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Being Smart About Using Your Smartphone

Being Smart About Using Your Smartphone

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Time to pull out some parenting books, I think, feeling desperate. My kids are rowdy and squabbling, and can’t sit still at dinner. I must be doing something wrong.

I look up at them in frustration, and then I realize, No kidding. I’m on my phone, distracted. Of course, they’re going bonkers.

And then I think, I don’t need to read any parenting books. I simply need to destroy my smartphone.

Not necessarily.

After the Jews sinned with the Golden Calf, Moses was devastated and shattered the Tablets containing the Ten Commandments. In this week’s Torah portion, G‑d commands Moses to carve out new Tablets, and then gives a surprising command. Instead of banning gold or warning the Jews about its dangers, G‑d instructs the Jews to take their gold and use it to build a Tabernacle for Him as an atonement for their sin.

Because everything G‑d created can be used in a constructive or destructive manner, and it is up to us to use it appropriately. By instructing them to build the Tabernacle as an atonement for the Golden Calf, G‑d was teaching the Jews what gold was truly created for: to build a home in which to serve Him.

The same is true with everything else in the world, including technology.

Misuse is not a signal that we should eradicate it; rather, we should redirect its use. Instead of destroying my smartphone, I can learn to use it at times when it doesn’t take me away from my children. And even when it is an appropriate time, I can use my phone to improve relationships and learn something new—the way it is meant to be used.

Thoughtstream: Today, I will set boundaries with technology and determine how to utilize it for a holy cause.

(Adapted from Sefer Hasichot 5748, vol. 2, p. 593, and Shulchan Shabbat: Devarim, p. 99.)

Sara Blau is a teacher and extracurricular director at Beth Rivkah High School. She is a wife, mother, and author of several children“s books.
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