Last summer, I bought a new laptop. My old laptop was stolen out of the trunk of my car while I was on vacation in New Orleans (Incidentally, my father had actually expressed concern that I was going there specifically because he had heard that the crime rate is now especially terrible).
I loved my old laptop. It was a little big and bulky, but it did everything I needed, and it did it fast. It had all the cool, little features that I liked, like the fact that I could close it and it would automatically go into sleep mode, and then I could open it and it would wake up again. It had all my programs on it, which admittedly aren’t many, but still, important. It had a lot of my music on it, and many of my pictures as well. The pictures weren’t quite as big of an issue, since most of them were online or printed already, but still, they were there. Since it was the summer, I didn’t any papers or things I was in the middle of working on that were lost, which was extremely lucky. In any case, it was a good lesson in the importance of backing up files. My new best friend is now my USB flash drive.
In any case, I had to buy a new computer. I shopped around, spoke to my brother, who is my go-to person when it comes to anything with a cord, and finally chose one I liked, that was in my price range, which was quite low, considering that my parents weren’t helping me out (“This wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t gone to New Orleans like we wanted”).
The computer had everything I needed, and there was nothing noticeably wrong with it. But for some reason, it didn’t feel like it was “mine” yet. I would type out my papers, do research online, do the facebook/email/onlysimchas procrastination thing, but it just didn’t feel the same. The buttons weren’t the same, the tabs weren’t in the same places, and worst of all, it was Windows Vista, which I have learned is a horrid operating system.
It reminded me of something I heard in Seminary. Once a week, the head of Darchei Binah, Rabbi Kurland, would give a weekly talk. The class was officially called “Modern Halachik Problems”, and to paraphrase the description of the class given to us on our first day, “Sometimes I [Rabbi Kurland] will talk about modernity, sometimes I’ll talk about halacha, and sometimes I’ll just talk about problems”.
One week, around the halfway point of the year, he spoke about Getting All You Can Out of Your Time in Israel. He said that the year was half way over, and that it was time to embrace all that seminary offered. It was way past the time girls should have been rethinking their decisions. The “what ifs”, he said, were the biggest reason why girls weren’t happy. “What if I had gone to a different school?” “What if I didn’t go to Israel at all?” The past was over and, at that point, it wasn’t realistic to change. He went on to list things you COULD do, if you didn’t feel you were getting everything you expected from seminary. Take different classes, put more effort into the classes you were already taking, make meetings with teachers, come over to his house, etc.
I didn’t particularly like that speech, but I could feel him speaking straight to me. He was funny like that. Every single class of his I felt was tailor made for me. I wasn’t too fond of Darchei Binah while I was there, and if I had it to do all over again I probably would have chosen a different school, but I learned a lot that year, and not just about “where I didn’t want to be”, which is what I told people who asked about it afterwards. I really do owe a lot to my teachers. I’m in the middle of preparing a Shavuos shiur on Rut, and I’m taking much of it from my seminary notes. My skills have multiplied, and I really believe that I have become a much more open-minded person due to my time at Darchei Binah.
It took me over two years to realize all that. I wonder if it’s the same for my computer. It’s been a year, and I still don’t like my computer. It just doesn’t feel like me. I don’t know what a me computer feels like, but it doesn’t randomly freeze when I spend too much time online, it doesn’t take ten minutes to start up, and it doesn’t block limewire (which I use for completely legal reasons, mind you 😉 I don’t know if in another year I’ll look back at this computer and think, what a great laptop that was, but I hope so. I also hope it doesn’t actually take a year.