Torah UBusiness – The Commentator
In the fall, a YU student asked me an interesting question: “Do Torah Umadda apply to Sy Syms? Isn’t ‘Madda’ only sciences and arts that can help us understand Torah, not business studies?
I asked him which volume of the Talmud he is studying this year. “Bava Basra.” What does it cover? “Ownership, partnerships, property rights, acquisitions, legal documents.”
I asked him who had had the most impact in shiur to help add ideas to what they were learning: non-business students or business students? “Business students — they understand economics much better and can explain ownership issues. The rest of us learn the basics while they can see the nuances and can help us understand them. If so, what kind of knowledge has enhanced Torah learning at YU this year? “Business.”
Every day he and the rest of the YU talmidim saw our powerful combination of Torah UBusiness.
In fact, I told him that he should look at the last mishna in Bava Basra, and the last line of that mishna. Elsewhere, in one of the most important debates in all of the Talmud, Rabbi Yishmael, one of the greatest of all time, has a debate with Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Berachos 35b) about making a living. Rabbi Yishmael appears there as the main proponent of the Torah U’Madda. At the end of Bava Basra, What Rabbi Yishmael tells us? “He who wants to become wise should study the monetary law, for there is no greater discipline in the Torah, and it is like a flowing spring” (Bava Basra 175b).
Especially today, Sy Syms embodies the values of YU, not only in substance but also in its ethics.
The missing “U”
In Torah Ubusiness, the Torah itself is world class and we also strive for excellence in business studies. Particular emphasis is placed on the “U” (“and”) that connects them. Otherwise, students are left on their own to figure out how to embrace the different parts of their lives.
Two years ago, Sy Syms presented its Jewish Values Program to fill in the “U”. This is entirely consistent with Sy Syms’ mission: to develop Torah-grounded professionals who excel in the workplace and in the community.
The faculty of Jewish values is world-class talmidei chachamim who also have real-world experience in the fields in which they teach, which makes them much more effective at conveying the “U”. The courses they teach include practical work in the workplace halakhawhich prepares students for the challenges faced in each workplace by teaching from sources and role models how to be a kiddush hashem; Jewish public policy, which prepares students to play a leadership role in the community by understanding community issues; and Jewish business law, which helps them understand the overlaps and contrasts between American law and Jewish law.
This semester, we added three options to complete these three required courses. Students can develop their historical thinking and knowledge by taking the course “Business, Community and Leadership Through the Ages”. They can learn to think rigorously about key life decisions in Designing Your Jewish Life. Finally, students can expand their knowledge of both economic theory and moral and political philosophy in the new Syms Honors course “Jewish Law, Economics, and Philosophy.”
These courses make the disciplines of history, philosophy, and psychology tangible by connecting them to the real-world experiences our students will soon have, as well as their Judaism.
Ethics and Integrity Across the Curriculum
Every Sy Syms student is required to take a business ethics course. The students enjoy the course so much that they awarded Rabbi Robert Greenberg, one of the course teachers, their Teacher of the Year award at the first Sy Syms awards dinner I attended. In addition, all honors students take an ethics course taught by my predecessor as Dean, Dr. Moses Pava, a leading expert in business ethics.
However, coverage of ethics and values is not limited to these courses, but rather permeates the curriculum. This was beautifully captured by Tomer Weider, a Sy Syms student who was featured in the Undergraduate Torah Studies newsletter before Passover. Responding to a question about “My favorite part of YU,” Tomer said, “Apart from the Beis Medrash, many of my Sy Syms classes have been imbued with Torah values. My finance, accounting, and other lay teachers deliberately include topics and emphasize the importance of acting honestly and amicably in business.
When it comes to exams, projects and academic integrity, Sy Syms has also been a leader. Two years ago, Sy Syms led the formation of the YU-wide Academic Integrity Committee (AIC). ICE has developed best practices and review processes that have had a significant impact on academic integrity in all undergraduate schools.
Community service outside of the school curriculum
Summer 2020, when other students went through the crisis summer with nothing to occupy them amid COVID, three dozen students participated in the new YU Consulting Group. Through the Advisory Force, these students have led high-impact projects for more than a dozen Jewish nonprofit organizations, making it the summer of the vschesed and help fulfill the “excel…in the community” part of the Sy Syms mission.
Since then, amid the ups and downs of COVID, we hoped we wouldn’t have to keep the Consulting Force running. However, every spring, students have asked to help associations, which themselves have asked to participate in our Consulting Force. These students could take on more lucrative jobs for the summer, but would rather make a positive impact on the Jewish community.
Outside of these formal channels of community support, individual students and groups of students provide hunted for the community and beyond. We expect that from the graduating students to whom we presented our character and service awards this week. However, even our academic stars take time out of their classes to do hunted.
For example, this year’s female valedictorian, Shoshi Tuchman, works with the homeless every Super Bowl Sunday, helping them feel cared for rather than alone. Shoshi is a double major in accounting and finance, but instead of taking a high-paying job at an accounting firm or investment bank after graduation, she plans to major in nonprofits. lucrative. Last week during TEDxYeshiva Universityshe explained her decision in a stellar talk titled “Allowing Your Values to Impact Your Career.”
Our men’s valedictorian has helped the wider community in a different way. In the midst of COVID, in order to help small businesses survive, the government provided a lot of funding, but many small businesses did not know how to apply for it. Jonah Loskove took time off from work and school to help 700 small businesses apply for and receive desperately needed government funding, a feat of hunted For who he received a Congressional Commendation.
Today’s Sy Syms embody Jewish values, instill ethics and excellence, prepare students to become community leaders, and show how far UBusiness Torah excellence can be achieved.
Dr. Noam Wasserman is the Dean of the Sy Syms School of Business.
Photo caption: Every day, he and the rest of the YU talmidim saw our powerful combination of Torah UBusiness.
Photo credit: Yeshiva University