A New Generation

Thursday, 13 June, 2013 - 1:00 pm

As a follower of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, I am proud to embrace modern technology. The Rebbe, whose 19th yahrzeit was observed this week, promoted the Talmudic teaching that everything G-d creates has a holy purpose. This means that the technology behind television, internet, and the like – while posing considerable spiritual challenges – are truthfully gifts from G-d. The choice is ours in how we utilize them. But their ultimate function is for holiness.

My fondness of technology notwithstanding, I feel dwarfed by my children’s expertise.  It seems that the younger one is the more apt one will be at decoding the latest high-tech systems and gadgets. I sometimes wonder if high technology is like a language – the earlier you are introduced to it, the better your chance of mastering it. Is it really an age thing, or am I simply less willing to adapt than my juniors?


The Talmud tells that when the great Sage Rav Zeira moved from Babylon to Israel he fasted for many days. He did so in order to beseech G-d that he successfully forget his studies! His rationale was simple: I don’t want my previous, inferior understanding of Torah to interfere with the loftier degree of Torah study available in the Holy Land.


In this week’s parsha, Chukas, the Jewish people reach the Wilderness of Zin. It is roughly forty years since their departure from Egypt and they are beginning the final preparations to enter Israel.  The Torah now refers to the Jews as the “entire congregation.” Rashi points out that the reason for this description is because they were finally, “the perfect congregation – For the generation decreed to die in the desert had already died out, and these were the ones who were destined to live and enter the Land.”

Many commentaries suggest that the Jews that left Egypt suffered from a slave mentality and thus G-d desired to wait until a fresh, free generation emerged before allowing them to enter the land. But in truth, thousands upon thousands of Jews who left Egypt also entered Israel. The decree prohibiting entry only applied to those who were at least 20 years old during the Exodus. Children were exempt from the decree.

The mystics explain that this is not only due to culpability.  The youth were allowed to enter into Israel because they were able to adapt to the new reality. The adults, time and again, had proven that they were stuck in their ways of old.

In order to advance to new spiritual frontiers we must let go of what we are currently holding onto.  By breaking free from our personal “Egypt” – our own inhibitions and comfort zone – we can enter into our personal “Israel.”


I’m not sure if I will ever catch up to my children’s knack for technology, but I do know that if want to have a chance there’s a lot I need to let go of.

The next time a mitzvah presents itself, I’ll be thinking about what I need to let go of in order to embrace the holy opportunity.

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