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Block Out Bliss

12/14/2011 09:42:30 AM


For all of you who wait breathlessly for my 'thoughts', I apologize for this long hiatus. The hiatus has been so long in fact that I have not written since before the blackout. 


I know I might sound slightly imbalanced when I say this, but I actually enjoyed the blackout. Now to be fair, our family was only without power for a couple of days, and I am fully sensitive as to how trying and costly it must have been for those who were blacked out for a week.  All of that being said, I'm sure that I am not the only one who felt some redeeming qualities to the whole experience. 

Three specific areas stand out as being both instructive and meaningful: 

(1) The experience of being without power, and understanding the difficulties that it presented, gives one a certain perspective of the mesiras nefesh (self sacrifice) demonstrated by past generations in ensuring the continuity of the Jewish people. If a person stops to reflect on what it must have been like, even just a couple generations back, to have routinely gone to a freezing cold mikvah, or cooking Yom Tov for a large family, or sitting at a table learning Torah late into the night - all without the assistance of electricity.  It is simply amazing to consider the enormous footsteps in which we traverse and I confidently hope that the sacrifices of past generations have strengthened and fortified our resolve to boldly meet the challenges of our own day.   

(2) The blackout gave the community the opportunity to throw open one's doors in the spirit of Avraham Avinu. I believe that there are opportunities that a community is given to make a statement that we are more than a collection of bodies living in one place but we have the spirit of a collective and loving unit. To walk into homes with power (or if you are really fancy - a generator!) only to see 10 mattresses on the floor, feels like one of those communal opportunities in which we can proudly say that we were up to the challenge.

(3) Most importantly to me, the blackout seemed like a great opportunity to unwire. Motzei shabbos after the storm, we all sat on the floor without a computer, cell phone, blackberry, wii, or DS in sight- just talking as we crept under multiple blankets trying to keep warm. What a fantastic evening, and unfortunately one that is few and far between. Are we even able as families and as a society to just sit and talk and enjoy each other's company and maybe even cherish the meaningful silence between loved ones? Are we and our children automatically bored when our lives are stripped of all of the things that for so many have become like oxygen? How long can an adult or teenager last without impulsively checking their handheld to see what they may be missing? I hope that as a nation we can still take pride in being the people of the book/ books, a nation that cherishes ideas and debate, and a people who first and foremost seek meaningful and deep connections. If I could be so bold, let's attempt to mandate one hour of family time a week (not including Shabbos), as well as making a policy that when the family is together during dinner or homework time that no cell phones are allowed in the family vicinity. These are small things, but it is a step in the direction of continuing to create vibrant family structures in which people are deeply engaged with each other.   

IY'H we should not experience another natural disaster anytime in the near future, but hopefully we can always manage to utilize even moments of distress as opportunities for personal and communal growth.

R' Blass


Sat, April 17 2021 5 Iyyar 5781