“Cast thy bread upon the waters”

שַׁלַּח לַחְמְךָ, עַל-פְּנֵי הַמָּיִם

On the holiday of Sukkot, Jews are reminded of the fragile nature of life. They live in temporary huts for a week and read Ecclesiastes, a philosophical book from the Old Testament. The book reviews the concept of a delicate life, and underscores the need to extend beyond one’s physical boundaries: to establish a good name that survives past death; and to learn about God who is not confined to the physical world.

King Solomon, the author of the book, mostly expounds upon the frivolousness of daily physical activities through the opening chapters. Towards the end of the book in chapter 11, he explores the nature of uncertainty in the world:

  • Ecclesiastes 11:1 begins with “casting bread upon the waters.”
  • To verse 5 “thou knowest not what is the way of the wind
  • and verse 6 “for thou knowest not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good

We do not know what will happen in life. We do not know which piece of bread will catch a fish, what kind of fish it will be, or whether it will be worthwhile to eat. As such, one could conclude that we should use our best efforts to put several pieces out there in the right environment and hope that a “favorable wind” will yield an amazing catch.

With that idea in mind, “First One Through” began.

Knowledge surpasses the physical world, and in a digital world, is easy to “cast many pieces of bread upon the waters.”

The articles and posts of FirstOneThrough were made to educate and entertain people about Israel and Judaism. The posts have been shared directly with family and friends of Israel, who in turn, passed them along. Due to Facebook, Twitter, email and other sources, the posts circled the globe to 110 countries and have been read 25,000 times since the launch six months ago in May 2014:

  • The main readers have been the US (55%) and Israel (15%)
  • Significant readers come from: Australia; UK; and Canada, which together account for 16% of views
  • Modest readership came from: South Africa; Netherlands; Germany; Brazil; France; Denmark and Sweden which totaled 6%
  • 98 other countries accounted for 8% of views

The Arab and Muslim countries read the posts as well, including: Turkey; UAE; Malaysia; Indonesia; Pakistan; Egypt; Saudi Arabia; Morocco and Lebanon. There were a handful of readers from: Kuwait; Iraq; Tunisia; West Bank; Jordan; Qatar; and Yemen.

Ecclesiastes does not end with the discussion on uncertainty in chapter 11. The book concludes that anything in the physical word – even spreading knowledge – is subject to uncertainties and frailties due to the physical limits of people. However, reason and intent are the “hidden thing” behind “every work“.  Hopefully sharing the posts on the merits of Israel and Judaism covers the good intent of the sender, and enables the recipient to gain knowledge, and have the good judgment to pass it along as well.

“The end of the matter, all having been heard: fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole man. For God shall bring every work into the judgment concerning every hidden thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.”

סוֹף דָּבָר, הַכֹּל נִשְׁמָע:  אֶת-הָאֱלֹהִים יְרָא וְאֶת-מִצְו‍ֹתָיו שְׁמוֹר, כִּי-זֶה כָּל-הָאָדָם