11 Kislev 5781 / Friday, November 27, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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The Divine Purpose of Technology    

The Divine Purpose of Technology

The Chofetz Chaim teaches us the real reason for technology and what Hashem wants us to learn from all the modern devices around us.


Every discovery we have ever made, each of our inventions, was planted here in the six days of creation in order that we utilize it for a G-dly- purpose. (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)


Hashem knew about the iPhone and 5G wireless even as He spoke to Adam the first man in the Garden of Eden. It is all for a Divine purpose.


The Chofetz Chaim lived throughout the birth of the technological era we live in today. The father of the digital smartphone was the telephone which transmitted sound, the phonograph for recording and replaying sound, and motion pictures for recording and replaying video, all invented in 1877.


Today’s technology isn’t new as much as it is a continuation and combination of all these developments into one platform. The questions and answers that the Chofetz Chaim faced about these developments apply to our generation as much as it applied to his.


Contemplate three things, and you will not come into to the hands of transgression: Know what is above from you: a seeing eye, a listening ear, and all your deeds are inscribed in a book. (Ethics of the Fathers, 2:1).


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Technology


The invention of technology has done wonders for the world. Diseases have gone away and the population has increased over 20-fold. Life expectancy has doubled. Quality of life is far beyond what could ever have been imagined; the poorest family in modern day New York lives better than the Kings and Queens who reigned over the British Empire in 1850. The medicine of technology has given us decades more time to perform mitzvot!


But as life becomes faster, busier, more mechanized, and with lots more distractions, it is harder to see G-d in the world. Along with man’s “conquest” of nature, and his deluding himself into “defeating G-d,” came the worst ideologies. Communism, with its requirement for atheism. Evolution, with its denial of Hashem creating man. Even anarchy, the philosophy that man doesn’t need rules to live by because he is so naturally refined, have become popular with the new technology.


How does the “reform” movement – spawned in the 18th century - refer to the Torah and those Jews who faithfully follow it? As a reflection of technology that says what is newer is better. The reform call themselves “progressive” while referring to Torah observant Jews as “ancient.”


Today’s tech-fueled dogma is that technology has made G-d obsolete.


How Technology Enables Our Perception of Hashem


But if Hashem enabled technology to emerge into His world, why would He allow it, knowing full well that it would cause so much confusion?


This is what the Chofetz Chaim addresses as the real reason for technology:


Technology is an aid to enable us to know G-d. The Torah tells us that our every action is seen, heard, and recorded in our account. We must be vigilant to perform Hashem’s mitzvot and not sin, because He is watching us at every moment.


But we don’t really experience this until after we die. By then, we no longer have free will, and this knowledge is of no use.


That is the purpose of technology – to whisper in our ear these truths – all the time.


When “a man of science” asks how can G-d hear what I say if He is in heaven and I am on earth? The telephone answers him. A man can speak into a box, and thousands of miles away someone else can hear him as if he is in the same room. If man can create such a device, for sure Hashem can.


When a “modern cosmopolitan” wants to know how Hashem can see everything, he just has to see a video. In this screen are the live movements of someone else on the other end of the earth. Surely then, Hashem can see what we are doing any time of the day.


The ability of man to put millions of cameras the size of a pin head anywhere, even inside our bodies, reinforces the truth that Hashem sees everything we do – even what we do in private.


When a philosopher wants to know how anything can be recorded without a pen and a pencil, or a paintbrush, we simply show him a motion picture of something that happened days, months, even years prior.


The fact that every Smartphone, computer, and even nonrelated devices have cameras to record both video and audio at every moment make it very clear that Hashem can record everything He sees, everything He hears, into a life story of our deeds and make an accounting of every step. And when we pass from this world and are judged on High, they will simply play our life as a video – and the judgment will be passed on its own.


What Technology Means for Us


Technology teaches us that life is an ongoing dialogue between Hashem, and us. Emuna teaches us that everything that happens to us is a message from the King of Kings, guiding us on what to do next, and what we need to fix in our past. We are commanded to thank Hashem for the good and the bad because it is all loving guidance from Him on how to stay on the right path, and to make sure our life account is always in good standing.


This is what the Chofetz Chaim teaches us about technology. It is a modern-day opportunity to understand Hashem and our task in His world.

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