When on Twitter the other day, in the week leading up to Shavuot 5783/2023, I got a promoted ad from “TOMRA Food” which highlights their technology and machinery to use in things like shelling nuts, to separate the shells from the meat of the fruit in a highly industrial mechanized process.

TOMRA? I know TOMRA and recognized their arrow logo. They are the company which makes the bottle recycling machines you see in supermarkets. That intruiged me. From the little I’ve seen around I’ve always kind of thought they were a recycling company. Until I saw this Twitter promoted ad – where they have machines that sort food.

Ah, so they aren’t defined by recycling, rather by sorting. They are a sorting company. Recycling is one application, shelling nuts is another. It’s about recognizing and differentiating and doing something about it.

I don’t usually retweet promoted ads on Twitter. But this one caught my eye and made me think/re-think what I knew about TOMRA (a Norwegian company, by the way, the world-leader in its industry). And the Baal Shem Tov (whose yartzeit is on Shavuot) taught us to learn life lessons and spiritual messages from all we see and hear.

It is a tremendous & underestimated life-skill, the power to discern, ability to categorize & prioritize. As Talmud describes R’ Meir: he knew how to keep the nut & discard the shell. Seems simple, but IRL many confuse & conflate the two, often throwing out baby with the bathwater.

Somehow the loss of the highlighter pen tool in today’s digitized world reflects a deeper loss (for many) of the ability to highlight, to discern, to select… to pick out those few lines in a sea of text, to find the phrase that speaks to you, to tell apart what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate… on so many levels.

In my observation of college students today I realize that the “cut & paste” ability to discern, distinguish & highlight, to pick out key pivotal points or phrases in a long text is not to be taken for granted, an art, a skill, that’s seems to be less common. Cut & paste is a choice!

As we approach the Shavuot holiday, in connection with the above, it is interesting to note that “days of separation” were part of the preparation for Sinai. As the old saying goes, more Jews make Kiddush (sanctify) than Havdalah (separate, distinguish).

Because that’s what TOMRA (and a lot of life, actually) is all about.