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Staying Religious in the Workforce
by Rabbi Yosef Braun


I have been born to a secular family and have only become religious several months ago. I spent a week in Yeshiva and I'm about to enter the workforce.

I'm concerned that the daily interaction with secular society will lead to the eventual erosion of my recently acquired religious convictions and practices.

I would appreciate your advice on the matter. I know you can answer me with long and complicated dissertations, but they get me nowhere. What I need is a Simple, Short and Sweet, Step-by-Step Solution. Any ideas?



Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Yossi Braun

P.S. The complicated and detailed answer is discussed in the literature analysing our Patriarch Jacob's journey to Haran and working for his uncle and father in law Laban. But, as per your request, I'll try to keep it simple.

Many a workplace have introduced the 5S System to optimise productivity through maintaining an orderly work environment (Sort, Set-In-Order, Shine, Standardise, Sustain). Judaism also has its own 5S system for maintaining a healthy work environment.

Consider entering the workforce like getting into your car and driving to the shopping centre. Driving is risky business and outright dangerous. According to statistics, driving a car carries more risk than smoking, taking drugs, serving in Iraq or visiting a nuclear power plant. The difference is that driving is almost a necessity of modern life. While you might consider a return to the horse and buggy era, personally, I deem that unpractical and unrealistic. So, if you are my type, you will be getting into that car, but you will take some precautions.

In order to assure a successful journey, you will need to follow the 5S Plan:

1. Before you embark, Stock up (on petrol, food, toys for the kids etc.).

2. Then, get yourself some clear directions and follow those Signposts (one wrong turn on the road could get you in trouble in no time...).

3. Now you're ready to Step on the accelerator (believe it or not, missing this step won't get you anywhere).

4. While driving, it is imperative that you Stay awake (falling asleep on the wheel or getting caught up watching the scenery on the road ahead can cost you more than just missing your destination...).

5. And, finally, you will need to Stop at some stage, take a break and refuel.

And those same steps would do you well in the risky business of your journey in this world. It is indeed a perilous voyage, but avoiding the entry into this physical world is unpractical, and ,come to think of it, even more dangerous...

1. Prior to embarking on your journey, Stock up with high dosages of spirituality (enrol in a Yeshiva or Women's Seminary for a considerable amount of time. Always start off your day with serious Prayer and Torah study etc.).

2.  Then get yourself clear directives and halachic guidelines of where to go and what to do. Follow those Signposts carefully. Ensure that you don't make any wrong turns and travel on paths which will lead you off course.

3. All fine, but driving without Stepping on the accelerator will get you nowhere. Even as you are in the midst of your journey in this world, you must remain connected to your petrol, to your source of inspiration. That might mean having spiritual icons and reminders right nearby (i.e. a charity box on your desk, maintaining the distinct religious dress code or decorating your wallpaper with religious messages and images).

4.  Stay awake and focus on the specific mission at hand. Your goal is not to amass fame and fortune, but to utilise the world as another conduit for G-dliness. Never allow yourself the luxury of taking in the beautiful scenery and getting sidetracked with it. 

5. You can't carry on driving forever. Every so often you need to Stop. It might be time to go back to stage one, and restock.

Wishing you Safe, Successful and Sustainable driving.



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