Ignorance Really is Bliss
Everyone has their pleasure buttons. For some it's cigarettes, for others that slice of chocolate cake on the table. Me? I'm a news and politics junkie. If left to my own devices I would spend all day online reading news articles and blogs, and when I ran out of those I would go on Wikipedia and look up everything I had read about. Recently I took on a resolution (yes it was around New Years, no it wasn't for New Years) to cut down on my media consumption. It was inspired when I went out to dinner with a few of my frummie friends, most of which were serious talmidei chachamim in their own right. Yet a little ways into the night I found us discussing things like electric cars and George Bush. I thought silently to myself, "If we were having this discussion ten years ago it would probably include something about Bill Clinton and maybe the internet or G-d knows what. Yet I could look back on that conversation today and the content would be meaningless for me. So too I could look back on this current conversation 10 years from now and it would be equally meaningless. I was sitting here with Torah learners who could be imparting upon me and each other thoughts of Torah which, Torah being eternal, would be just as enlightening and relevant 10 years into the future as right now. Indeed, Torah thoughts and insights are like a fine wine, as you come to understand the insight better through life experience it often improves with age.
Upon this realization I decided that I spend to much of my time concerning my brainwaves with things that, while interesting or fun to talk about, really have no bearing in the grand scheme of things and therefore I needed to trim some of the intellectual fat. There's a lot of stuff going on in the world, and probably 90% of it has absolutely nothing to do with my day to day life. While the thought of giving up all news was a little to intimidating, I decided from now on Bli Neder (that's a BIG bli neder!) I would try to stop reading non-Jewish and non-Israel related news websites. This was an especially tough move for me because of the main English language Jewish news sites, I find Haaretz way too leftist and JPost mildly too liberal and often too bland. Though I get the feeling Ynet is somewhat anti-religious I'm keeping them around (for now) because they usually have up to the moment updates of what is going on in Israel and of course there's always good ole' Arutz Sheva. Plus I've developed a deeper appreciation of Rabbi Lazer Brody's "Lazer Beams" of which I was already a big fan.
So how has it been? Well first of all it's interesting how when one tries to go up a level the Sitra Achra combats them with extra challenges to block the path. On day one of this new resolution the country went to war in Gaza. So I had a few peaks at the Drudge Report but other than that I'm proud to say I've been pretty good about it for the past couple of weeks. And you know what? It feels great! I can actually see extra time in my day that I'm spending in much more fulfilling ways and while I'm still keeping informed of issues facing the Jewish people, I no longer carry the weight of the entire world on my shoulders. I did take a quick peak again a day or two ago and was shocked at two things: A)How much is going on in America and the world I didn't know about (apparently some miracle jet crashed into the Hudson without anyone dieing and America is going to have a new president tomorrow or something like that... who knew?) and B)How I suddenly could care less about all these things I was missing out on knowing about- their importance suddenly became non-existent, as if they weren't real headlines but just some irrelevant fiction story written by an author nobody has ever heard of. For anyone thinking of trying this I really recommend it. If your as into the news as I am then you might have to get rid of things in stages but I've found the age-old adage really is true... ignorance turned out to be bliss after all. And besides- you've always got Kumah to read!