We are living in the middle of a revolution.

A few decades ago, the idea that you could link any computer in the world with any other computer was no more than the twinkle in the eye of a few gifted programmers. And today, that twinkle, with all its benefits and problems, is an everyday reality.

The digital revolution marches on and its limits are still beyond our view.

At the heart of the digital revolution is something called the binary code. Computers, digital cameras and scanners, CD's, DVD's, MP4's, and whatever other media are down the road, all come back to the simplest code that can be - the presence or the absence of an electric pulse, the turning on or off of a microscopic switch. Every digital device uses this fundamental code, though in ever more sophisticated ways. But the root is always the same: "0" - no current, or "1" - current.

The strength of digital technology is precisely because it is a code. Provided that the original code can still be deciphered, the message can be regenerated exactly as it was originally, whether that message is a picture or a sound.

Let's take the example of Morse code. Morse code was a system of communicating widely used before radio was sophisticated enough to permit voice transmission. It consists of long and short sound pulses, which represent letters. For example, "SOS" in Morse code is "...--- ..." - where the dots are short pulses and the dashes are long ones.

The beauty of this, and any code for that matter, is that the entire meaning of the message can be reconstructed provided that the original code is intact. It doesn't matter how much static or noise or other kind of interference surrounds the signal; provided that you can tell a dot from a dash, the original signal can be reconstructed perfectly.

This is not the case in an analog system. In an analog system, the medium becomes part of the message. If the medium decays, so does the message. I remember as a young boy in England listening to the inevitable surface noise of my HMV gramophone, waiting for the opening bars of the music as the record spun at the dizzying velocity of 78 rpm; 45's, 33's and cassettes weren't that much better. (Remember 8-track cartridges?) All those systems shared the same drawback: the medium was part of the message. The pops and scratches of needle meeting plastic, or, in the case of a cassette, of magnetic tape being shlepped across a magnet, was part and parcel of the sound of music.

The digital revolution changed all that.

The whole Torah is called a song: "Write this song for yourself and teach it to the children of Israel..." (Devarim 31:19).

The Torah is a book. Books are a digital medium. Provided you can make out the letter, you can recreate the original meaning of the words exactly.

A book is not a painting or a photograph. Artwork is locked into the physical object itself. If it fades or degenerates, it needs renovation for the original intentions of the artist to be realized. Eventually, however, all physical things must rot and decay. They must end. Even the best preservation cannot go on forever. One wonders how much of the Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile is still the original paint. (In fact, how much to conserve before you essentially recreate is an ongoing debate in the world of art restoration.)

Words, however, are a digital medium. As long as you can decipher the letters, the writer's original creation springs to life eternally. The same is true with song. If you can read the notes, you can sing the song the way it sounded when it was first sung, devoid of the scratches and the ravages of time.

The Torah is a book. The Torah is a song. It couldn't be any other way.

The Torah couldn't have been a photograph. It couldn't be a painting. The Torah had to be a digital communication, because the Torah had to be handed down to the last generation as crystal clear as it was at Sinai.

More articles available at Ohr Somayach's website.