A paradigm is a model: It can be real or theoretical and it conveys the core architecture proposed. David Birnbaum of NY is a new paradigm designer. He has a 4-decade-long habit of designing and then implementing new paradigms. Yeshiva-educated (13 years) and Harvard-educated (2 years), he is at the helm of transformative new paradigms in disparate fields.
Warm Up Birnbaum’s first foray into the realm of ‘new paradigm’ was as the designer in 1983 of a unique ‘cutting edge’ course, which he taught in the evening, for the New School for Social Research in Manhattan. The course was The Science of Strategy in which Birnbaum showed, over a 12-session course series, how a set of (universal) strategic principles he compiled could be applied as a starting point to deal with a wide array of problems and challenges.
Unique Business Model Birnbaum revolutionized the hi-end luxe jewel industry in the Americas with the unique new paradigm construct of his Upstairs Private Jeweler operation. Operating with just a small elite team out of a seventh floor suite in the Rockefeller Center area, Rare 1 purveys ultra-rare jewels globally and directly to VVIP end-users.
Birnbaum’s ‘day job’ is heading Rare 1, his flagship international rare jewel operation. The firm, founded in 1982, employs a unique business model which has weathered the turbulence of global change and remains the template of the firm to this day. The firm has refined the concept of direct pinpoint database marketing of a hi-end product. The firm markets via ultra deluxe catalogues to the top 1/10 of 1% of the global financial spectrum. Its direct competitors, the established iconic Fifth Avenue retailers, are saddled with massive retail frontage overhead and the concomitant quite necessary, quite high margins. The unique Rare 1 business blueprint was conceptualized and designed by Birnbaum in the early 1980s. While its ‘Designer Line’ has morphed over the decades, its core strategy and even its core senior team has remained intact. The firm stands alone at the pinnacle of the Private Jeweler market in the Americas. Birnbaum refers to Rare 1 as his ‘day job’ and to his wide-ranging neo-academic projects as his ‘night job.’ However, some staffers do ‘double-duty’ focusing on one or the other as needed. Birnbaum quips that depending on the economy “some years the academic books do better than the jewels.” (Nobody believes him.)
Metaphysics Birnbaum presents a new paradigm challenge to the global academic community. He seeks to overthrow the entrenched staus quo. Birnbaum’s iconic new paradigm design project has been his quest for a unified metaphysics. He set out to find one Unifying Theory – one that united religion, spirituality, philosophy and science and provided a framework for understanding the totality of the cosmos. No small endeavor. Birnbaum's three-part treatise Summa Metaphysica I: Religious Man (Ktav, 1988) Summa Metaphysica II: Spiritual Man (New Paradigm Matrix, 2005) and Summa Metaphysica III: Secular Man (New Paradigm Matrix, 2014) is the answer to that quest. The treatise presents a ‘new paradigm’ philosophical construct.
The centerpiece of an international conference hosted by Bard College in 2012, Summa Metaphysica's central concept of Infinite Potential was presented as a breakthrough in philosophy. It is the first theory to quite formidably challenge the ‘entrenched orthodoxy’ – the dominant atheist Randomness Theory – for describing the nature and purpose of the cosmos. Unifying the intellectual, philosophical, and theological, Birnbaum has accomplished what has eluded philosophers and scientists alike for millennia. Birnbaum focuses on his signature theme of potential. He deploys his Infinite Potentialas a“simultaneous solution” which frontally lances more than a dozen previously unsolvable metaphysical issues. In one smooth and logically consistent sweep, Birnbaum lays them open to explanation in a solution poetic in its stunning simplicity, yet powerfully elegant (see Paradigm Wars). No bona fide flaw has been discerned in the theory since it was first introduced in 1988 by Ktav Publishing. Jewish History
Birnbaum has designed and then implemented two quite-distinctive historical chronicle projects. The inter-related projects both involve chronicling Jewish history via different modalities. The author had twin objectives: (1) Discerning and tackling the core ‘driver’ of historic anti-Semitism, and (2) showing the historical journey of the Jews within rich and textured historical context.
In turn, Birnbaum’s first history project, the 2-volume The Crucifixion takes an additional two tacks: Volume I traces Jewish history from 1 CE – 1300 CE while Volume II focuses on the First Century CE (1 CE – 100 CE) via 80 inter-related exhibits. En toto the set carefully chronicles how first the early Church Fathers and then their successors laid the groundwork for twenty centuries of anti-Semitism via the institutionalized demonization and dehumanization of the Jews. His second new paradigm Jewish history project is the 7-volume Jews, Church & Civilization, which is an integrated timeline interlacing the historical points of the Jews with that of the Church and key civilizations including Chinese, Japanese, Egyptian, Russian, French, British, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Indian sub-continent. Both Islamic civilization and noteworthy American and Latin American historical points are incorporated as well.
