Sign In Forgot Password

Parshas Ki Sisa - Facebook Live                          15 Adar 5778

03/02/18 09:34:51


Well, as usual, I find myself behind the eight ball again. As I get older I keep trying to stay in touch and keep current with technology, but I never seem to catch it quite right. By the time I get my act in order, a newer fad or system has already replaced the old one. I am finally getting into giving live classes on Facebook, only to learn that Facebook is for the old people already.

It took me a while to be convinced or just get over the hump of fear to just do it. Part of my hesitation was my ambivalence between using technology and certain social media that can be dangerous to the other extreme which supports many well-known, authoritative Rabbis who have sanctioned its use for Torah purposes. The far-reaching abilities technology creates are remarkable. Consider Hashem speaking on Har Sinai and the entire world able to hear it. Perhaps this is the modern mouth piece that can have such far- reaching potential, spreading Torah to the masses worldwide. Believe me, I’m not there yet and I don’t think my live classes will reach the four corners of the Earth. Nevertheless, this tool gives someone who cannot attend a class in person the opportunity to tune in to a Torah class and or simply to watch it later. I also hesitated to go online because there are so many other better Torah teachers out there. Why would someone want to listen to my Parsha or Tefilla shiur when they can easily click on one of the major leaders of today? The answer lies in the fact that a person will learn better from someone for whom they already have a connection. It feels a bit more personal when listening and watching someone you know on a live screen shot or a video recording. With today’s technology and instant video connection, we are as close as we possibly can get without physically being there. But keep in mind that with every positive substance that God gives us access to in this world also comes a downside element of negativity.

I am not going to lecture about all the dangers that lurk behind the dark side of the web and all its capabilities for someone to destroy their lives through it. But I would like to lecture on the shortcomings of the technology, particularly streaming live. The deficiency in live streaming classes is that while people feel it is just as good as actually being there in person, some even feeling it is superior to being there because anyone can take the Rabbi and his class anywhere he goes, the fact still remains that being face-to-face with someone, whether at a business meeting, class, chavrusa, bikur cholim, or even a shidduch date will have a more positive, personal effect than using skype, messenger or Facebook live. Our focus and concentration are challenged and most likely the individual will be diverted by distractions that the other person cannot see. You can ‘hide’ behind the screen, pick and choose when you want to listen, focus, pay attention or simply lose focus and even walk away without the ‘other’ knowing about it.

I’m uncertain if the benefits of having a class whenever and wherever I am outweigh the negative aspects or potential tendency to go online, replacing the ‘real’ lecture, class or Shiur. On the other hand, if we don’t offer every possible avenue for a person to learn, then they may not learn at all! To re-iterate, while I’m not convinced that that using modern technology is capable of measuring up to the effectiveness of attending a live Shiur, I am positive without a doubt that attending a class or a meeting in person far outweighs the alternative. A very famous story in the Talmud clarifies the distinction with regard to the whereabouts of a student vis-a-vis his teacher. In Gemara Eruvin 13b:Rebbi said: The reason that I am sharper than my colleagues is that I saw Rebbi Meir from behind. That is, I attended his lectures, if only to be seated behind him where I was unable to observe his face. And if I had seen him from his front, I would be even sharper. As it is written in Isaiah 30:20 ’And your eyes shall behold your teachers.’” Rav Shmuel Eidels* in his commentary on Gemara, known as Maharsha, explains the importance of seeing a teacher from the front because a teacher’s facial expressions convey meanings that are not conveyed through words alone.

There are times we see something and times when we think we see something. Images play a crucial role on our psyche. Professionals suggest that people who are dealing with physical and/or emotional pain that focus on happy thoughts and memories. Unfortunately, images can play tricks on our minds, causing us to err in judgment, making mistakes - as we see in the Torah.

In this week’s portion Ki Sisa the Torah states in Shmos 32:1: “Vayar Ha’Am Ki Bo’Sheish Moshe Laredes Min HaHar, Vayikahel HaAm Al Aharon, Vayomru Eilav, Kum Asei Lanu Elohim Asher Yeilchu L’Faneinu Ki Zeh Moshe HaIsh Asher He’Elanu MeiEretz Mitzrayim Lo Yadanu Meh Haya Lo”: “Meanwhile, the people began to realize that Moshe was taking a long time to come down from the mountain. They gathered around Aharon and said to him, ‘make us an oracle to lead us. We have no idea what happened to Moshe, the man who brought us out of Egypt’. The Midrash Tanchuma teaches us regarding this verse that Moshe was delayed by six hours on the day he was to return back to the camp. When the sixth hour came, forty-thousand [of the Eirev Rav] and two magicians from Egypt who left Egypt along with the Jews approached Aharon. The two magicians, Yonos and Yombros, performed in front of Pharoah. They said to Aharon, ’Moshe is no longer coming down from the mountain as the deadline had passed.’’ Aharon and Chur said, ”He is now going to come down from the mountain.’’. They did not listen, and they showed a figure or an image of a bier with Moshe lying dead. Chur got angry and rebuked them, and they rose up and killed Chur. When Aharon saw this, he started to get busy with doing the things they wanted. All they had to do was show a fake image of Moshe dead, instilling fear into the people. After that, it would be a sure thing to convince the Bnai Yisrael of the necessity of something that would lead them as Moshe had.

Seeing is believing; something that is in front of you is the real thing and cannot be misconstrued for something else. Everyone must acknowledge that even Facebook live isn’t as good as being there in person. If it’s impossible to be there in person, then as a backup it’s certainly a better option than not learning at all. By the way, my next Facebook live will be on Shabbos, but if you can’t tune in then, show up in person!


Ah Gut Shabbos & Ah Freilichin Purim

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky


Shmuel Eidels (1555 – 1631) was a renowned Rabbi and Talmudist famous for his commentary on the Talmud, Chiddushei Halachot. Eidels is also known as Maharsha (מהרש"א, a Hebrew acronym for "Our Teacher, the Rabbi Shmuel Eidels")

Sun, May 24 2020 1 Sivan 5780