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It’s easy to forget that Apple was actually the original PC maker. The whole idea behind machines that ran Microsoft Windows was to emulate Apple’s way of doing things and to make it available to any computer manufacturer that wanted to license the operating system (as opposed to Apple’s closed system of “vertical integration”). This is not wholly unlike the relationship of Christianity to Judaism – the latter being the original template upon which the more expansive “operating system” of the former was based, in order to “sell it” beyond its initial “tribe” of enthusiasts. And, of course, the more “open” approach wound up “converting” millions more users than the original.
For a number of years, Apple’s advertising slogan was “Think Different.” Pretty much since day one, that has also been Judaism’s slogan, in a manner of speaking. In Judaism’s case, however, it still hasn’t really caught on in any big way.
The one-minute TV commercial based on the “Think Different” campaign featured images of 17 iconic 20th-century personalities. The first two of these were the Jews Albert Einstein and Bob Dylan.
Speaking of Bob Dylan, Steve Jobs worshipped him. He originally bonded with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak over their mutual obsession with collecting Dylan bootlegs. Later on, as an adult, he dated Dylan’s one-time girlfriend, Joan Baez (although, according to biographer Walter Isaacson, he was too cheap to buy her a dress he saw in a store and told her she should wear, even when he knew full well she couldn’t afford it). He even got Dylan to make an unprecedented appearance in a TV commercial - for Apple’s iPod.
Steve Jobs’ life story includes a famous exilic chapter, when he was banished from his tribe and had to wander through a desert, sleeping in a tent of a company he called “NeXT.” Eventually, his people lured him back into the fold, at which point he led them to the Promised Land of mobile devices, most notably the iPhone and iPad, which featured apps that told users exactly when Shabbat began wherever they were in the world.
The logo for Apple Inc. portrays the eponymous fruit with a bite taken out of it. A certain bite out of a certain apple played an essential role in the history of man’s relationship with God according to Judaism. Someone took a bite out of an apple when she wasn’t supposed to and all hell broke loose. Then again, throughout his life, Steve Jobs was often a fruitarian. Maybe he just liked apples.
Seth Rogovoy frequently writes about the Kabbalah of popular culture for The Forward.