There are a lot of things in life we may want, but do we need them? There are also a lot of things in life we may need, but do we truly want them?
The reality is that we live in a dual world – one of a spiritual / noncorporeal essence and one of a physical / corporeal essence. The physical makeup is what you see, hear, smell, taste, do, etc. It is everything that we associate with our nefesh- the lower part of our soul. The spiritual world is where HaShem and the angels (mostly) dwell – this is where our Tefillah goes and is transformed back into the physical realm. Our soul connects to this spiritual existence by means of two other components – the ruach that is the life of HaShem that acts as a tether with the nefesh, and the neshama, a light component of HaShem, that the ruach tethers to.
We are dual beings. All other life has a nefesh (body) and ruach (life), but only humankind possesses a neshama (part of the Ein Sof). As a result, we are not purely spiritual, but neither are we purely physical. We struggle with morality and ethics. We struggle with spiritual habits. We fight between the iconic angel and devil on our shoulders – the yetzer hara and yetzer tov. These inclinations, both evil and good, are influences to guide us and distract us.
One great example of a struggle between the yetzer hara and yetzer tov is Netflix…
Sleep is my greatest enemy.— Netflix US (@netflix) April 17, 2017
Netflix is the example for a good reason – those addicted to it ignore not only sleep, but other aspects of their lives. This comes at a cost. There are only so many hours in the day, and realistically, we have a limit. Do we choose to reduce our time spent in prayer to indulge in another episode? Do we opt to forgo sleep and risk carelessness or illness to binge on? Do we allow ourselves to live in the fantasy world and develop emotional attachments to fictional characters?
Do we need hobbies that we can de-stress with? Absolutely.
Should our lives be consumed by these hobbies? Far from it.
There are many hobbies that are addictive in the world: television, conventions, web browsing, sports…the list goes on. Hobbies to reduce stress, enhance our ability to have kevanah, and recharge to get back to what our purpose is – that is a healthy hobby.
The topic of our purpose is a much deeper conversation, but within an Orthodox Jewish perspective, suffice it to say that we believe we were created to study Torah, fulfill mitzvos, and engage in Mussar (self-improvement) all in the focus of deepening our relationship with HaShem.
So, to Netflix or not to Netflix? It’s a question in today’s society, but should it be?