Navigating Information Overload Amidst COVID-19: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Tools

In the current age of rapid technological advancement and the ongoing challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are constantly bombarded with information from various sources, which can be overwhelming. However, this feeling is not new. It has been around for centuries.

Rabbi Lord Jonathon Sacks compared the efforts of the Jewish community to document their oral traditions after the Second Temple’s destruction to our current struggle to navigate vast amounts of information. Like the ancient Talmudic scholars, we seek clarity amidst chaos. By blending ancient wisdom with modern tools, we can effectively navigate today’s information overload.

Time, Technology, and Community

The Talmud is a vast compilation of Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, and folklore. Its creation involved the efforts of numerous scholars, discussions, debates, and interpretations across different periods and geographical locations.

The conversations were recorded carefully and later organized into six sections exploring different topics. These sections preserve many individuals’ voices, including elites and commoners. I have revisited the contents of these sections periodically. For instance, I recall studying a page in my Jewish history course at Hebrew University. The Talmud covers a wide range of subjects.

During the pandemic, I have been attending a weekly Talmud class with my niece, Ilana Fodiman Silverman, who teaches from Israel to a global audience via Zoom. In our most recent class, we discussed the type of prayer that should follow a meal and who should or shouldn’t participate (Berakhot 47a). Ilana likened the Talmudic exploration to the imaginative world of Dr. Seuss, where it stretches the limits of possibility and encourages us to use our imagination to explore various scenarios and unveil their intricacies.

It often requires guidance to fully appreciate the Talmud, since delving into it alone can be overwhelming. It has been compared to an endless sea of knowledge where one can occasionally dig for enlightenment. In many ways, this is similar to the internet today. Thanks to technological advancements and the legacy of the late Rav Adin Steinsaltz, who recently passed away, the Talmud is now easily accessible in English through his website, Additionally, several groups that study the Talmud meet on platforms like Zoom to ensure no one embarks on this journey alone.

Diverse Media Landscape

Amidst the noise of the present-day media landscape, I find comfort in select shows and articles that feed my mind and soul. I rely on CBC Radio One, specifically the insightful discussions on IDEAS with Nahlah Ayed, to explore social issues, culture, geopolitics, and more. However, I am always eager to learn more and also listen to The Doc Project, Tapestry, Writers and Company, The Current, and q, each offering a unique perspective on the world.

My spiritual quest is satisfied through Jewish media outlets such as The Tablet, Commentary, and The Jerusalem Post. Aleph Beta and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ Covenant and Conversation are particularly noteworthy, as they bridge the gap between ancient wisdom and modern understanding while deepening my faith.

I watch thought-provoking content on PBS, Fox, and CBS in the evenings. I also attend Zoom classes with my Yeshiva Group Shiviti and enlightening sessions hosted by notable figures in my community.

On the weekends, I take a break from the digital world and disconnect from the noise, as Shabbat provides me peace. I attend synagogue gatherings and share festive meals while finding solace in Rabbi Sacks’ teachings, which remind me of the harmony between science and spirituality.

In a world entire of information, I intentionally seek knowledge, wisdom, and sustenance from diverse sources while grounding myself in timeless truths.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we are presented with an overwhelming amount of information, which we must navigate using modern tools, similar to how ancient scholars managed oral traditions. Exposing ourselves to diverse media to enrich our minds and souls while also making time for timeless rituals that can provide solace from digital overload is essential.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *