BRINGING THE FLOOD INTO THE ARK
The Torah teaches us, that in Noachâ€™s times, the land was corrupt. ×•×ª×©×—×ª ×”××¨×¥ ×œ×¤× ×™ ×”××œ×§×™×… ×•×™×¨× ××œ×§×™× ××ª ×”××¨×¥ ×•×”× ×” × ×©×—×ª×” (6, 11;12) And the Land was corrupt before G-d. And G-d saw the Land, and it was corrupted.Â
The Har Tzvi pointed out, why does the Torah repeat how the â€œLand was corrupt before G-dâ€, and â€œG-d saw that it was corrupt,â€ â€¦? Why couldnâ€™t the Torah just write about the corruption, without mentioning that the corruption was in front of G-d?
The Har Tzvi answers, â€œBecause when someone is corrupt, he does not see his own corruption. Because his heart is clogged, his eyes are blinded. Only someone on the outside can notice the corruption. In Noachâ€™s times, no one knew that they were corrupt. Everyone thought that everything was normal. Everyone, except for G-d.â€
RavÂ Yitzchak Hutner once said to his students, â€œIn the olden days, a Yeshiva was like a mini Mishkan. Outside, in the big world, things were “normal”. So if you wanted to grow on turbo, you would come to a Yeshiva. Yeshiva was the ultimate spiritual machine. Nowadays, the Yeshiva is like a Teivah, an Ark. Outside, the world is a crazy, wild flood, full of anti-religious beliefs and behaviors, a place where it is impossible to grow. If a Yeshiva student is outside the walls of the yeshiva, he is in danger of drowning. Now, staying in the Yeshiva is like both, staying in a Mishkan, and staying in an Ark.â€ That was over 30 years ago. The world has not gotten better since then, to say the least.
It takes you ten and a half hours to get to Eretz Yisrael from America. And it takes ten and half years to get America out of you. After living in Jerusalem for 15 years, l finally realized something about Western culture: the greatest influence on our thinking, and the thinking of the world, is the three Mâ€™s. Music, Movies, and Media. These three are so powerful, nothing can change a person more, nothing can affect the Neshama more, than these three. (I believe that the most powerful of them all is music, because it speaks to the soul. If you want to know where your teenage child or studentâ€™s Neshama is holding, just plug in his headphones and press play on his sound device. Whatever the words are talking about, that is where his Neshama is holding. Whatever the beat, that is his attitude. Try it. It never fails.) The yeshiva is the only place in the world, where one has the opportunity to disconnect from that, and reconnect to the most powerful three Mâ€™s that will influence his thinking. The Bet Medrash, the Mashgiach, and Mussar seder.
Lately, Smartphones have become an issue in American/European Yeshivot in Israel. A yeshiva bachur told me, that he has two options, a choice between two yeshivas. One yeshiva has a â€œlenientâ€ no Smartphone policy, but the learning there, and the chance to make friends and have a nice Ruach, on a scale from 1-10, is an 8. The second yeshiva has a â€œstrict, no toleranceâ€-no smartphone policy, but socially and from the point of view of ruach it would be rated only 3, on a scale of 1-10. Which Yeshiva gives a bochur a better chance to grow, spiritually?
I asked every rabbi I respect this question. All rabbis answered, on the spot, No smartphones. No brainer. Because bringing a Smartphone into the Yeshiva, is bringing the Flood into the Ark.
The only thing we have left that can save our future in this Great Flood is the Ark of yeshivot and seminaries. When in yeshiva or seminary, give yourself that chance for a spiritual, digital detox. And even if you will need the phone back when you return to the Real/Fake world, at least then you will face the challenge as a person on a higher level, with some sort of mentor, with some level of maturity, and with some level of self-discipline.