The “Futurist,” Ray Kurzweil is a man who plans to live forever. He is a wildly successful inventor: In the ‘70s he developed the first computer capable of reading different fonts, and in the ‘80s he created one of the first speech-recognition programs. He now takes up to 210 vitamin pills a day and receives intravenous anti-aging treatments once a week. His goal is to survive to the “singularity,” defined as the moment when computers become intelligent enough to take charge of their own destinies. At that point Kurzweil intends to download his personality and “live” on as information.
Kurzweil reminds me of “Death and the Powers: A Robot Pageant,” an opera in development at MIT’s Media Lab. Simon Powers, an aging inventor, downloads his “essence” into his living room in order to achieve immortality and watch over his family.
It all sounds farfetched to me. Please understand; ‘downloading a personality or essence’ is not what seems so unlikely, although I don’t believe Kurzweil will live long enough for such a computer, nor will Powers ever download his personality into his living room, even if he has all of MIT behind him!
Moses is the Eternal Man. He downloaded his spiritual essence into the Children of Israel. “There is one person in each generation with a spark of Moses in his soul,” teaches the Zohar. In this week’s portion, Behaalotecha, God “downloads” Moses’ prophetic spirit into the Seventy Elders, transforming them all into prophets for one day.
Rabbi Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz teaches that a true Rebbi shares a spark with, or, shall we say, “downloads part of his essence into,” his students.
Torah is all about downloading: The Torah’s wisdom is never just knowledge. When we study Torah we have an opportunity to upload its spiritual essence into our soul. The Torah “downloaded” its essence into every Mitzvah, and we have an opportunity to “upload” when we observe the Mitzvot.
We may live a longer physical life with Kurzweil’s vitamin program, but we have our own regimen, Torah. We have a choice each time we study, pray, or observe a Mitzvah, whether to simply perform a function or to “upload” the Infinite life that is available.
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