Don’t let the title throw you off, just stick this one out for a minute or two. I’ve been living in Chicago for nine months now, and I really have no clue about where things are geographically. I don’t really use a map anymore, I use Mapquest. I can tell you what exit I need to take to get to a museum, or how many miles I need to go until I turn left to get to someone’s house, but I can’t place too many locations on a map. I’ve become a product of what I’d like to call the ‘Mapquest generation’.
I contrast this with living in New York (1991-1997) where, I felt, I had a pretty good grasp of where thing were in each borough and Long Island (with the exception of a few neighborhoods in Brooklyn and all of Jersey). The main reason that I knew how to get places was because I used maps, not Mapquest. I knew streets as streets, and what was located nearby because I used a map.
With Mapquest one only knows how to get to their location, not what else is around the area.
I think there is a difference between knowing the directions of how to get to a hashkafic location and knowing where ones’ hashkafa is relation to other hashkafos.
I just hope I don’t raise a generation of ‘Mapquest Jews’. What I mean is Jews who know only how to get to their own derach and don’t see where they are in relation to other acceptable avenues and streets of Torah Judaism. Understanding where you are holding and respecting other is key how we function with a frum society.
The ‘Maquest model’ does have some redeeming value. For me it can serve a very useful function. When I am not on target with my Avodas Hashem, there is value in just getting basic directions to where I need to go, without the details of the surrounding area.
I know there are areas in which I slack. Davening b’tsibur is a challenge for me, at times. Applying the Mapquest approach would mean that I should focus only on my destination, in this case getting to a minyan. Where I am, in relation to others, in Avodas Hashem is only important in terms of chizuk.
It says in Peirkei Avos, “Ha Makir Es Makomo”, one should know ones’ place.