Will the iPad be your H2O?

This is a guest column by Rabbi Da-vid Rosenthal, from Aish Minnesota.
Apple has come out with their latest invention – the iPad.
After months of speculation, the unveiling went off Tuesday with the entire world following with bated breath. Analysts are predicting sales of over 4 million iPads in the next year, and those are the conservative estimates. They will most probably become the next gadget to capture the world’s imagination and wallet.
Could you survive a day without your cell phone/smart phone? How about your computer? What if I extended that time to 2 days, three days, a week?
I am heading back to Minneapolis from my holiday in Toronto. After the second day here, my phone ran out of juice, and I realized I had packed the wrong charger. So for the rest of my stay, I was cell-phone-less. It was quite an anti-climactic event. Yet it made me think about all the different objects that we are addicted to.
In this week’s parsha, the Jewish people leave Egypt, only to get stuck in the desert without water for 3 days, which led to terrible quarreling. The Sages explain that this lack of water was not a literal lack of H2O, but rather a lack of Torah study. The idea being that the Jewish People cannot survive 3 days without learning G-d’s wisdom. As such, Moshe instituted from that moment on, that aside from the regular Shabbat reading, there would also be Torah readings on Mondays and Thursdays, so that no such event should happen again.
The question is why should the Bible refer the Torah as “water”. Why specifically that analogy?
I believe the answer lies with the cell phone.
Water is one of the few commodities in this world that you truly cannot do without. Coke, coffee, chocolate, and iPhones, are all very fine and dandy, but at the end of the day, we can survive without them. Water is an essential ingredient to our continued existence. The Torah is telling us that without learning G-d’s wisdom with an unremitting attitude, the Jewish People cannot survive. We simply don’t function.
Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of us are addicted to all other forms of nourishment except the one which will make the difference. We check our email and news headlines every few minutes, but rarely find a spare moment to engage in the pursuit of wisdom. Even the concept of Torah study seems foreign to us!
I am not referring here to people cracking out a volume of the Talmud and getting stuck in.
There is a plethora of deep, relevant material available to everyone and anyone, no matter what the language, no matter what the topic. Self-growth, marriage, raising kids, happiness, you name it, whatever you’re looking for is there.
Are we addicted to wisdom, or to iTunes? We need to make the effort to drink from the well of the Torah, to connect on a consistent basis to the source of spiritual life.
Why not try a 2 minute dose every morning before your first email? It’s a healthy way to start off your day.
Good Shabbos.
(Photo: Factoryjoe)