2.13.2006

A Computer Parable for the Jewishly-minded

Rabbi Zalman Shachter-Shalomi has written a wonderful article in January's issue of Zeek, comparing the history of computing to the history of the Jewish people. It is simply terrific. Go read it. You are hereby warned, though, that there are many terms used there that the average American Jew probably wouldn't be familiar with. For those who "get it," though, it's great. (Thanks to SNSM for pointing it out.)

You really should read it in its entirety--it's only two pages long--but for my non-reading brethren (or brother, as the case may be), some highlights:
"My first computer, with the awesome memory of 36 K and a cassette tape drive to save the data, was a revelation for me. Now, word processing software had the power to take the written Torah of paper and ink and make it flexible -- soft-ware -- as if it were Oral Torah. The mind of the computer freed me from the fundamentalism of the script once written."
.......
"Who could resist the lure of MS-DOS -- Emmes-Dos (Emmet Dat in Sephardic pronunciation), truth and religion? Once learned, it proved much more flexible than either the Exidy’s CPM or Apple’s PRODOS. New manipulations of text and data as well as communication were now possible, and da'at was more portable than before. At the same time, the lingo was neither intuitive or accessible. This was the Talmudic era of my computer life, the time of the rabbinic hegemony."
.......
"I needed a virus detector to keep my drive - the bayit of my bytes -- kosher. And every year, at least twice - before Rosh Hashanah and before Pesach -- I needed to delete old obsolete files and clean up my drives."
For the rest, you'll need to go and read yourself. It's really lovely.

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