. Day 1 is about keeping the same passion and enthusiasm that a startup has. Day 1 means that Amazon will always act like a startup. Bezos has argued to his team that the opposite of Day 1 is Day 2. That is not just a cute statement. He wrote, "Day 2 means stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day One at Amazon." The notion of always maintaining a Day One approach in life easier said than done. That is so challenging, as we know from any area of life that complacency has a corrosive effect on the things we cherish most in life. From the state of our marriages to our relationship with G-d and His Torah, the initial Day One experience wears off rather quickly, and we struggle to find meaning in these essential areas. Inspiration and passion fade to mindlessly performing rituals out of habit or mouthing the words of prayer. The Day 2 experience has taken hold of our lives in many ways and we walk around feeling empty and unfulfilled. This week we once again read about the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. The most extraordinary event in human history occurred when an entire nation heard the Divine word and accepted to be His ambassadors for the mission of spreading Godliness and holiness in the world. That was our Day 1 moment. In the Shema, we read the following words אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם. This is translated as "that I command you today." Wasn't the giving of the Torah thousands of years ago? (The giving of the Torah occurred 3,333 years ago). The meaning of the word הַיּוֹם/today is very simple. It means that we should always work on a Day 1 philosophy in our Judaism. The mountain of a Day 1 life is not an easy one to climb. It's important to remember that just as with Amazon, the alternative to Day 1 in our relationships and commitment to faith is Day 2, and that's a life of indefinite unfulfillment.

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My Heart Is In The East

דרש רבי שמלאי מפני מה נתאוה משה רבינו ליכנס לא"י וכי לאכול מפריה הוא צריך או לשבוע מטובה הוא צריך אלא כך אמר משה הרבה מצות נצטוו ישראל ...