Why 70 Bais Rivkah Girls Deleted Their Social Media
by Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier
A few weeks ago, the girls of Bais Rivkah High School of Crown Heights attended a Shabbaton. During one of his talks, guest speaker Rabbi Avremi Schapiro from Chabad of Wisconsin encouraged girls to delete social media apps from their phones until Yud Aleph Nissan. Over 70 girls from the 12th grade accepted the challenge. The number has since grown to over a hundred participants including some mothers who jumped on board too.
Also recently, groups of Bais Rivkah seminary girls have been gathering to educate themselves on the Torah’s perspective and to support one another in the proper use of technology. Many have taken on difficult hachlatos including not using their phones while walking on the street, purchasing a watch instead of using their phone for the time, setting time limits to certain apps, using a siddur or Tehillim instead of an app, keeping their phones turned off for the first few hours of the day, and even occasionally (gasp!) leaving their phones at home.
These developments are very encouraging, to say the least. These girls are changing their own lives for the better and ours too by showing us that we can take control of our phones.
In this week’s sedra we learn that the kiyor was made of copper mirrors donated by the women. On two occasions, the Rebbe explained the relevance of the kiyor to our lives today and the specific connection to Jewish women.
The function of the kiyor was to wash off dirt before entering the Mishkan. Every Jewish home is a miniature mishkan and therefore also requires a kiyor. The Jewish woman is the kiyor of her home.
Just like physical contaminants, spiritual ones are not always overtly discernible. But a Jewish woman, with her sensitivity and close attachment to Hashem, is capable of realizing what to allow into her home, and which inappropriate influences must be washed away.
Years ago, foreign elements blew into a home through the front door in clear and obvious forms such as reading material and other media. Today, they enter through cyberspace which we keep in our pocket and are subtler and more elusive. The winds of secularism are blowing a lot stronger today than ever before.
The fact that young girls are open to curbing their technology use is a clear indication that Hashem still has plenty of kiyors at His service.
The kiyor was made of mirrors. Mirrors are unique in that they allow a person to reflect upon themselves while simultaneously seeing behind themselves. This represents self-reflection in avodas Hashem. It involves honest introspection and assessment of where we’re holding. It also involves reflecting on our past. Sometimes this can be done on our own and oftentimes we benefit from the help of a friend or mashpia.
Girls who are genuine and honest enough to reflect on their own technology use and reach out to friends and mashpios for support are well on their way to being reliable mirrors of their own homes bez”H.
Just as Hashem had nachas from the women’s mirrors of the past, surely He’s having tremendous nachas from the contribution of today’s young women as well.
This Shabbos is also the birthday of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, the Rebbe’s wife. What a worthy birthday present to be giving the Rebbetzin.
May we all, men and women alike, take inspiration from these young women thereby hastening the final Redemption.