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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Some of the hottest things these days are apps. There’s a daf yomi app, a kriyas shema shel mita app, a zmanim app and thousands more of all different types and from thousands of different sources. If you ask someone, “What’s an app?” they’ll probably tell you it’s something for your iPad or smartphone. It’s actually just the opposite. It’s not something FOR your iPhone, it’s something for you, that you use to get benefit FROM your iPhone, Android or Windows-based gadget.

App is short for application, and it means “a use,” basically finding something you can do with all the handheld computing power at your fingertips. There is a whole industry of programmers and designers who create, test and market apps. Well, I’ve gone one better, and created an app unlike anything those programmers have done.

There’s an old joke about the archaeologists in Egypt who found very thin strands of copper wire. They announced that this find meant the ancient Egyptians had the telegraph. Upon hearing this, Israeli archaeologists made an announcement of their own. “We believe our ancestors had wireless radio, because we found NO wires!”

The app I have come up with is so amazing because you can use it without an iPad, without an Android, and even without a mini-micro-usb-universal-SCSI plug to make it work. You see, the app I came up with uses the computing power of a device so advanced it’s not even hand-held. I’m talking, of course, about your brain.

Now, once I tell you about the app I came up with, I’m sure some programmer out there will come up with a version for a smartphone. If you do, be in touch with me because I have ideas about that, too. However, as we go into Rosh Hashanah and the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, my app is based on taking advice from someone and putting it into practice, as in, a “practical application.”

The idea came from R’ Moshe Meir Weiss of Staten Island. He mentioned that he once gave a bar mitzvah boy the advice to take two minutes each night to play a game of 20 questions with himself. Those questions would be ones that would make him think about his behavior that day and give him the insight to change for the better the next day. The app I created from this is called “Cheshbon HaNefesh,” or, “Daily Reckoning” in English.

The way you play is that you come up with about 40 questions, put them on slips of paper, and pick out 20 at random. The reason for that is so you have to be prepared for anything, not just the ones you know are coming. There’s also a time element involved. If you have to think really hard before you answer, that should tell you something and deduct points. The nice part is that you don’t have to tell anyone else how you did, just yourself.

Make sure you play each day, or at least several times a week to ensure you keep your points total. When you wait too long in between rounds, you slide back to where you started, or worse. It’s also a perfect game for the Aseres Yemei Teshuva, when the Rama actually says that one should do this to start the year off right.

To make it easier on you, I’m starting you off with some game pieces. Add your own and see if you can master and become a force to be reckoned with, in “Daily Reckoning.”

These should be enough to start you off. Go ahead and cut these out, and make some of your own. As far as the answers, you know what the right answers are, so you can grade yourself. And if you find that one day you feel like you lost? No problem. As long as you play this game honestly at night (and maybe in the morning) you are a winner for sure.

How’s that for an app?

Jonathan Gewirtz is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in publications around the world. He also operates JewishSpeechWriter.com, where you can order a custom-made speech for your next special occasion.

For more information, or to sign up for the Migdal Ohr, his weekly PDF Dvar Torah in English, e-mail info_JewishSpeechWriter.com and put Publication Sponsorship or Subscribe in the subject.

© 2013 by Jonathan Gewirtz. All rights reserved.

By Rabbi Jonathan Gewirtz