To Be or Not to Be? Judaism’s Approach to Modernity’s Challenge of Being In the Moment

by Sivan Rahav Meir

The following text was sent to me last night by Rabbi Yoni Lavi: “400 years ago Shakespeare asked: To be or not to be? The modern era has given a surprising answer to this question: To be and not to be, at the same time. Many of us choose not to be present, even when they are here. They are constantly available to everyone. They are on vibrate mode. Not the phones, the people. When you are everywhere, you are nowhere. We run around and juggle many tasks simultaneously, and insist on doing everything at the same time. In such a world, every face-to-face meeting occurs ‘on borrowed time’ – only until the next text message or phone call comes in and our attention immediately shifts to other places. When someone sits in front of you and holds a smartphone, you know that in fact, they are not completely with you. 

The commandment of the Counting of the Omer which we perform these days, and which appears in this week’s Torah Portion, has an interesting suggestion for us. One moment before we perform the daily counting, we stop and say: ‘I am here, ready and prepared to perform the commandment of the Counting of the Omer.’ It takes just a few seconds, but we focus, get ready, silence our minds and our phones, making ourselves ready for this moment, because it will never return. We do the simplest, yet most wonderful thing there is: we are simply present, completely so. If only we want, we can take this gift with us to other ares of our lives: in our time together with our spouse, during the bedtime story with our child, in prayer, in ourselves. I am here, ready and prepared. I am here. And only here.”

To be or not to be? How will you deal with today’s challenge of being present?

Originally posted by Sivan Rahav Meir on her facebook page.

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