by Rabbi Michael Alkohen on Mystical Paths
Part of living the introspective life of a would be mystic, is that you are constantly re-evaluating your priorities. When I made my first ventures in the blogging world so many years ago, I had one infant/toddler, a much freer schedule, and few chips on my shoulder. That was, if the archives are to be trusted four years ago on my main blog (a little longer if you go back to when I started reading and commenting on blogs). A lot has changed since then. My career path has changed. The number of offspring I have vying for my attention has changed, the economy has changed, and I have changed.
One of those changes is that I am re-evaluating my internet presence. No I am not going to stop my primary blog or stop writing in general (sorry if that disappoints a few of you). However, I was thinking recently after a senseless squabble that I allowed myself to get drawn into with an anonymous blog commenter on a different blog... Why? Why do I give this person any authority in my life to dictate my emotions. Why do I care what this person, who hides behind anonymity, has to say? They don't like my opinions... tough it's a free country (mostly).
Really the internet should only ever be entertainment. When I can't just walk away from it, it has passed beyond a healthy boundary. When I am distracted during those precious few hours I get with my children every day because of what some wing nut said on the internet, something needs to change. Like hey, while we may be able to find some pockets of actual holiness on the internet, the internet is not reality.
This lead me down a further path of thought, to the issue of ikar and toful. As in what is primary and what is secondary. For instance normally if anything we are going to eat contains a wheat product we make the blessing regarding that wheat. However, if there is something that is more important (and this is really subjective) to the wheat, to the point that the wheat is really just a container, we don't make the blessing over the wheat, but that other item (don't believe me? Look it up.). Life is the same way, it is full of things, and they are subjective(mostly) that are either ikar or toful.
For instance, if you are flying on a plane, are you going to take the chance of having some people scoff at you for putting on those tefillin and even possibly looking like a religious nut for a few minutes, or are you going to say, that their opinions don't really matter, the important thing is Avodat HaShem. Yes there is a right choice, but still the choice is yours, what is the ikar to you.
When San Francisco (and then even possibly all of California) was considering banning even Jewish circumcision as Rabbi friend called me and was complaining, saying that many mohelim don't know what they are going to do, they fear going to jail etc. I told him, with my wife's approval, if they pass that law, I want to come there and do a Brit the day after it goes into effect. His reply was that it was going to be a felony, I would go to jail, I would lose my right to vote (and few other inalienable rights that would suddenly become quite alienable apparently). My response was, that's Ok, the Torah says that this is the most important mitzvah, it is equal to all the 613 combined, I am willing to take a little heat to fight for it.
Funny but then on the other hand I have let various things that should be the toful become the ikar. The Arizal writes that Shavuot has the power to remit one's sins the same as Yom HaKippurim. It is your second fresh start within the year. As we approach this Shavuot, let's be mindful of what needs to change, and make the change.