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Moshiach's arrival? On Facebook Live!

Facebook suffered its worst outage in history this week and it didn’t go unnoticed. We’ve become so used to sharing everything instantly on social media—we don’t know what to do with ourselves when we can’t! A guy who just got engaged wanted to share the wonderful news but could not, politicians had to stop campaigning for 24 hours, Chabad rabbis couldn’t invite people to their Purim parties, fundraising campaigns ground to a halt, and—shockingly—there was a total cessation of selfie-sharing.  

Most frustrating of all? There was nowhere to share the frustration! There was no way to post, “Why can’t I post anything on Facebook?” or “OMG! My Instagram isn’t working!!!”

It was like a global 24-hour time out.

As you know, I do use Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp regularly, but after some minor frustration I decided to look at this from a different perspective. What would happen if Moshiach came right now? I wondered. How would we all know?

When he arrives, there will be a grand announcement. The entire world will watch it unfold. I picture a live Facebook stream of him ascending the Mount of Olives together with the recently resurrected Moses and Aaron. We’ll all see the Temple being rebuilt and the Priests and Levites assuming their Temple service.

But if Moshiach had come right then and there, in the middle of the social media outage, we would have had a big problem! We wouldn’t know about it at all.  

Alas, he would have to find another medium to tell the world.  

But then, perhaps the outage is the real taste of the world Moshiach will herald. For 24 hours we were forced to communicate directly—in person or on the phone. In our day and age, this is revolutionary. Reaching out to a friend yesterday (a real friend, not a Facebook friend) required actual physical reaching out. And when the other options are removed, we realize how much we miss out on by having so many of our interactions behind a screen.

We are so addicted to our social media (myself included), that perhaps this was a taste of what the Era of Redemption will actually be like. Fortunately, we do have the opportunity to experience a taste of this wonderful time every week—on Shabbat. And perhaps this is the main lesson we can take away from this week’s outage. See how valuable a technology detox is, and resolve to do it every week, from sunset Friday evening until after nightfall on Saturday. Feel what it’s like to really connect with people on a personal level. Soon you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

“Tatty, I Had a Bad Dream…”

sleep meme.jpgI found myself solo-parenting all eight kids last weekend while my wife went to London with her sisters. I knew it would be quite a task, but I psyched myself up with the good old, “I can do this!”

And then the first night began. I went to bed feeling confident and well-intentioned. At 2:58 a.m. one of the triplets started screaming. I gave it a few minutes to see if he would self-soothe and fall back asleep, but when triplet two woke up and joined the action, I figured I only had a minute or two until the third joined in. So I swooped in with bottles for all, and decided to push off the sleep training until my wife returned.

By 3:15 a.m., I was back in my bed, drifting off to peaceful silence...

Minutes later my five-year-old was at my side with complaints about a sore voice. “Your voice hurts you? Now? At 3:20 a.m.?!” I asked, bewildered.

“Yes!” and she started talking in a croaky voice to demonstrate.

“That’s what happens to everyone when they haven’t slept!” I explained. “Why would you wake up at 3:20 to test your voice! Go back to bed.” She refused, so I let her sleep in my bed and peace reigned once more...

I snoozed off for a few minutes, until my three-year-old showed up, wanting—of all things—to get dressed and go to school. Now, on the average morning it’s nearly impossible to get my kids up and dressed and ready for school, but here she is at 3:40 a.m. insisting we get ready immediately! It took about 15 minutes to convince her that it’s the middle of the night. I had to literally go over to the window and show her that it was still dark outside before she relented and went back to bed.

It’s now roughly 4:05 a.m. and I’m back in bed deciding if I should even bother trying to get back to sleep. Lo and behold, in comes my seven-year-old, “I had a bad dream, Tatty…” I thought to myself ‘hey, you not the only one buddy”

When my wife got back from London, I shared my ordeal with her, to which she replied, “Oh, that’s a typical night for me!” And yet, she does it with love and patience because these are her children and she loves them more than anything in the world.

The truth is, we do the same thing to our Father in Heaven. We cry out to him about our problems and issues. One Jew asks for livelihood, others for children, health, shidduchim, etc. We all turn to him, day and night, with our challenges and requests. And G-d listens to each of us lovingly. Even though He is busy running the entire universe, He listens to each of our supplications with patience and compassion. He never gets frustrated about the hour of day (or night!) or the amount of requests, because He loves each of us as an only child.

60 hours, $1.5 million, 17,000 people – all for one Jew

This week I watched an incredible outpouring of love on the internet. 

You see, about a year ago, Arele, a young father of two from NYC, went into septic shock. The doctors gave him a two percent chance of survival.

Through endless miracles, he beat the odds, regaining consciousness and reconnecting with his wife and children. But in order to save his life, doctors have no choice but to amputate both his arms and legs and replace them with specialized bionic prosthetic's.

To help cover the astronomical medical costs for his bionic limbs, surgeries, therapy, rehab, and other related expenses, his family urgently needed to come up with one million dollars.

How do you come up with that type of money when you simply don't have it? It’s virtually impossible.

And yet, it worked.

His family set up a 60-hour urgent fundraising campaign to solicit funds from the international Jewish community through a platform called Charidy with a goal of one million dollars.

As a veteran fundraiser myself, I can tell you how difficult it is. Getting someone to donate $100 is hard; raising one million is nearly impossible! And most of all, it takes time. You have to cultivate donors. Get to know them personally. Develop a relationship. Let them see the cause up close so they become emotionally invested. Donors don’t just give money. They want to know that their money will be used wisely, and they want to know the cause inside and out.

A campaign this size is usually only undertaken by organizations with massive databases, like schools, yeshivas, and larger non-profits. But in this case, the fundraiser was for a single person. A simple Jew nobody had ever heard of. No organization, no email lists, no social media followers and no infrastructure.

But when the campaign started, Am Yisrael responded. Boy, did they respond!

Over 17,000 donors contributed more than 1.5 million dollars! That is an average donation of $85.

I have never seen this happen before.

You see, there’s no way that 17,000 people have ever met Arele. Maybe 100 know him well, and if you lucky 200 more have met him. The other 16,700 gave money to an individual they have never, and probably will never, meet. People gave from all over the world: South Africa, Israel, Florida, California, Sydney… from different communities and walks of life: Chabad, Bobov, Belz, Satmar, Litvish, religious, non-religious, Democrats, Republicans, you name it!

Why did they give? Simply because he is a Jew, a brother, a family in distress, and his story touched their hearts. 

This is Am Yisrael, this is the Jewish nation! We may have different opinions. We may fight, and we may argue, but at the end of the day we are one family—a single unit.

In this week’s Torah portion we read about the building of the Mishkan—a sanctuary for G-d. I can think of no better way to build a home for G-d than this outpouring of love from so many Jews all over the world.

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