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Bragging on Facebook

May 12, 2019 | by Emuna Braverman

Admit it: we enjoy the honor and praise we get after posting something about our good deeds.

I am known in a very small circle for my complaints about Facebook: the issues of modesty, self-deception, insensitivity and hurt of others, not enjoying the experience because you are too busy documenting it, becoming dependent on others. The list goes on and on.

And just when I thought I had it all covered, I discovered a new issue!

Our sages teach, “If you do a good deed and boast about it, you lose the reward for that deed.” We have lots of rationalizations that allow us to brag - I’m just sharing what I do with my friends, I’m trying to encourage and inspire others, I’m trying to help the organization We’re masters at rationalizing; there is no end of the excuses that put us always in a good light.

But I believe that a little introspection (okay, maybe a lot) will lead to a different conclusion. We enjoy the honor we get after posting something about our good deeds. So many comments! So many words of praise! Even in the best case scenario, where our initial motive may have been pure, it goes to our heads. It affects us. It makes us focus on the honor and admiration received and not on the mitzvah performed.

It may motivate us to do more - but there may be a cost. Now it’s true that Judaism believes that we may begin doing things for the wrong reasons and end up doing them for the right ones. But once you’ve done the act, what’s the justification for giving room to your ego? It’s just self-aggrandizement for the sake of self-aggrandizement.

There is also a risk that instead of motivating others, we simply make them feel inadequate. Their giving, their efforts seem diminished in light of “all” that we do. This may not be our intention but it may be the result. We should be sensitive to this. It would be ironic that in effort to encourage others to give and to be kind, we end up being hurtful to them.

Additionally we learn that the best way to give - not just financially but any type of giving - is anonymously. It’s between us and the Almighty. No one else needs to know.

It is so wonderful to think of others. It is so wonderful to be involved in volunteer organizations and chesed organizations and to help individuals and groups and particularly the Jewish people in any way we can.

And if we do that, why risk losing any of the reward, any of the connection to our Creator, any of the taste of the eternal, any of the pleasure of the soul by posting it on Facebook?

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