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		                                    Thinking Torah Blog		                                </span>

09/07/2023 05:00:22 PM


Rabbi Josh Whinston

As much as I adore technology, I also have concerns about its impact on us. In anticipation of the end of my sabbatical, I decided to remove TikTok from my phone. It's one thing to get caught up in the TikTok vortex when I don't have meetings or writing tasks, but I didn't want this distraction upon my return. Whether it's TikTok, Facebook, or even Google ads, we're all being tracked by big tech. They gather information about us, even if we're not using social media actively. Computers are following our online activities, and as we all know, algorithms provide us with more of what they think we want. It can feel rather eerie, and maybe even disconcerting, when we see an ad on our screen for a product or vacation destination we had discussed with a friend. Despite all that big tech knows about us, I'm determined not to surrender my inner life to an algorithm. There are aspects of our identities that technology will never comprehend.

In this week's Torah portion, Nitzavim-Vayeilech, we come across Deuteronomy 29:28, which states, "The secret things belong to God..." This verse is discussing the context of secret and overt sins and how they may be addressed by law or by God. However, I propose that we interpret this verse more broadly. Each of us possesses an inner life that remains unknown to anyone or anything except God unless we choose to share it with another. By this, I don't mean to imply that God intrudes upon our thoughts, but rather that when a thought or idea resides within our inner world, it dwells in a divine realm. At a time when it often feels like we're all just cogs in a capitalist consumption machine, finding solace in the knowledge that we are more than our purchases or inducements is reassuring. We each possess an inner life, and that inner life is profoundly connected to God.

Sat, June 15 2024 9 Sivan 5784