Librarian's Lobby

October 2001

by Daniel D. Stuhlman


I wanted to write about Yiddish children’s literature after I cataloged over 1000 Yiddish items.  I tried to tie together some concepts, but nothing worked.  The collection on microfiche was not easily arranges into a logical order.  The collection included translations from European children’s books, famous Yiddish authors, socialist or pro-Communist literature, textbooks for learning Yiddish, fiction and non-fiction.  Countries of publication included the Ukraine, United States, Argentina, Lithuania and a few others.  Almost no books were from Poland.  There were no books from Germany or Western Europe.  I thought I could draw some conclusions about the cities of publications. It was interesting that many of the books were published in the Ukrainian cities of Kiev and Karkov.  I learned that the government sanctioned the publishers.  None of the children’s Yiddish books from the Ukraine had any Jewish content.  None of the scholarly Yiddish books that I previous cataloged were published in the Ukraine.  This raised questions about what was happening in the Ukraine, but I was not able to find satisfactory answers. 


None of my hypothesis worked.  I discussed children’s literature with other librarians and rabbis and I could gather no insights.  The conclusion is that I did not have sufficient data to write about Yiddish children’s books from this collection. Some day perhaps a scholar of children’s literature will be able to draw some insight from this collection; I can not.



Knowledge Management and Habad


During a visit to a Habad House in a suburb of Los Angeles, before Shabbat morning services the rabbi was explaining the terms that make up Habad,  drc dpia dnkg,  (Hahmah, benah, de-ah.)  The rabbi explained that Hahmah is detached unorganized bits or sparks of wisdom.  Benah is the organized information and de-ah is the knowledge derived from the organization of information. De-ah is the integration of information and understanding that come from learning. In the rest of this article consider the term knowledge to be synonymous with de-eh.


I wish to depart from my usual semi-scholarly column and deal this month with a topic that is more like a divar Torah.  We just started the Torah and read the story of creation.  Let’s discuss the story of creation in business terminology.  Put aside religious interpretations and Biblical criticism and think of what the story of creation teaching us about running businesses and organizations.


Creating Knowledge


Consider that moment before creation and before time itself.  The Torah calls this Tovu ha-vohu, usually translated as unformed and void.  This is the sea of bits and bytes before the organization known as the universe comes into being. This is the time when the ideas were not separated and words did not exist.  The very act of creation is the beginning of time, light, and hahmah (primeval sparks of wisdom). God starts by separating the world into pieces.  He divided the light from the darkness, the waters above from the waters below, the land was gathered and separated from the sea. It is an act of faith to believe that God did this with a Divine command.  It is an act of intelligent connection to understand the events as organizational theory.  God continues the acts of creation with the plants, animals and man.  This creates the diversity that sustains the world. He gives the living creatures the ability to grow and reproduce.  God creates man in the Divine image and gives him the ability to subdue the earth and the previous creations. God gave man the gift of language and speech.


The story of creation is a perfect introduction to knowledge management. 


This is what a businessman does to start a business or a business process.  There is a time before the start.  The light is separated from the darkness; the manager gives the guidance and foundation.  Finally the business is able to be self-sustaining.


Librarians build libraries that are the storehouses of the collected knowledge of humanity. Connecting past knowledge with current situations creates new knowledge. Genesis is the first example of cataloging and organizing knowledge.  God created the universe, separated the light from the darkness and separated the waters and formed dry land. This is the first act of organizing the world.  Organization of data is the essence of cataloging. Creation created data; organizing the pieces of the universe created the order and knowledge that we know as the universe.


The essence of the halakhic process is to understand past knowledge, connect it to a current situation and synthesize new ideas, which become new knowledge.   This is also the process of sermonizing.  One takes an idea, connects the idea to new ideas and situations. If the listeners remember what was said, we have new knowledge.


The confusion of the terms knowledge, data and information has wasted huge amounts of organizational resources.  The terms are related, but each has a different platform within an organization.  When we understand the terms and their implementation, we can build the knowledge management processes.  Librarians by education, training, experience and personality are highly qualified to help businesses or other organizations manage knowledge. Librarians have been understanding societal needs for knowledge since the beginnings of libraries.


For this New Year of 5762 let us prayer and think about how data, information, and knowledge can make our organizations and our world a better place. May all your sermons and speeches add to the knowledge in the minds of the listeners and not subtract knowledge.


Another version of this article can be found at the web site:\~ddstuhlman\kmexpert.htm.



Mr. Stuhlman will be appearing on the cable TV program, Taped with Rabbi Doug.  This is Rabbi Doug Zelden’s weekly talk show on Jewish issues.  In Chicago it will be broadcast on channel 19, Monday October 15 at 8:30 and Tuesday Oct. 16 at 3:30 PM.  In the Chicago suburbs the date will be about 6 weeks later


Daniel D. Stuhlman is president of Stuhlman Management Consultants, Chicago, IL, a firm helping organizations turn data and information into knowledge. Previous issues of Librarian's Lobby can be found at: He can be reached via e-mail at:


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©2001 Last revised October 11 , 2001