OF SERPENTS AND SOCIAL MEDIA
As we start the drama of Creation, it is always worth remembering that the Torah speaks to us and about us.
Let us set the scene: Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
Did the serpent lie?
In the account in the parasha, the serpent cunningly says to Eve:
“Did G-d actually tell you that you couldn’t eat from any tree in the garden?”
“We have been told that we can eat from any tree in the garden, except, from the tree in the middle. G-d has said that we mustn’t eat it, or even touch it, lest we die.”
The serpent responds:
“I can assure that you won’t die. G-d doesn’t want you to eat from the tree. G-d knows that on the day you eat from that tree, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like G-d, knowing good and evil.”
When Eve hears this, she is tempted. She contemplates the fruit, sees that it looks attractive, seems luscious to eat, and yes, there is something about it that suggests wisdom. So, she took it, ate it, and shared it with Adam.
The serpent did not lie. Adam and Eve did not die. And, they acquired the knowledge of good and evil. The irony was that the fruit wasn’t ‘not kosher.’ The Midrash says the fruit was going to be reserved for Shabbat, when Adam and Eve would have attained a higher level of spirituality. G-d did not want to expose them to the tests presented by possessing this knowledge before they were properly ready for it.
There is a timeless lesson here.
Responsible educators want to ensure that children are exposed to certain truths at a stage they are ready to grasp them. This is not an act of deception. The parent or teacher wants to make certain that the child is mature enough to handle the information safely.
In the same way that society readily accepts that there has to be an appropriate age limit before a young person should be allowed to drive a car or consume alcohol, there must be responsible limits on accessing forms of social media. Untold damage has been done by not protecting our young people sufficiently from access to predators, pornography and self-harm.
In every generation, there is the voice of the serpent whispering: What’s wrong? It’s attractive! You’ll enjoy it!
Our challenge and our responsibility is to provide the fruits of technology in a way that will enhance young lives and protect them from harm.
By the way, the serpent whispers to adults too!