by Avi Gordon, COO of Oorah
Most, if not all, companies and organizations take great pride in developing, showcasing and protecting the all-too-familiar and mighty “TM”, the Trade Mark. This TM is a recognizable sign or expression encapsulating, in many instances, the company’s very essence and raison d’être.
This story begins about six weeks ago at a Shabbat with Oorah which I attended at Oorah’s spectacularly beautiful TheZone Camp for boys in upstate New York.
We were seated at a table with a family from Connecticut attending an Oorah event for the very first time. As an employee of Oorah and a pretty gregarious kind of guy, I walked around to the other side of the table in order to welcome them on behalf of Oorah.
We made small talk, began the meal and proceeded to have a wonderful evening. I noticed that sitting next to the parents was a teenage boy who had been somewhat reserved during the evening and had not really said much at all. I decided to engage him in conversation and found to my surprise that he was a serious, highly intelligent and very engaging young man.
We spoke and, as with most conversations, the thread of discussion moved from football to school to college. Albeit pleasant, it was in all honesty idle chatter. I decided to change the subject in the middle of all this small talk and asked him a question which really had to do with “nothing” but in a philosophical sense had to do with “everything.”
“Would you be interested in learning Torah once a week?” I asked him. He looked at me contemplatively and to my absolute surprise said, “Sure, why not?”
Having said our warm goodbyes to the family and promising the son those oft-used words that “I would be in touch,” my wife and I began the beautiful and serene walk back to our room.
“What have I done?” I said to my wife. “What on Earth have I done?”
She thought for a while and then responded to my question in the most beautiful way. “What you did was, in some mystical sense, to begin, maybe, one of the most important journeys of your life. A journey in which you will be the greatest benefactor.”
“But I am doing the teaching,” I responded in disbelief. “I will be doing all the teaching.”
I was told once by an adam gadol to remember carefully what your wife says, as her opinion will be yours in three weeks time.
Fast forward to last Sunday evening. At exactly six o’clock, I called this young man. We spoke, we learned and we laughed.
At the end of the call, he thanked me over and over again for learning with him. The guy had it all wrong. I was the one who should have thanked him. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is the giver who gains the most, not the receiver. He gave me the opportunity of a lifetime and I just hope and pray that it develops into a long-term relationship based in learning, love and life itself.
The journey with this young man has just begun and we have much ground to traverse. Although very unsure of the path and trajectory that this learning will take me on and understanding that there will be challenges in the future for me to overcome, I return to the opening discussion concerning the all-powerful “TM” of which every company and organization is rightfully so proud.
I, Avi Gordon, now claim with great humility and an enormous amount of pride that I too have a “TM” which identifies me in the most surreal and essential kind of way. MY TM, however, does not stand for the all-important Trade Mark bowed down to at the alter of the corporate world of Apple, IBM and Disney.
My TM stands for two simple words: Torah Mate. With Hashem’s help and blessings, I will be able to make some small changes in the life of a wonderful young man, searching for answers in a confused and frightening world.
I am his TorahMate and so proud to be so.
Please join me in this mission. There can be none more important.