“You’re Living in a Box, and I Think It’s Insensitive”

It’s natural to be interested about the situation in Eretz Yisroel and to spend time following the news, WhatsApps and what not. But an honest assessment may help us recognize that in most cases, they leave us feeling down, dark, anxious and depressed.

By Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier – The Beis Medrash

“You’re living in a box, and I think it’s insensitive.”

Two women were discussing the situation in Eretz Yisroel and when one of them said that she hasn’t seen any footage of the attacks or the war, her friend made the above comment.

As Hashem prepared to flood the world, He instructed Noach to build a תיבה, an ark or box, so that he and his family could survive the devastating waters. צהר תעשה לתיבה, make a skylight for the ark, Hashem told him.

The Baal Shem Tov explains that the word צהר, which literally means glows or shines, is also a “window” into the secret of Jewish survival.

Using the same three letters, we can also get the word צרה, which means problem, misfortune, crisis. If a Yid is in a crisis, R”l, surrounded by a mabul that threatens to inundate him, what’s the solution?

Get into a box.

The word תיבה, ark or box, also means word. When we’re faced with trouble, the solution is to get into the words of Torah and tefilah.

The above three letters can also be read רצה, to want. To enter the תיבה properly means to create a רצה, a desire and passion for the words. Realize that we’re talking to Hashem and that He’s listening. Get emotional!

And recognize that our words actually make a difference. Through our words of Torah and tefilah, we have the ability to transform any צרה, crisis, into צהר, a bright, glowing future.

We’re all experiencing feelings of pain and loss, and a need to do something.

It’s natural to be deeply interested (or even just curious) about the situation in Eretz Yisroel and to spend a lot of time following the news, WhatsApps and what not. But an honest assessment of our actions may help us recognize that we may be feeding a false sense of purpose, as if by watching the horrors we are somehow easing the burden of a mourning mother R”L. Or that I’m giving strength to the soldiers in the IDF by tracking their progress.

The little boxes in our hands or on our desks also glow, but they can’t actually make a real difference. In most cases, they leave us feeling down, dark, anxious and depressed.

Before entering into those boxes and allowing their content to flood our minds and hearts, let’s consider entering Hashem’s box, His holy words. Saying Tehillim can not only make a real difference to those suffering in Eretz Yisroel, but it can also be a soothing experience for us. It leaves us feeling more upbeat and hopeful and calm.

Imagine the impact if for every minute we spent online, we instead spent one minute saying Tehillim!

Hashem also instructed Noach to bring others into the teiva with him. Imagine the impact if instead of sharing content from our digital boxes we got one more Yid to join us in words of Torah or tefilah!

Why did Hashem bring the mabul? “The earth was corrupt before Hashem, and the earth became full of robbery.”

The word used for robbery is חמס. Surely this is not by chance.

The Baal Haturim points out that the words חמס and גהינם share the same numerical value, 108. Hashem punished the wicked with the ultimate suffering of Hell.

Let Hashem take care of His part in giving all terrorists the Hell they deserve, and let us do our part by getting into our box where we keep ourselves and —most importantly— our brothers and sisters safe.

May Hashem comfort all those who are suffering, and may He give strength to those who are fighting and clarity to those who are making security decisions. And may we all merit to see the ultimate salvation with the coming of Moshiach, now!

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  1. Our glowing boxes are only good enough to send donations to you? How do you know to still stay tehillim if you are so holy as to not check the news? If your brother was about to die, wouldn’t you want to find out what happened? Are is that also just pretending to ease the burden?
    Of all the issues your students face this isn’t the bone to pick.

    1. Did you read this part of the article?

      “…that we may be feeding a false sense of purpose… In most cases, they leave us feeling down, dark, anxious and depressed.”

      So be honest. Are you checking the box to know whether to still say Tehillim, or for another reason?

    2. It appears that this article hit you a little to hard because you know it’s true…. Do you really think that those who don’t check the news, don’t get enough news to know to say tehilim?

  2. Actually, as a student of rabbi Lipskier I can tell you that he’s one of the only teachers we have who actually says the things we need to hear. His advice here is what’s actually good for us, and for everyone else…Sorry if can’t see this.

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