Open Web and spiritual progress
Recent events related to Google’s WebM release and their proprietary competitors’ threats for retaliation, led to multiple heated discussions regarding openness of the Web and whether open standards and Web freedom are essential for society.
It’s interesting to note what Jewish sources say about this issue. One might think that such modern technology subject probably can’t even appear in traditional sources, however it is not so. A closely related issue is extensively discussed from philosophical and mystical perspective in a known and esteemed source of Jewish thought – Seyfer HaBris written by Rabbi Pinchas Eliyohu of Vlino – a renowned Kabbalist and Jewish thinker of 18th century.
In a section called “Ahavas Re’im” (reference to the commandment of love for one’s neighbours) the author points out a Kabbalistic concept, that all humanity is essentially one big organism, interconnected in particular by verbal communication which is based on words and letters (which in modern technical terms can be called a global net of information channels). In order for this macrocosmic man to function properly, all organs should function in unison, which in translation to human relations possible only when there is love amongst neighbours. Reb Pinchos Eliyohu goes on to say, that such global network based on loving one’s neighbour is conductive for the spiritual revelation of ruach hakoydesh – i.e. mystical perception of higher reality:
Today, Internet serves as a global information network, connecting a major part of humanity with myriads of information channels. However one can figure out, that when these channels themselves serve as a tool for control and domination and as a method of fulfilling one’s greed – they don’t contribute to the goal which Seyfer HaBris outlines, because they are not conductive for ahavas re’im. Thus Open Web is actually an essential part of spiritual progress.