Israel is celebrating book week. It is clear that the publication and consumption of books increased dramatically over the last year. Despite the popularity of smartphones, it is evident that many new books were written and published. More and more people buy and read books.
Books will never die. Of course, it is very convenient to work on a computer preparing and editing texts and drawings. However, in order to get a full impression from a literary work of art, it must be in print. A book has a spiritual root that combines “the book, the author, and the story” (Sefer-Sofer-Sipur).
A book is not necessarily a printed volume. It can be a scroll or a carving on a stone, but it can never be on a screen because such text is not a work of human hands. A book is written by a person who has put an effort into its pages, into print. When I hold a book in my hands and read it, I feel that it belongs to me and I personally connect with its content.
I cannot, however, connect with a computer screen; it has no spiritual root. A computer, a screen, or a tablet do not exist in nature, but a book does. A book is created from natural materials in order to preserve knowledge and make a record of it in nature. I can never have the connection with the computer screen the way I have with a book because once the computer is turned off, everything disappears. The feeling comes from the spiritual root that is present in a book. There is an association between the person’s spiritual root and that of a book, which ensures our connection. Nothing, however, connects me with a computer. If you compare the impression received from the same work in a book format versus the computer screen, you will find that the printed text has a much greater effect on you.
The spiritual root of a book is connected with the root of the soul, and we can feel it. When I read a book, my soul unites with the spiritual root of the book and receives fulfillment. One can never get such fulfillment from the computer. A modern person cannot understand this because he has long forgotten printed books and lives in a virtual world. Computers are made of plastic, which breeds plastic knowledge and plastic hearts.
One does not print a text on the computer screen because a moment later, the screen will show something else. The text appears and then it disappears—it is not there. But if I pick up a book, it contains the thoughts and the desires of the author forever.
You must hold a book in your hands and read it letter by letter because it is an expression of the spiritual root. Thus, technology can further develop, but the book is eternal because it contains a spiritual root. Reading a book brings a certain pleasure, which is unachievable when reading from a screen. By reading from a screen, we obtain knowledge, but from the book we get the feeling.
The book unites the book-the author-the story (Sefer-Sofer-Sipur). There is a writer and his story conveyed to us in a book. A reader receives knowledge from the author and it becomes a part of him. Through the narrative, the author is able to deliver his story from inside the book, and share the root of his soul with a reader. There is no other way to convey an inner impression from one person to another.
Scientific knowledge, tables, and information can be transferred via the computer. But an emotional book that awakens love in one’s soul, a feeling of unity, is incomparable to a computer.
The people of Israel are called “the people of the book” because they were the ones who gave the world its main book that talks about the purpose of this world, about the structure of the entire system of the universe. There is only one book and all the others are its consequences, its small branches. The book of Torah explains the existence of the entire system of the world and our mission in such a system.
If I read a Kabbalistic book now, I am influencing its author although he died two thousand years ago because I am using the result of his work. Through our connection, through the unity in our hearts and souls, through my desire to influence the author, I have an impact on him. I elevate his soul as he elevates mine.
From A “Talk About ‘The Week Of The Book’,” 6/13/19