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SEPTEMBER 15, 2016 | The Jewish Home

The Observant Jew

Wrong Address By Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz


f you’ve ever seen a very old letter and the envelope in which it was mailed, you might have been surprised that it only had something like 123 Main Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for an address. Though we are accustomed to ZIP codes, those only came into being in the 1960s, and even then, they were not mandatory at first. With the world a “smaller” place, some postmen would even deliver incorrectly addressed mail because they knew the area and the people well enough to know to whom it was going. As time went on, ZIP codes were mandatory, and ZIP+4 was introduced to narrow the address down even further. All these advancements set the stage for enhanced mechanical and digital sorting of mail in which computers read the codes on the envelopes and direct the mail where it needs to go. Here’s an interesting fact: If a machine can’t understand the address written on the envelope, it takes a picture which is sent to a computer where a human operator waits to read and type in the address information! A barcode is then sprayed on the envelope

and used by the machines to keep it moving through the rest of its journey. Of course, e-mail is even more demanding when it comes to proper addressing. Just a single missed dot or incorrect letter and that e-mail can go anywhere in the world, or nowhere at all. Sometimes you’ll get a notification and sometimes not. By now you’re probably wondering what my angle on this is. Perhaps you think I’m going to speak about getting the little messages Hashem constantly sends our way. Nope, sorry, not this time. Today I want to talk about junk mail, or in the electronic vernacular, spam. For almost as long as there has been mail, there have been people mailing things we don’t want. From catalogs to circulars to offers for real estate and credit repairing, we’re constantly bombarded with things other people send our way but for which we have no need or interest. At 4 million pounds of junk mail per year, one day’s junk mail could heat 250,000 homes. (Don’t quote me on that. I got it from a government publication and maybe they’re not going to heat them up enough.) There are companies that

will take your name off bulk mailer lists, and e-mail has a spam folder. What we’ve learned to do is direct these unwanted messages elsewhere, and that’s a fantastic idea. But why stop there? There are countless other things that intrude on our minds too. There are things like lashon hara, idle chatter, and inappropriate sights. Those who want to can work on those things to block them and avoid them. But there’s another area I’d like to address that you might not have thought about. Sometimes people dispense with the envelope or computer and just hurl words our way willy-nilly. They may even address them very carefully, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t junk. Here’s a newsflash for you: People say dumb things. People get angry, people are mistaken, and they often intentionally try to hurt or put down others. But you don’t have to take that. You can install a spam filter. Here’s how it works: When someone hurls an insult at you, with your name written all over it, you ask yourself, “Does that really describe me?” If it does, then you’ve gotten the message

and you should know what to do with it. If not, then simply imagine it says, “or current occupant” and toss it into trash bin of your mind. It’s a wrong address, nothing for

and burden of all those misplaced feelings. Sure, people will send mean comments your way, but keep reminding yourself they’re just spammers so you

If not, then simply imagine it says “or current occupant” and toss it into trash bin of your mind.

you to be concerned about. But what if they really meant it for me and they weren’t just lashing out? It still works. Just because it has your name on it doesn’t mean it’s right for you. If GEICO contacts you but you don’t own a car, you really won’t care how good an offer it is. An apartment dweller will likely toss an errant landscaping brochure. Similarly, if someone says something nasty, remind yourself that they don’t know you like you know you, and they’ve got the wrong address. When you start to relegate insults and foolish comments to the spam filter of your mind and empty it often, you’ll be able to break free of the hurt

can simply hit the delete button and continue your day with one less piece of junk to deal with.

Jonathan Gewirtz is an inspirational writer and speaker whose work has appeared in publications around the world. You can find him at, and follow him on Instagram @ RabbiGewirtz or Twitter @ RabbiJGewirtz. He also operates, where you can order a custom-made speech for your next special occasion. Sign up for the Migdal Ohr, his weekly PDF Dvar Torah in English. E-mail info@Je w i s h S p e e c hWr ite r. com and put Subscribe in the subject.

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Five Towns Jewish Home - 9-15-16

Five Towns Jewish Home - 9-15-16  

Five Towns Jewish Home - 9-15-16