‘With more knowledge comes more sorrow’
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here
The Bible Says What?

‘With more knowledge comes more sorrow’

Rabbi Deborah Blausten takes a controversial topic from Jewish texts and looks at a progressive response

We are 22 months into living through a breaking news event, with a daily barrage of case data, scientific studies and updates to guidelines and restrictions set by government. When the world around us feels so chaotic and confusing, the news cycle and its drip-feed of information seem to suggest that consuming more, reading more, absorbing more, watching more, paying constant attention to the numbers and the updates might give us back some of the control and security that the virus has taken away.

The author of Ecclesiastes writes of his desire to seek out all there is to know, and his frustration in discovering that even once he acquired all of the wisdom he sought, ‘a twisted thing cannot be made straight’; it didn’t give him the power he hoped it would. He then remarks that ‘to increase in knowledge is to increase in sorrow’.

What does he mean? Surely our tradition values learning above all?

Living through our current reality can, I think, help us see the value in this teaching. Staying informed is vital – it is how we learn how to keep ourselves and others safe. The challenge of the ever-buzzing digital landscape is how to not get sucked into the spiral of so-called ‘doomscrolling’, where knowledge leads us to sorrow and despair.

It is difficult to look away from the torrent of information telling us about the world, but scrolling Facebook, Twitter, or the news can have a toxic impact on mental wellbeing without making any material difference to physical safety. When there is so much bad news around, it is important to create boundaries around our intake and to be mindful of when the things we hope might protect us start to do us harm.

  • Deborah is rabbi at Finchley Reform Synagogue

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments