Trump’s Communication: Intimate or disconnected?

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Perhaps the most startling aspect of President Trump’s leadership both as Republican nominee in the election and even more so as President was the pointed and often offensive tweets that Trump chose to share with the world at large. The advantage of tweeting if of course the ability to disseminate one’s opinion and message instantaneously. He  no longer needs to be beholden to the overtures of the media and press. If anything they have all but become an irrelevance as he castigated them for hiding the truth.

Besides the controversial content of some of his statements, the very behaviour of the President has chosen to adopt utilising  Twitter to communicate raises interesting questions as the way he and we choose to communicate and to interact with other people in general. There seems to be a psyche of the necessity to respond instantly, it seems more important to respond rather than the quality of those responses. One cannot leave an email for twenty-four hours without some type of response. One may wonder where the thinking time has gone. The time to contemplate and give due care and consideration to the consequences of the options on the table.

The Gemorah in Megillah describes and incident in the Purim story. The tells us that after Vashti’s rebellion in defying Ahasuerus orders and refusing to appear at the party, a counsel was convened of seven wise men so as to advise the King what he should do with Vashti for failing to obey his command.

Rav Kamenetsky observes that Haman was the last name in that list indicating he was of the lowest stature of all the advisors. Yet he was the one who jumped up first and gave advice before anyone else. The Maharal explains that the reason those of lower stature blurt out their opinions is not that they wish to show off their brilliance, it is due to the fact they simply cannot contain their impulses.

I remember when I was growing up my father being a lawyer would share on countless occasions that he had written an important letter but had  purposely left it on his desk so that he could consider over night whether he was content to send it or not. After all once words are said they can never be retracted.

In late Chief Rabbi  Lord Jacobovitz, posed the question as to why when  we are about to start the Amidah we are required to  first take three steps back before taking three steps forward and commencing the Amidah. He explained that before one can expect to move forwards in life one first has to take three steps back to gain a true perspective of where one is so one can know where one is heading.

In the aftermath of the Chilcot enquiry, the former prime minster Tony Blair expressed his “deep regret and sorry over the invasion of Iraq” decisions that are made in the heat of the moment when under tremendous pressure so often lead to catastrophic consequences and a life of regret

In our own lives despite more and more means of communication we seem to struggle to connect in relationships. Arguably part of the issue must lay at the frenetic pace of life and the  impulsive and knee jerk means of communicating which we all resort to.

Taking those three steps back and having less but more qualitative interactions may enable us to become a more thoughtful generation.

Published by Rabbi Piny Hackenbroch

Rabbi Piny Hackenbroch is currently the Senior Rabbi in Woodside Park Synagogue – a modern orthodox thriving community of some 1,400 members. His innate love for people and his empowering brand of leadership make him a well-loved figure in Woodside Park & London.

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