When I go to conferences for lawyers or technology, I tend to be pretty visible. I’m the guy with the big white knitted yarmulke, strings hanging from my belt (they’re called “tzitzis” and are a commandment from the Torah to wear to remind you of your obligations to G-d), and a smile. That being said, I don’t do a lot of blogging on here about my religion or my views on G-d. Not to say these aren’t important to me, they are the bedrock of my life, but this blog has always had posts about Apple computers or websites and the like. Then it occurred to me: this digital thing we do is really VERY spiritual.
At it’s essence, all digital code is a series of 1’s or 0’s. The infinite number of sequences manifest in various digital permutations such as images, applications, and functions that we know as computing (for any computer scientist out there that can correct my simplified understanding of how digital code works, please leave your comments below). Jewish thought tells us that entire world is made up of varying degrees of G-d either revealing or concealing Himself. Therefore, everything in existence is either a 1 (revelation) or 0 (concealment) of G-d. At it’s core, computing mimics this axiom. So it is fair to say that computing is a tool that allows us to better understand how G-d operates His universe (for any Torah scholars out there that can correct my simplified understanding of how G-d reveals and conceals Himself … you know the rest).
This is an idea I have been thinking about for sometime now, but it was only recently that I felt compelled to put it on this blog. See I got to thinking: one of our most powerful messaging mediums today is Twitter. Are people using Twitter to pray?
I put in a “#prayer” and was surprised to see that the answer to my question was, sort of. There were definitely prayers on there, some pleas for good health, others for no more marital problems, some praying for money to get married with links to sites to donate money. But there was a lot of other stuff on there too. Church groups were using the #prayer sign to announce prayer groups or church functions. Others used it to talk about Veteran’s Day (which is today by the way – Happy Veteran’s Day!) and sometimes, #prayer hashtag was just added to a post having nothing to do with prayer at all, leading me to ask does adding the #prayer hashtag to your tweet count as a prayer in itself? There’s even an article about sending Tweets to the Kotel (Wailing Wall). All of this lead me to the conclusion that people are using Twitter for spiritual activities just like they use it for anything else.
The whole thing reminds me of that scene in Bruce Almighty where he corals all the prayers he’s receiving into a giant email list and then just hits Reply All to answer them. Are we expecting the same thing to happen with our Twitter prayers? According to the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, a person’s personal prayer to G-d, in their own language without any formality, is one of the most powerful ways to build faith and connect with the Almighty. Perhaps Twitter then really is an answer to the need people feel for prayer, especially prayer they want to share with others. I guess a private blog written to G-d on a daily basis would be more akin to what Rebbe Nachman was talking about.