Modern person designates anything older than 12 months as waste to be disposed of. Living, as we are, in a world of change that advances in geometric progression, there is an expectation of constant product improvement (“you don’t have the latest i-phone??”) rendering last year’s model as ‘miltary surplus’. Technologically this may be true. New things are indeed constantly replacing old things.
But progress with ‘things’ is a very different proposition than progress with humanity. Discovering and inventing new technologies doesn’t at all indicate human progress. Just look at how new technologies are harnessed for harm, even for calculated destruction. Inventing new ‘things’ is not of itself progressive. It is simply an inevitable product of human curiosity – a child playing with building blocks, ours being sub-atomic and energetic blocks of sublime power played with by ’21st century child’. Rather, progress is to be measured by how we use the new ‘things’, not the ‘things’ themselves.
Ever since Cain murdered Abel wiping out a quarter of the world’s population, humanity has been seeking (successfully) to surpass Cain’s clumsy methodology and has evolved weapons of mass destruction and even more subtle economic weapons of human exploitation.
We would do well to drink from the waters of ancient wisdoms of the Torah and quench the fires of Prometheus that our inventiveness has ignited. The ‘old teachings’ possesses eternal wisdoms, healings, understandings – insights lost in the boast of ‘modernity’.
With Rosh Hashannah’s approach, a new spiritual beacon shines on the horizon. Now is the time to rediscover what the ‘old’ can offer that the new can’t find. Only where there is light can none find that which is lost. Listen and you will hear it in the primordial notes of Ellul’s call of the Shofar.