The role of the Rebbe

rebbeThis is one of those anecdotal stories which intersects between Judaism and Patents.  Torah observant Jews believe that there was one and only mass revelation where the creator spoke to every one of the Jewish people.  At Mt. Sinai, we received direction from the creator on how to live, so we generally revere our elders who we view as one step closer to the chain of transmission from Mt. Sinai, and seek their advice.  Chassidim take this especially seriously, each group having a Rebbe that devotes his days and nights solely to Torah study, whom they not only ask questions of religious significance (which, may very well incorporate everything in your life), but also business questions.

Where my Clients Could Use a Rebbe

Oftentimes, I get clients who come in for consultations for the silliest ideas, or for things which have been out there in some form for years and years.  People tend to see their ideas as great and wonderful, and often have lines line, “there’s nothing else out there like it!” and “I know I could become rich if I market this idea!”  I tend to try and convince them otherwise and bring them down to earth as to just how much work is involved in bringing the best of ideas to market.

More often than not, if we’ve gotten this far, they’ll at least want to proceed with obtaining a formal patentability opinion, regardless of what I say.  In most cases, once I issue a patentability opinion, it ends there, but once I even had a man who came in for a consultation that I told point blank, “it would be extremly difficult to get a patent on this, I don’t recommend you go forward.”  He shook my hand and said, “I want to hire you.  Every other patent attorney I called told me it was a great idea and wanted my money, but I know you’re honest.”  He hired me, and as it turned out, I was wrong – we got a patent on his concept fairly easily. 🙂

The Woman Who Asked Her Rebbe

A Chassidish lady once asked came in for a consultation, and had a simple idea which was more-or-less done a long time ago, even though not actively on the market.  She ended up being one of those who paid me to do some searching, but a few days a later she called me and told me she spoke to her Rebbe.  It seems her Rebbe told her not to go forward!  He said it wasn’t a good idea.  She listened to him, and that’s the last I’ve heard from her.

If only everyone had a Rebbe – not necessarily a man who attempts to follow in the way of the Baal Shem Tov, but someone who is wise and honest and who will be able to guide you life in a way suited for you and based on what is good and right to do.  In Torah learning, we often learn with a “chavrusa”, in pairs, to bounce our ideas of another to ensure that the way we’re understanding something makes sense and to speak it out.  Through the back and forth give and take, we arrive, hopefully, at the truth, or at least, are much more likely to find what makes sense versus just following ideas in our own mind, which can lead us in any direction.  Put another way, it’s much easier to see the flaws in another, than it is in yourself.  By bouncing everything off someone else you trust in an area, or if you’re a Chassid with a Rebbe, in all areas, you’re in a much better position to make good choices, even if sometimes you disagree with the choice.

Always listen to your Rebbe.

About the author: tostien

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