I missed the Asifa. Admittedly, I wasn’t planning on going, though I do feel jealous of those software developers who managed to get 50,000 men (and an unknown number of women who participated remotely) to pay actual money to listen to a multi-hour sales pitch of their products, and then have their community leaders tell them to go buy them, which on top of that, they probably will.
Now that’s marketing to a captive audience.
Obviously internet filtering is important if you have kids in the house, and I guess for a closed, insulated community being hit on the head with the outside world it warrants an outing to Citi Field on a Sunday to find out how to protect yourself (and to get out of the Beis Medrash on a Rabbinically sanctioned field trip).
But in my mind, I was comparing it to another mass gathering that same Sunday - one I participated in with my family.
The Jerusalem Day Parade.
30,000 people, a significant number of them teenagers, mostly religious, gathered together to celebrate one of the modern, open, unexpected and important miracles of our day, the reunification of Jerusalem.
I admit that at one point I wondered, which gathering was the bigger Kiddush Hashem?
But mostly I asked myself, which one would inspire my children about the beauty and possibilities of Judaism?
A public gathering that demands yet even more conformity to community social pressures and standards, this time only to buy a kosher phone, or use an internet filter with the proper hechsher, or a gathering that thanks God for the incredible gift he gave us that actually we prayed for.
Obviously, one gathering isn’t mutually exclusive of the other.
I’m sure many of the Israeli yeshiva students who marched yesterday have internet filters in their homes.
But I wonder, how many men at the Asifa said Hallel that morning, or at least didn’t say Tachanun in commemoration of the miracle that occurred for all of Klal Yisrael, that they too benefit from whenever they visit their national homeland.
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