Rosh Hashanah Day One: Trump, Emoticons, And the Secret of Communication

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Trump, Emoticons, And the Secret of Communication

Much critique has been directed toward the “new” dumbed-down communication of our time. Instead of meaningful, personal and intimate conversations, we have entered the age of the sound bite (or is it sound byte with a “y”), the short video clip, the instant message, the 140-character tweet, the meme. Instead of a sincere smile, we have… emoticons.

Many lament this form of communication as the downfall of civilization – even as they, ironically, use all these tools themselves. Many see it as rude and even demeaning, pointing to President Trump and his daily tweets. Our President, whether you like him or not, has apparently mastered and turned social media into an art form, or a weapon – depending who you ask. Many see it as negative, but others point out that he was elected due to his mastery of this medium.

Is there any upside to this new form of communicating?

In all things there is a lesson in serving G-d. How much more so in a global technology that is transforming the way we communicate with each other, and one that is impacting the presidency itself. As we stand on Rosh Hashanah, the day that the world is born, when the destiny of nations is determined, what lessons may we learn from tweets, emoticons and from the Year of the Trump?

Of all things, Rosh Hashanah is synonymous with Simanim, signs or omens. We eat pomegranates to remind us of our fullness with goodness; we eat honey for sweetness; we eat foods that multiply and grow quickly for growth and birth; we eat heads of fish and lambs for the head of the year; we don’t eat sour or sharp foods so as no to have a sour or sharp year. This is based on a cryptic Talmud where Abaya says that now that we know that omens are a significant thing, at the head of the year one should eat a gourd, fenugreek, leek, beets, and dates.

A (humorous) take on the new world of instant texting, coupled with the Bnei Yissachar’s fascinating explanation of this enigmatic Talmud relating Rosh Hashana customs to signs – akin to comparing communication through an emoticon versus communication through a sermon – shed a new light on the power of this New Year.

Rosh Hashanah is not a time for sermons, for words, but for higher sounds, deeper insights, and more primal symbols. A captured in a touching parable of the Baal Shem Tov.

When done right, short is long, and a brief gesture can change worlds.

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