"Every human being, even the greatest of the great, has periods of elation and depression, of ups and downs, and this lack of spiritual equilibrium is inherent in the nature of things and is not necessarily a function of the individual's own failings." by Rabbi Adin Even Israel Steinsaltz

The Rabbi's Essays
"Most of the Jewish people are so very scattered and removed from each other that they hardly ever find a common language, or even any language that makes sense to them as Jews. This is what is called assimilation, which is basically the loss of the common heritage. We therefore have to try to reach some deeper levels of the soul, many of them bordering on the unconscious, to help us get back to talking together, to having some kind of a common language."

Homecoming by Rabbi Adin Even Israel Steinsaltz.
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The Virtual Cages

The modern world is characterized, not only in principle but also in practice, on greater freedom – socially, in the sense of accessibility and of traveling the world, etc. All these are supposed to be ways in which the liberated human being finds expression.

But this is only one side of things. There are other aspects that work – though mostly in accordance with people's will – in the opposite direction. The more modern and advanced the world becomes, the more life in the wide expanses is discarded. More and more farmers and their likes, who were surrounded with open spaces and sky above their heads, move to the big cities; these in turn are growing bigger and are becoming more crowded, with more high-rise towers. Contemporary men, the city people, can, technically speaking, travel far and wide; but social patterns place them in factories and offices. In principle it is a free society; but in practice, there is a significant measure of enslavement in it.

Choosing city life is not an inescapable necessity, but rather a matter of choice. It seems that people tend to crowd together more and more, to inhabit closed spaces and live a life full of locks and fences. True, city people do have entertainment centers, surely more than the inhabitants of villages or wilderness do – night clubs and day clubs, restaurants and pubs; but these too are, in essence, a part of this huddle, they fulfill a need to be with others – not necessarily significant others: just others, and many of them. People no longer just sit or roam around, singing their own song: they go to congested shows and events.

In this sense one people willingly do to themselves what is being done to chickens against their will. For reasons of comfort and efficiency they choose not to walk around on their own, but rather crowd in small cages (even if these cages contain six or eight rooms). They go into those cages either because they are familiar and cozy or because they are no longer familiar with any other kind of existence except life in such cages.

In the not-so-very-distant past, people who went in groups of whatever kind they had close, intimate relations with each other, and not only with one person but with different kinds of people: family members, friends from their congregation or neighborhood play-mates. But this, too, seems to have become too heavy, and consequently the things that people once used to enjoy are changing, they too are and becoming more crowded. Furthermore, the various media that were supposed to open the entire world for the individual, wherever he may be – such as TV stations, radio and computers – are indeed highly successful; but their success expresses, to a great extent, the loss of individual identity; for the individual is now no more than a rating datum.

Nowadays, practically everybody has in their pockets gadgets that seemingly allow them to connect with the entire world. But in practice even the cellphones, with all that has developed around them, have become just one more means of crowding together, of losing selfhood and of dependence. Cellphones have become replacements for real people. As can be seen everywhere, people now have less and less time to talk to each other face to face. Human, individual contact is continuously ceding to these gadgets. Even in family or friends reunions people almost do not sit with each other: they sit with their cellphones – basically in order to tell each other more or less the same things. Thus even the megalopolises and jumbo-events are shrinking, for the chickens are sitting in their cages, eating and drinking, and cackling with each other via their smartphones.