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Tuning Out

I knew deep in my heart that living without all the junk on TV would be the best thing in the world for our family, but as with all bad habits, I couldn’t give it up…


Quite a few years ago, after moving to Israel, I bought a book which caught my eye in the bookstore. It was called “Days are Coming” by Rabbi Azriel Tauber (published by Shalheves and distributed by Feldheim Publishers). The main focus was on Moshiach including the prophecies and signs leading up to his arrival. It was a very informative, thought provoking book and was relevant to the times we were/are living in. The part that really got to me though, and I can say, even disturbed me, was the final chapter entitled “Think About This”. It offered a challenge from Rabbi Tauber to abstain from media and media-type influences for a period of 40 days. He guaranteed that by doing so, it would clear your mind and allow ‘your inner beauty to shine forth from somewhere deep inside’ (pg. 218)

It was a troubling thought because I recognized his words as truth, yet I was not prepared to follow his advice. We had once canceled our cable and stopped watching TV while in Canada (except for the 10 p.m. news) which was a big step. Unfortunately, against our better judgment we bought a new television in Israel on the premise that it would help us learn Hebrew more quickly. I suppose when one looks for excuses, the yetzer hora (evil inclination) is all too happy to help out. At one point (as mentioned in a recent article) we had our television seized by the court, yet a compassionate relative bought us a new one. We allowed the TV to invade the holy air of our home and creep into our children’s and our intellect. I became a silent partner in an unregulated, programmed routine as we all slowly became living robots. We were constantly tuned in to a serving up of non-kosher amusement which provided hours of wasted time daily. Even the most wholesome shows on the tube came complete with non-Jewish values and ideals.
Over the years, the challenge proposed by Rabbi Tauber never really left me, but with all of life’s hurdles, it was definitely not on my to-do list. That was, until a couple years ago. As part and parcel of the increased spiritual awareness of a close family member of mine, I was unexpectedly being pushed to get rid of our television set. I knew deep in my heart that living without all the garbage on the TV would be the best thing in the world for our family, but as with all bad habits, I wasn’t able to give it up. It was also a perfect escape from all the problems which had overtaken us at that time. But simultaneously, I was beginning to learn the wisdom of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev zt’l through the many books, shiurim and CDs provided by Rabbi Lazer Brody shlit’a and Rav Shalom Arush shlit’a. I was slowly becoming more open to the idea of going ‘cold turkey’ on the small screen. Not only was it not nourishing our souls, it was actually damaging them. The more time we spent on television and movies, the less precious moments were left for learning and living Torah. What we were doing in essence was comparable to filling our lungs with polluted air – intentionally!
HaShem has a wonderful way of directing our lives when we are not even aware. He sent another messenger to help us make the final, cleansing decision; a prominent Rabbinical Figure was conducting a campaign to persuade people to do away with their television sets. After watching a few of his programs on the internet (internet? that’s another discussion) I was provided with the encouragement necessary to take the final plunge. Before too long, with my husband’s seal of approval, our box of iniquity joined the day’s trash in the dumpster.
Great decision! Since that day, we have grown in leaps and bounds. Without the crutch of a force-fed entertainment system to make us intellectually (and physically) lazy, we looked elsewhere for stimulation. We utilized the wonderful spiritual guidance we had acquired, and in so doing discovered new outlets for our free time. Henceforth, our valuable time would be spent only in the service of HaShem and the pursuit of lofty goals.
I can’t begin to explain the feeling of freedom and gratification I have experienced since using my spare time in more creative ways and for the sake of Heaven. With thanks to HaShem, He has given me the opportunity to expand my horizons. He has opened a whole new world for me, one that I had suppressed since high school. I had always enjoyed writing stories, poetry and oil painting, but had not done so since my teen years. With HaShem’s Blessing (and thanks to Rabbi Brody), for well over a year now I have been writing articles, poems, a blog and just recently began creating music videos. I would never have been so inspired and inventive had I been stuck like a couch potato watching the television every evening.
By removing that electric box from our midst, we have changed the dynamics in our home. We have provided a space to receive HaShem’s Light where the TV rays once reflected it away, just as a mirror repels the light of the sun. One cannot expect Holiness to reside in the same room as the yetzer hora.
We each have G-d given talents and unique aptitudes designed especially for us to enhance our happiness and to facilitate our mission here in this world. The test is finding that personal niche and using it for the right purpose.
So I can concede that Rabbi Tauber was 100% correct in his assessment and I would like to pass the challenge on to you. If you still have a flat screen on the wall of your den or elsewhere, disconnect it today. I guarantee you will discover things about yourself you never knew existed, and you will undoubtedly grow much closer to HaShem in the process.
As for me, my next hobby might just be painting!

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  1 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  so true
Esther11/11/2010 1:29:04 AM

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