bowing before the lord

I used to think of the TV as having the redeeming quality that it teaches us about bitul. When you sit opposite the television, it's almost as if you and everything and everyone else around you ceases to exist. I thought, wow, this is great, it's kind of like (lehavdil) the neshamoth in Gan Eden sitting nullified in the light of the Shechinah, blissing out.

Thinking about it a little more recently, there are a number of places (even quoted recently here) that describe the nature of bowing down. The symbolism behind a bow is a gesture of nullifying oneself before someone (or something) else. Within the halachoth of avodah zara there is a prohibition against worshipping avodah zara in the manner in which it is worshipped. There is a second general prohibition forbidding one from bowing down before ANY avodah zara, even if that is not the way in which it is worshipped.

With this new lens I reexamined television and money as well. When we negate ourselves, even a little in the name of television, or the pursuit of money, we tread on dangerous ground. It is not bowing down outright, but it might be more extreme than actually bowing down.. because we are being moser nefesh. We are lessening our self-importance in favor of this thing, be it TV or money.

I know it may sound a little ludicrous, but stop to think that when we lessen our self-importance even the smallest bit in the pursuit of Torah or a mitzwah, it is considered being moser nefesh, giving our lives for Torah and mitzwoth, giving our lives in the name of HaShem. So, when we are giving [of] our lives to be sitting mindless in front of TV or in order to earn more money, we have to examine what it is we are doing. Are we bowing down to some external power, looking to money or TV for immediate gratification [read: salvation]? Or are we pursuing HaShem, making ourselves holy with all that is permitted to us? [קדש את עצמך במותר לך]


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