Sign In Forgot Password

Parshas Shlach - Up, Down, Vertical & Horizontal    25 Sivan 5782

06/24/2022 09:36:21 AM


This Dvar Torah is sponsored by Saylor and Bracha Crayk in honor of Bracha Pesia Crayk's Birthday


From time to time I find myself at one of the largest, busiest airports in the world - Chicago’s O’Hare international. O’Hare, due to its size, sometimes requires changing terminals, going up and down and all around! As in many airports and other travel centers, moving walkways help  speed up the average person’s walking time, allowing the ‘walking’ passengers to just stand still and allow the belt to move them along to their appropriate boarding locations.  While gliding along on one of these moving walkways, I began to think about  the multiple devices used at airports as well as train and railroad stations which help people to move from one place to another. Thinking these inventions were relatively new, I searched a bit and was taken by surprise at what I learned. Here is a brief history of these moving people devices.

Since the beginning of time, man has striven to figure out ways to move around beyond the physical limitations of the human body. The Otis Elevator Company can trace its origins to 1853, when Elisha Graves Otis introduced the first safety passenger elevator at the Crystal Palace Convention in New York City. His invention impressed spectators at the convention, leading to the introduction of  the first passenger elevator, installed in New York City in 1856. Only three years later in 1859, Nathan Ames in Michigan invented something he called ‘Revolving Stairs’,  generally acknowledged as the world's first escalator.

A moving walkway, also known as an auto walk, moving pavement, moving sidewalk, people-mover, or travelator, is a slow-moving conveyor mechanism that transports people across a horizontal or gently- inclined plane over a relatively short distance. These moving walkways are often installed in pairs, one for each direction.

The first moving walkway, designed by architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee, debuted as The Great Wharf Moving Sidewalk at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, in Chicago It had two different divisions: one where passengers were seated and one where riders could stand or walk. It ran in a loop down the length of a lakefront pier to a casino. Six years later a moving walkway was also presented to the public at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris as the Rue de l’Avenir. The walkway consisted of three elevated platforms, stationary, a second which moved at a moderate speed, and the third at about ten kilometers per hour (six miles per hour). These demonstrations likely served as inspiration for some of H. G. Wells' settings mentioned in the "Science Fiction" section below.

The first moving walkway in an airport was installed in 1958 at Love Field in Dallas. Moving walkways generally move at a slower speed than a natural walking pace, and even when people continue walking after they step on a moving walkway, they tend to slow their pace to compensate, thus moving walkways only minimally improve travel times and overall transport capacity but nevertheless give the harried passenger time to just ‘let it roll’.  

People often think of technology as something that was created by man. A person could easily fall into this kind of mentality. Man is given the tools by God to create and produce so as to ‘move’ mankind along for many different reasons. We should never forget that all the modern conveniences of life and all the technology we continuously are being introduced to should be used to help ‘elevate’ us in our service to Hashem. That point, however, too often gets lost on the toys. Not only must we realize that the actual invention is from Hashem, but the central theme of the invention is also from God. This is so clear from some of the Torah’s related stories. Here is a perfect example:

In this week’s Parsha Shlach the Torah states in Bamidbar 13:25 "וישובו מתור הארץ מקץ ארבעים יום"  “At the end of forty days they came back from exploring the land”. Rashi questions the ability for the spies to travers the land so quickly. Rashi writes, “But is it not four hundred Persian miles by four hundred Persian miles, and the walking distance of an average person is ten miles per day; thus, there is a walking time of forty days from East to West and they traversed the entire   length and breadth? However, since it was revealed before the Holy One Blessed Be He that He would decree upon them ‘for every day a year,’ קצר לפניהם את הדרך   He shortened before them the way”.

The spies had what we call ‘kfitzas haderech - a jumping of the way’. This is not the only place in the Torah we find this. Yaakov Avinu also experienced this phenomenon. This is clearly an open miracle. So why didn’t the spies  recognize that Hashem has the ability to fulfill His promise, guaranteeing that the Jewish people would, inherit and conquer the land? The answer offered by many is miracles and wonders only work for those who believe in them. Those who do not believe, cannot  see or even perceive of these miracles. That is something Dovid HaMelech says in Tehilim which we read in Hallel "עינים להם ולא יראו" :   “Eyes they have, but they see not”.

We are, Baruch Hashem, blessed with eyes to see and ears to hear, and so forth.  Sometimes we must ask ourselves, ”What are we really looking at?  Am I looking at all?

What do I see?” Is it true that just because we have eyes, we will see and perceive everything? The answer, of course, is a loud and clear, “No!” Just because we have eyes, enabling us to look, to see, to even see something in its acutely visual form does not mean we are truly seeing – truly perceiving/ understanding - what is in front of our eyes. When we see something, we need to understand where it comes from and what is it about. Hopping on a walkway does not mean I can now sightsee in the airport because I don’t have to watch where I walk. Rather, I must see/actively internalize that Hashem has given me the merit of K’fitzas Haderech, a shortening or speeding up of my travels. As with all parts of this world, the events, the ‘happenings’ we experience are only blessings and miracles if we open our eyes, comprehending at the deepest possible levels, knowing from Whom these events come. Otherwise, we remain blinded, incapable of true appreciation and inner growth.  Even the overt, continuous improvements of modern technology require acknowledgement of giving proper credit to the Source of such achievements As each of us experience what we think of simply by living our modern lives, consider this to be one more step towards building our ever-deepening relationship with Hashem, continuously working to serve Him to the fullest ability of our ability to see! !

Ah Gutten Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Tue, June 25 2024 19 Sivan 5784