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  Chapter 1 from
Rebbes and Chassidim: What They Said - What They Meant

By Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski 


Other Available Chapters
6  8  10 


What Price Progress?

Rabbi Mendel of Rimanov made the following observation 200 years ago. “When there were no roads, you had to interrupt your journey at darkness. You had the leisure to recite Psalms at the inn, open a sefer (book), and have a good talk with other people. Nowadays you can ride these roads day and night. There is no peace anymore.”

What would the Rebbe have said about us in the year 2000? We rush to catch flights, travel all night, have jet lag the next day, have no time for leisure or meditation, and whatever time we may have in a motel may be wasted on inane if not inappropriate forms of entertainment. When we come home we may be tense as a drum string and unable to give our families the attention they need and deserve.

Modern technology has indeed given us the means to travel faster and communicate more quickly, whether by phone, fax, or e-mail. Unfortunately, it has only enriched our means, but not our goals. To the contrary, we have been so wrapped up in using the marvelous means at our disposal that we often lose sight of our goals.

Rabbi Mendel was bewailing the consequences of progress in 1780. What shall we say of the progress of the year 2000? A two-page full-color advertisement proclaims the merits of a luxury automobile in large, bold letters: 0 to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds! An undeniable marvel of engineering. But pray tell, given modern traffic, just where can one put this feature to use? Furthermore, the average automobile achieves 60 mph in about eleven seconds. Why is the gain of 4.7 seconds worth an additional $40,000? Is it not clear that when it comes to speed, our logical thinking fails us?

If we are wise, we will think more about destination than means of travel, and more about the content of our messages than the instruments whereby we forward them.

 
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