The Tortoise and the Secret

Gossip, the eternal mouthpiece of the never satiated has found its zenith in technology. That is why trust is such a rare commodity. Not only has social media exposed secrets, so have good friends.

Gossip has made bedfellows of men in distant lands and ruined lives of closest neighbors.

‎The distinguishing characteristic G-d instilled in Man is bechira, choice. Choice permits us freedoms that ultimately define to a great extent who we are.

Included in those freedoms is an inalienable right, to keep the secrets we wish to keep secret. We may wish to define ourselves by what and to whom we reveal not by those seeking to portray us in their imagined image.

A friend wondered, which is better today?

With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and the like, where one literally makes ‘friends’ via keystroke‎ with hundreds and thousands baring their soul for worldly view no work no time involved,  or is it the old fashioned world of yesteryear where a secret may be cloaked in an inner sanctum or cherished amongst two closest friends.

Rabbi Yaakov Hillel a Kabballist ‎compares the word wine to secret, in Hebrew these words are yayin and sod respectively. Kabbalists often cite gematria, numerical value to infer a relationship between words.

Rabbi Hillel argues that wine a sweet desert can represent the hidden meaning of Torah, literally meaning the ‘secrets’ of Scripture.

Hence, wine and secrets have the same numerical value. If we invest our time in the study of Torah we will be rewarded with having its wisdom and secrets revealed, ‘poured’ out to us.

This would require an active search of our own volition.

No Google, no Vimeos just the old fashioned way investing hard time to study and learn new meaning from old teachings immortalized thru the ages.

Our experiences working with many adolescents and adults whose lives have been scarred with abuse and violence, is they indeed carry a secret that may be marred by wine.

Unfortunately, in their inability to find a trusting person, or community, to share their secret with, they too often turn to wine or other addictive behavior, and away from G-d in search of relief.

These individuals take Rabbi Hillel’s mystical equation of wine and secret and in their enormous inner pain seek to quell or forget the pain, and shame their secret has caused them by drinking wine to hide their secret.

When such secrets are revealed and reviled for the world to literally see by purveyors of the latest technology, the secret carrier’s shame is compounded often sending them into an abyss of loneliness, depression or worse.

In how many friends would we trust our deepest secret?

It may be a spouse, a confidante we’ve been friends with forever, a Rabbi, a therapist, ‎a close colleague at work.

Often it is that one rare person in our lives in whom we have the trust to say anything and with it feel both unburdened and safe. But only to a person we are certain can keep our secret.

In how many such people would you place that eternal trust?

170 years ago on May 24, 1844 Samuel Morse telegraphed “What hath God wrought” essentially the first tweet of the modern world. Sending his message from the chamber in the Supreme Court in Washington DC, where ultimately the battle between Apple and the U.S Government may be fought over privacy in technology, to the B and O Railroad in Baltimore MD, is there any more old fashioned mode of transportation, Samuel Morse unknowingly also reinvented gossip.

‎The world is changing rapidly. Secrets change slowly.

As in the great fable The Tortoise and The Hare we may find today’s equivalent to be old speed and warp speed.

There’s a place and need for both, no one should stand in the way of progress, nevertheless we should remember that in the realm of secrets, snail mail remains a cherished form of sharing. ‎

Your secret should be safe with you and only with whom you cherish to share.

About the Author
David Mandel is Chief Executive Officer of OHEL Children's Home and Family Services in New York