Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Torah and Computers

A friendly librarian informed me of a new book titled Sefer Kol Ha-Omer Davar Be-Shem Omro: Be-Shas Bavli. It consists of an alphabetical list from the Babylonian Talmud where one person quotes another. I can imagine an historical purpose for this book but it certainly doesn't top the list of mose useful books ever written. Anyway, what is interesting about this book is one of its rabbinic approbations. My friend translates:

However, the novelty is intensified in that you have completed this entire endeavor without the counterfeit aid (siyu'a she-ein bo mamash) of machines that are being innovated constantly (ha-mitchadeshim la-bekarim), like the invention of the "computer" and the like. For anyone who touches one of them is touching the apple of the eye of the Torah! For the Torah cannot being acquired through the pressing of the finger on a button, rather through strenuous labor that literally brings one close to death! And I declare that the difference between the such labor and the workings of the computer is like the difference between machine matzah and hand-made matzah, and those who understand will comprehend (veha-meiven yavin).
I hear what he is saying about the value of struggling to learn Torah. But what difference does it make to the reader how the book was researched? And what does he have against machine-made matzah?

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