Are You Ready to Live Higher?
June 2, 2022
On June 21 and 22, more than 40,000 women of all ages and stages will unite in Prudential Center with a common mission and goal: to Live Higher.
This historic event will be the first of its kind—a women’s-only evening of inspiration that will lift up each participant and empower her to elevate her life and the lives of her family members.
Finally, we will learn how to turn our challenges into growth and how to overcome the obstacles of our generation. The program will be innovative, and the message will be revolutionary.
Unified but not uniform
In the words of Rav Elya Brudny, “We are unified but not uniform.”
Like the 12 Shevatim, each following its unique path in avodas Hashem, each community has leaders that have fine-tuned how and when their technology usage should be guided. Of course, each of us, from the young lady fresh out of seminary to the mother and bubby, in accordance with what works for our personal needs, desires to grow and Live Higher.
As did the following women, who chose to Live Higher.
Zahava sighed. It had been a long and hard day at work. She was new to the job, and it sometimes felt like she would never be able to catch up. As she drove home, she reflected on the events of her work day, the music in the background soothing her. Mr. Moskowitz, her boss, had certainly tried to prepare her when he’d hired her, telling her that it would be a challenge to manage the communication between the company’s clients and employees. He hadn’t been kidding; navigating the needs of the clients while balancing the employees’ schedules was no joke. She tried her best to do it all with a smile, but it definitely was stressful.
It was hard to believe that just four short months ago she had still been in seminary, sitting behind a desk writing notes, not imagining that this was what her future might look like.
Suddenly, her phone rang, the Bluetooth connection loudly interrupting the gentle music that had been playing. She looked briefly at the caller ID. “Mr. Moskowitz,” the screen showed, and Zahava quickly picked up.
“Hello?” she said.
“Miss Stern, did you see the email that the Feders just sent?”
“Um, no. I left the office twenty minutes ago and I’m driving home now. I can try to log into my emails when I get home.”
Mr. Moskowitz let out a sigh. “Never mind. I’ll just respond myself. I keep forgetting that you don’t have a smartphone. You know, it makes it very difficult that you’re unable to respond to emails when you’re not in the office. A lot of clients also correspond through WhatsApp. It would make things a lot simpler if you would be able to be in touch with them that way.”
Zahava mumbled some words of apology and hung up.
The rest of her drive was made in silence, her heart pounding as she tried to calm herself down. Words from the Hineini course she’d taken in high school echoed in her mind, telling her she was doing the right thing by not succumbing and purchasing a smartphone for the sake of her job. But at the same time, she heard Mr. Moskowitz’s voice telling her she would never get anywhere in the office if she didn’t get one.
Zahava decided to install WhatsApp on her desktop at work, so she could correspond with clients that way. Mr. Moskowitz appreciated the gesture and respected her request to leave all technology in the office at the end of each work day.
Zahava had made her choice, and she held her head high, knowing she had chosen toLive Higher.
Rochel sighed as she hit the red End Call button, disconnecting the video call with her grandchildren. It was so hard living so far away from Batsheva and her family. With four children and one more on the way, Batsheva was not able to travel to Brooklyn more than a couple of times a year, and it was only via the cyber world that Rochel felt she had some semblance of a relationship with her grandkids.
“I’m Cyber Bubby!” she joked to her kids sometimes.
It was the same with her daughter Peri’s family. Five kids and 400 miles away, these video calls and WhatsApp chats were their saving grace; it was what kept the family close. Seeing videos of Peri’s baby walking for the first time or pictures of Batsheva’s daughter’s first loose tooth made Rochel feel less “out of it.” So, she allowed herself to video call them multiple times a day and would send multiple voice notes and pictures as the day progressed, telling herself that this was what she needed to do to keep the family close.
