An Original Fire

How exhausting is it. I recently had the chance to talk about it sincerely, from the heart, with people close to me, and they all admitted that they are tired of it, that they invest a lot of time and energy maintaining and managing their virtual image/persona. It is a second job, and a full time one at that. One journalist spoke about the compulsion she feels to run every scoop through social networks and to respond with utmost wittiness to every criticism she receives. Teenagers spoke of how not even 30 minutes pass without them uploading a new story, and how this chase after “hearts” and “favorites” is tiring and incessant. I sympathized with them very much. I too feel that we experience less of what we do, and are more preoccupied with how to share with others that which we have experienced. And to be more honest: sometimes we do not really experience any more, we do not share the reality that is really happening, but rather stage reality for the next post. In the beginning of this week’s Portion, Aharon the Cohen lights the Menorah. Rashi defines a fundamental educational principle that has to do not only with the Menorah, but with the inner fire within us. We need to light it “until the flame will rise on its own”. Many commentators explain that our fire must burn independently, without relying on the environment. This is a call for selfhood, for originality, for an identity that is not based solely on how many shares and likes I got. It is a call for making up my own mind, my own opinion, before checking what all the people who shape public opinion say. It seems to me that this ancient call is relevant today more than ever. It is a challenge to live a life that has internal content without refreshing the browser a hundred times a day.

I wonder if I’ll manage to hold back and not check how many likes this post has received.

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סיון רהב-מאיר

Sivan Rahav-Meir is a media personality and lecturer. Married to Yedidya, the mother of five. Lives in Jerusalem. She works for Israel TV news, writes a column for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, and hosts a weekly radio show on Galei Zahal (Army Radio). Her lectures on the weekly Torah portion are attended by hundreds and the live broadcast attracts thousands more listeners throughout the world.
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