THE PEOPLE OF THE CD-ROM?

By Suri Cohen

We’ve been known for millenia as People of the Book

But as the century closes, this demands another look.

With all of Torah now on disk, and Talmud, and then some

Are we evolving into “the People of the CD-ROM”?

Virtual reality may spell virtual execution

For those who lag behind in the computer revolution.

There are diehards among us — they’re unyielding and they’re firm

But even the most bookish will have new terms to learn.

The degree of one’s devotion to the service of Hashem

Will now be quantifiable in megabytes of RAM.

And when the query comes, “Is there a posek in the house?”

It’s understood — he’ll have to be proficient with a mouse.

In order to round out his grasp of all the halachos

He will surely have to start his day with MS-DOS.

And if a yeshivah lad should chance to miss a seder

T’would be easy to log on to electronic cheder.

For what could be more simple, more obliging and batampte

Than quick obedience of commands typed after C prompt?

From esoteric rishonim to all the laws of matzos,

Insert a disk into your drive and stamp out am ha’aratzus!

No need for years of study to find a tough medrash

Just bite into the Apple proffered by MacIntosh,

And all aspiring chachomim can now be borne aloft

And scale the heights of Torah on the wings of Microsoft.

So what have we created when all of this is through?

The “compleat” Talmudic scholar who does the Windows too.

But somehow this scenario sounds a bit too pat

And so I’d like to offer you a simple caveat:

Do not yet toss out all your books — they have some value still

Because there do exist some Gates still closed even to Bill…

Mrs. Cohen is a freelance surfer in cyberspace from Kew Gardens, New York.

This article was featured in Jewish Action Spring 1996.