web analytics
April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Every Day’

It’s Not Just About The Internet… We’re Creating Apathetic Robots

Monday, November 19th, 2012

The Orthodox Jewish world continues to seesaw back and forth about the pros and cons of the Asifa on Technology at Citifield in New York.  Debates abound about on the best Internet filters, blocks and technological band-aids to which will surely repair the dangerous environmental influences of the outside world. Let’s ban or block the Internet and suddenly our children will be less distracted, our communities more heimish and our learning and davening more for the sake of Heaven instead of rote blabbering to get it over with.

In 1944, Rav Eliyahu Dessler said in Strive for Truth (v.3, p.143) “Human beings believe, in their arrogance, that if they continue developing the world on the basis of ever expanding technology they will eventually achieve an environment that will afford everyone unlimited gratification of the senses and a life of ease and pleasure. So long as people remain ‘takers,’ their efforts will inevitably be directed toward selfishness…”

With the advance of technology and the ease of availability, the temptation of distraction has become a daily struggle for Jews across the spectrum to remain upright, even in their own homes. But the Internet is only part of the problem. Go into almost any shul today and you’ll find congregants reading their emails on their cell phones and leaving davening to answer their phones, tallis over their heads and tefillin perfectly squared. Attend any d’var Torah, graduation ceremony, wedding or bar mitzvah and you’ll find people distracted with texting.

The real problem is chutzpah and selfishness, and parents are teaching it to their children by their own actions, and then wondering… what went wrong.

Rabbeinu Bachya asserts in Duties of the Heart: “Their evil inclination induces them to abandon the spiritual world wherein lies their salvation… it makes self-adornment more attractive to them… it impels them to gratify their desires for self-indulgence… until they are sunk in the depths of its seas.”

In the rush to satisfy our thirst for instant gratification, information and acceptance, we’ve created a Jewish society devoid of cohesiveness and spirituality, full of chutzpah and apathy. As Rav Dessler predicted 68 years ago, “They persist in thinking that soon, very soon, they will hit the right formula, and if not in this generation, then in the next, universal happiness will come. And so they bring up their children to study nothing and think of nothing but technological advancement…” (Strive for Truth, pg. 152).

It seems that children and adults 68 years ago were also steeped in the excesses of technology, although it was not as insidious as in our generation. Unfortunately, Jews today are becoming apathetic robots. In their quest to look frum, with their starched white shirts and impeccable Borsolino hats, and in keeping up with the Goldbergs, they have truly collapsed into a materialistic society, all “for the sake of Heaven.”

Consider the case of Yaakov, who goes to the store to buy a pair of expensive shoes on sale at a department store, known for its lenient return policy. There he meets his friend Shimon, who has just bought the same pair of shoes Yaakov wants. Shimon relates to Yaakov that he “purchased” the $300 pair of shoes for only $200 by switching the price tag while no one was looking, and that Yaakov can have them for $250, thereby saving him $50 while Shimon makes some money on the deal.

Shimon is proud of himself and Yaakov gets a bargain.

Where I come from, this is called stealing.

Or consider Reuven’s practice of going to an outlet store to buy fancy white shirts for Shabbos, in order to sit and learn in one of America’s finest yeshivos, where he wouldn’t dare stand out wearing a blue shirt. Lo and behold, Reuven ends up at the local Nordstrom return counter, telling the clerk the shirt is imperfect and he wants to exchange the shirt or get a refund.

Why would religious people, steeped in Torah learning, resort to lying and stealing?

The Orchos Tzaddikim in Sha’ar Hasheker says, “Alchemists turn copper into gold where even the experts cannot tell the difference. So it is with the mind of the charlatan. He rationalizes and justifies his lies until they appear even to him as truth.”

Seeing Israel Anywhere, Every Day

Friday, February 17th, 2012

I haven’t been to Israel in six years. That might not sound like a lot of time to some people, but might sound like an eternity to others. But with my 30th birthday around the corner, it means that the last 20 percent of my life has been Israel-free. In fact, I’ve spent significantly more time in Australia and Yellowstone National Park.

A few months ago, I became aware of a new app called “Israel365,” which delivers magnificent daily photos of Eretz Yisrael and Bible lessons pertaining to the photo of the day. However, I ignored it as I felt it would leave me yearning for a trip to the Holy Land that didn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. My grandmother says, “You never know,” and as it turns out I will be going to Israel this summer with Camp Lavi. So do I install the Israel365 app? Absolutely!

According to United with Israel’s Rabbi Tuly Weisz, who developed the application, “Israel365 promotes the colorful beauty and significance of Israel instead of the conflict-ridden black and white landscape the traditional media emphasizes.” He added that, “Using innovative technology, the Israel365 app brings the diverse vibrancy of Israel to life in a modern and meaningful manner.” For the most part this certainly proves true. Personally, I was not the biggest fan of a weeks worth of agricultural shots. But I get it, it was Tu B’Shevat, so it makes sense. I have enjoyed the nature shots of an ibex, a great close-up of a bee sucking nectar from a flower, an Ein Gedi waterfall, and one shot even has me restructuring my teen tour so we might be able to see the Banias Springs in the Golan.

Unlike previous apps I’ve written about, there is one simple reason why everyone with an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch should download this app: It’s free! Maybe it’s because I’m getting excited to get back to Israel, but I’ve found that this app can be a real pick-me-up. It’s somewhat exciting to see what image each day will bring, and I definitely enjoy the anecdote or history lesson that goes along with the image. A few of the Torah verses associated with the pictures might seem like a stretch, but the vast majority do a fine job of connecting the photo with Tanach.

One flaw I found with the app is that we are left guessing where a few of the photos were taken. February 5 featured a stunning shot of rays of sunlight penetrating a heavily clouded sky over a hilltop and body of water that might be the Kinneret. But I’m not completely sure, as there was no “About This Photo” section that the majority of the other images have. The app also doesn’t flip vertically, but you get used to using it horizontally. (The photos actually look better like that.)

Israel365 has a few other features of note. The Torah verses are both translated into English and transliterated. One can save the pictures onto his or her phone (a feature I particularly appreciate) or post them directly onto Facebook within the app. If one is especially enamored with an image, there is a link to order prints directly from SmugMug (prices vary based on size).

I enjoy apps that offer something new every day. It gives me something to look forward to. This app has gotten me excited to not only see its daily images, but to also experience them this summer.

The app is made available by United with Israel, and those without an i-device can still see the images and Torah/history lessons by visiting www.unitedwithisrael.org.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/scitech/electronics-today/seeing-israel-anywhere-every-day/2012/02/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: