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When we look up, we are seldom afraid. When our eyes gaze upward, our hearts are filled with faith and reassurance. And when our hands reach out to hold the hands of our heavenly co-captain, we may just discover that He is continuously helping us navigate our lives in the best of directions, even when, from time to time, we may lose control.

Rabbi Allouche

Did you know that looking down at your phone is like having a 60-pound weight on your neck, according to a recent MIT research? And most of us look down at our phones, between two to four hours a day!

So, what’s the cure for our “age of information”?

Well, medically, there are a few things we can do. For example, we can hold our phones straight in front of us instead of bending our heads down towards them. But in this week’s portion, a different, and more spiritual, approach, is proposed.

There, we read of many venomous snakes that bit and killed many Israelites. Moses prays on behalf of his people, and G-d offers him a solution: ‘Make yourself a serpent and put it on a pole, and let whoever is bitten look at it and live. Moses made a copper snake and put it on a pole, and whenever a snake bit a man, he would gaze upon the copper snake and live.’ (See Numbers 21). Perhaps, this is also the origin of the symbol of medicine with the two snakes called “Caduceus.”

Pondering on the meaning of this story, the Talmudic Sages ask: “But is the snake really capable of determining life and death?!” Their answer is surpassingly beautiful: “No, the snake does not have that power. Rather, when Israel would gaze upward and bind their hearts to their Father in Heaven, they would be healed; and if not, they would perish.”

The lesson of the Talmud is surpassingly beautiful: Sometimes, the cure for the many snakebites of life, is to look upward. Sometimes, the best remedy for the plagues of life – which often inundate us with venomous challenges – is to focus heavenward. And if we are only able to connect with our ‘Father in heaven,’ He too will be able to connect with us and bring us His many blessings of healing and strength.

Indeed, when we look up, we are seldom afraid. When our eyes gaze upward, our hearts are filled with faith and reassurance. And when our hands reach out to hold the hands of our heavenly co-captain, we may just discover that He is continuously helping us navigate our lives in the best of directions, even when, from time to time, we may lose control.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, the 19th Century Philosopher once said that his aim as a philosopher is “to show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle.” And he explained: “The fly keeps banging its head against the glass in a vain attempt to get out. The more it tries, the more it fails, until it drops from exhaustion. The one thing it forgets to do is look to the sky.”

May we all find the wisdom and the courage, to look to the sky, to soar to the heavens, and to return back to our planet Earth, in order to create a heavenly abode, in our homes, in our cities, and in our world, for generations to come. Amen.