The Jew of the 90's is aided in many ways by the technology of the times. Not only do we benefit from the conveniences, efficiencies, and medical advances that our technology provides for us, but we, Hashem's children, can benefit in other ways as well.
The Jew of the 90's is aided in many ways by the technology of the times. Not only do we benefit from the conveniences, efficiencies, and medical advances that our technology provides for us, but we, Hashem's children, can benefit in other ways as well. Technology often enables us to understand and appreciate certain concepts that would otherwise have been more difficult to grasp.
One example of this phenomenon is our fundamental understanding that one need not have one of the five senses stimulated in order to appreciate that something is present. We understand that there are forces such as gravity and magnetism which we cannot feel, see with the naked eye, smell, hear, or taste. We take for granted that the paper and ink from which we are now reading are not simply paper and ink. Thanks to science we understand that there are an incredible number of molecules, atoms, and atomic particles that really make up this seemingly simple piece of paper.
We understand then that within the physical world there are at least two types of existences. There are those realities which we can relate to through the use of the five senses, and then there are those realities which the five senses cannot possibly relate to without assistance. There is a third type of existence, totally different and yet interestingly similar to the first two. This third level consists of spiritual realities. These are existences which are as real and as factual as any physical existence. However, they are one step further removed from our senses. While some physical existences can be sensed unaided and others need some kind of tool, spiritual existences cannot be experienced without having a connection to the spiritual. As real as the spiritual is, we often find it very difficult to connect with it.
"Command the Children of Israel that they shall expel from the camp everyone with tzaraat (a skin disease which results primarily from speaking slander), a zav (a person who had an emission), and everyone contaminated by a human corpse" (Numbers 5:2). All those people that have a specific level of spiritual impurity are required to leave the population center until such time that they have purified themselves. An impure person doesn't necessarily look different on the outside, nor does he act differently than a pure person. In all ways a pure person and his impure friend could appear to us exactly the same. In truth, they are not. Spiritual impurity, while not noticeable to the unlearned, untrained, and spiritually disconnected, is actually as real as any concrete physical existence. Like someone who is physically ill with a contagious disease, the spiritually contaminated person's presence in the camp is an impossibility. They must be removed in order to prevent an outbreak.
The message of this commandment is clear; we must appreciate that we cannot understand everything by simply looking at the surface. A much deeper understanding is necessary to really relate with the world within which we live. While physical realities may be detectable with technological tools, the only way to connect with spiritual realities is through studying the handbook given to us by our Creator. Hidden in our Torah lie the secrets upon which the entire world is based.
Mordechai Pollock, who grew up in Atlanta and is a graduate of Yeshiva Atlanta, is currently enrolled in a joint program with Ner Israel Rabbinical College and the University of Maryland, both in Baltimore.
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