WhatsApp statuses were fun to watch too. There were so many to follow along with, from news to recipes to secondhand items for sale. Rochel found herself jumping up with a start more and more often after realizing how much time had passed since she had put down her phone. She’d run to make dinner…and then make herself comfortable on the sofa with her phone once again. Just one more video to download, just one more voice note to play. And oh, look, Batsheva had just tried to call her; how could she decline that call?
Her moment of realization was delivered to her at the end of one week together with her weekly screen time report. Wait, she hadn’t really spent an average of six hours, 32 minutes on her phone each day, had she? That wasn’t possible, was it? How could that be?
Ashamed and contrite, Rochel resolved to do better.
But the following week’s report rolled in, and the numbers didn’t lie: six hours, 27 minutes. Realizing that something had to be done, Rochel installed a timer app on her phone. After two hours of use per day, WhatsApp automatically shut down, and at 10:30 every night, all the apps on her phone shut.
The first day, Rochel felt choked. What was she missing out on? What if Peri’s son called her?
And then, something wonderful happened. Rochel made the most of her time on WhatsApp messaging and calling everyone as she usually did. And then, she closed her phone. She no longer wished to waste her time.
Rochel had made her choice, and she held her head high, knowing she had chosen toLive Higher.
“Maaaa! Zevi is fighhhhttting with me! Againnnn!”
Malka ran toward the playroom and stopped short when she saw Zevi, looking guilty and holding a pile of toy cars.
“Zevi, give those back to Chaim right now! Where’s Totty? Wasn’t he here watching you?”
Zevi whispered, “Totty is on the couch right behind you.”
Malka spun around and discovered Dovi sitting on the sofa, slumped over the soft glow of his screen.
“Come, kids. It’s time to go to the park!” Malka announced. “Dovi, want to come with us?”
Dovi looked up from the screen, bleary-eyed. “Uh, yeah. Sure.”
He slipped his phone into his pocket and headed out the door with them. On the way out, he smiled at Malka, who smiled in return.
At the park, Dovi pushed baby Gayil on the swing while scrolling on his phone, glancing up every few minutes to smile at her. Malka called out, “This is so cute! Let me get a picture of the two of you together!” Dovi put his phone away as he tickled the baby, laughing with her for the pictures. Malka got a couple of good shots and then offered to take the baby while Dovi gave snacks to the older kids.
Later that night, Malka took out Blokus, Dovi’s favorite game to play with the children. “Kids, who wants to play Blokus?”
The kids squealed with excitement, and Dovi’s eyes gleamed as he played an intense game while Malka watched and prepared popcorn for everyone.
Her husband’s smartphone use may not be in her control, but she would facilitate meaningful moments as a family whenever she could.
Malka had made her choice, and she held her head high, knowing she had chosen toLive Higher.
The spark within all of us Yidden burns bright. All of us have that spark, and all of us have the opportunity to turn that spark into a flame every single day, when we choose to live a life that is holier and higher than the one of the day before. What may seem to be small, insignificant actions can actually cause an exponential reaction both here and in shamayim.
The world we live in today is not the same world our parents grew up in. It is not even the same world we lived in 10 years ago. Change is occurring at a rapid speed, and we need to constantly stay aware and focused on our values as the chosen nation.
No matter who we are, no matter where we are from, no matter what we do, we have room to grow and learn in the area of technology. We all have something to learn about the progression of the cyber world and what it means for present times and more importantly, for the future. It is incumbent on us to gain clarity on how to move forward, and it is crucial for us to stay up to date in understanding the challenges we are up against. We can no longer close our eyes to the realities we are facing.
Our gedolim have instructed us that it is time once again to spread the important message of what technology really is and how we are to relate to it. This time, our gedolim felt that it is important to address the women and young ladies, as the Yiddishe mammes, present and future, are the greatest influence on our homes and future generations.
And so, on June 21 and 22, 40,000 women will stand together and proclaim that we wish to Live Higher, to bring more holiness into our lives.
To witness this momentous and monumental gathering or to learn more, please contact TAG.org, call 718-635-2380, or email Kinus@TAG.org.