Yisrael Rosenberg

Taking a break from the quake and the ache

Many of my friends know that every week, from just before sundown on Friday to just after nightfall on Saturday, my computers and cell phone get badly needed rest. This stretch of time corresponds to the Jewish Sabbath, when Orthodox Jews shut down our normal routine to be with family, go to synagogue for prayer and Torah learning, eat big and delicious meals and spend time chatting (live and in person – no electricity needed) with friends and family around the Shabbat holiday table.

This has always proven to be a good idea, and is in fact one of the great secrets of our personal and national survival.

But when the end of the Sabbath arrives – even before I get a chance to go to the bathroom after returning from synagogue – I usually break out that iPhone and check to see what I have missed.

My wife, who is a less high-tech person than I, does not look favorably on all this. And with our country being under missile attack and all, she thinks that I am too often acting downright nasty when approached for just about anything while I am typing on desktop or messaging with the iPhone.

Kind of reminds me that when I was kid, I had a floppy-eared, hush puppy look-alike Bassett Hound named Alfred Allenby – Alfred, for short.

Alfred was a true purebred, and as a result was somewhat unstable mood wise. This was  noticeable when anyone reached out to pull his feeding bowl away from him while he was chomping on the canned dog food we gave him each evening. In fact, even if I would just get near him while he was dining, he would growl and even snap his teeth, as if to say: “Bug off. ‘Keep your hands off of my stash’” (in the classic phraseology of Pink Floyd).

This is essentially what I do when I am deeply engrossed in responding to some asinine anti-Semitic posting from a Facebook friend located somewhere on the Indian sub-continent, or in Turkey, or even in Iran.
(Careful, loyal Facebook friends. Don’t be offended. I am merely using these countries as examples of how far-flung my Facebook friends list is. I cherish and respect all my friends’ comments, no matter how off-the-wall they sound and off-the-mark they might seem to Jewish, Israeli eyes.)

So. I have reached a decision. I am going to go 24 hours cold turkey from this ravenous dog dish that we call the computer. That tasty dog food is just going to have to wait. I’m going to shut down my Facebook wherever it can get to me, and I will probably put reading and answering emails on hold for a while as well.

I will then be blessedly, if temporarily, free of those things that can make me bark, or at the very least growl menacingly for my poor family to hear:

– Hate letters about the Israeli nation from those who have no idea what is going on here;

– Hate letters FROM my brethren in the Israeli nation who have bought – hook, line and sinker – the endless years of successful propaganda campaigns against Israel, from those who seek to bring harm to our little country;

– The annoying appearance of silly obscenities that too often populate some of the postings of my host Internet publication, the Times of Israel. My information says that some readers are put off by nasty scatological expletives and four mile-wide ‘naughty’ innuendos. These tactics for attracting readership actually may cheapen the look of our publication and make us appear less serious than the competition, such as: the Jerusalem Post, the Haaretz English edition, the New York Times, Y-net, Arutz 7, and others (David Horovitz and Miriam Herschlag, are you listening?)

Nevertheless, I am about to take the plunge. I intend to try to unplug for another 24 hours, while actually leading a productive life. I may get to notice how much my children have grown since I’ve seen them last. (Yes, they do live with me in our own home – but with my nose buried into the laptop screen or my darling iPhone, who has time to notice what’s going on in their lives?)

So there you have it. Wish me luck. Please continue to comment on my postings, but don’t expect me to catch up too soon.

But one thing seems certain: I’ll be back on line before you even noticed that I was away.


About the Author
Yisrael Rosenberg is a former New Englander who made aliyah 30 years ago. He lives with his wife and four children in Jerusalem.