The sweeping technological changes that have taken place during the past several generations are in keeping with the prediction some two thousand years ago in the Zohar, a classical text of mysticism, stating that in the year 1840, there would be an outburst of “lower wisdom,” or advancements in the physical universe, and an increase in “sublime wisdom,” or spirituality, would begin to usher true unity into the world, leading toward the final redemption.
The increase in both types of wisdom—wisdom of the mind and wisdom of the soul—has surely come to pass; where we have fallen short is in integrating these spheres of knowledge. Only by balancing the scientific with the spiritual can we transform the dream of an ideal future into a functional blueprint for society, for true communication can begin only when human minds and souls interact. With communication comes understanding; with understanding comes compassion; and with compassion comes a natural movement toward universalism.
So the current technological revolution is in fact the hand of G-d at work; it is meant to help us make G-d a reality in our lives. And as time goes on, science will show itself more and more to parallel the truths of G-d, thereby revealing the intrinsic unity in the entire universe.
The divine purpose of the present information revolution, for instance, which gives an individual unprecedented power and opportunity, is to allow us to share knowledge—spiritual knowledge—with each other, empowering and unifying individuals everywere. We need to use today’s interactive technology not just for business or leisure but to interlink as people – to create a welcome environment for the interaction of our souls, our hearts, our visions.
There is much to learn from the technological revolution, as long as we understand its role in our lives and see it as a final step in our dramatic search for unity throughout the universe. After all, developments in science and technology have taught us to be more sensitive to the intangible and the sublime: the forces behind computers, telephones, television, and so on are all invisible, and yet we fully recognize their power and reach. Similarly, we must come to accept that the driving force behind the entire universe is intangible and sublime, and we must come to experience the transcendent and G-dly in every single thing — beginning, of course with ourselves.
With all our human capacity for technological advancement, we must never forget our higher objective. We must strive to enhance our scientific search for truth by constantly expanding our spiritual search for the divine.
— Menachem Mendel Schneerson in Toward a Meaningful Life: The Wisdom of the Rebbe, adapted by Simon Jacobson, (Thorndike, Maine: G.K. Hall, 1996), p. 190. First published (New York: William Morrow, 1995). Cited in part by Mel Alexenberg in his essay “An Interactive Dialogue: Talmud and the Net”. Available in Parabola, Volume 29, Number 2, “Web of Life”, (Mt. Kisco, New York: Tamarack Press, Summer 2004), p. 32.