In anticipation of today's e-waste collection by the Town of North Hempstead, Judy and I decided late last night to clear out our old laptops. So we fired 'em up to delete important items, and after a while they were ready to go. Judy closed her erstwhile machine for the last time and sighed wistfully as she said goodbye.
How ironic, thought I. Many of us communicate more with our devices than we do with each other, and so it makes sense for us to feel a sense of loss when an aging computer is put out to pasture.
But these are only tools; they are no more capable of loving or being loved than a hammer or an electric drill. They (usually) do what we tell them to do, no more or less.
By contrast, the bonds that we make with people are much more complicated and much deeper. And all the more so with God; the modern Jewish philosopher Martin Buber describes the relationship with God as being the most intimate, the only partner upon which we place no conditions.
We will not be sitting shiv'ah (the seven day Jewish mourning period) for our discarded computers. But as I reconsider my relationships with my current devices, I am grateful for the people in my life, and all the more so with the Unconditional. We read three times a day in the Ashrei prayer:
קָרוב ה' לְכָל קרְאָיו. לְכל אֲשֶׁר יִקְרָאֻהוּ בֶאֱמֶת
Qarov Adonai lekhol qore'av, lekhol asher yiqra'uhu be'emet
God is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him with integrity. (Psalm 145:18)
However it is that God can be described as being near, I am fairly certain that God is nearer to me than my laptop.
Rabbi Seth Adelson