Many tales are told of chasidic wonder-workers who could magically see events far away. Today, of course, technology enables what was once a miracle.

The merit of the rabbis was that seeing far did not preclude seeing close. When we are so fixated on the wonders that farsightedness brings that we forget the world at hand, a gift becomes an obstacle.

Life is about knowledge and discovery, but more than both it is about encounter. The highest pitch of life is the difficult, fraught, astonishing face-to-face dialogue between two people — listening, talking, struggling to express and understand.

A full life is one marked not only by knowledge but by presence. Souls are shaped at the dinner table as surely as the study hall or the solitary mountaintop. Every now and then the screen must go dark so the soul can shine bright.

Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book is “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press).