12 Kislev 5781 / Saturday, November 28, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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The Theft of the Century    

The Theft of the Century

We have all been robbed of one of the most important aspects of our lives, but most of us don’t even realize it…


Ironically, “social media is making us more anti-social. It is robbing us of the greatest gift G-d gave us: The chance to be kind to each other.  


On social media, everyone puts their best foot forward. Or more like: Their mask. However hard I try, I am reminded day after day, moment after moment, that everyone in this world is happier than me, more successful than me, or is achieving what I want and cannot manage. When I do hear of someone else’s problem, all I feel is annoyed that this rich person has to handle a small dip in their perfect existence.  


If everyone has it better than you, it is very hard to not feel cheated all the time, and complain about your own life situation, which isn’t as picture-perfect as everyone else’s (seeming) online life. Hard not to feel down and depressed about your own difficulties and lackings. And it is even harder to have empathy for anyone else’s problems. 


This is the trap we need to avoid at all costs in order to preserve the most important capacity Hashem gives us: The capacity for kindness, affection, compassion, and unbounded love. It is important for us to develop these character traits, because “man is created in the image of G-d” – and G-d Himself is unbounded love and undeserved kindness. He created the world in order for humans to become “like Him” in the sense that we emulate His character traits, and become giving, loving, and compassionate people. This is part of why it feels so good deep inside when we act with love and kindness. 



What They are Doing to Us 


Social media forces us to present our best at all times, never revealing that we all have demons to slay, battles to fight, skeletons in the closet, and things pulling us down into the pit that we are fiercely resisting. Somehow we are not allowed to ask someone to offer a helping hand, loving shoulder, or kind word, or express that this act would be deeply appreciated.  


They steal our heart by numbing it. They deny our spirit by preventing us from sharing it.  



How do we See Through all This?  


When I get minute to minute posts about all my neighbors enjoying 5-star sushi meals and riding new sports cars, how do I know they need help? What help could I know they need? 


We learn from King Solomon that there is nobody in this world free from sin. We learn from the Talmud that there is no tribulation without a prior sin. There were only a handful of people in the history of mankind who lived their entire lives without committing a single sin. The rest of us fall down. We are mired in the muck.  


That means that by definition, we are all facing tribulations in one form or another. We all have our own personal challenges. 


Get to know someone in real life and you will see that they are just like us. They enjoy all the happy moments we do – and they experience all the difficulties we were put in this world to endure.  


Go to a hospital and you will see people who are rich, poor, religious, secular, liberal, and conservative, all dealing with physical challenges because they live in the same body we all do.  


Read up on people suffering from mental illness, or victims of abuse, and you will see that there is a lot of pain in this world.  


Then see what you can do about it.  


When we are able to see that everyone is just like us, we can share our pain with theirs. We can help them and regain our inherent decency. They can help us and together we become stronger. Our lives become more real in every sense, and we enjoy a true sense of fulfillment that simply cannot be found online in what I call “fake world” – which could also be called “empty world.” 


We can also pray to Hashem every day, not only for our well-being, but for the well-being of everyone around us that everyone should truly get to the point where every moment of their life is filled with joy and perfection.  


I promise, once that happens, I won’t be jealous.  


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