Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Digital (Facebook) Slaves
Published: Thursday, December 31, 2015 07:08:43 PM
Number of views: 1888
When Moshe is sent by Gd to inform the Jewish People that their redemption from slavery is near, he discovers that they have no time or patience for him. "And they did not listen to Moshe because of shortness of breath and hard and difficult work" (Shemot 6:9)
Pharaoh understood the dynamics of freedom and so he succeeded in creating the ultimate crushing slavery. Someone forced to work very hard, can still remain internally free. But lacking the ability even to think about their dire situation showed that the Jewish People were truly enslaved. Pharaoh's game plan was to keep the Jewish People in permanent and perpetual slavery.
Thank Gd, we do not know the physical slavery and persecution that previous generations of Jews did, but we too are losing a certain measure of freedom. According to the classic work Mesilat Yesharim, our internal spiritual world loses its freedom in much the same way as Pharaoh's slaves did. When we are constantly busy, and leave no time to reassess who we are, and why we are, then we are not in full possession of ourselves.
We all have values, and want to live by them, but there is only one way to make that happen. We need to have enough time to consider whether what we actually do expresses our true values. In the Pesach Hagaddah we make a strange statement, "This year we are slaves, next year we hope to be free". Do you know any slaves? What is the meaning of this bizarre statement?
If our default option is to go online on Facebook whenever we have free time, we simply have no opportunity to truly think about ourselves. We all need a time when there are no smart phones, no dumb phones and no whatsapp-say no to Digital Slavery! Whether it is Pharaoh or Facebook, if we don’t have time to think about who we are, and where we are going, we become Digital Slaves. According to the Ramchal, this is the plan of the Evil Inclination (Yetzer Hara), to keep us so busy we have no time to reflect and think about our Eternity.
The good news is that we can free ourselves of this Digital Slavery, where ever we are, by just taking a few moments everyday to think about our ultimate spiritual freedom from the Yetzer Hara. The way to accomplish this is as the Mishna in Avot States, "AYIN BEN CHORIN ELA MI SE'OSEK BA'TORA". There is no one who is truly free, unless he occupies himself with the Tora.
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