Twitter is sooooo Jewish!

March 5, 2009 at 2:20 am Leave a comment


I’m a twitterer. No, that’s not some social malady. If you don’t know what Twitter is, Google it. You’ll find explanations that are much more articulate and accurate than anything I can provide. I do, though, have some reflections on why I twitter and why it’s logically Jewish to do so.

First and foremost, I twitter because I have a big ego and want other people to know what I think about things. Twitter is a fabulous venue for this. It’s somewhat anonymous in that while I ‘know’ some of the people who might read my tweets, I really don’t ‘know’ them. It’s much like the phenomena of people telling strangers their most intimate secrets. It’s safe… well appears to be. Secondly, I get to teach, and this is directly tied to number 1 (ego). I get to offer not only my opinion on certain subjects but Judaism’s perspective on them as well. I’ve even had a couple chances to do a little pastoral counseling and Torah study through Twitter.

Twitter makes me think. I often find myself doing some mundane task and the thought pops into my mind, “if I were to twitter about this what would I say?” When this first started happening I simply thought I was addicted to twitter and needed to find a way to break the dependency! But as I’ve sat with it, I realized Twitter brings me back to the moment. By making the unconscious, conscious I’ve forced myself back into the ‘now’ and made the mundane less so. Jewish cue number one – Judaism is about focusing on the here and now. Judaism has no consistent views on the afterlife primarily because it’s inconsequential – we have now and that’s enough.

Jewish cue number two – Twitter is about creating community. Buber was clear that when we acknowledge the humanity of others in our relationships we experience God. I don’t advocate using Twitter or any other social networking tool to replace panim el panim, face to face, interaction. To the contrary, I think these tools can help facilitate more face time. But the realities of modern life preclude regular, physical interaction with all our myriad communities. In those interim periods, tools like Twitter can fill the gaps. In addition, I’ve met hundreds of people from across the world who I would have never known if it weren’t for these tools. These interactions enrich my life.

Jewish cue number three – Twitter is about creating conversation. Judaism is all about the conversation; the digging deeply into an issue and exploring all aspects and sides of an issue. As one twitterer recently wrote, “our (Judaism’s) religious practice is our study, our work and our acts of kindness and compassion. So, (the) idea is engaging on Twitter – and sharing these facets of ourselves is a religious practice, what makes us Jewish.”

My thanks to @abfdc and @cavosie for their contributions. I’m @rebaaron

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