Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Winter is one of the four seasons and the coldest time of the year. The days are shorter and the nights are longer. Winter comes after autumn and before spring.

Some animals hibernate during this season. In certain temperate climates there are no leaves on the trees. People wear warm clothing and eat food that was grown earlier. In some extremely cold climates, some people use sleds or skis just to get around.

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The name winter comes from an old Germanic word that means “time of water” and refers to the rain and snow of winter in middle and high altitudes

This time of year when the light of day is so short and the darkness of the nights so long, we might feel lost at times. The holidays are long behind us and the mundane habits of each day can seem to drag us down. People might go on a short weekend vacation to a nice warm place, while others might just spend long nights in front of the television or on the computer searching for anything.

What can be done on these cold nights, in order to fill our hearts and minds with warmth, light and direction?

We are living in a time where technology is everything. True there is a lot of wealth within the world of technology that enables us to do so much more than in generations past. However, it has also created a very cold and isolated generation. We don’t take time to stop and smell the flowers, which many of us don’t even notice. Children forgot how to play basic games such as jump rope and hop skotch, while adults can’t seem to put down their phones even in the bathroom.

We almost lost total touch with one another. We are living in a time of great wealth and knowledge and yet great loneliness and depression. How many families sit at the dinner table without bringing their phone with them? On busses, on trains, in waiting rooms, in elevators we just can’t seem to look up at a beautiful blue sky and marvel at G-ds wonderful creations or even just to say hello to someone waiting on line with us at a store. How many grandchildren want to hear stories from their grandparents or even their parents when they can see a really great show on YouTube or on television. We are becoming more and more like robots than like people. How many car accidents happen daily from our distractions from the phone, or by an sms

or a short Google search?
What are our goals and what are we teaching our next generation? I too fall into the category of not looking up enough at the sky or at a pretty tree or flower. How many mitzvoth don’t I notice as I’m walking down the street or

sitting on a bus, by being so occupied with my phone and its technologies and not seeing what is going on around me. As an observant Jew I am fortunate that once a week on Shabbat, I turn my phone off for the duration of an entire 25 hour period.

It is then when I’m not so busy with the marvels of technology and the internet, that I notice so much of the beauty that G-d’s world contains. These long nights of winter can be a wonderful time of reflection and connection to our inner world and to the world outside,

and especially to the ones we love.

Use the nights to drink a hot cup of cocoa with a loved one or a friend and talk about important things you think and feel. Try to do this without including your phone in the conversation. Look into people’s faces and eyes and connect to their hearts. Give someone a real smile, and not just a WhatsApp smile.

Take the time to hear a good shiur by a rabbi you like, or just take the time to read a book. One could even visit an elderly family member who is surely suffering from loneliness in this fast paced internet generation.

On these long winter nights we can find the time to hug our children more often and not just before bed time. We can create real quality time with the family during the winter as we are indoors so much of the time anyway.

Let us utilize this time wisely and not only sleep away the weeks. Our minds can conjure up many wonderful ways to strengthen the bonds of family and friends during this time. And when the cold of winter is past and the warmth of spring and summer once again envelopes us, we may be very happily surprised to see how much we have gained, in our family life and friendships.

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