By Hannah Reich Berman
The Christian belief is that the Messiah arrived long ago. As Jews, it is our belief that if the Messiah had come (and gone), the world would no longer be in a mess—and what a mess it is. No way do we believe that the Messiah has been here. And, just for the record, we do not use the term Messiah. We refer to him (did anyone ever consider the possibility that it might be her?) as Mashiach. According to our tradition, Mashiach will be wiser than Solomon and will be a prophet around the level of Moses. Ever since the destruction of the Holy Temple, in every generation there is an individual who has the potential to be the Mashiach. One can well imagine the state of excitement that the world will be in when Mashiach arrives. But, until that time, we wait. And while we are waiting, we pray.
There are some folks, however, who get excited about more mundane matters. As an example, thousands of people wait excitedly all year for Black Friday. That is the day after Thanksgiving, when stores offer outrageously low prices for everything from sports equipment to televisions and computers. Many get on line in front of a store as early as 2 a.m., and those people might be considered the latecomers because others actually camp out overnight. As cold as the weather might be in late November, there are folks who hang out in sleeping bags on the ground. Others don’t go for the sleeping-bag scenario but they give up a night of sleep and bring folding chairs that they sit in all night long as they wait for the store to open.
To the best of my knowledge, Mashiach has not yet arrived. Thanksgiving is still two months away. But the excitement on Friday, September 19, rivaled Black Friday in every way. It was more than simple excitement—it was something akin to hysteria. The feeling was in the air, it was palpable, and it had nothing to do with getting a bargain price on anything. All of the fervor was about being able to purchase one of the latest iPhones—that would be the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. Admittedly, despite the fact that I own an iPhone and I carry it around, I know very little about it. Nevertheless, as unsophisticated and unknowledgeable as I am about them, I know enough to realize that all of this excitement is ridiculous.
I cannot fathom what people are so worked up about. But they are! At the Apple flagship store in New York City, it was reported that the line stretched for several blocks. And while some people arrived hours before the store opened, others chose to stake a spot weeks in advance. Are these people crazy? Since the store was open for business and had not closed in the weeks prior to September 19, I assume that those who had lined up probably had to step aside each time someone entered or exited the store, and then they would have jumped right back into their spots when the space at the front door was cleared of customers.
As little as I know about this state-of-the-art piece of equipment, I am certain of two things. The first is that no new phone is worth that much devotion, and the second thing I know is that the iPhone 6 (or the 6 Plus) is most likely not a lot different from its most recent predecessors, which would be the iPhone 5, the 5C, and the 5S. The lucky (?) few who got their hands on the newest one are speaking out. Some new owners claim that the phone is a little lighter. Big deal! Others say that the screen is a bit larger. Another big deal! And for this, people camped out hours and even weeks in advance?
It should be noted that there were a few dissatisfied new customers. These people admitted to some disappointment, acknowledging that there is not much of a difference between the latest model and the others. That should be no big surprise! Unless this new phone can drive a car, do the laundry, or wash my dishes, it is not something I could ever get too worked up about. But I am apparently in the minority. The reports later that Friday were that the stores ran out of the phones and people now have to wait for more to become available.
It is just a phone, for heaven’s sake. It is not a fantastic bargain such as those we see advertised for Black Friday. And it certainly isn’t the ushering in of the Messianic era. The Mashiach has not arrived in the form of a phone. But one would never know it. From what I read and heard in the news, it appeared to me that some folks are less enthused by the arrival of their newborn baby than they are about the arrival of this phone. How sad is that? But that’s the way it is. v
Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at Savtahannah@aol.com or 516-902-3733.