A staff colleague alerted me to this piece on the iTalmud and how that’s maybe not the best idea. Liel Leibovitz:
One press of the home button, and I could have easily skipped from Judaism’s central text to games like Angry Birds or Words with Friends. That’s no way to experience any book, particularly one like the Talmud which, in its traditional leather-bound, dusty and imposing form, demands a dedication and attentiveness rarely expected of modern readers.
An interesting assessment, and one to which I’m sympathetic. An eReader or iPad or other such device is sort of like assembling one’s own book. Think of it as an electronic looseleaf binder. Maybe you can get one all gold and fancy-looking. Maybe you can put it in a leather case. But it’s still essentially a self-assembled book.
Mr Leibovitz suggests that the internet brings a certain egalitarianism to matters of great importance to the faith.His conclusion:
This is why technology is forever doomed to be at loggerheads with religion, and especially Judaism. For its part, the Internet aspires to create a world without hierarchies in which we are all nodes of information and opinion, none above the other. Judaism shares the Web’s disdain for hierarchies — when its sister monotheistic faiths elected popes and caliphs, it remained adamantly decentralized — but it revolves around one book which everybody must read and in which everybody must believe.
This kind of singular devotion can never survive on an app or a Web page. Which is not to say we should do away with our gadgets altogether: The iTalmud and its ilk are great reference sources, and a fun way for theologically-minded Jews to spend a quick commute on the subway or a short plane ride. But when it comes to real learning, Jews, long nicknamed the people of the book, are better off with old-fashioned tree pulp. Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof had it just right: Sometimes, nothing beats tradition.
What do you think? Makes one reassess iMissal, eh?
Like a torah portion, or a passage of Scripture, I may have to just sit and pray with this one. That said, I think that he may be right.