In a recent study on Information Technology , Artificial Intelligence and its impact on humankind researchers noted,
“The advent of social media and online social networking has led to a dramatic increase in the amount of information a user is exposed to, greatly increasing that chances of the user experiencing information overload!”
Where, only a generation ago, interpersonal communication was for the most part as it had been in all previous eras, now, for the most part, social media has fully replaced authentic communication and true relationship building. Although we are continually under a barrage of endless, non-stop information overload from our iPhones, Tablets and Laptops, we nevertheless turn to these devices countless times a day to read a newest pop-up, article or post which cyberspace choses to throw our way. In the end, we as a culture compulsively stop whatever we are doing to “listen up,” regardless of whether the information we are being given is helpful or even good for us!
When I think of this reality we find ourselves in, my mind goes our Parashah (Eikev) and its beginning verse,
“Because you are listening to these rulings, keeping and obeying them, Adonai your God will keep with you the covenant and mercy that he swore to your ancestors.” (Deuteronomy 7:12)
In stating, “Because you are listening to these rulings…,” (i.e. Adonai’s commands to his people Israel), Moses draws from the root word, “Shema,” found in Deuteronomy 6:4 in stating,
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָהאֶחָֽד“
Hear O Israel, the Lord thy God, the Lord He is One.”
Not just to listen or merely pay attention, the word שְׁמַע more accurately is defined as our call to “LISTEN UP.” Here, the word comes, not as a soft reminder but instead with a shout to rise, to pay attention and to stop what we are doing and give Adonai our full and complete attention!
Sadly though, today, this is usually our last response!
If at dinner with our spouse or significant other, and the mobile devise makes that familiar sound, we instinctively reach and grab it to look without thinking! Instead of seeing that our information overload is pulling us away from authentic relationship, we nevertheless hurl head first into this abyss of technology that has been created for us! And of God and his voice calling out to us, our culture only has time to שְׁמַע listen if it is nicely packaged into a convenient sound bite, but not too long that it distracts us from the next post, tweet or informational pop-up!
When identifying this obvious problem, as the people of God, we can only have one response -
To turn to hear God’s voice and do what he is calling us to do!
We are constantly being inundated with a sea of information, but in the hardness of our hearts, we have lowered the voice of God to be on par as with all lesser voices and our call to שְׁמַע “listen up” is drowned out over the cacophony of unnecessary “white-noise!”
Does this mean that we should take all of our electronic devices and toss them in the garbage dumpster just outside of the Synagogue, NO!
But, what it does mean is that we should take every effort to stop, to listen to and do to all that God is directing us to do in the moment!
With our High Holy Days coming, lets return to the Fine Art of Active Listening and give our full attention to the voice of Yeshua our Messiah, knowing that when we do, God will not only bless us, but as with the Children of Israel, he will keep his covenant with us and will show is his mercy!
Stop and Listen! If you don’t, you might miss the most important thing ever spoken to you! .... שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל
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