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A cellphone mezuzah?

07/28/2020 05:04:50 PM

Jul28

My cellphone kicked the bucket this week, and it’s now that I realized how much mental space my phone takes up in my life. Right now, my mind is focused on worrying about being on the “grid” and being available to answer calls and messages. Instead of falling asleep or doing my part in keeping the household in order, I am spending more time figuring out how I can check my voicemail and whatsapp messages without a physical phone that will turn on. I also find myself preoccupied in figuring out how to navigate in my car, or other ways to set alarms to get me up in the morning. (Is Mapquest still a thing?) And even though my pocket is now empty, I still feel phantom vibrations of my pocket buzzing. My phone was a hub of my life, and was pivotal in how I lived live day to day and hour to hour.

If only the Torah spoke of phones and not mezuzahs! In Parshat V’etchanan, we find the famous words of the Shema and the V’ahavta. We proclaim the oneness of God and commit to loving God with all our hearts, souls, and might. We promise we will teach the words to our children, speak them when we are lying down and standing, and when we are walking or sitting at home. We even commit to putting them on the doorposts of our home so that we are reminded of them every time we walk through the doorway. In effect, we are committing ourselves to be thinking about the oneness of God and all that represents, throughout the entire day, during all of our activities. We believe that there is more meaning and purpose in the world when we follow God’s will, and are committed to bringing this relevancy to the fore by remembering this fact as much as possible. While the mezuzah has historically been a good method for reminding us of the implications of the Shema, perhaps the Torah should have said to also put those words on your cellphone case. For as I learned this week, there certainly isn’t anything that I encounter and engage with more than my cellphone!

There are many things that occupy our minds in the daily grind that distract us from our core principles and values. Often, the phone might even be that very distraction. But perhaps there is a way to transform the phone from the very means that brings us away from an intentional life of meaning, to being the very device that reminds us who we ought to be and what we are all about. What would our lives look like if we were as constantly plugged into our values as we are to our phones? What could our community be if we were as connected to each other, and truly “on the grid” all together? There is so much capacity for the human spirit and community, and if we can remember to keep our values in the forefront of our minds, than we can more intentionally live our lives.

Shabbat Shalom!

Sat, October 31 2020 13 Cheshvan 5781