Whenever I get an idea about a column, I jot it down and then go back to the list when I’m ready to write. Generally, I have several to choose from and this time was no different. The challenge was picking which one I wanted to write, and which I thought would make the most impact.
Well, I reviewed the items I’d written down, basically a collection of memories and epiphanies I had and thought would be worth sharing. Guess what? This is the one that won out. Not because it’s necessarily so striking, but because the message resonated with me and I wanted to share. It made me smile and I hope it does you, too.
One morning I was sitting at my desk – which in this case is code for my dining room table where I do much of my work, especially on Friday mornings, as this one was. I glanced down at my phone and realized I didn’t have service. I saw that I’d received several messages on my computer, but they were not on my phone. To my dismay, I discovered my phone’s SIM card had failed and I needed to get a replacement. On the bright side, I found it out on a day when I was not traveling and had the time to go to the store to replace it. That’s a whole story for another time, but suffice it to say that I got into my car and began driving to the phone store.
When I got into my car, I plugged my phone in as I always do, and started to enter the phone store’s location in my GPS app. Lo and behold, it did nothing – because my SIM card was broken. No service; no connection; no GPS. I should have realized it, but it was force of habit. Remember that, as it will play an important role later on.
I tried to use the navigation feature in my car but alas, since I’ve never had to use it, it was never set up and I didn’t purchase the data card necessary to make it work. It looked like I would be making this trip solo, with no guidance.
The crazy part is that I basically knew where to go, and I didn’t really need the GPS’s guidance. It’s just that I’ve gotten so used to using the GPS, even when going places I know, that when I don’t use it, I feel a bit lost.
By now you’re probably figuring this is another commentary on how dependent we’ve become on technology, and how we, as humans, have, to a large degree, stopped thinking. While this is very true, and with the rise of AI-enabled tools, social media giving us opinions, and the perceived need to choose an “accepted“ position on most things, people tend to fall into the trap of not thinking for themselves, that’s not my point today.
Instead, my point is how wonderful reliance on technology can be. You see, I rely on my GPS to guide me and take away the burden of having to make certain decisions. It knows the road ahead better than I do and can take into account the traffic which I have no way of knowing about ahead of time.
By tapping into the knowledge of this “higher power” I benefit by having my directions guided and dictated to me so I don’t have to waste precious energy and brain power on those decisions. I’m happy to hand over the reins because I don’t feel the need to be in control.
I realized that I do this a lot, and not just when I’m in the car. In whatever situation I’m in, I try to “plug in” to Hashem, and acknowledge His superior knowledge and wisdom. He knows what’s on the road ahead because He’s the one who put it there, and He built the road! Hashem guides our footsteps, as we say in brachos every morning, and we would be foolish not to leave the driving to Him.
This means that when we have to make a choice, we would be wise to follow the guidance of the Torah and Chazal because they are advanced beyond any technology Man can invent. The Torah’s laws are beyond time and have already taken into consideration all the things we think are new. But there is nothing new under the sun. Instead, there are new ways of teaching us the lessons of old, to rely on the Torah which was created millennia before the world was.
While reliance on technology might be a mistake, when it comes to safety and security, depending on Hashem is truly the way to go. We can plug into that by constantly checking our positions against Hashem’s instructions, and making a habit of doing so. In that way, we’ll always be on the right path. Go ahead and try it for yourself. I mean, seriously, would I ever steer you wrong?
By Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz
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