My grandmother was one of eight children growing up in Jerusalem. Her family lived in a small apartment. During the winter, cloth diapers were hung from a clothesline that ran the length of the living room, from one side to the other (these were the days before Huggies). During summer, an open refrigerator served as the only form of ‘central air’. If you were hot, this was the central place to be, where everyone could be found seeking respite from the heat. If you wanted a chicken, you had to chase it, have it shechted, koshered, and de-feathered (does such a word even exist?)
My grandfather lived in pre-war Europe. He had to walk miles to school. They lived in a town where only one person in the village owned a car. He lived with animals running around his backyard. He was actually able to get acquainted with his dinner before he ate it. The bathroom was quite a few feet from the house, and baths were bi-weekly at most.
Me? I have central air. With a flick of a button, I control the temperature in my entire house. Of bathrooms, we have more than one, but it seems we don’t have enough. We are HUGE fans of disposable diapers. When I go to the butcher, I pick up a package of chicken, all nicely cut up and cleaned—I don’t get to know my food intimately before I eat it. I don’t go to the stream to wash laundry. So why did my grandparents lives seem richer than mine?
We live in materially comfortable times. When was the last time our kids walked miles to school (let alone two blocks without complaining?) When did they last milk a cow? Chase after dinner? Fetch wood? When was the last time you asked your child to pick up a sock off the floor without hearing: “It’s too haaaaaard! I’m so tiiiiiired!”
We rush all over town, picking them up, dropping them off, picking them up, and so on and so forth. We drive in air conditioned cars in utmost comfort. We rush them home after school, so they can….play X-box, play Game Boy Advanced and watch the Simpson’s. Is this what our generation has to show for itself?
Our grandparents’ generation was not blessed with all the technological advances we take for granted today. Instead, thay were spiritually stronger. Hashem has blessed us physically, and yet—we seem to unfortunately be weakening spiritually. Instead of our children’s day being filled with the words and sounds of Torah, they are filled with narishkeit—complete and utter nonsense.
We have so many comforts and yet…we lack the faith of our grandparents. There was a time when our grandparents had as many children as Hashem would give them. And there was no infant formula. No Huggies (yes, I am extremely indebted to this industry). No antibiotics. No VCR’s. NO UNCLE MOISHY! And yet they brought children into this world. And we, for all our comforts, have been infected with the popular phrase, ‘family planning’. All our Bubbies up in Shamaim are screaming “What is this Bubba Meisser?” We have been infected with the culture of the rest of the world, the ideology that easy is best. The key is comfort. Any slight discomfort or imagined difficulties are not for us. Those were the old times. Science has given us options that blind our faith, and delude is into thinking that, G-d forbid, we know better than Hashem.
The world as a whole has never been so educated. We have access to so much information, it is mind boggling. We are the most technologically advanced generation. We press buttons, and tasks that would normally take us hours, take minutes. We microwave. We E-mail. We retrieve information off computers in seconds. We are impatient. We want things now. We want more time. Time for what?
Hashem has made things easier for us, yes. Yet the world is starving for Hashem. The world is full of terrorists, threats of war, nuclear threats, and biological threats. Our grandparents could not have imagined a more diabolical world in their wildest nightmares. We are the generation that has to contend with such a world? The generation that G-d willing will greet Moshiach?
Where are we going to be when the blast of the shofar is heard throughout the world, announcing the arrival of Moshiach? In a movie theater? Watching sitcoms driveling from our television? Hashem has made things easier for us, yes. Yet the world is starving for Hashem. The world is full of terrorists, threats of war, nuclear threats, and biological threats.
It says that Moshiach can’t come until all the souls that have to be born are born. Maybe that’s why He gave us incentives, such as disposable diapers, VCR’s, and Uncle Moishy. Are we doing our utmost to fulfill our part of the bargain?
Are we raising children ready to greet Moshiach? Can they utter a pasuk as fast as an NSync song? Is all this time on their hands supposed to be spent in TV land? Is the rich legacy of their great grandparents, devoid of hyperactive virtual programming simply a legacy?
Let’s not take our comforts for granted. Instead, let’s use them to fulfill the ultimate purpose for which we were created. While in the car, let’s put on a Torah tape. Let’s use our cell phone to reach out to someone. Let’s elevate all the technology we have been given to hasten the Ultimate Redemption.
Let’s pray for the day, when T.V. sets all over the world will announce the arrival of Moshiach, for as the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of blessed memory once said: “That was the reason CNN was created!” May it be speedily in our days, Amen!