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Student Publishes His Road to Wisdom

Casually sitting next to a window overlooking the lush Carmel region, 26-year-old Lavi Sigman smiles. He had recently sent a copy of his book to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Sigman, who will graduate with a dual degree in Law and Psychology in June, co-authored the Hebrew-language work Shanghai Diamonds and the Road to Wisdom (יהלומי שנגחי והדרך לתבונה , available from Hashchaf Publishers) with his father, Arie.

Although a big accomplishment, this is not the first time Lavi has been involved in a book as an undergraduate. In 2001, Lavi edited his father's volume that had culminated Arie's seven years of social science and medicine research.
A Haifa native who spent three years serving in an IDF intelligence unit before beginning his studies, Lavi talked to Focus about his book, the important things in life, and the reason he doesn't like to watch television.

Focus: What is Shanghai Diamonds and the Road to Wisdom about?
LS: The book reflects on the life of each and every one of us. It’s a book that combines my naïve and modern point of view and my father's life experience and research. The plot begins in an ancient city and describes the story of young Williar and old Loroshphos, friends who cross the world in a journey filled with adventures in order to take the treasured Shanghai Diamonds. On their path, they learn about justice, respect, war, friendship, love, "good and bad," and about will. They also learn about emotion, how to fulfill the most important desires in life and how to break the walls that surround us. The book describes a unique perspective on society’s status today through a story. It is both an allegory of modern life and a tool kit to cope with the stress and difficulties that emerge in everyday life.

Focus: Why did you write this book?
LS: The book resulted from my urge to write about things that bother me, and it combines with my father’s urge to let people see there is a possibility for change at the social and personal level. What made us come together is my desire to help people by bringing them to a new perspective about life—one that shows you another way of coping with situations and a way to do things without being self-centered.

Focus: How did your life experience shape the book?
LS: As a young Israeli, I grew up in a reality that is characterized by many problems teenagers and people in other countries haven’t coped with. This is what made me see a lot of people in bitter need of help; that’s what drove me to do this book about giving and other things lacking or deteriorating in Israeli society.

Focus: What is the most important thing people should take from this book?
LS: The book is supposed to help people take a better perspective of life. It’s a tool that helps you to deal with things that make you feel bad. But it's not a happiness crème; you don’t put it on your head and become happy—you need to work and observe yourself. People are responsible for finding a way to join forces and explore their intellectual resources to change what is wrong about the world. The book is supposed to be the infrastructure that you build for yourself in order to make you feel better. I think the book gives you the perspective to see your life as what you made of it and the present as the best time to make a change. What’s more important is that we had a message in the book of not only doing for yourself but also doing for others.

Focus: Has the book changed your life?
LS: I think the book is more than a way of thinking; it’s a way of life. It reflects in my life, in our life, that the most important thing is, not just talking/writing about changing the world, but to change the world. Two weeks ago, my father and I donated 100 books to different charities. Also, my father runs courses free of charge for people who need help dealing with problems in their lives. That is what it is all about—doing and not just speaking about a perspective on life. Doing things that you believe in is a way of life.

Focus: Is there anything distinctly Jewish about the book?
LS: I think that there are numerous things Jewish about it; what is unique is the connection between Jewish spirit and mitzvot (good deeds). Mitzvot are something you give from yourself and then give to others, along with self-observation and not being self-centered. Doing for the benefit of society, your family, and yourself is something that emerges from the book and from the principles of Judaism.

Focus: What feedback have you received about the book?
LS: The comments from people are already coming in—letters, e-mail, and phone calls. People say it reminds them of books such as The Alchemist or Le Petit Prince. Many say that we should translate the book into English and other languages because the themes are universal. People say it filled them with energy or helped with romantic relationships. We are filled with joy to know that the book has the spirit of something larger; it’s a torch of enlightenment that is meant to make the life of the individual and society happier and healthier. The most beautiful thing someone told me was that the book gave him a method and the energy to change the things that were difficult in his life. This is the most beautiful thing—it's worth everything.

Focus: Did you receive any negative criticism?
LS: Critics said three main things: the themes may look trivial, it's naive to think you can change something around you, and the book's language is too high for common people. Under the circumstances of this modern environment, I don’t think it's naive or trivial to fight for the values and things you believe in. Also, what came out of us is how the book was written; we didn’t try to make the language better. Many of the people that called us have responded that it is very readable. In Hebrew we would say, “You eat it as a snack," meaning you could read the book in a few hours.

Focus: What do you enjoy doing when not writing books?
LS: I enjoy volunteering and I don’t like spending my time on things without value, like resting too much. I like to do things that are active. I don’t enjoy activities such as watching shallow television shows or going to the beach to suntan.

Focus: What are your plans after graduation?
LS: I am heading for a Master’s degree in organizational psychology. I have studied patent law and creativity and want to be involved in economic entrepreneurship. I am interested in developing technology that will integrate with social change.

In This Issue:

President’s Focus - Battling Unjust Resolutions

Prof. Azy Barak’s SAHAR Offers a Vital Virtual Shoulder to Those with Nowhere Else to Turn

University Joins War on Drugs,
Campaign Is Integral to Interdisciplinary Clinical Center’s Service

Kidma Project Helps Students Face Their Identities

University Will Not Be Silent in Face of UK Boycott

Anat Liberman Is New External Relations Head

Prof. Majid Al-Haj to Be New Dean of Research

Prof. Sophia Menache – New Dean of Graduate Studies

Prof. Menachem Mor—Dean of Humanities

Virtual Open House Proves a Big Hit

Students Have an Address for Complaints: Professor Schatzker, Their Ombudsman

Computer Science and Occupational Therapy Team Up for Virtual Reality Conference
Student Develops Innovative Technology to Deal with Post-Traumatic Stress

Giora Lehavi: His Job Is to Check on Quality Management, and Other Standards

University’s Sports Teams Prove a Winner in More Ways than One

Student Publishes His Road to Wisdom

Honors and Awards

Mother and Son—in utero—Studied Hebrew at University’s Summer Ulpan

University’s China Connection Continues

Unique Algorithm Enables Better Mobile Wireless Communication




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