Tshuvah: Lessons from the Computer

What we can learn about Tshuvah from the computer

You work on your computer and you are happy with the computer’s performance but, over time, you begin to notice that the response time has gotten worse. So, you wonder, what can you do to return the computer to its previous performance?

This has happened with its being used: You were constantly using it all year and, over that time, there was “junk” accumulating somewhere behind the desktop. You acquired several “temporary files” and “cookies”. When you were making one-time stops at certain sites, they left these files on your computer and, when you did lookups in Google, you got the answers but, you didn’t count on what else you would be getting; and when you looked at particular advertisements or, you bought something over the web, the company you dealt with also left something and, you don’t need these. Then, there were some spy-ware infestations. Some of what happened was observable; you could see some of it just looking at the sidebars your web browser presented, and perhaps even some content of your e-mail was viewed by someone other than the intended recipient: So, it is time to remove “infestations”.

And not to mention, your hard drive has become fragmented. A single file that stored something you had in your word processor has splintered. It is important to defragment the drive so that the computer will not have to keep looking all over to put your files back together: So another thing you will take care of is the optimization of your disk performance.

And there’s another reason why your computer no longer works as quickly: You’ve started using more programs and you are needing more memory to run them. So the programs have started swapping out memory and using more hard drive.  In addition, there are errors in the registry that have crept in over time.  So you want to correct these problems and defrag the registry. And filenames became corrupted, invalid and unused shortcuts should be removed.

I’ve been thinking about ways these computer optimizations might help us think with respect to our Tshuvah process during the time of the high holy days because the doors of perception need cleaning too, so that they will be able to view reality for what it is without distortion.

Our culture and the media have so blind-sided us that we are not even aware how distorted our moral system has become.

All interactions we had during the year installed the year’s “cookies” into our awareness making for mindless-consumption attractors. They’ve deflected our moral compass and created distortions to our clear seeing.

We’ve made use of our apperception as an authority when responding to our environment. So if and when, through the Tshuvah work, we can do this cleaning, we will become aware as well of the ways we had registered our sensations. We must update the leading of our judgments by past impressions which are now no longer relevant. Some of those things we had to do during the previous year should not be repeated again. It is always better to look afresh on a task in front of us. So, those ideas we had that are not any more in the present are similar to the computer’s “temporary files” and so they must be deleted.

Were we to keep them in the present mind space, they would drag us to places that are not in the here-and-now.

The “router” connects us to the “inner-net,” to the web-of-global-life and to God.  This router needs to be reset during this time.

Another one of the things that need clearing are the introjected expectations of the “people of power” in our lives.

How wonderful it is that in our tradition we are provided with a reset and restart each year to clean up our mind space so that in the coming year our moral compass can be recalibrated and so that our perceptions and judgments will be cleared to discern what really is in front of us.

One Response to “Tshuvah: Lessons from the Computer”

  1. Joan Burstyn Says:

    Reb Zalman: I was pondering your comment:
    So those ideas that we had that no longer are in the present are the “temporary files” that we have to delete. If we should keep them in the present mind space, they will drag us to places that are not in the here-and-now.
    I am not sure how this idea fits into the scientific definitions of long-term and short-term memory, but it seems to me that one drawback for being a person with a so-called “good memory” is that such a person may not only possess “temporary files, ” but may learn how to transpose them into “permanent files.”
    As permanent files such memories may be positive and likely to enhance the goodwill in the world. On the other hand, permanent files that are negative may increase tensions and hatred in the world. They may not only “drag us to places that are not in the here-and-now;” they may also “drag the past into the here-and-now.”
    Thanks for a provocative piece. Best wishes, Joan Burstyn

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