Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Teves 5760 - January 5, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Sponsored by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Produced and housed by

Opinion & Comment
They Celebrate New Year; We Keep Shabbos

Even in Israel, it was hard to escape the worldwide celebration of the Christian New Year. The fact that it took place on Shabbos made it less present than it would otherwise have been, since we are cut off from the modern media on Shabbos kodesh, but there was still an unusual awareness of the change in the year, primarily due to the famous millennium computer bug.

It was a remarkable celebration on our planet, bringing together people from all around the world. For 25 hours, the non-Jewish world carefully watched the progress of the sun as it marked the end of the year they call "1999" and the beginning of the one they call "2000."

The worldwide revelry was a technological triumph: celebrants everywhere were connected with celebrants everywhere else through instantaneous communications both visual and audio, using the best and the swiftest that this age of satellite links and pervasive Internet can offer. Those whooping it up in freezing Times Square in the middle of New York City could see the fireworks of Sydney, Australia in the middle of their summer, the light show at the Egyptian pyramids, as well as dancers on South Sea islands and partiers in Paris -- all on huge screens set up on the sides of the skyscrapers of Manhattan. Millions of dollars were spent on effects and shows that would make it a unique event.

In contrast, the Jewish People of the Torah spent the day much as they have spent every seventh day for the past 3,000 years. They were, as usual on Shabbos, focused on G-d, on family and on themselves. All the glitzy technology makes very little difference. Its most significant impact is on lighting and climate control, which recedes far into the background as everyone is busy with the prayer, the discussions of the Torah portion of the week and the interaction with spouses, children and friends at the three obligatory Shabbos meals.

It is the same Torah portion that has been studied for over 3,000 years. When we study it we draw on the comments that have been offered by our great Torah scholars over the millennia, living in climes and conditions that were vastly different but all deeply united across the ages by the common Torah. Discussions at the Shabbos table bring the family members together with each other as well as with the Torah greats of all generations whose words speak to us with an impact and an importance that put the power and the speed of modern technology into stark perspective.

Is it a triumph to be able to see fireworks from halfway around the world in real time? Does it make the world a better place?

Does technology help us keep Shabbos better? In truth it affects it very little. Technology helps us do our work better, and work is prohibited on Shabbos.

But our achievement on Shabbos is great. We spend the entire 24 hour day in intimate contact with eternity -- which is well beyond the reach of any of the products of the human mind that are unaided by Toras Hashem.

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.