May 17, 2005

The Prime Directive of the Blogosphere

The Prime Directive of the Blogosphere is: Link to your sources. The Talmud, which is very similar in that it consists of layers of commentary upon commentary all linked together (see the first page of the Talmud here, scroll down to see the its component parts color-coded), teaches the same lesson:

כָּל הָאוֹמֵר דָּבָר בְּשֵׁם אוֹמְרוֹ מֵבִיא גְאֻלָּה לָעוֹלָם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר וַתֹּאמֶר אֶסְתֵּר לַמֶּלֶךְ בְּשֵׁם מָרְדְּכָי

Kol ha'omer davar b'shem omro mevi' g'ula la`olam shene'emar vatomer ester lamelech b'shem mord'khay

All who say a thing in the name of its sayer bring redemption to the world, as it is said: "And Esther said in the name of Mordecai"

Pirqey Avot 6:6

This is one of the most often repeated maxims in Jewish sources. In fact, it is repeated three times in the Talmud itself (Talmud Bavli M'gila 15A, Hulin 104B, Nida 19B). 

From The Industry Standard's review of The Talmud and the Internet: A Journey between Worlds:

The Internet has numerous parallels to the Talmud. Both are the products of countless contributors, both aspire to be perfectly encyclopedic and both express their wisdom in an ad hoc web of references to other authorities (the Hebrew word for a passage from the Talmud means "webbing"). They even use similar visual strategies to represent the simultaneity of their voices. A page of the Talmud resembles a Web page, explains Rosen, in that "nothing is whole in itself. ... Icons and text boxes are doorways through which visitors pass into an infinity of cross-referenced texts and conversations." Rabbis who lived centuries apart appear on the same page, conversing across time, commingling with Biblical excerpts, parables and bits of history.

Somewhere near the roots of modern Western culture lies the belief that there are unbridgeable gaps between religious and secular, sacred and profane. Rosen counters that the Internet's gaudy melange of politics, porn, commerce and soap-box-preacher nuttiness suggests that everything is part of the same graceless totality. Jesus insisted on an either/or when he booted the money-changers from the Temple, but the Talmud, like the Internet, "talk[s] about God one moment, sex the next and commerce the third."

Far from "a broken-down state of affairs," this strikes Rosen as "astonishingly human and therefore astonishingly whole." By relating absolutely every idea from all possible angles, without passing final judgment on correct or incorrect, relevant or irrelevant, the Internet and the Talmud each invest their shattered, centerless cultures with a kind of mosaic unity. The Internet, like the Talmud, becomes "not merely a mirror of the disruptions of a broken world," but something that "offers a kind of disjointed harmony." No matter how ridiculous or vulgar the parts, the whole cannot help but make sense.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at May 17, 2005 04:43 PM | TrackBacks
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Thanks to David Boxenhorn, I found this startling metaphor that works astonishingly well - The Talmud and the Internet He quotes from the Industrial Standard Review and so shall I The Talmud is a sprawling text that addresses every aspect of Jewish...

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Trackback by: Estate Legacy Vaults Blog (The Talmud and the Internet) at June 1, 2005 05:19 PM Permalink

Rosen is spot on!
It is the robust flexability to accomodate absolutely everything into a mosaic that reflects the conformation of human nature. Aren't we all both sacred and profane?
I think drawing inviolable lines of demarcation makes a culture or religion schizophrenic.
Accomdation, compromise, adjustment, adaptation?
Or maybe just my favorite word of all, evolution. ;)

Posted by: jinnderella at May 18, 2005 07:55 PM Permalink

David, look. ;)

Posted by: jinnderella at May 19, 2005 11:36 PM Permalink

Pre computers and cheap books, all this was in the head. That's why Jews are good in business, chess, cards...

Posted by: muse at May 20, 2005 07:31 AM Permalink

Then can we also expect that the Talmud must also expand, perhaps even exponentially?

The Internet grows even as we surf.

Does the Talmud grows even as it is discussed and questioned and analyzed? I've noted that the point doesn't seem to be to pin down anything, but rather to interpret and expand.

Am I misinterpreting the Talmud, since I see it very much as a living entity?

Posted by: Pat Baker at May 28, 2005 09:22 PM Permalink

Then can we also expect that the Talmud must also expand, perhaps even exponentially?

Yes, it is expanding as we speak.

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at May 28, 2005 09:51 PM Permalink

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