Being Present at My Wedding: Keva vs Kavannah

If I can’t remember the conversation did I really have it?

Weddings, like many high-excitement events, find us talking to a multitude of people, on a variety of topics, in short bytes.  After the event, upon reflection – it’s often hard to recall those conversations – the details, the point of the story, the name of the person…  If I can’t remember the conversation, did I really have it?

The point of communicating with others is to learn, develop, and expand all that we know to share ideas and information; or just to enjoy social interactions.  (Definition for Social Networking as found in Solomon & Schrum, Web 2.0 how-to for educators, pg 79).

Rabbi Eliezer taught: One who makes his prayer fixed {keva} – his prayer is not prayer {tahnunim}. What is “keva”? Rabbi Jacob ben Idi taught in the name of Rav Oshiya: Anyone whose prayer is like a heavy burden on him. The Rabbis taught: Whoever does not say it in the manner of supplication. Rabba and Rav Yosef both taught: Whoever is not able to add something new into it. (Talmud Brachot, 29b)

On June 13, in response to a Tweet that I noticed, I responded: I’ll b following #ISTE2011 from my chupah!  @weinberg81, a Tweeter I’d only recently been following (and knew as much about him as I was able to glean from his Twitter profile and recent tweets) responded to me: @debbyj18 I hope you wont really be following from your chupah… #iste2011 #jed21.

Hmm, a random response from a random follower – or a thoughtful response from my Twitter community?  It gave me pause – it gave me what for to think about.

On June 26 I communicated the following message on my Facebook page – figuring my personal FB community of 350+ “friends” might want to know: Packing up for the #BigWeekAhead (www.weddingwire.com/debbyandho​ward) while keeping an eye on the happenings at #ISTE11 http://www.isteconference.org/​ISTE/2011  (NOTE how 13 days later I changed my perspective!)

Social networking works because of the high volume and frequency of multiple postings from a variety of people – some people post multiple times in a day (or in an hour), about anything and everything… some people post once/week or even less frequently.  Some postings are reactive, instantaneous and spontaneous, some postings are personal, whimsical or nonsensical… some postings are thoughtful, reflect research, are complex, and require dedicated time to fully read the information being shared.  Some posts are shared in 140 characters or less, some are full sentences with proper grammar, some include photo or video links, some include phone numbers and some are advertisements.  Social networking depends on all of this in order for it to succeed.

Mah-ee kevah – what is kevah?  The rabbis of the Talmud began the conversation for us on what social networking is all about.  And from them we also learn about kavannah that there are times when we need to be intentional, thoughtful and focused.  @weinberg81 reminded me of this – in fewer than 140 characters.

On July 3, while getting my hair done for my wedding I had my iPad and iPhone in my hand still trying to share information and enjoy social interactions.  Several hours later, while standing under the chupah I reached for my iPhone to read the vows that I’d written (and emailed to myself)… but this time reality trumped technology.  My screen blinked and something totally random popped up.  In the 20 seconds it took me to collect my thoughts and realize this was my ultimate kavannah moment – the time for thoughtful and intentional focus, and a private interaction just between me and my life-partner – I finally got it.  This is one conversation I will definitely remember!

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