Parshat Mishpatim and A Halachically-Acceptable Automation

A tale of my adventures into extremely basic “programming” and the week’s parsha.

A few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to take all the Shmiras HaLashon lessons Devorah Sisso (who I work for) gives in her Whatsapp group and develop an email automation. Meaning, anyone can come and sign up on our form and immediately get sent a welcome email and their Day 1 lesson, and continue receiving one lesson a day for the next 29 days. It seemed really simple, and I eagerly sat down to start building this automation. (It should be said that this is the second one I’ve ever built, and the first one was a simple one-step automation, a welcome email to our newsletter list. This was a big step for me!) 

Just as I sat down I realized… hang on, what about Shabbos? I can’t have my automation emailing on Saturdays. And come to think of it, I can’t have it emailing Friday evenings either. After nagging the incredible customer support at Active Campaign, they walked me through the steps to address these issues, and I continued building the automation.

At this point, even though I had only built 5 out of the 30 days of our automation, I enrolled a couple of people in as my beta testers. I was really excited to see if this would work. But suddenly, all these problems popped up again. First of all, since I enrolled everybody, everybody was detected as living in my time zone. This stressed me out more than I could explain since I worked so hard to get the timing of the emails right – but if my contacts were registered to a different time zone, then that would mess everything up! Second, I noticed one person unsubscribed right away, which was fine and understandable – but though she was off my contact list, she was still enrolled in my automation, meaning she would still receive emails! Which, obviously, is not supposed to happen after you unsubscribe. And third, I had set up a previous automation a few days prior just to test on myself the effectiveness of the timings and conditions I set. It turned out to be a very good idea, because I got sent a couple of emails at the wrong time of the day, and it took some analyzing to discover yet another condition I missed.

Though Google and (once again) the amazing customer support helped me address these issues, I was beginning to have doubts. I started to wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew, if I finally thought up a project way too big for me – but now couldn’t get out of because I had seven beta testers already receiving emails! I was also starting to really regret not testing this out more on myself before launching it. But it was too late for that, so there was nothing to do but keep trudging forward.

The week was by now coming to a close, and I brought out my parsha book to read as I do every Friday afternoon. As I took a break from work to read all about all the laws listed on parshat Mishpatim, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how detailed all the laws listed were – and I also couldn’t help but laugh. I had just spent the week figuring out every specific tiny detail to make sure my automation ran right, and here I was reading about G-d explaining every specific tiny detail to make sure we all knew how to ran our lives right. And I just had a moment of extreme gratitude that I wasn’t G-d and in charge of the entire world, but the G-d that actually is truly knows what He’s doing and has all the laws and conditions down pat, no beta testers required. Thank goodness all I have to do is figure out setting up this automation right so that it wouldn’t violate Shabbos.

So as of the time of this publishing, I think I have all the conditions finally right. My automation started out looking very neat and orderly, but since I had to make adjustments while people were already on it, it now figuratively looks like it is covered in band aids, with lots of additional steps squeezed into the ones I previously programmed. But truthfully, I don’t care so much, as long as my automation works! I have just happily finished building email 16 (but in truth, something like step 100 on my automation) and was about to celebrate crossing the halfway mark when a horrible thought hit me: I had programmed not to send out emails every Shabbos…

… but what am I going to do about the chaggim…? … Oy. Thank G-d I’m not G-d, or … I don’t even want to imagine what the world would look like!

Curious to see how well my automation works? I am too! I would love to have more Beta testers come and let me know if their emails arrive smoothly, etc.! Just head on over to http://www.devorahspeaks.com/shmiras-halashon and I would appreciate it greatly if you could sign up and try it out for me! You’ll also of course receive a short shmiras halashon lesson daily to your email, and that’s a great reason to sign up for itself. 🙂

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