Shtender 'Portable Pulpit' as a Productivity Tool for Knowledge Workers

Perhaps it is not a coincidence that those who remain seated while they give a lecture at the university and conferences seem much less energetic, hence less inspiring than those who remain standing (and sometimes walking around) during their lecture. Almost instinctively, I have always preferred to remain standing with occasional movements of my upper body, including arms in this context. But when I read a book or used a computer, I had no choice but to sit down at the desk.

This changed this week as I finally decided to look for a shtender at Mea Shearim in Jerusalem and did buy one. For those who have never heard of the word shtender or have never seen it before, it is a kind of portable pulpit with four vertical legs supporting a slanted board. It is widely used by rabbis and yeshiva students as their "productivity tool", as it were. The upper board is a little bigger than two opened pages of a full-sized volume of the Talmud. Many rabbis and yeshiva students use a shtender when they give a sermon and study the Talmud respectively.

When I first saw someone giving a sermon in this way at the yeshiva where I studied about ten years ago and will study again in the next Jewish year, I was almost electrified by the energy he emitted around himself. Since then a shtender remained in my memory as an excellent productivity tool, but did not take any action until this week.

I immediately started using it for reading books, if not all the time, and teaching an intensive summer course of Esperanto for beginners at my apartment. Reading a book with a shtender is to giving a lecture while standing what remaining seated while reading is to doing the same while lecturing. I feel that it helps me get more stimulated and inspired intellectually. My hypothesis is that if you engage yourself in some intellectual activity while standing, your legs are stimulated physically, which in turn stimulates your brain and leads to inspiration. I have already recommended the use of a shtender as a productivity tool for knowledge workers to a few friends of mine.