Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz – Put Your Mouth Where Your Money Is

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Operation Inspiration

By There’s a concept in halacha of ‘yi’ush,’ abandonment. Essentially, if a person loses an item and someone finds it after the person gives up hope of recovering it, they can keep it. When it comes to money, we assume a person gives up hope immediately as “a person constantly checks his wallet,” meaning he always feels his money pouch or wallet to make sure he’s got it, and if not, he’ll know right away.

I think that today, this constant checking applies to something besides one’s wallet, and perhaps even outweighs the amount of time they spend checking their wallets. I’m referring, as you may have guessed, to our telephones.

Whether you phone is a kosher flip-type that stores all your important numbers, or if you’ve got a device which does much more, and may even take the place of your wallet for paying for items, most people feel the urgency to keep checking that they have their phones with them. I’ve even checked my pocket for my phone with one hand while holding it with the other! That’s how paranoid I am sometimes and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Sure, you may sometimes look for your glasses when they’re on your head, but when you see someone with a look of panic on their faces patting various parts of their bodies like a frantic catcher giving signals to a pitcher in a playoff game, you know they can’t find their phone and it’s serious.

The last time this happened to me, I started to think about it. What caused this paradigm shift, and why did Hashem make that change happen? Obviously, the latter question is more important than the former.

In the olden days, money made the world go round. If you wanted to buy something, you pulled out your coin purse and handed someone the money. When someone needed a favor, you whipped it out to lend them a few bucks. It was the seat of power for those with money.

With the advent and universality of cell phones, though, that changed. We keep our lives on these devices. Important numbers, e-mails and text messages, schedules, appointments, and yes, even shopping and banking can be accomplished on these devices. They keep us entertained when we’re bored and waiting… I’m talking about the seforim and shiurim, you know… not the games, news, recipes or various social media that can be found on the phones these days. Oh yes, we can also use them for – get this – talking to others. The phones have taken on such a central role in our lives that we constantly check their whereabouts. But why?

I had a thought. The primary function of these devices is communication, but they enable us to do so much more. What could I possibly find similar in the spiritual realm?

How about spiritual communication? More specifically, speaking to Hashem? Hashem is the One Who empowers us to achieve and accomplish everything in life. When we need help, we call upon Him. When we need to vent and release our pent-up emotions, we can turn to Him as well. (He’s a VERY good listener!)

Taking the metaphor further, our communication device with Hashem, be it Tefila or simply conversing with Him as one would with a friend or parent – something the Chazon Ish recommends highly – can also accomplish so many other things.

When we view things through the prism of Torah and make a cheshbon of what we ought to do, isn’t that a calculator function? If we need to buy something and ask Hashem for help finding the right item at a good price, isn’t that virtual shopping? And when you say, “Please Hashem, give me a good parking space,” that communication turns into a Valet service.

How about connecting to other people? Hashem, in His Torah, has directed us how to relate to them; what we can or cannot say, and how to respond to what they say or do in the proper way. It’s like Google Translate for relationships.

More than that, He is responsible for our finances on every level, from finding the best deals to closing them. He is our Travel Advisor and professional guru, the go-to source for guidance on everything. He sends us messages and alerts all time, and we should note the subtle ringtone of His memos.

If that’s the case, then what we can learn from our phones is that we should constantly be checking our connection to the Ribono Shel Olam and making sure we’re carrying it close to our hearts. If we can go five minutes without thinking about Him, maybe that should be worrisome. If we’re not concerned that we don’t know exactly where our connection stands, perhaps the signal isn’t as strong as it should be.

I’m not sure if this is real or one of those phantom buzzes people get when their phones aren’t on them, but to me, this was the call I got that morning. I figured I’d share the message. Who knows? Maybe it will go viral.

 

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