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Oh, Those Lights!
By Tzvi Freeman

A mystery first spoken under the blazing sun of ancient Egypt, transmitted to earth by a Higher Wisdom at Sinai.

An enigma among human rituals: Black leather boxes containing parchment scrolls inscribed in meticulous accordance to the criterion of an ageless scribal art. Not to be read, but to be worn.

From Sinai to Jerusalem, Babylon to Masada, Auschwitz to Manhattan, through fire, sword, forced labor and affluence -- we carried it to this day, guarding the chain of transmission with our very lives. Yet its mystery remains un-raveled. The mystery we call Tefillin.

This was back in the early sixties, when the first mainframe computers were being introduced into business. Professor Abraham Polichenco, a pioneer of computer technology, visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe and posed to him a question:

“I know that everything that exists in the world, even something that we discover later in history, has its source somewhere in the Torah. So, where are computers in the Torah?”

Without hesitation, the Rebbe answered, “Tefillin.” The professor was perplexed.

“What's new about a computer?" the Rebbe continued.

“You walk into a room and you see many familiar machines: a typewriter, a large tape recorder, a television set, a hole puncher, a calculator. What is new?”

“But under the floor, cables connect all these machines so they work as one.”

The professor nodded enthusiastically. He hadn't realized it before, but yes, this is all that a computer is: a synthesis of media and processing devices.

“Now look at your own self. You have a brain. It is in one world. Your heart is in another. And your hands often end up involved in something completely foreign to both of them. Three diverse machines.

“So you put on Tefillin. First thing in the day, you connect your head, your heart and your hand with these leather cables -- all to work as one with one intent. And then when you go out to meet the world, all your actions find harmony in a single coordinated purpose.”

By Tzvi Freeman

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