Tell Me Who Your Friends Are?
On a daily basis we are bombarded with an enormity of information. Facebook, Twitter, texting, emails, 24-hour-news cycles, etc. What we don’t realize, perhaps, is how this barrage of overfeed continually attempts to define and influence who we are. Each byte is competing to shape our thoughts, instigate our emotions, and capture our attention as did some over-possessive childhood friend who always tried to tell you what to do. He was the friend your parents advised you from hanging out with because in his company you always ended up in trouble. In today’s information rage, we also obsessively cling to certain media and sites as an entertaining companion who is there for us day or night. Rarely do we stop and ask whether these are “friends” with whom I should be spending time? Do you ever find yourself posting something especially harsh and uncharacteristically “you” because the peer pressure on whatever side of the political blogosphere you’re on is rooting you on? Have you ever found yourself becoming too friendly online, as a married person, with someone of the opposite sex? Have you ever spent too much money shopping online because you’ve been lulled into a mindset of needing? These unguarded moments can accumulate and soon that statement you posted gets you into trouble, maybe even costing your job. That woman at the end of the send button soon invites you for more than a chat. That online spending soon leads you into unsustainable debt. These are the ways of the Serpent, our evil inclination, who never comes dressed as a snake anymore. Today he comes dressed in a miniskirt, in an irresistible sale, in many subtle forms that tweak us ever imperceptibly out of Eden. How many of us were deeply bothered by President Obama’s affiliation with Reverend Wright and other individuals. Were we just condemning the reverend’s anti-Americanism, or were we instinctually feeling that if you sit long enough in the pew, you’ll come to share the view. Thus it is for good reason too that the Talmud cautions us to “keep away from a bad neighbor” even if your morals are antithetical to his and you think that you can withstand the influence of his evil ways. Remember that evil has been around a lot longer than we have and that it is an unabatable fire with the sole mission of scorching your soul. Remember always that when you play with fire you get burned. You cannot spend your days in a fish store and come out smelling like roses. We learn in the Biblical story of Joseph, that day after day the wife of his Egyptian “boss” would make sexual advances to him. Reared in a pure home, he continually spurned her advances not wanting to sin against God. However, the Zohar teaches that Joseph almost yielded. Thus it comes as little surprise in this week’s Torah reading that Joseph advises his father and brothers to tell Pharaoh that they were shepherds, a trade which was despicable to the Egyptians. As such, Pharaoh gave them a place to dwell outside of the city’s hubbub, where idol worship was rampant. Joseph wanted to keep his family far away from any possible bad influences. No person is strong enough to flirt with a situation or environment over and over again and leave unscathed. Thus, it is essential that each person scrutinize his surroundings and friends, as well as the things he reads and the habits he feeds. For every single thing in your life is a like a sculptor’s chisel shaping the person you become. Stand vigilant so that the best of you is not being chipped away. Sponsored by Wordsmithy Editing Services