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iPhone: Friend or Foe?

Friday, 11 August, 2017 - 6:42 pm

The Atlantic published an article this week entitled “Have Cellphones Destroyed a Generation?”  According to the author, rather than leveraging the power of technology, the “new generation” has become enslaved by it.

Some people struggle with their relationship with their phone, others with money and yet others with food, but the solution is always the same:  Don’t confuse the means with the ends.

Take food for example.

In this week’s Torah portion we find the verse “man does not live by bread alone, but rather by, whatever comes forth from the mouth of the Lord does man live”. A commentary on the Parsha shares that  “this verse reminds us that there’s a greater purpose to eating. One must eat to live not live to eat.”

Every diet and weight-loss strategy has its pros and cons, but for any one to really work, you've got to get your mind right. You need to view food as a means to an end, not an end to itself. You have to start seeing food as a source of nutrition and energy. In other words, you eat to live rather than live to eat.

The same holds true for many other aspects of life, including money and technology. What are the means and what are the ends? Do you make money to live or do you live to make money?

The problems begin when the means become more important (to us) than the ends. Think of the dad who gets a job in order to support his family, but then never sees his family, because he’s so consumed by his career.

The secret to not becoming a slave to technology is to have clear priorities.  Actually, it is the secret to successful living in general,  as Steven Covey writes “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”.

The truth is that the challenge of the “new generation” is not the iPhone, but rather a lack of clarity. You can’t keep the main thing the main thing if you have no idea what the main thing is.

On the other hand, if you spend the time to get “the main thing” clear, you will gain a healthy perspective on technology, work and even food. You will see them as a means to an end, and as tools to be leveraged towards achieving your greater goals in life.  When you know why you are alive and what your life stands for you free yourself from the Pharoahs (slave masters) of our time.

Shabbat Shalom 

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

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