Birnbaum has since turned his attention to designing and launching a potentially landmark spiritual-oriented series, the Mesorah Matrix. The series is an in-the-works, projected 10-volume, 7-year endeavor (culminating by 2020). Birnbaum conceptualized the project, and is heading it as editor-in-chief. The Mesorah Matrix will incorporate essays from over 150 Jewish intellectual leaders from around the world focusing on 10 eclectic themes. The entirety of the work is expected to contain a staggering estimated 200 eclectic essays.
Typically works on Jewish philosophy and spirituality have been limited to under 10-20 authors and usually the book themes have been fairly general. Mesorah Matrix breaks that mold. It attempts to ‘get a handle’ on Jewish Thought by focusing on ten very specific themes, some iconic and some subtle. As one of the senior editors, Saul J. Berman noted, “Before Birnbaum came up with his 10-theme/150 authors concept and jump-started the anticipated seven-year global endeavor, Judaism had never quite been able to ‘get its arms around’ the vast ocean of spirituality at its very core.” In keeping with Birnbaum's style, he has challenged traditional denominational barriers; the series will cut across standard demarcations in the Jewish community and shatter the glass barriers between the Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal and Reform denominations. Those who follow him closely will find it no surprise that it was Birnbaum who managed to unify the thought leaders of these fiercely independent groups under his aegis for such a monumental and unique undertaking. According to Senior Editor Martin S. Cohen, “The disparate scholars apparently had confidence in the top leadership and its vision; the consequent unification breakthrough engendered by the series has been striking and profound.”
The cross-fertilization of the mini-cultures of the formerly self-segregated denominations engaged in the common-goal project has only served to turbo-charge the dynamism of the project underway. To be published by Birnbaum’s New Paradigm Matrix publishing platform, the first two books of the 10-volume set are expected to be released in late 2014/early 2015 with the entire series expected to be completed by 2020. Titles included in the work will be Sanctification, Kaddish, and Search for Meaning, among others.
Political Science Alchemy Unable to resist the challenge of ‘dipping his toe’ into the hitherto intractable Middle East quagmire, Birnbaum tried his conceptual hand at a peace framework formulation. In June 2011, the Jewish World Magazine Group published a new paradigm proposal designed by Birnbaum titled Squaring the Circle. In it, Birnbaum unflinchingly made a point-by-point assessment not only of both Israel and Palestine's vested interest in finding a solution to the ongoing conflict, but an actual, detailed, integrated, one page peace plan formula as a platform to execute such an accord. Among the proposals were (1) A de-militarized Palestinian state (2) Key Arab portions of Jerusalem become linked to the nascent Palestinian state (3) Refugees compensated, but no refugees would be mandated by the accord into Israel’s sovereign territory (4) An Israeli military presence along the Jordan River Valley (5) A land swap of about 20% (6) Israel to maintain the key settlement blocks (7) A phased-in Accord over several years to allow “peace to settle-in.” The audacious, nuanced and multi-part peace plan was widely disseminated, including within the hallowed halls of Washington and the State Department, in particular.
Fast forward 2.5 years to the beginning of 2014 and Secretary of State John Kerry's emerging ‘framework’ Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal. Surrealistically, in a near point-by-point reading of the proposal, there sits an almost carbon-copy of David Birnbaum's blueprint from 2011. He notes “Part of me must have a ‘death wish’ for wading into those turbulent and volatile waters.” But if peace is eventually achieved under this new paradigm blueprint, some astute readers will know to look back to Squaring the Circle and give a polite nod to Birnbaum's not insignificant role in the process.
Conceptual Problem Solver Birnbaum likes to look at problems afresh. He is averse to being held hostage to the established wisdom’s standard architecture or accepted ‘givens’ or conventional ‘platforms.’ Birnbaum likes to work with a clean slate, a tabula rasa so to speak; he likesto be in position to craft his new paradigm formulations from the ground up. Birnbaum’s contributions in the new paradigm department are not inconsiderable; but as far as Birnbaum is concerned, he is just “a pretty good conceptual problem solver with ‘a hang’ for new architecture.”