Friday, July 22, 2016

PG-613? (Pokemon Go, is it a Mitzvah?)

The goal of this email is to augment reality at the Friday night dinner table....

twitter v. pokemonI heard that the new Pokemon-Go game works like a pedometer and knows when you are walking, giving extra points for being on your feet.

I also heard that it rewards sportsmanship and teamwork.

Is that icing on the cake, or a silver lining on a gray cloud?

The cake is that people are obviously having a lot of fun with it.

The gray cloud is that it's a hammer in our ADD-toolbox.

(And perhaps some other pushback.)

There is a solution, based on last week's Hellen Keller piece.

This is a tool that you can use right now to enact Keller's vision (pardon the pun).

It's called NATURE.

Ironically, it works best when your smart phone runs out of juice.

If you're one of the unfortunate few to have an ultra-long battery life, it may require shutting off your phone. Or leaving it in the car.

(Hard to do, right? I know.)

It's great to be out in nature.

It makes you mentally and physically healthier.

But what do you do when you have to return home, and get back to work/school/life?

How about this: bring nature home with you.

Here's how:

Two years ago we launched the Amazing Nature for Teachers curriculum.

The site is now called

Last year, we trifurcated it:

1. Amazing Nature - for secular teachers
2. Nifla'ot - for Judaics teachers
3. Ma Rabu - for teaching tefila (prayer)

There are three ways you can play:

1. Register your kid's teacher or school for next year.
2. Sign up your family.
3. Subscribe yourself.

Go ahead - give it a try! I guarantee it will give you 301x more long-term gratification than Pokemon-Go, or your money back.

Now let's get to this week's first question for your table - Why is Pokemon Go so popular, even though it is PG (pardon the second pun)?

Is it the instant gratification? Is it the challenge?

Is it that it's safe (well, most of the time anyway)?

Is it the energy and synergy?

When you watch people play, it seems like are striving for something that seems intangible, like the energy of a fire.

In Jewish wisdom, fire represents the evil inclination. And the only way to cool it down is through the Torah.

Yet the Torah, too, is compared to a fire. Fight fire with fire? The Torah is also a challenge that is also nearly instantly gratifying, and is 100% safe.

Some say it's the greatest "game" ever played.

We have an ancient tradition that just as Jerusalem was destroyed with fire, it will be rebuilt with (metaphorical) fire.

It so happens that "Pokemon Go" in Hebrew has the gematria (numerical value) of 301, which is the same as eish (fire).

Hmm....Will Jerusalem be rebuilt through Pokemon?

Or through millions of people waking up from their augmented-insanity, deleting that app and making room in their heads for a bit of Jewish wisdom?

Shabbat Shalom

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