Social media has done many things to society. One of them has almost completely eliminated the opportunity or the need to talk to a person — to have an actual conversation using an actual voice. And human contact — a hug, a handshake. The sharing of a box of tissues or a box of chocolates. I mean you can totally use social media to schedule an “in real life” meeting. You can meet for lunch, meet at the gym — I prefer the lunch — so the opportunity is there, you just have to decide if you want to go out in public. And get dressed in real clothes, and perhaps, if you are adventurous, apply some makeup in order not to scare the little ones.
But this whole concept presented itself in an entirely different way recently. A Facebook “friend” suffered the loss of her father. Through the years, and only because of Facebook, was I introduced to this man through pictures and comments. But the way this daughter spoke of her father, I felt that I knew him. I celebrated bar mitzvahs with him, birthdays with him, holidays with him. But I never met him. And, as for his daughter, I only saw her “in real life” a handful of times — and probably not more than a one hand worth of times (which, if you are following along, is five times. There are five fingers on a hand.)
When she posted to say tehillim for her father, I sent the name off to my Shaalavim boy and said it myself. I inquired about his health and prayed, along with, I am sure, many, many others, that he had a miraculous recovery. But in the end it isn’t up to us, and the man, this incredible father, who I never met, but felt I knew, passed away.
Remember, I am making this about me, because it is me writing this, but I cannot imagine that this hasn’t happened to others. What do you do when someone you do not know and have never met dies? Do you go to the funeral? Do you pay a shiva call? Do you do these things if it is convenient for you and not more than an hour away? What do you do? The past few weeks, unfortunately, have been filled with several funerals. I remember that a few years ago, someone wrote a piece on shiva calls and who should pay them. Basically, if I recall from the piece, the answer was almost everyone.
But in life, there are so many shades of gray — doesn’t that apply to death as well? I have been to shiva calls where, I am convinced, the person had a shul directory and would check off people’s names as they arrived. I have also been to shiva calls where the person sitting was as uncomfortable about seeing me as I was about seeing them. There was even a time when I asked my rabbi what to do because I really didn’t know. (I didn’t go and he said I made the right call. Not getting into the details, so don’t ask.)
In any event, you can’t go wrong by doing something right. But the right thing is still up in the air depending on the situation. That’s why (and here is the shift in topic, I can only stay depressing for so long) sports are so easy. Your kid sits on the bench during his hockey game — do you have to go? No. Your kid is playing in his hockey game — do you have to go? Yes. Are these the correct answers? I have no idea, because no matter what you do, you, as a parent, you are usually wrong. Whatever you say is wrong. Whatever you wear is wrong… Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. But, again, you can only follow your heart and do what you think is right. And if your kid, who normally sits on the bench, ends up scoring a goal? You just have to hope that someone has videoed that moment for you.
Let’s hope we are all guided to make the correct decisions, and for those who have lost loved ones, may you be comforted by their memories and only know from happier things.
Banji Ganchrow is very excited about Camp Overtime…A four day floor hockey camp for boys going into fifth through tenth grades. Please go to campovertime.com for more information. She is not benefiting from this camp in any way, shape, or form, she is just hoping to get a hug from her son for writing about it She’ll keep you posted.