Mel Alexenberg
Author of "Through a Bible Lens"
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Postdigital Translation of Genesis: Read B’reshit (in the beginning) as B’reshet (In the network)

The story of creation offers insights on the Internet - and how that relates to man's relationship with God
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men carry Torah scrolls as they dance during Simchat Torah celebrations in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood October 8 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men carry Torah scrolls as they dance during Simchat Torah celebrations in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood October 8 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A creative translation of the first verses of Genesis from the original Hebrew as the Jewish people rewind the Torah scroll to the beginning offers the creation narrative in postdigital perspective.

“In the network, God created media systems for creating heaven and earth.  When the earth was absolutely empty and dark, God created light and separated between light and darkness (1 and 0).”

We can read the first word of the Bible B’reshit (In the beginning) as B’reshet (In the network).  In Genesis 1:1, the Hebrew word et appears twice, before heaven and before earth.  “In the beginning God created et the heaven and et the earth.”  Since English has no equivalent for the word et that links a verb to a noun, it drops out in translation.  Et is spelled alef-tav, the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Spanning the full set of 22 Hebrew letters, et symbolizes media systems.

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Wikipedia’s definition of “postdigital” is based upon my definition in my book The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness (intellect Books/University of Chicago Press) as “the humanization of digital technologies through interplay between digital, biological, cultural, and spiritual systems.”

My new book, Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life, brings postdigital concepts into the everyday world.  I photographed goldfish in a pet shop next to my house for the Genesis post for the “Torah Tweets” postdigital blogart project.  You can see five more photos of the creation of world in and around my house at


The media system of heaven, the spiritual realm, is written in the Torah with Hebrew letters that form words.  The media system of earth, the physical realm, is written with electrons and protons that form atoms and molecules.  The media system of the digital realm returns us to the primeval binary creation of darkness and light, 0 and 1.  It is written with the binary digits 0-1 called bits that form bytes.   Every blog, website, video, song, and text that you access in the Internet is written with the binary system of the first day of Creation.

The Lubavticher Rebbe Menachem M. Schneerson, the 20th century’s greatest Hasidic leader educated as a scientist, recognized the spiritual power of the Internet early on.  Each of the nearly 3,000 husband-wife emissary teams who established Chabad Houses from Miami and Paris to Mumbai and Katmandu have created websites.  The emissaries’ annual conferences can be viewed live via Internet simulcast with a running Twitter commentary.

The Rebbe teaches: “The divine purpose of the present information revolution, which gives an individual unprecedented power and opportunity, is to allow us to share knowledge — spiritual knowledge — with each other, empowering and unifying individuals everywhere. We need to use today’s interactive technology not just for business or leisure but to interlink as people — to create a welcome environment for the interaction of our souls, our hearts, our visions.”


The joyous holiday of Simchat Torah when Jews rewind the Torah scroll and begin from “In the beginning” is a meaningful time to begin Bible blogging your life.

My wife Miriam and I were married the night after the celebration of Simhat Torah when the the Jewish people worldwide danced with the Torah on the joyous holiday.  Our family and friends extended the celebration by dancing into the night at our wedding.

To celebrate our 52nd year of marriage, we created the “Torah Tweets” blogart project that evolved into my newest book, Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life.  During each of the 52 weeks of our 52nd year, we posted photographs reflecting our life together with texts that relate the weekly Torah reading to our lives.  We disseminated our weekly “Torah Tweets” posts worldwide through the Blogosphere and Twitterverse.

The Photograph God book invites others to create their own Bible blogs that link their unfolding life stories with the Torah storyline.  Bible blogging offers a powerful way to express spirituality and Jewish consciousness in an age of smartphones and selfies.

Below is the first post for our “Torah Tweets” blogart project.  Every week, I plan to post on my Times of Israel blog my creative interpretations of all the Torah portions.  You can see the six photograph for each Torah portion and the tweet texts at


B’reshit/In the beginning (Genesis 1:1-6:8)

God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was very good.  It was evening and morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)

On the first day of our honeymoon, we bought a cactus plant. On the 42nd year of our honeymoon, our daughter Iyrit bought us this cactus.

Red-leafed plants grow in front of our house.  A cat hides in the leaves between our door and a pet shop selling goldfish.

Our dog Snowball sits under our kitchen table.

Miriam frequently reads Perek Shira with its 85 “songs” of God’s creations that together create the great symphony of biodiversity.

The climax of Perek Shira is the song of the dog (KeLeV — KoL LeV — all heart).  We learn gratitude to The Creator from a dog’s loyalty.

Haim Vital’s eulogy for the great kabbalist HaAri caps his vast achievements with his ability to converse with birds.

The mysteries of Creation are best revealed through dialogue with other species. Snowball teaches us daily about these mysteries.

God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for it was on this day that God ceased for all the work of Creation for us to continue. (Genesis 2:3)

Miriam recycled one mitzva for another.  She pressed cloves into our Sukkot etrog (citron) for a sweet smell to mark the end of Shabbat.

There is no seventh image in the blog posts since Shabbat is a Non-Art Day that precludes photography.

About the Author
Mel Alexenberg is an artist, educator, writer, and blogger working at the interface between art, technology, Jewish thought, and living the Zionist miracle in Israel. He is the author of "Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media," "The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness," and "Dialogic Art in a Digital World: Judaism and Contemporary Art" in Hebrew. He was professor at Columbia, Bar-Ilan and Ariel universities and research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies. His artworks are in the collections of more than forty museums worldwide. He lives in Ra’anana, Israel, with his wife artist Miriam Benjamin.
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