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The Blurring of Human and Divine in the Digital Age | The Mordecai M. Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood

    The Mordecai M. Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood

    Mordecai M. Kaplan (1881-1983) was one of the most influential Jewish thinkers of the 20th century. We believe that his thought may be even more important in the 21st century.

    The Blurring of Human and Divine in the Digital Age

    The confluence of technology and b’tzelem Elohim comes forth in a challenging poem, titled “Installing You My Lord,” by Admiel Kosman, a poet, Talmudist, and professor of literature.  In the poem, the human communicates with the Divine one, but ironically the human is the one “installing” the Divine, like one installs a computer program.  Is the speaker creating the God he is talking to?  Have we come up with a unique new take on the High Holiday notion that we enthrone God?   Do we also create the God we enthrone?

    Here is the first stanza of the poem:

    Installing You my Lord, in the middle of the night.
    Installing You and all Your programs. Up and down
    the night goes, in my Windows, slows, installing You and
    the kruvim, installing you and the srafim, installing all
    the holy crew, until the morning
    come.

    [© 2007, Admiel Kosman.  From: Alternative Prayerbook Publisher: Hakibbutz Hameuchad, Tel Aviv, 2007.  Translation © 2011, Lisa Katz and Shlomit Naim-Naor.  From: Approaching You in English, Zephyr, Brookline, MA 2011.  Translator’s Note: One of a series of poems by Kosman in which he transliterates English into Hebrew letters. Kruvim = cherubim and srafim = seraphim.]

    The poem fills me with curiosity and wonder.  We know God wanted our partnership, but did God give us even the power to reshape God’s identity?  Did God want to be created in this particular way?  Why is the evening the most interesting time for such human installation of the Divine?  Isn’t that the time when we were in repose from the day’s labors?  What are the digital equivalents of cherubim and seraphim who serve as “connectors” or hyperlinks between the Divine and human worlds?  And if God runs the program once installed, what happens to the role of the humans who installed God?

    What questions does the poem raise for you, the reader?

    Please feel free to contact Jeffrey Schein with questions or comments, atjeffrey@kaplancenter.org.

     

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    The Mordecai M. Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood

    1574 Ashland Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201
    Phone: 847-492-5200