Where Good Ideas Come From

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In the book Haroun and the Sea of Stories, all good ideas come from an Idea Fairy, who sneaks into your bedroom in the middle of the night and installs a spigot on the headboard of your bed. Ideas pour out of there, and remain in your head until you use them (and, thus, spill them out).

jewish new ideasI’m kind of in love with the new website The Geulah Company. They bill themselves as having “146 effective, free, fun to use, Torah-based product ideas and products.” Some of these projects have been actualized (meaning, they’re actual and available). Others, like the Prayer Pacer (pictured) are only ideas so far, but someone at the site thinks they’d be a really cool invention.

The Prayer Pacer might be my favorite of the toys. Lately I’ve been a massive fast-prayer, needing to get it out of the way before my kid wakes up and I have to get to work. I find myself spitting out entire lines in one gulp, three or four words in a single breath, and not caring in the moment about whether they run together in my mouth or what they mean.

The Prayer Pacer, of course, is a timer (or it would be, if it existed). It reflects what point you’re at in the service, and where you should be, if you were praying out loud. It’s a self-checker-upper…which is, I suppose, what talking to God is supposed to do for us in the first place.

The website has other features, too. There’s the Don’t Wants Club, which is for people who don’t want to be Haves or Have Nots. There’s a blank, fill-in-able Letter from G-d, reminding us that we’re all responsible for our own blessings. There’s a whole section of mussar songs. Now, the mussar movement in Judaism was a philosophical school founded to promote religious piety and ethical conduct through self-examination and criticism. It might sound like it’s not a lot of fun, but it’s thoroughly redeemed by songs like “You Have That Fault Yourself,” “Find a Word Nicer than Stupid,” and my favorite one, “Give Me My Mussar with a Beat.”

Posted on January 12, 2010

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