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Like most of us today I receive a great deal of email from people and companies whom I do not know and have no connection to. Most of the emails that I receive fall into the category of spam and are rapidly deleted. However, I am a creature of habit and I look at my email inbox regularly, sometimes more than once a day. I am always hopeful that there will be an email of importance, intelligence and of good news. But I must admit, rarely are the e-mails I receive of this type. As my eyesight unfortunately has declined, I find it more more difficult to read the emails that are sent to me. Often, I simply surmise that an email is not important and without reading it, I assign it to the trash bin of my computer. But then I always have a nagging suspicion that there may have been something important that I did not read and respond to properly.

I have told many of my colleagues and friends to regress with me to a simpler age when communication between human beings was accomplished mainly by verbal speech. I told them that if they really wanted to know my opinion or to respond to an invitation or notice, I would appreciate it if they would simply talk to me either personally or by telephone. I realize how anachronistic this sounds in the world of texting and emails, but my friends, I enjoy being old and being old-fashioned.
I have just discovered that it is possible to live a completely enjoyable and normal life without being a slave to one's computer and email inbox. In fact there are days, not only on Shabbat, that I go completely cold turkey and do not look at my emails at all. I use my computer today almost exclusively for writing these types of brilliant articles. In addition, due to a mix-up regarding the dates of my travels and the cancellation of newspaper deliveries in my absence, I have not resumed receiving the daily newspaper, which, when I do receive it, I have very great difficulty reading it, except for the headlines. And, believe it or not, I find that I am calmer and in better spirits when I do not receive the newspaper.
All the important news of the world I receive when I visit synagogue every day and people engage me in conversation. They still do receive the newspaper and still read their emails, so they are well-informed while I am blissfully unaware of much of what is going on. But I have discovered that much of what is happening is really of little lasting consequence or note and is not important enough to warrant the physical and mental aggravation that reading the newspaper or my emails, given the current state of my eyesight. I never really appreciated the saying: ‘ignorance is bliss’, and though I do not agree wholeheartedly with such a broad statement, that saying does make a point that is worth considering.
The current 24/ seven news cycle is bound to produce fake news, biased opinions and a great deal of nonsense. There is not enough real news to fill the 24-hour news channels. So, to function they had to create news, engender debate or be endlessly repetitive. I remember in my youth that news broadcasts on the radio were scheduled only a number of times per day. Then they became news on the hour and then they became news stations exclusively, with all the negativity that such program scheduling can produced.
Someone recently remarked that he had sent me an email to which I had not responded. I asked him to tell me what he wanted in the email and I would be happy to talk to him. But he said that he realizes that the email was not important, and he does not wish to waste my time with a sterile conversation. I thought to myself if he realizes that his email was not important then why did he send it to me.
I realize that people send emails simply because they can send them. It is the culture of the iPhone that drives all of us to meaningless and unimportant activities that occupy a great deal of our time and energy. So, my friends, I will occasionally look at my email inbox but do not be insulted in any way if you do not get a response to an email that I have not read.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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