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When will we defeat the Technocrats?

Truth Over Tyranny: Biblical wisdom for defeating the Technocrats.

These are my insights for defeating the Transhumanist Technocracy movement, based on the teachings of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, of blessed memory, on the weekly Bible portion.

The question on the mind of every freedom lover is this: when will this war be over? When will we have repelled the invasion of the Technocrats, and secured the free exercise of our God-given rights?

It would be nice to be able to set a specific date, such as “by the year 2030.” That’s exactly what the World Economic Forum has done: they have decided to complete their conquest of the world by 2030. But if they knew that time is actually a collaboration between people and God, and that history is a synthesis between His sphere of operation and ours, they might think twice about their schedule to impose tyranny on the globe. It is completely contrary to how time, life, and history really work.

Interestingly, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks makes this point in his analysis of s single commandmentin the Torah, through his commentary on Patrashat Emor called “Counting time.”

He starts off by identifying the famous dispute over how to fulfill the command to Count the Omer between Pesach and Shavuot: is it one religious act, or 49 separate ones?

“According to the Halachot Gedolot, the key phrase is ‘seven full [temimot, i.e. complete] weeks.’ One who forgets a day cannot satisfy the requirement of completeness. On this view, the 49 days constitute a single religious act, and if one of the parts is missing, the whole is defective. What is this like? It is like a Torah scroll. If a single letter is missing, the entire scroll is invalid. So too in the case of counting days. According to R. Hai Gaon however, each day of the 49 is a separate command – ‘Count off fifty days.’ Therefore, if one fails to keep one of the commands, that is no impediment to keeping the others. If, for example, one fails to pray on a given day, that neither excuses nor prevents one from praying on subsequent days. Each day is a temporal entity in itself, unaffected by what happened before or after. The same applies to the Omer. Forgetting one day does not invalidate the others.”

He shows that the conclusion is a compromise: both viewpoints are recognized:

“The final law mediates between these two opinions. Out of respect for R. Hai, we count the subsequent days, but out of respect for the Halachot Gedolot we do so without a blessing – an elegant compromise.”

This compromise reflects the two approaches to time that are essential to Judaism: it is a journey to a destination, yet also a singular moment in the present:

“Within Judaism there are two kinds of time. One way of seeing this is in a Talmudic story about two of the great Sages of the Second Temple period, Hillel and Shammai:

“‘They used to say about Shammai the elder that all his life he ate in honour of the Sabbath. So, if he found a well-favoured animal he would say, ‘Let this be for the Sabbath.’ If he later found a better one, he would put aside the second for the Sabbath and eat the first. But Hillel the elder had a different approach, for all his deeds were for the sake of heaven, as it is said, ‘Blessed be the Lord day by day’ (Ps. 68:20). It was likewise taught: The school of Shammai say, From the first day of the week, prepare for the Sabbath, but the school of Hillel say, ‘Blessed be the Lord day by day.’

“Shammai lived in teleological time, time as a journey toward a destination. Already from the beginning of a week, he was conscious of its end. We speak, in one of our prayers, of the Sabbath as ‘last in deed, first in thought.’ Time on this view is not a mere sequence of moments.

“Hillel, by contrast, lived each day in and for itself, without regard to what came before or what would come after. We speak in our prayers of God who ‘in his goodness, each day renews the work of creation.’ On this view, each sequence of time is an entity in itself. The universe is continually being renewed. Each day is a universe; each has its own challenge, its task, its response. Faith, for Hillel, is a matter of taking each day as it comes, trusting in God to give the totality of time its shape and direction.”

This duality is seen in the observance of the Biblical festivals, as well as in the Counting of the Omer. It is also apparent in the dual conception of freedom in Judaism:

“If we look at the festivals of the bible – Pesach, Shavuot and Succot – we see that each has a dual logic. On the one hand, they belong to cyclical time. They celebrate seasons of the year – Pesach is the festival of spring, Shavuot of first fruits, and Succot of the autumn harvest.

“However, they also belong to covenantal/linear/historical time. They commemorate historic events. Pesach celebrates the exodus from Egypt, Shavuot the giving of the Torah, and Succot the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. It follows that the counting of the Omer also has two temporal dimensions.

“On the one hand, it belongs to cyclical time. The forty-nine days represent the period of the grain harvest, the time during which farmers had most to thank God for – for ‘bringing forth bread from the ground.’ Thus understood, each day of the counting is a separate religious act: ‘Blessed be the Lord day by day.’ Each day brought forth its own blessing in the form of new grain, and each therefore called for its own act of thanksgiving. This is time as Hillel and R. Hai Gaon understood it. ‘Count off fifty days’ – each of which is a command in itself, unaffected by the days that came before or those that will come after.

“But the Omer is also part of historical time. It represents the journey from Egypt to Sinai, from exodus to revelation. This is, on the biblical worldview, an absolutely crucial transition. The late Sir Isaiah Berlin spoke of two kinds of freedom, negative liberty (the freedom to do what you like) and positive liberty (the freedom to do what you ought). Hebrew has two different words for these different forms of freedom: chofesh and cherut. Chofesh is the freedom a slave acquires when he no longer has a master. It means that there is no one to tell you what to do. You are master of your own time.

“This kind of freedom alone, however, cannot be the basis of a free society. If everyone is free to do what they like, the result will be freedom for the strong but not the weak, the rich but not the poor, the powerful but not the powerless. A free society requires restraint and the rule of law. There is such a thing as a constitution of liberty. That is what the Israelites acquired at Mount Sinai in the form of the covenant.

“In this sense, the 49 days represent an unbroken historical sequence. There is no way of going directly from escape-from-tyranny to a free society – as we have discovered time and again in recent years, in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Here, time is an ordered sequence of events, a journey, a narrative. Miss one stage, and one is in danger of losing everything. This is time as Halachot Gedolot understood it: ‘Count off seven full weeks,’ with the emphasis on ‘full, complete, unbroken.'”

Very importantly, God is found in both the present time, as well as in historical time:

‘We have traced, in the argument between the two authorities of the period of the Geonim, a deeper duality, going back to Hillel and Shammai, and further still to the biblical era and the difference, in consciousness of time, between priests and prophets. There is the voice of God in nature, and the call of God in history. There is the word of God for all time, and the word of God for this time. The former is heard by the priest, the latter by the prophet. The former is found in halachah, Jewish law; the latter in aggadah, Jewish reflection on history and destiny. God is not to be found exclusively in one or the other, but in their conversation and complex interplay.”

With this analysis of one commandment – to Count the Omer – Rabbi Sacks has given us keen insights into the larger topics of time, freedom, and the presence of God in our lives. He uses the different approaches of Hillel and Shammai towards Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, as examples of the dual nature of time. They can each help us determine “when” we will defeat the Technocrats, even though we know when Shabbat takes place, and we don’t yet know when our victory will occur. The “time consciousness” of each approach that Rabbi Sacks describes, remains the same.

On the one hand, we can be like Shammai, and make victory our destination. In every action of every day, we can be conscious of the end goal of stripping the Technocrats of power. Our conquest of them would be “last in deed, first in thought.” Time will have a purpose, a direction, a destination: victory.

At the same time, we could be like Hillel, and take each day as it comes. Each new day will have its own challenge, task, and response towards treasuring our God-given freedoms. Time will be a here-and-now experience of remembering why we are fighting.

In both cases, we collaborate with God. He is the Senior Partner in Creation and history, and we are the Junior Partner. When we focus on eventually dismantling the technocracy, we are joining Him as he directs human evolution away from tyranny and towards freedom.

And when we take the time to thank God for creating us as free individuals, He is joining us in that celebration.  

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