How Knowledge Can Prevent Destruction and Bring Peace
Is technology our blessing or our undoing?
In one of history’s grandest and prescient statements, the Prophet Isaiah in today’s Haftarah answers this question and guides us how to build a better world in the Age of Knowledge.
We have never been so powerful, never so free, with the unprecedented ability to access any information anytime anywhere. But are we feeling freer today? With all the information at our fingertips, are we happier people, more fulfilled, less fearful, making better decisions? Has the Information Revolution informed us or inundated us? Uplifted us or merely flooded us? Are these gushing waters destroying or refining us?
Our modern age, with all its breathtaking technologies, has its share of maladies, many not unrelated to our scientific advancements and higher standard of living. Indeed, the argument can be made that our unprecedented cascade of information and slew of options has also brought on unparalleled misery. Is our only option to escape and insulate ourselves from the flood of choices? Or is there a way to fully take advantage of our wealth of knowledge and prosperity without being annihilated by it?
The answer to these critical questions can be found in the soaring words of the Prophet Isaiah which we read in today’s Haftarah – at the conclusion of Passover. There Isaiah describes the majestic Messianic Era, when “the wolf will dwell with the lamb,” and he says any destruction will disappear “because the earth will be filled with divine knowledge as the waters cover the sea.”
Eerily, Isaiah’s words echo the words of Genesis describing the prelude to the great flood that destroyed the earth, when “the earth was filled with corruption.” But in Isaiah’s messianic prophecy, the water-filled earth is blessed – it is a world filled with divine knowledge – while the flood waters of Genesis are agents of destruction.
This sermon examines Isaiah’s prophecy and the choice facing us today: to embrace divine knowledge and its blessings or the corruption of knowledge turned to selfish ends. The choice lies in our hands.
This choice also gives us a new take on the power of the Yizkor service.