A Love Letter

My husband sort of wrote me a letter overflowing with warmth, gratitude, and love. To explain the ‘sort of,’ I need to give you the back story.

One of the joys of the holiday of Purim is the obligation to eat a festive meal. Let’s just say that it is one of the easier commandments to keep. For the past few years, my husband and I have enjoyed pot-luck style with our two local daughters and their families, as well as our niece and her family.

In acknowledgment that the miracles of Purim, which take place over many years and without any grand, cataclysmic events, and therefore could easily be attributed to chance or luck, the theme of the meal was ‘hidden’. That is the literal root meaning of Esther’s name, and alone among all the books of Scripture God’s name doesn’t appear in the book of Esther. It is up to us to recognize God’s intervention for our salvation. In concert with this theme, there were camouflage decorations and various puzzles and games. On Purim, this past Sunday, each guest’s place-setting had a scroll which, when opened, contained a poem directing us to uncover the menu by seeking food items in a hidden word search.

Our daughter admitted that rather than composing it herself, she used AI (artificial intelligence) to write the poem. This led to a discussion of Chat GPT and how many of us were – or were not – utilizing this tool. In addition to being a partner to her husband and a wonderful mother to their five children, our niece runs a thriving graphic design business. She emphasized how useful she finds AI in her work. Since she is a savvy entrepreneur, a few of us who have been passive in pursuing AI, paid attention.

Which brings me back to my husband’s almost sweet letter. The note gushed with compliments and gratitude. And, while my husband regularly compliments me and expresses gratitude for our relationship, this presentation rang false. Yes, it turned out to be written by AI after being given nothing more than a ten-word prompt. (Had I not immediately realized that it was artificially constructed, my husband was going to tell me.) The language and syntax were not quite my husband’s style, the examples were generic, and the delivery via What’s App was a dead giveaway. Reading the overblown paragraphs left me mildly irritated rather than swooning.

However, according to my niece, with repetition, practice, and tweaking, the results could get better—much better. Used honestly as a tool rather than as an attempt to avoid work or deceive, AI could probably be a valid help in the manner of a thesaurus on steroids or scrolling through a book of celebrated letters. Yet, either the Luddite or the wise woman in me, tells me that the medium, the technology itself, will in most cases be a liability rather than an asset when it comes to conveying heartfelt, personal feelings. Which of those two approaches/personae is kickstarting my response? I’m not sure.

This Musing is dedicated in memory of Meir and Liz Elharar, ages 58 and 45, who were murdered by Hamas terrorists in their home at Kibbutz Holit on October 7, 2023. The couple called for help after they were shot, and when a neighbor arrived, he found Liz’s bleeding body blocking the door to the closet where they had hidden their seven-year-old daughter, saving her life.

And with prayers for the safe release of all the living hostages and the bodies of those who are dead (despite President Biden and the leaders of Canada and England – among others – signaling to Hamas that these hostages are unimportant) , and among them, Chaim Peri, aged 79. The grandfather of 13 was taken hostage on October 7, 2023, from Kibbutz Nir Oz.

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Are you intrigued by the Passover Seder?

For thousands of years, the Passover Seder has been a highlight of the Jewish year. These three volumes detail the meaning behind each action of the Passover Seder, which is so much more than a festival meal.

As freedom and faith are challenged in the world, the messages of the Passover Seder serve as both warning and promise to today’s generation.

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