Imagine a room full of shouting people; walls plastered with large sheets of paper covered with scrawls. What is it? A kindergarten for children with poor social skills? No, it is a typical brainstorming session.
Originated in the 1940s by advertising man Alex Osborn, brainstorming with its freewheeling tossing out of ideas and absence of criticism, is controversial. Some swear by its effectiveness while others dismiss it as nothing more than entertainment for executives.
I frequently facilitate corporate brainstorming sessions and I’ve also done some rewarding ones with my family. They can work well. However, a certain Torah principle must be followed. Once ideas and solutions have emerged during the fun period, you’re only halfway through. The tough process of analyzing, critiquing, and reconciling conflicting ideas must be tackled or the first part was a waste of time. Expecting to achieve insight without hard work ignores reality. Let’s take a clue from Scripture.
The Torah is divided into 54 sections called Sedras, each with its unique name. A Sedra encompasses a number of Biblical chapters. The chapters as we know them are not part of ancient Jewish wisdom. They were put in place by Archbishop Langton during the 13th century. While the chapters are useful for locating verses in Scripture, they occasionally distort God’s intended divisions. Sometimes, Stephen Langton even presented one chapter as bridging two different Sedras, causing us to miss a shift in focus. Analyzing the original Sedra divisions and their names is a worthwhile endeavor. For instance, only six Sedras have names of people in their titles; 3 who were Jewish and 3 who were not. In each group, two are righteous and 1 is wicked. Sarah, Pinchas, and Korach comprise the first group while Noah, Yitro, and Balak make up the second.