I have just returned from a relatively long vacation, one of the best that I can remember. In this vacation I didn't suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous hotel and travel expenses, because I didn't go anywhere. Vacation means a respite from work or service; I didn't do or seek either. I enjoyed my vacation with my wife and family, at home or close to home – and it was one of the most refreshing vacations I ever took.

So what's the answer to the riddle, you ask, where did we go?

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We turned off the screens: we had a month of no T.V. or internet. Let me explain: many of us are "screenaholics", addicted to some type of screen, whether it be the old-fashioned television, the computer, the internet or a smartphone.


My wife and I both have "dumbphones" – the only things you can do with them is talk or send text messages, no pictures, recordings, WhatsApp, e-mail or Facebook – nothing except short conversations and even shorter messages.

I grew up with a T.V. in my parent's house since as long as I can remember. The first time I seriously started to read books was when the old black and white T.V. passed away and the new, color T.V. didn't come until two weeks later. It was then that I discovered the joy of reading, of imagining the landscapes and the faces of the people with my own imagination, not with some producer or director's imagination. Somehow, even when the color television arrived and my "screenaholicism" revived – I still stayed with books, too.

Of course today, decades later, you can binge on all the T.V. you want, when you want, through all the various internet sites that show you whatever movie or television series that you want. You can read all the newspapers of the world – even though they may be totally irrelevant to your life. You can consume all the news or fake news that you wish. You can – in short – avoid life by sticking yourself in front of a screen, or with a smartphone you can even walk the streets as you stare at the screen and ignore the real world around you.

I can confess that my childhood addiction to the screen came back with a vengeance when we brought home a newly-born six-pound computer and hooked it up to the internet. My wife would ask, "Are you coming to eat/ bed/ the party/ the lecture?" and I would reply that eternal reply: "I'll be there in just a minute!"… and often, just a minute and six hours later, I'd finally turn off the computer and roll into bed after finaaly eating a cold dinner.

Several months ago our home computer broke down, died, passed away, shuffled off its mortal electric cord and went to that great computer store in the sky. Suddenly, by the Grace of God, I met my wife. She'd never gone anywhere; it was I who returned from the screen-addicted. 

"Who are you?" I asked, since she wasn't a Facebook friend of mine and never sent me even a single e-mail.
"I'm your wife, remember? We got married, oh, thirty nine years ago…" she replied.

Thanks to my computer conking out I reconnected to life, to my wife and to the world. When people ask us, "aren't you going to get a new computer?" – we both answer at once, "NO!!" whatever we had to do we did from the computer at the office – our version of "we gave at the office!" Home was for homey stuff.

This last month was chock-full of Jewish holidays, and I realized that in order to fully live those holidays, I had to take a vacation from the screen. I didn't even write my blog, which I truly enjoy, because you know they say that an alcoholic can't have just one drink.

Now I'm sitting at the computer in the teachers' room at work, writing this, apologizing for disappearing for a month. But you know what – and I won't be insulted if you do this at my blog's expense – you should take your partner on the same vacation we took. It's lovely.
 
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