Hedgehog Torah

This Shabbat is Shabbat Nachamu commemorating our national recovery after the destruction of  Tisha B’Av. This Shabbat we read the Torah portion of Va’Etchanan. There we read,

29Be careful, then, to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. Do not turn aside to the right or to the left: 30follow only the path that the Lord your God has enjoined upon you, so that you may thrive and that it may go well with you, and that you may long endure in the land you are to possess. (Deuteronomy 5: 29-30)

In his book, Good To Great, Jim Collins quotes Isaiah Berlin’s use of a Greek parable. The parable says, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Both Berlin and Collins divide the world into
hedgehogs and foxes. For Collins, who systematically studied companies that made the leap from good to great, the common denominator to the companies that made the leap was that they were all hedgehogs. While, the foxes were scattered, diffused, and inconsistent, the hedgehogs practiced a discipline of delivering excellence in a focused and deliberate manner. In light of this week’s Torah reading it might be helpful to review the Hedgehog Principle and make sure you are not turning to the “right or left”.

Discipline and focus are the keys to making the leap from Mediocre to Mitzuyan ( excellent). The Torah asks us individually and as a nation to answer a few questions:

a) What are we most passionate about?
b) What do we do better than anyone else?
c) What is the team’s engine? What are our metrics of success that drive
us? ( Here is a clue- the answer is not Money)

After answering these questions, there should emerge a “sweet spot” which represents the overlap of the answers to these questions. The Hedgehog Concept is that we need to stay focused on working on this an not deviate from it to the right or to the  left.

For hundreds of generations we were able to keep our focus on a Jerusalem that we had never seen. In the 21st Century we have Jerusalem, but he have lost something else. Now Tisha B’Av needs to commemorate all of the destructions of old and all of the distractions of modern era. Forget about a Jerusalem, today we cannot focus on anything. We spend so much time multi-tasking that we have forgotten our mission. We will not make an enduring contribution to the world around us if we  waste our time “foxing” around. We need to heed the call of the hedgehog and focus to ensure that we make that leap from Mediocre to Mitzuyan.

– If you are interested in learning more about Mediocre to Mitzuyanmy monograph on Camp Leadership please be in touch hiorlow@gmail.com

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2 Responses to “Hedgehog Torah”


  1. 1 JTW July 25, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Awesome! I love how you mix entrepreneurship with Torah and subtle jabs at current events.

    I have a new found appreciation of Sonic the Hedgehog now too;)

    Thanks again~


  1. 1 jtwaldman.com » Blog Archive » I’m A Little Hedgehog … Trackback on July 25, 2010 at 5:08 pm

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